DC's

The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Piper Laurie Day

 

‘The first thing I think of when I think of Piper Laurie is ‘Movie Star’. This label is perhaps a bit inaccurate when considering her expansive body of work over seven decades, that stretches across nearly as many artistic mediums – acting in film, television, theater; sculpting, painting and now, with the release of her memoir, Learning to Live Out Loud, writing. When it comes to contemporary acting, however, distinct flashes of Laurie’s style can be glimpsed, albeit fleetingly, in the performance styles of starlets such as Carey Mulligan and Michelle Williams—women who are striking, intellectual, maybe a bit bruised, maybe a bit tough – tremulous gamines with hearts of steel. Piper Laurie began doing that in the 1950s as a contract player working with stalwarts like Douglas Sirk, and continued refining this type into the1960s with her iconic turn as Sarah in The Hustler (1961).

‘Known largely now for its stinging treatment of pool shark culture and the cool, The Hustler shined a spotlight on the hunky king of that world, Fast Eddie Felson (played of course by a never-hotter Paul Newman). Upon closer inspection, there is such an edgy nastiness to the film that makes its purposeful nihilism still feel shocking. Shocking not because of the frank dissection of its characters’ narcissistic, deliberately hurtful behavior and desperation (though those are incredible moments), but instead for how shockingly tough, scrappy and new the punched-in-the-guts emotional impact feels every time Laurie appears on screen to temper the overall machismo with her patented brand of tough cookie feminine energy. There’s real danger in this film, a thrilling sense of risk-taking.

The Hustler still feels that way more than fifty years later. Fresh. Exciting. Deadly. The film works largely thanks to Laurie’s contribution to the incredible ensemble that includes not only Newman but also towering greats George C. Scott and Jackie Gleason. The doomed, tragic romance between Laurie’s Sarah and Fast Eddie grounded The Hustler in a stark and bitter reality that hadn’t been depicted for the screen previously. After being nominated for the Best Actress Academy Award for her work in the film, Laurie soon found that Hollywood was an inhospitable place for women who didn’t necessarily fit into just one mold as an artist.

‘Rather than take work that wasn’t up to snuff, Laurie did something that might have been considered, again, a little shocking: she stopped playing the leading lady (or, in her words “perky starlet”) and promptly left movies for work on her own terms. The result was a daring collection of female characters who were not only close to the edge, but some who, in fact, went over that edge a long time ago. Colorful, memorable roles in films like Carrie (1976, for which she makes our Essential Performances list), Children of a Lesser God (1986) and Twin Peaks (1990) solidified her reputation as a singular talent. When one digs a bit deeper into her body of work, into films like the 1979 Australian drama Tim opposite Mel Gibson or the Truman Capote-inspired realms of deeply-Southern magical realism in The Grass Harp (1995), the breadth of her characterizations is impressive, there is always a deliberateness to her portrayals, and each is impeccably constructed and thoughtful.

‘Female movie stars of today may possess the basic, bare minimum tenets of Piper Laurie’s blazingly original screen persona, but very few can claim the kind of honed, strong chops she can. They just don’t make them like this anymore, as the saying goes. However, as her revealing biography points out, a thirst for learning and a constant search for new ways of creatively expressing oneself can take a performer to spectacular heights, and she done both opposite some of the greatest artists ever to work, counting Maureen Stapleton, Jean Simmons, Kim Stanley, David Lynch, Douglas Sirk , Paul Newman, George C. Scott, Sissy Spacek and Brian De Palma amongst her closest collaborators. She no doubt also taught them a thing or two as well, which means the future is indeed bright for the Carey Mulligans and Michelle Williamses of the world after all.’ — Matt Mazur

 

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Stills






















































 

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Further

Piper Laurie @ IMDb
Book: ‘Learning to Live Out Loud: A Memoir’ by Piper Laurie
‘Piper Laurie On Her Big Twin Peaks Secret’
‘Why I had to reject Hollywood’
‘Piper Laurie Discusses Twin Peaks Revival & Carrie’
‘Piper Laurie in-depth, or ‘I’ll have what she’s having, hold the knives’
‘Piper Laurie remembers the smoldering genius of George C. Scott’
‘Why didn’t Piper Laurie win the Oscar for Carrie?’
‘Piper Laurie Emerges From Your Nightmares’
‘Piper Laurie On Not Winning The Oscar’
‘Piper Laurie claims Ronald Reagan was a ‘show-off’ in bed’
‘Piper Laurie reflects on the past’

 

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Extras


What’s My Line? MYSTERY GUEST: Piper Laurie


Twin Peaks Piper Laurie Bonhams Live Auction


Piper Laurie, 1987 TV Interview


Golden Globes 1991 Piper Laurie Wins the Award for Best Supporting Actress

 

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Interview
from Pop Matters

 

Your career began at a pivotal time in cinema history when the way movies were being made was quickly changing. What were your initial ambitions?

Piper Laurie: Well, I wanted to be a really good actress and I had planned on going to New York to work in the theater. I screen-tested before, several times, and they failed them. So I was sort of surprised when Universal decided to exercise the test option contract after the screen test that I made with Rock Hudson. It was so flattering, that they wanted me, and that they were going to pay me for doing what I loved to do. I got trapped into something that I wasn’t expecting. I knew nothing about the kind of movies that Universal made at that time. I was forced to lower my standards. I didn’t really lower my standards, it was just agony I must say, to have to play the parts in the movies that they gave me. On one hand I was grateful that I was getting a name, which I later had to live down, but it was certainly not what I had aspired to.

Do you ever revisit those movies, like the ones you did with Douglas Sirk?

PL: No, I haven’t seen them for years. I don’t think I ever saw any of them more than once. You know, modern people enjoyed them…

The Hustler is such a favorite of mine and I’ve recently revisited it. Talk about a movie that stands the test of time… when you were constructing your character for this film, what about playing Sarah was most intriguing to you?

PL: Well, I think not necessarily playing her, but the whole project: the meticulous, vibrant script and the opportunity to work with Robert Rossen and to play opposite the actors that were starring in it. The overall project was really the appeal, not necessarily her part. Those sad creatures require almost to dredge up a lot of sadness in one’s life and that’s never fun.

Speaking of great ensembles, I wish I could have seen you do The Glass Menagerie with Pat Hingle and Maureen Stapleton, I’m such a fan of that play and of Tennessee Williams.

PL: It was really a lovely production! That’s what I’ve been told by enough people so I believe it! (laughing)

What were the challenges of performing this demanding role for the stage? Did you for example take to the language naturally?

PL: You put it very well. I think most actors respond to his language. That’s why so many of us like to work on his material. I’d worked on a lot of things, plays, in my acting classes before I even went to Universal and became a professional actor. Tennessee Williams was a very important person to me. I got to meet him and know him a little bit while we were rehearsing and during the play and he came to many of the performances. The Tennessee Williams one-act play, This Property Is Condemned, was made into a movie that had nothing to do with the play, it was a completely different story. It was basically a two-character play, the main character was mainly a monologue, a 14-year-old girl. I played the main character, I worked on that in my acting class, and used it as an audition piece when I went to Universal.

They were going to give me three minutes, they were going to start the play, and I expected them to stop me, but they didn’t and I ended up doing the whole 25-minute play. And they signed me, and I made a screen test, and they put me into junk. Anyway…. Tennessee Williams is a fabulous part of my life and actually I just came back from the Tennessee Williams Literary Festival in New Orleans where I was on a number of the panels and did a reading, the Katharine Hepburn role [from Suddenly, Last Summer] from when she first appears in the movie. There was a whole afternoon devoted to Williams.

I’m so interested the women you mention in your book. Maureen, Kim Stanley, Jean Simmons, and Estelle Parsons. How did your associations with these talented women impact you?

PL: Greatly (laughing). Maureen was just… so human and tortured and dear and intelligent. Brilliant. As gifted as she was, that’s how intelligent she was as well. We spent a lot of time together while doing the play and then afterwards as well. She was a generous human person, who had a hard time with life and made a lot of bad choices like a lot of actors do. But I loved her very much, she was a wonderful person.

It is striking just how prescient Carrie is in its depiction of bullying and teenage horror. I have to ask – what are your thoughts on the planned remake and Julianne Moore tackling Margaret White?

PL: Oh, you know, I hope that they have fun like we did! Or like I did anyway. I wish them well and I know that they did another version of it on stage recently, and I did get to see the first of the previews. They had a different take on the story, and they had every right to. I loved our movie, our version of it, because I think that Brian De Palma brought a joyful sensibility to it, there was all that freshness. Even though it was about a lot of misery, there was still joy in all of those young people, in all the characters. There was flamboyance about Brian De Palma’s work, I think. I know he certainly made me feel comfortable. I think the people involved with the new version will do their own take on it and I wish them well.

I had a chance to research some of your filmography that I hadn’t seen previously and was so impressed with some of the more underrated titles. Particularly I loved watching Tim, with Mel Gibson, which had so many great observations about gender, age and atypical relationships. In the book you touch on working with Mel, but I was so fascinated with your character, she seemed so much different from anything else you had done until that point. What did you hope to express through Mary, your character in Tim?

PL: You know, I don’t really approach a part with what I want to express, I think my ambition during filming is to respect the material, to fulfill the nature of the character as written. I don’t feel I can take charge and be the playwright. I just saw her as a very decent woman, and a generous one. I don’t really think I had a motive to be a certain kind of person, I just wanted to fulfill the story.

What was the personal significance to you of being a woman of Jewish descent playing a Nazi like Magda Goebbels with Anthony Hopkins as Hitler in The Bunker?

PL: It was very interesting to do the research on Hitler, Goebbels and his beautiful wife, who I was playing. I had a knot in my stomach the whole time I was reading. I had, even as a child, a violent response to Hitler as, I suppose you can call him a ‘human being’, though I really don’t think he deserved that title. He was alive at one point, he was a person, but I just had nightmares about him when I was a little girl. It was kind of treacherous getting into this material and trying to empathize with people who were very close to him. Magda Goebbels was very close. He trusted her. She was the only person who could cook something for him and he wouldn’t demand a taster to see if it was safe to eat. So I approached it from another’s point of view and tried to imagine her as being a mother, a human and the feelings that she probably had about her children and being in that underground place that they had at the end.

I wanted to ask you about film criticism since you were married to one of the great film critics, Joe Morgenstern, and also knew Pauline Kael. What changes have you observed in film criticism throughout your career?

PL: For a long time, for many years, there were very few critics, most people who wrote about movies were called ‘reviewers.’ I suppose they still exist, they were the people who would spoil the movie by telling the story. It had no values at all [talking] about performance. It was just all very superficial. I think there are a lot of real critics now, I guess that’s good (laughing). I don’t like reading reviews myself about a movie I’m going to be seeing. I like reading the ones I respect after I see the movie, that’s really fun to do.

What did playing Catherine on Twin Peaks, and her Japanese businessman disguise Mr Tojamura, allow you to do as a performer that you’d never done before?

PL: I didn’t expect it. When I was little girl, I used to get into elaborate disguises. I remember there was an old folks home across the street, in this huge Victorian house, and the people would always sit out on the porch and rock or spend the afternoon. With the help of my sister, I got into the disguise of an old lady, powdered my hair, bent my body over, and put on some old clothes and clunky shoes. I actually had a following there! (laughing) My sister and some of the kids in the neighborhood thought ‘this is pretty bizarre and interesting!’ (laughing) I pretended to be an old lady and of course all of the old folks knew that it was a kid doing this and they went along with it, but I remember there was one man who tied my shoelace for me! I found such joy in being able to change who I was. It was fun, it’s why I loved Halloween, because we could wear costumes. So, to be handed the opportunity by David Lynch, to do that in the show, was pure heaven!

You’ve been awarded three career Oscar nominations – what did these Oscar nominations mean to you when you were first nominated and how did your perception change as you collected other awards and nominations?

PL: Well, the first Oscar nomination for The Hustler was meaningless to me. Because I didn’t have the perspective of the movie, I was too subjective when I viewed it. It wasn’t what I had expected. When I’d see a scene, I’d remember that my shoe was too tight or that we were having difficulty or had to shoot it a lot of times. You know, I just remembered all of the things we’d experienced on the set, rather than looking at it objectively as the story was going. I thought it was bullshit, frankly, that I had been nominated and I just didn’t believe in it. I didn’t even go out to California for the ceremony. I watched it on a little set with my mother-in-law and my husband. Then, later as I started getting nominations, I was a little more relaxed about myself, I was able to enjoy the fun and that my peers thought I had done a good job. I never really enjoyed going. I pretended I was enjoying going to the ceremonies, but it’s always difficult.

What about when you win and you have to give speeches?

PL: I’ve won things a few times. Once I won my Emmy, when I wasn’t there, not because I didn’t want to go but because I was doing a play somewhere. James Woods accepted for me and that was fun. The only other time I was present and actually won was the Golden Globe for Twin Peaks and that was hell, I’ll be honest with you! (laughing) When I heard my name, I really didn’t expect to hear it. I didn’t even bother to tidy up before the broadcast started. It took forever before I got to the podium, I don’t even know what I said. It was stupid, I’m sure! (laughing)

 

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19 of Piper Laurie’s 112 roles

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Douglas Sirk Has Anybody Seen My Gal (1952)
‘The reason why Has Anybody Seen My Gal is enjoyable, even now over 60 years after it was made is because of Charles Coburn. Coburn was such a great comedic actor that even when he was playing a grouch he was likeable and so from the minute we meet Samuel Fulton, berating his staff as he dictates his Will you just smile because Coburn simply makes him fun. And it is the same throughout, be it a knowing look, his attempts to make soda-pops or the way he treats the Blaisdell’s home like his own without a care in the world he just makes you smile. As such whilst there are entertaining performances from Larry Gates, Lynn Bari as well as Piper Laurie and Rock Hudson it is Coburn who is the star and who makes it worth watching. Although for sheer cuteness Gigi Perreau as young Roberta deserves a mention because she maybe a childhood cliche but she is fun especially as she befriends Fulton.’ — The Movie Scene


Trailer


Excerpt with commentary by Piper Laurie

 

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Rudolph Maté The Mississippi Gambler (1953)
1953’s The Mississippi Gambler was the third Universal Studios film to bear this title–though with a different plot each time. Tyrone Power plays an all-around adventurer who cuts quite a swath through antebellum New Orleans. In between scenes of gambling, fist-fighting and swordplay, Power woos Piper Laurie, who chooses to marry wealthy Ron Randell; in turn, Power is wooed by Julie Adams, whose ardor is not reciprocated. The climax finds Power in a card table showdown with Ms. Laurie’s ill-tempered brother John Baer. Mississippi Gambler is consistently good to look at, even when the storyline threatens to snap under the pressure.’ — collaged

the entire film

 

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Edward Buzzell Ain’t Misbehavin’ (1955)
‘Up and coming hopefuls in the film arts have to cut their milk teeth somewhere, and Ain’t Misbehavin’ is the type of zwieback on which they chew. Yesterday at the Palace Piper Laurie and Rory Calhoun could be seen industriously learning their trade in the Universal-International color musical. The story line of rich young man and poor chorus line hoofer, set atop San Francisco’s Nob Hill, flits frantically about the place and never really goes anywhere. Miss Laurie sings and dances four alleged “production” numbers, and she’s in there batting every minute. It’s a forced, joyless thing that director Edward Buzzell has wrought. All surface and no distinction. The music is tired and the dances are flaccid repetitions of hundreds of other movie dances. But when the summer nights afflict you like wet wool, and the theatres beckon with their super-cooled zephyrs, Ain’t Misbehavin’ will fill the double bill. At worst it’s a soporific.’ — NY Times

Watch the film here

 

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Robert Rossen The Hustler (1961)
‘I wanted to do The Hustler before I had even gotten to the part in the script where my character came in. The words painted a picture that was so vivid in my imagination. It drew me in so quickly and completely, as the movie does. I didn’t have that in my mind while I was acting. I was very subjective in my relationship with Paul [Newman], so I had no idea where the camera was or what was going on. When I saw the finished movie, it was so different from what I imagined the first time I read the script that I was shocked and I hated the movie. It took me years before I could see it and realize how really wonderful it was.’ — Piper Laurie


Trailer


Excerpt

 

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Brian De Palma Carrie (1976)
‘For anyone unfortunate enough to have caught Carrie as a child, you might remember Piper Laurie from every fucking nightmare you’ve ever had. In a film crowded with macabre images—a blood-soaked Sissy Spacek and a young John Travolta among them—Laurie manages to be the most singularly terrifying thing on the screen. One moment she’s seemingly calm and collected, and the next she’s grinning maniacally as she stalks her daughter with a kitchen knife. And she does it all in the name of God. Laurie’s performance just might be the scariest thing to come out of Christianity since Mormon underwear. But what’s even more startling about Laurie’s performance is how surprisingly well it has aged. Despite its revered status, Carrie as a whole doesn’t hold up very well. Its split-screen climax is about as dated as “Disco Duck.” But Laurie’s looney-tunes Margaret White remains terrifying, a diabolical mix of high camp and classic horror. Look at those crazy eyes and the way she seems to float down the hallway, her nightgown blowing ethereally as if by being sent aflutter by the breath of demons. She isn’t just the epitome of the warped righteousness of fundamentalism. She’s one of the best monsters ever committed to film.’ — Willamette Week


Excerpt


Excerpt

 

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Curtis Harrington Ruby (1977)
‘RUBY (1977) is not one Curtis Harrington’s better films, but it was his biggest moneymaker. In fact, it was the most successful American indie ever until the following year’s HALLOWEEN. The presence of veteran actress Piper Laurie, on the comeback trail after playing the demented mother of CARRIE, was a definite factor in its success. Curtis Harrington’s films were characterized by darkly atmospheric settings and dreamlike horror. Those things are in scant evidence on RUBY, which tends to rely on cheap shocks to achieve its effects–blood emitting from a vending machine, a seeping bullet wound appearing in Ruby’s daughter’s forehead–along with a seriously tacky PSYCHO-inspired score. Plus it cribs shamelessly from THE EXORCIST in its later scenes, as Ruby’s child becomes possessed and exhibits a full spectrum of Linda Blair-isms. The film is, however, trashily enjoyable. Gorehounds will get a kick out of all the exploitive bloodletting, and Piper Laurie gives a memorably histrionic performance as the title character. As for the loony ending, it would be better if it weren’t so abrupt; apparently Harrington’s original cut had a more elaborate fade-out that was jettisoned by producers.’ — fright.com


Trailer


Montage of scenes

 

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Glenn Jordan In the Matter of Karen Ann Quinlan (1977)
‘This is a true story. In April 1975, Karen Ann Quinlan suddenly lapsed into a coma, baffling hospital doctors. Her foster-parents realise that it is only a matter of time before she dies, because the brain damage is so severe that Karen could never recover. They have to make a terrible life or death decision. And then they have to face some bitter complications. Co-stars Brian Keith and Piper Laurie splendidly portray the tormented couple.’ — sky.com

Watch the film here

 

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Michael Pate Tim (1979)
‘The opening scenes of Tim are so indifferently shot and so sitcom-bright that I realized with a start that I’d never really seen Australia or Australian cinema look this way. I didn’t know Tim’s premise, just that the film debuted Down Under about three months after the first Mad Max did in 1979, rocketing Mel Gibson to superfame, and earning him the AFI award for this performance. Based on the Disney Channel palette and the juvenile scoring, all pan flutes and comic slide-whistles for no particular reason, I got ready to Learn Something About Life, the way you do in those movies where some girl called Christy or Rebecca or Anne stands around in tall-grass or in front of church-shaped schoolhouses, sporting a lot of long-sleeved gingham and wearing her goodness like sunblock, right there on the outside. Piper Laurie is Mary Horton, the single, middle-aged, school-marmish woman who sees Tim finishing up some home-repair project for her next-door neighbor and hires him to do some odd jobs for her. With everything in place, including a totally de-sexed teacher-confidant, we settle in for a less pastoral Mel of Avonlea, or some life-affirming combination of Charly and Gibson’s own directorial debut, The Man without a Face. Laurie plays Mary is a self-aware chicken-hawk who thinks she needs to play the innocent-mentor angle and ride it out patiently in order to get what she wants.’ — Nick’s Flick Picks


the entire film

 

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Lee Philips Mae West (1982)
‘The viewer is advised at the outset that the script, written by E. Arthur Kean, is ”based on events in the life of the legendary Mae West.” Legend, of course, doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with truth. In this case, certain autobiographical facts are embellished with several of Miss West’s more famous comments about life and sex (”When I’m good, I’m very good; when I’m bad, I’m better”), some of them taken out of their original performance context and delivered as passing conversation. In the process, the woman behind the public image emerges as a trailblazing feminist and a brave denouncer of censorship. Her detractors, however, are offered a measure of comfort in the depiction of her private love life as a mess. The wicked, presumably, will still be punished. Her Mama is played with saintly reserve by Piper Laurie.’ — NY Times


Compilation of PL’s scenes in ‘Mae West’

 

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Walter Murch Return to Oz (1985)
‘A tween-aged Fairuza Balk plays Dorothy, whose insistence on recounting her adventures following her return from Oz has Aunt Em (Piper Laurie) and Uncle Henry (Matt Clark) convinced that she must be experiencing delusional depression. They nearly bankrupt themselves (in a town already so broke that it can’t afford a flagpole, no less) in order for Dorothy to see a psychiatrist. Dr. Worley (Nicol Williamson) is less interested in her mental health than in ensuring that Dorothy’s perceived problems stop bothering the adults around her, though. He is obsessed with what he perceives to be progress, declaring that the 20th century (the film is set in 1900) will be “a century of electricity.” During a storm, this relentless push for modernity quite literally backfires: The lights go out, and Dorothy is finally able to hear the screams of discarded patients in the absence of the ominously cheerful hum of electricity. With the help of a mysterious young girl, she escapes down a stream and miraculously wakes up in Oz.’ — City Paper


Trailer


Deleted scenes

 

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Randa Haines Children of a Lesser God (1986)
Children of a Lesser God is a 1986 romantic drama film that tells the story of a speech teacher at a school for deaf students who falls in love with a deaf woman who also works there. It stars William Hurt, Marlee Matlin, Piper Laurie, and Philip Bosco. In her debut role as Sarah Norman, Matlin won the 1986 Academy Award for Best Actress. The film also garnered Academy Award nominations for Best Actor for William Hurt, Best Supporting Actress for Piper Laurie, Best Picture, and Best Writing for an Adapted Screenplay.’ — collaged


Excerpt

 

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David Lynch Twin Peaks (1990-1991)
‘After we wrapped up the first season, David called me at home and said, in his Jimmy Stewart drawl, “Rosie, I want you to give some thought to the next season. Your character was last seen at the fire in the sawmill. We don’t know whether Catherine escaped or not. When we come back, I want the audience to think you died in the fire. Your husband, Jack Nance, will think you’re dead. Everyone will think you’re dead, and we’ll take your name off the credits of the show.” It crossed my mind for a millisecond that this was David’s original way of telling me I was being fired. But he continued, “Now, Rosie, this is the part I want you to think about. You will return in some sort of disguise, as a man, and you’ll spy on the town and create trouble for everyone -your husband, your lover, everyone. You should probably be a businessman. I want you to decide what kind of businessman you would like to be. Maybe a Frenchman or a Mexican. Think about it for a while and let me know.” I was so enchanted with the open possibilities and the power of being able to choose my part. (…) I decided I’d be a Japanese businessman because I thought it would be less predictable. I was so filled with excitement and laughter: this was joyful children’s play. There was no argument from David when I told him my choice, no attempt to influence me. He simply accepted it. Then came the hard part. David wished me to keep it a secret from the entire cast and crew. Not even my agent or my family was to know. That was important to him. I wasn’t to tell a soul. There was so much preparation involved in pulling off the subterfuge. There were secret makeup and wardrobe tests at a laboratory in the Valley. Paula Shimatsu-u, who was Mark Frost’s assistant and one of the few people who knew, was helpful in making tape recordings of Japanese friends reciting my lines. I practicec imitating them while driving to and from work. I had assumed that, of course, the placement of my voice would be electronically altered, but they had given it no thought and were not prepared on the morning of my first scene. I am trained to keep going no matter what, and when I realized I was on my own, I ended up going to a place in my chest and throat to get that appropriate guttural sound. It turned out to be painful to sustainm, and I sipped liquids constantly between takes. I shall never do that again for fear of injuring my voice permanently.’ — Piper Laurie


Trailers and previews


Excerpt


Excerpt


Piper Laurie talks Twin Peaks

 

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Dario Argento Trauma (1993)
‘You know, I haven’t seen that since I made it. I had a lot of fun on that film when we shot it because it was so silly. [laughs] I felt silly acting in my black wig and I had some sort of funny accent. It was over the top and I just had fun laughing in between takes.’ — Piper Laurie


Excerpt

 

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Charles Matthau The Grass Harp (1995)
‘Helmer Charles Matthau combines a sensitive screenplay adaptation of Truman Capote’s autobiographical novel The Grass Harp with a wonderful ensemble cast to create a jewel of a film. Collin Fenwick, Capote’s alter ego, loses both his parents at an early age. The young Collin (Grayson Frick) is forced to move in with two of his father’s cousins, the Talbo sisters. In an inspired bit of casting, they’re played by Piper Laurie and Sissy Spacek (who portrayed mother and daughter in Carrie). All the performers do superior work but Piper Laurie stands above them all with a performance that is exquisite, touching and real.’ — Variety


Trailer

 

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Yves Simoneau Intensity (1997)
‘A young woman staying as a guest in a Napa Valley farmhouse becomes trapped in a fight for survival with a self-proclaimed homicidal adventurer, and races to save his next intended victim. Teleplay by Stephen Tolkin based on the novel by Dean Koontz. Directed by Yves Simoneau. Starring Molly Parker, John C. McGinley and Piper Laurie. TV so quality isn’t great, but it’s decent and I don’t think this was ever released on video or dvd. Pretty intense at times with fine acting, in particular by John C. McGinley. I haven’t read the book so I can’t vouch for how close this is to the Dean Koontz’s original story.’ — IMDb


Trailer

 

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Robert Rodriguez The Faculty (1998)
‘Robert Rodriguez is a vastly fun director. He is always very kinetic and edits his own films. There is no such thing as a slow-paced Rodriguez film. He knows how to make the most out of a shoestring budget and has a good eye for gore effects. Rodriguez gets fun (not good but fun) performances from everyone including Bebe Neuwirth and Piper Laurie as other faculty members. While Rodriguez normally writes, edits, and directs, here he wisely turns the writing chores over to Kevin Williamson. Rodriguez writes efficiently but Williamson really knows how to write young people. He throws in the usual pop culture references including a hilarious one about Invasion of the Body Snatchers ripping off Heinlein’s The Puppet Masters (which it did). The Faculty is essentially the same story.’ — collaged


Trailer


Excerpt


Excerpt

 

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Conrad Janis Bad Blood (2006)
‘Summer vacation will never be the same for nine College students on their way to Lake Tahoe when they are derailed from their plans and land at ‘Millie’s Cherry Pie Inn and Diner’ and the very ‘normalcy’ of both ‘Lawrence’ the Charming Patriarch of this group of “Outlanders” and his wife “Millie”, and their grandson “Jim” prove to be chillingly threatening in their simplicity and rejection of all that is ‘Modern’…Our nine enthusiastic young travelers are lulled into a false sense of security until they are forced to face the fact that the Devil sometimes wears a gray suit and smile, and that their only hope of survival is to stick together and escape the cloyingly sweet tentacles of terror and death woven by the seemingly benign inhabitants of this secret Clan.’ — IMDb


Excerpt

 

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Spencer Susser Hesher (2010)
‘Hesher is a violent, uncontrollable wild man who might easily hail from Borneo, but in time the script is hell-bent on revealing a sensitivity to the plight of others that is as bracing as electro-shock therapy. Natalie Portman makes an unlucky cameo appearance as a penniless supermarket cashier named Nicole who becomes T.J.’s only friend when she rescues him from a sadistic bully. Hesher wrecks everyone’s trust by throwing Nicole into bed (she likes tattoos) but redeems himself by showing up at a funeral stoned and dragging the corpse away on a motorbike. Don’t ask. The whole thing seems to have been directed by long-distance cell phone and edited with a rotary jigsaw. Mr. Gordon-Levitt, in the title role, never makes the lobotomized Hesher a coherent character. The only thing he doesn’t set fire to is the negative. The kid who plays T.J. looks like a miniature version of the already miniature Justin Bieber. Only the great Piper Laurie delivers dollar value. Otherwise, Hesher is to movies what graffiti is to a rotting fence.’ — New York Observer


Trailer


Behind the scenes

 

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Conrad Janis Bad Blood … the Hunger (2012)
‘Laurie’s most recent role was in the cannibalism themed low budget horror movie Bad Blood… the Hunger, which opened on ten screens in 2012 and brought in under $2,000 on opening weekend.’ — screenrant


Trailer

Watch the film here

 

 

*

p.s. Hey. ** Misanthrope, Hi. Yeah, the Facebook infractions have become no limits. And yet I’ve never been sent to jail. Odd. I just finally qualified for the vaccine over here. Now to figure out how to do that as a ‘visitor’. ** Tosh Berman, Hi. Tutuola must be extremely difficult to translate. It’s hard to imagine, but Queneau might just be the guy to have aced that unfathomable task. ** David Ehrenstein, He’s amazing. I did like Crawford in ‘Trog’, ha ha. A perfect fit. ** Jack Skelley, Hey, Jack. Right, isn’t his prose trippy and juicy? Super glad you dug it. Kind of thought you might feel some kind of kinship or something. Write that Granny Uber story, obvs. It wuz rad! May your week cause you to see the glazed eyes, touch the dead skin, feel the cold lips, and know the warmth of the hip death goddess. Psychedelic lurve. ** The Black Prince, Yes, your haircut can take my approval to the bank. I’m happy to hear you’re reopening. Counting the days, minutes, seconds here. Paris is treating me okay considering its beleaguered state. Oh, wow, yes, vibes galore and as gorgeous as my imagination can costume them for your interview today. How did it go, pray tell? Boomerang sizeable kiss. ** Dominik, Hi!!! Yes, I too hope my clone’s devising will be a far distant job. Thank you. Now, I’m not recommending catsup on cottage cheese necessarily, but my much younger self would have been able to make a case for it. Yeah, my love required a very long sentence. I thought it would never end. Your love had a nice, very dark comedic quality. Love as a deck of cards with which your VK clone and my LH clone are playing strip poker (in the middle of your living room floor, of course), G. ** T, Hi, T. Ack, I hate when that happens. I have been to Akihabara and Nakano Broadway in Tokyo, and it was total sensory overload. I felt like I would need to go to them multiple times before my eyes could actually focus enough to make a purchasing choice (or more like a hundred purchases). Amazing. I can’t wait until I can go back. I have a kind of big fake food fetish, and I also went to that street in Tokyo where there’s nothing but stores selling fake food, and it was the same deal. I wanted to buy everything, and it was so overwhelming that I ended up buying nothing. I think you’d really like Tutuola based on what you wrote. Thank you kindly about the Gif piece. Like I said, when I made that chateau thing it was early on in my playing with gifs when I was still thinking, Wow. maybe I can write fiction using gifs, and I was experimenting with different prospects to see if that was feasible. Looking back at that one, I do think the mix of jpegs and gifs is pretty interesting. I might try working in that way again when I start a new gif novel. In the five gif books I’ve made, there are about five jpegs, but they’re so blended in that you don’t really notice them. Anyway, thanks for thinking about that piece and asking me. I really appreciate it. Hope stuff is awesome in your hood. ** Brendan, Hi! Oh, man, so cool, and serious envy on that Dodger game. So hoping I’ll get back there while the season is still in swing. ** Steve Erickson, Congrats on #2! Agree about Goldie. I interviewed him for Spin circa ‘Timeless’ and asked him about the smoothing out, and of course he said it was maturity. Nice about the Screen Slate assignment at least! ** Brian, Morning, Brian. It’s a gorgeous book. That does sound and even feel stressful. Here’s to passing and getting their premise of logic in the rear view. I too thought France would ace the vaccine thing. It is improving. They are talking about reopening things soon. Please, dear god. One definitely has to be in the mood for ‘Irreversible’. It does get less horrifying after the long head crushing sequence. Your spending daydream makes a lot of sense. Me? Hm. Pay for Zac’s and my new film and, well, maybe a bunch of future films. Buy a Switch. Hire someone to delete files. Set up a foundation to give giant grants to writers and artists and filmmakers and so on of an experimental bent. Buy a large piece of property somewhere and start collecting dark rides that would eventually become a giant amusement park featuring nothing but dark rides. Uh, … I think by that point I’d probably be broke again. I’ll wish us both a remaining week that contains no stress whatsoever. ** Right. Something came over me, and I decided to do a post about Piper Laurie, an often fascinating actor with a very hit or miss oeuvre. See if you can get with her today, thank you. See you tomorrow.

11 Comments

  1. Wonderfulto see this tribute to Rosie, who I’ve knon personally for eons. She was phenomenally helpfulto me in the writing of “Open Secret” as she was paired with Rock Hudson early in their careers at Universal and told me a lot about what he was like back then. They’re particularly great together in Sirk’s “Has Anybdy Seen My Gal.” She dd a ton and a half of fluff at that studio but really began to make her mark as an actres on New York TV. Look up her creditson IMDB. I beieve some of it from that period is still available in some form.

    Her performance in “Carrie” is quite simply one of the greatest in the history of the cinema : Right up there with Maria Casares in “Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne” Anna Magnani in “The golden Coah” and Meryl Streep in “The Devil Wears Prada.” She has a wonderfuly practical attitude towars the ups and downs of her career. And being in excellent health she still has a lot to offer — if anyone of taste and imaiination is interested.

    Just got the new complete recording of “Anywon Can Whistle” Here’s the Skinny Great cast with the incredibly lovely John Barrowman knocking it out of the ballpar as”Hapgood”
    Here’s one of the big numbers in this cracked masterpiece

  2. Dennis, Piper Laurie is ace!

    Kinda don’t understand any of these sites’ algorithms and community standards. Like, I see legit death threats on Twitter that don’t get taken down but something as innocuous as a very benign, moderate opinion on a news piece does. It’s weird all the way around.

    I’d guess they have a website there to sign up for the vax? I think we’re pretty much open to everyone over 16 getting it now. Kayla’s gotten both of her shots. She got a bruise from the first one that she named “Brayla.” I heard about that fucking barely-there bruise for 3 days straight. You’d have thought she’d had a leg cut off or something.

    Or could you just show up be like, “I’m Dennis MOTHERFUCKING Cooper, vax me, bitches! NOW!”? 😉

  3. Hey Dennis – Been catching up on and digging the recent posts. Glad to know about the new Amy Gerstler collection. Loved the Chateau – interesting to see so many JPEGs in the mix there after having read the various GIF novels. Recently had been reading a newly translated Taiyo Matsumoto book and love his work. And I’ve been meaning to read that Tutuola novel for ages. Etc.

    Been dealing with yet another string of calamities – won’t bore with the details but it’s why I’ve been scarce here. Hoping things might stabilize in the next few days. On the plus side, getting my 2nd vaxx shot tomorrow. And I’ve been able to keep inching along with the novel despite everything.

    Have you seen that recent(ish) German movie ‘Victoria’? Thought it was intriguing. Done in one shot, which is a bit of a gimmick, though it also makes sense of tracking group of newly acquainted people as they get drawn deeper into each other’s orbit and helps to pull off some incredible tonal and plot shifts.

  4. I’m pretty surprised I’ve seen a few Piper Laurie movies! Carrie of course, the Murch Oz movie which is such a bizarre feast, Trauma…

    Good luck with getting your shots, Dennis. Over here, it helped to get up early in the morning and hit the appointment websites.

    I’m enjoying the Carrington Tarot book. And in case you’re interested:
    https://ignota.org/products/ignota-hosts-the-tarot-of-leonora-carrington-with-susan-aberth-and-tere-arcq

    Bill

  5. Return To Oz was my first film fixation, and I remember being obsessed with those bizarro Wheelers characters as a very young child. Would be keen to experience that again and see whether it matches up to my memories. Am sure the performance of Piper Laurie would have been very good too.
    I was talking to the occupational health nurse today and we were discussing how my writing has dried up since being admitted to hospital. Her advice seems really good, which is to put aside some time, maybe an hour, each day and just retire to the day room with my laptop and get writing there away from the general ward hubbub. So that is what I’ll do starting tomorrow. Away from that, physio is going well and I’ll surely not be here too much longer.

  6. The Black Prince

    April 14, 2021 at 9:36 pm

    Hello! Thank you for your sublime vibes, I think that’s the reason the interview went well. That + I finally took an anti-anxiety pill, which made me a bit high… Oddly enough, I enjoyed the interview, I hope they did, too. Although I’ve been analysing it in my head for a few hours now, and I think I could’ve done slightly better in regard to one of the questions… so I don’t know. I should know the result by the end of this week. I hate how much I want things sometimes, it makes me feel desperate, which makes me loathe me a bit… Anyway, I hope you’re well, patiently waiting for your vaccine? What is a ‘boomerang sizeable kiss’? I used up all my English in that interview haha. Anyway, any kiss from you is very much welcome, obvs. Bisous from the black prince of the valley of ennui and anxiety

  7. Hi!!

    I’m only dropping by for a very quick love exchange today. It’s almost midnight, and I’ve just finished working. (Another super crazy deadline! But it’s a novel this time!) Huh. But I can’t NOT say thank you for your delicious love, which I’d enjoy tremendously right about… now. Yes. Exactly now. Love tweaking your love as a deck of cards so that it always makes the boy with the most clothes on lose the next round, Od.

  8. Hello Dennis,

    Not at all, it was my pleasure and thanks for answering! I’m sure you must get asked this all the time, but has your GIF work changed how you work with text, or did the way you were already working with text translate pretty neatly to the GIFs?

    Today made me feel pretty illiterate, I haven’t seen any of Piper Laurie’s films, even though by rights I should have done. I did want to ask though, do you have favourite actors, and what kind of criteria do you judge them by? Speaking of myself I very rarely resonate with actors and performances alone, like my friends might say ‘wow they’re such an amazing actor’ but I can’t think of when I thought that about a film or theatre thing. It’s sort of the same with dance and music – I’m much more receptive to the composition rather than the functional ‘skill’ of the people performing, even though I guess that can be another decision within the work.

    Anyway, hope the seismograph of your week thus far has been recording a pleasant but none-too-disturbing ripple through the days, Tx

  9. Friends of mine have gotten perma-bans from Twitter for tweeting “die, bitch” or the like at some politician or media figure, but they were responding to literal neo-Nazis whom the site still tolerates. Go figure.

    The vaccine’s side effects hit me pretty hard. Today felt like I suddenly came down with the flu and it got worse through the day, while I also somehow got teleported into a serious depressive phase. I assume tomorrow will at least improve, if not clear up, these symptoms.

    Do you know the Japanese director Koji Shiraishi? He’s a very prolific J-horror filmmaker, but his trio of found footage cosmic horror films – NOROI, OCCULT & CULT – have an appreciative audience in the US, and are all available for free, subtitled viewing on YouTube. I watched OCCULT yesterday, and it reminded me of a Lovecraftian (but based in Shinto) take on the Aum Shrinyiko story. (Plus, Kiyoshi Kurosawa has a small role as himself: both a filmmaker and an expert on the occult meaning of runes!) If I feel more alert later, I plan to give NOROI, his mostly regarded film, a try.

  10. I love me some Catherine Martell. A most excellent day, Dennis. Let’s go to a baseball game together!

    B

  11. Hey, Dennis,

    I’m familiar with Piper Laurie solely for her famous turn in “Carrie”, a performance which I’ve never been as big on as a lot of others are, but is definitely a memorable one if nothing else. I’ll have to check out—well, some of these at least. We’ll see about Logic. Oh, well, that’s exciting about potential reopening. I’m praying for you all. I didn’t make it to the head crushing sequence in “Irreversible”, he was just wandering around in the club. I anticipate the head crushing scene with the appropriate mixture of fascination and dread. I don’t know what “the mood” for watching it would even be, but I just wasn’t vibing with it, so I figured I’d bail and wait for another night. Your use of your fantastical wealth is much more sensible than my own. Film funding especially. And that foundation, and your massive dark ride amusement park too. I’m sure that latter one would become a fabled haunted ruin or something, of the kind you post on this blog. Great choices. Well, we’re heading into Thursday, and this magic windfall of treasure hasn’t happened yet. There’s still time left yet in the week though, yes? Let’s hope the next two days bring sudden and unexpected prosperity, or some nice and happy moments at minimum. I’m definitely looking forward to hanging out with the boys tomorrow on here as usual. Talk to you then.

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