September 20 - 26, 2013
The Reel World Movie Reviews by Carol Hemphill & Kent Tentschert
Questions or comments? firstname.lastname@example.org
Salinger Carol’s Grade: B Genre: Documentary Rated: PG-13 for disturbing war images, thematic elements and smoking.
Carol’s Take: I remember when I first read J.D. Salinger. Maybe you do, too. I jumped on board with “Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction” (I can still sense the cover of the paperback – the colors, the font) in the mid-1960s. After that, there was no reprieve as I tackled all the stories (backwards, to my regret), until I reached “The Catcher in the Rye.” The documentary, “Salinger,” reaches the market along with an oral biography of the same name by David Shields and Shane Salerno. Salerno also produced and directed the film. Detractors will claim the picture is gossipy and overly dramatic. Fair enough. Some will decry the unusual sound track. Okay. But, Salerno tries to get into the mind of the enigmatic author and he does so through his stories and their characters compared and contrasted with the writer’s life. What a thrill to hear Salinger cronies – A.E. Hotchner, Gore Vidal, and others – discuss the old days. Jerry played poker. Jerry was obsessed with being published in “The New Yorker.” Jerry thought he was the first good American writer since Hemingway, and he wasn’t sure he thought a lot of Hemingway. The movie takes a revealing look at Salinger’s involvement in World War II. His service was exemplary, difficult and daunting; the effects on him
were far reaching. The movie claims that WWII “created” J.D. Salinger. The picture addresses what may be called the man’s proclivity for young women. He wooed the teenaged Oona O’Neil (six years his junior) for several years before she married Charlie Chaplin when she turned 18. After serving in World War II, the 30-year-old befriended a 14-year-old girl, Jean Miller, on a Florida beach. In interviews she is protective of him as she explains their relationship. The writer, Joyce Maynard, discusses dropping out of college to live with Salinger (34 years her senior) in New Hampshire. Her comments about him are far from protective. Salinger’s three marriages get a mention, and his two children are briefly interviewed. In 1961, Salinger graced the cover of Time magazine. In 1965 he published his last story (in “The New Yorker,” of course), and became what some would call a recluse. “Salinger” also reflects on the author’s fans who sought to find the man and learn life’s secrets from him. Some tracked him to his New England home and waited out on the road (Jerry drove a BMW) for a glimpse – or a possible word. Mark Chapman, who killed John Lennon in 1980, and David Hinckley, who shot President Reagan in 1981, are cited as having been influenced by the thinking of “Catcher’s” Holden Caulfield. “Salinger” ends by telling us that the writer after his 2010 death willed a list of books to be published between 2015 and 2020. They include a Glass family genealogy and five new stories, a World War II novel and an unpublished Caulfield story. Where do I get in line?
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