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The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Sandy Dennis Day

 

“Sandy was a marvelous actress. She was so gifted she made every part look easy…and she didn’t choose easy parts. It was a great pleasure to work with her.” – Gena Rowlands

“Sandy Dennis is so special, so unique – an incredible woman and artist.” – Elliott Gould

“Sandy was the most amazing actress: spellbinding. The audience would hang on her every pause. And as we all acknowledge, her characterizations were miraculous; no one can say then nor now from where her profound inspirations came. But there they were, for herself and for all of the world, forever.” – Karen Black

‘A truly unique visionary of an actor graced with an undeniable charisma and presence that was solely her own, once you’ve seen her in action — you will not be able to forget her. At times her instinctively odd take on realism and her characters could be grating. A good example of this for me would be her odd turn in Alan Alda’s The Four Seasons or Mark Rydell’s The Fox. Other times her work was truly transformative as in Mike Nichol’s cinematic masterpiece, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? or Robert Altman’s slow-burn human psyche horror show, That Cold Day in the Park or his off-beat film of Ed Graczyk’s Come Back to the Five & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean.

‘Film and Stage critics adored her as much as they often scorned her. Often their darling, Roger Ebert famously summed up his respect for Sandy Dennis when he reviewed her performance in 1967’s Up The Down Staircase:

‘“We need more films that might be concerned, even remotely, with real experiences that might once have happened to real people. And we need more actresses like Sandy Dennis.”

‘The New York Times’ Bosley Crowther would write:

‘“Sandy Dennis is engagingly natural, sensitive, literate, and thoroughly moving vivid performance…”

‘It is rare to run across many negative reviews of her stage craft. Having studied under Uta Hagen and a strict Method Actor, Sandy Dennis’ stage work is a thing of legend. She received two Tony Awards. While she had many on Broadway and off-Broadway roles, the one for which she is most known is the lead in Any Wednesday. It is of note that actors still speak of this apparently amazing performance.

‘However, in the world of film acting her often odd take on character and line readings could illicit the most cruel of critical commentary. The New York Times‘ controversial Vincent Canby was seldom kind to female actors who failed to fit into his limited idea of female beauty. He once said the following:

‘“Miss Dennis, mugging outrageously and badly, gives the kind of performance that, 40 years ago, would have sent her to bed without her supper. It’s rude, show-offy and, worse, it’s incompetent. Watching her do a double-take is like watching a small tug trying to work the QE2 into her Hudson River berth in a gale. It’s long and boring.”

‘Interestingly, this particularly nasty review was alone as other film critics rallied her performance in the film to which his acid comic critique was offered. Actually her comic delivery in Michael Lindsay-Hogg’s surprisingly subversive and funny satire of the Nixon Administration within the walls of Catholicism and a convent remains second only to Glenda Jackson’s leading role.

‘Perhaps the most respected American Film Critic of her day, Pauline Kael, was seldom a fan of Dennis. She famously wrote, that Dennis had “made an acting style of postnasal drip.”

‘This criticism was labeled as “valid” when Sandy Dennis herself stated that she agreed and that she needed to find a way to move in a different direction. As her career continued many of her biggest Film Theory supporters would complain of her consistently nervous interpretation of character.

‘Sandy Dennis was never able to completely abandon her ticks, mannerisms and phrasing. For her this was an element of humanity that seemed to draw her like a moth to flame. A self-admitted loner, she would say and write that she really didn’t enjoy people. She preferred her cats. However the psychology of the human condition fascinated her deeply. In most women she saw a culturally-infused sort of insecurity. The fragileness of the human condition was something key in her interpretation of character. She was often thought of as a seemingly fragile person, but this seems to be more a reaction to her work than herself.

‘Those who knew and loved her, felt she was a strong and often staunchly independent person. In the very early 1980’s when Robert Altman convinced her to take to the Broadway stage for Ed Graczyk’s unusually quirky Come Back to the 5 & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean she found herself working with an untrained pop superstar, Cher. Cher did not encounter a fragile person. Cher has stated that Dennis was quick to point out her “bad reading” of her role. Cher, no fragile person herself, pushed harder until she earned Dennis’ respect.

At that time a supporting player, Kathy Bates, was more than eager to work with both Altman and Dennis. After Sandy Dennis died she commented:

‘“Sandy was the great peacemaker of the group when we were doing Come Back to the Five and Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean. She was the solid one with her feet on the ground, which was interesting to me at the time, because she had such an ethereal quality as an actress. I also remember her wonderful sense of humor and her gorgeous hair. I think she was still seeing Eric Roberts at the time and we were all very jealous.”

‘Also at the time of Ms. Dennis’ death, Sean Penn’s full commentary offers a great deal:

‘“Sandy Dennis never met an unpredictable instinct she didn’t like. She was an actress and woman with beautiful idio-syncrasies and gentleness. There’s never been anyone like her. And me and movies miss her a lot. I directed the movie that turned out to be her last, The Indian Runner, which we shot in and around Omaha, Nebraska. I was honored to work with her and I’m pleased to know that she’s being honored by her own.”

‘But looking back when Sandy Dennis fully entered the world’s pop culture chart as Edward Albee’s “Honey” in Mike Nichol’s brilliant film adaptation — Dennis’ portrayal goes far deeper than what “we” were used to seeing in 1966 cinema. This is not a surface performance. It is naturalistic and brutally real. And yet, there is something deeply odd about it. The oddness is what Dennis’ is able to sneak in with awkward pauses, drunken lapses of self-restraint and intoxicated epiphanies.

‘There is a strange new sort of presence on the screen. Both Burton and Taylor are pitch-perfect in their perverse roles. When the door is opened to reveal their after-party guests appear to be exact opposite of who they are. George Segal is also brilliant and bland as the good-looking former jock now tied in what is most likely a loveless marriage. Sandy Dennis’ “Honey” appears to be a reserved, polite and friendly middle class wife. Before long this mouse takes on a level of dark sorrow and fear that is both tragic and scary. In a strange way, thanks to Dennis’ delivery, “Honey” surprisingly game participant in her hosts’ sick game.

‘As she confusingly takes her place in this twisted domestic game, “Honey” reveals something that only seems like a memory in the faces and actions of the other three characters: she is human and she is breaking under the weight of her life and this demented game.

‘There is something almost inexplicably raw and powerful in Sandy Dennis’ fragmented and almost stuttering method of speaking. Her lines come out like twitches and spastic after thoughts. While the other actors deliver with venom, gusto, pain and grief — Sandy Dennis subverts Albee’s words to the introspection of human psychology.

‘While the other actors seem to be absorbing the characters into their very pores, Dennis seems to be doing the opposite. She is absorbing into the pores of her fictional character. A sort of distorted version of self into fiction. Or at least this is how it feels. Dennis took a supporting role and amped it into the heretofore unbreakable personas of two of the biggest movie stars of all time. A supporting performance is seldom this transformative.

‘No one would ever dare argue that there was any other choice to receive that Oscar but Sandy Dennis. No one had ever seen a woman do this. Marlon Brando had done it, but here Sandy Dennis is free of censorship. It would be a couple of more years before Marlon Brando would turn it all upside down in Last Tango in Paris.

‘With an Oscar under her arm, Sandy Dennis was primed for movie stardom. Or was she?’ — Matty Stanfield

 

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Stills






















































 

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Further

Sandy Dennis @ IMDb
Sandy Dennis Foundation
Sandy Dennis, Oscar-Winning Actress, Dies of Cancer at 54
#BornThisDay: Quirky Actor, Sandy Dennis
Sandy Dennis faces another day of domestic disarray.
Sandy Dennis’s Time Magazine Cover
Book: Sandy Dennis: The Life and Films
Book: Sandy Dennis: A Personal Memoir
Sandy Dennis @ MUBI
Sandy Dennis: THE TALENT SHOWS, THE CATS DON’T
Missing Sandy Dennis, by Viggo Mortensen
Bruce LaBruce’s Academy of the Underrated: The Fox
Girl with a good grip on chaos

 

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Extras


Sandy Dennis Wins Supporting Actress: 1967 Oscars


Naked City-Carrier Music vid (Sandy Dennis)


Sandy Dennis: Through The Years

 

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Interview
from Christian Science Monitor

 

What we are seeing here is Sandy Dennis, unadorned. It is 11 a.m. on a gray, spitting-rain Washington morning and she has just opened the door of her hotel suite looking not exactly the way you expect movie and theater starts to look.No makeup. That is to say, no mascara, no eye shadow , no eyeliner, no eyebrow pencil, no foundation, no blusher, no lipstick, no lip gloss, no elaborately staged coif. Just plain Sandra Day Dennis of Lincoln, Neb., her face as guileless of goo as the day she first stepped out on a junior high stage in “Hatchet Hannah” and made her acting debut.

When you’ve worn all the faces this actress has, it must be fun to wipe off all the makeup sometimes and just be yourself. We’ve seen her as the worldly ingenue thrilled with a room full of balloons in “Any Wednesday,” as the pathetic, sniveling faculty wife in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” as the sweet young chicken farmer who’s fair game for D. H. Lawrence’s “The Fox,” as the gutsy schoolteacher in “Up the Down Staircase,” and the suburban housewife dazed and glazed by the hand-to-hand combat of a vacation in Fun City in “The Out-of-Towners.” Currently she’s visible on film as an ex-wife with an obsession for photographing vegetables, a woman who spends years doing arty closeups of broccoli and Swiss chard in Alan Alda’s hit marital comedy “The Four Seasons.” On stage, she’s doing a powerfully funny performance as the unglued wife of a US senator in “The Supporting Cast,” the comedy which opened here at Kennedy Center and has received mixed notices since moving to Broadway.

She is sitting lotus position on a green couch discussing acting as dispassionately as the weather. She explains, “I grew up at the Actors’ Studio and I grew up in Herbert Berghof’s class, where Herbert — even when I was a kid — would say ‘You have to have a technique behind your acting, and you have to have good vocal training . . . you have to have good speech, and thenm be emotional.’

“When you’re young you know acting is Oh!” — she lifts her face as though looking at a dazzling sun — “but as I get older, what’s happened is I’ve picked up a technique. . . . I used to hate not playing emotional people — [but with] this character, for all her screaming and hollering and carrying on, it’s a straightforward, technical thing. She’s — nothing is going on there. That’s not a woman that much goes on in. Otherwise she’s be sensitive. . . . But she’s a crazy lady, otherwise she’d keep her mouth shut and she wouldn’t be on stage like that. So you learn to play a technical ability. . . . Technically, I built up enough equipment so that emotionally I can get to a moment very quickly like that [balcony scene] and be right over it. I have no hang-up over it. They’re very easy to do. You watch people, you know how you behave, and it’s wonderful to be ableto re-create that in a second.” She hesitates, runs her fingers distractedly through her long, wavy chestnut hair.

“And also to re-create something unusual as opposed to how we think people should behave. ‘Cause my theory is that so much of television acting we see things that are so ordinary. People do the most extraordinary things. They don’t always do what you expect them to do.And that’s what’s so fascinating about acting, to find those moments. And sometimes, that’s what makes people angry at you. Because a lot of times when you do something like that people don’t recognize it, because they’re so used to what they think [about] how you should behave. So they see something else, especially critics.” A faint narrowing of the wide green eyes. “And they’re angry because it offends them.They have no reference point there. And sometimes it’s more than they can tolerate.”

She spent her childhood wanting to be Margaret O’Brien. She says “I wanted to be an actress from the time I was a little girl, from the time I can remember wanting to do anything.” Yes, she went to movies but it was the first play she ever saw, at 13, that clinched her determination to be an actress: Shirley Booth starring in “The Time of the Cuckoo” in Evergreen, Colo., while the family was on summer vacation.

In grade school she’d organize plays, writing them and acting them out, boss everyone around, be “a terrible tyrant,” and make everyone’s costumes out of crepe paper. The first time she was ever on stage in “Hatchet Hannah” in junior high, she froze and walked right off. At a community theater, when she was 16, she performed in Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible,” and talked the director into letting her audition for the starring role in “The Rainmaker,” a role for which she was a couple of dozen years too young. She won the best actress award for her performance in “Rainmaker.”

After high school, there was half a semester at Nebraska Wesleyan, a couple of art and acting classes at the university of Nebraska, and she was off. First to do summer stock in New London, N.H., then on to Broadway at $45 a week for her first professional appearance, in Ibsen’s “Lady From the Sea.” The producer had spotted her window shopping in Greenwich Village and asked her to audition.

Her talent surfaced early. New York Herald Tribune drama critic Walter Kerr spotted her in a small part, an ingenue in a Graham Greene comedy, “The Complaisant Lover” and called her “a charmer (with a face like fresh mint).” A year later in 1962 she won her first Tony award for her supporting role as a vulnerable social worker in Herb Gardner’s comedy “A Thousand Clowns,” starring Jason Robards Jr. Her second Tony was won as best actress in her next play, “Any Wednesday.”

She also, according to Time magazine, picked up a reputation as being an obstreperous actress who improvised so much she disconcerted the other actors. But when Mike Nichols cast her in her Oscar-award winning role in “Virginia Woolf,” he found her “just about the easiest actress to work with that I have ever met.”

What she says of Nichols as a director suggests that she wasn’t the easiest actress at the start: “He taught me a great lesson. . . . He’d say ‘Sandy, try this and do this’ and I’d say [she imitates herself, pouting] ‘No, I don’t think she’d do that.’ And he’d say, ‘Listen, don’t tell me what you think. Try it for me, and let me see.’

“So I would try it and the first time I did it he would say, ‘You know what you just did? Instead of doing what I wanted you to do, you were trying to show me how I was wrong.’ And it suddenly occurred to me I’d been doing that for years. . . . So from then on, whenever anybody asked me to do anything, whether he did or anyone [else], I’d try and do what they wanted even though I’d think ‘Ooh, that’s wrong.’ Ninety-nine percent of the time it’s right, what they’ve asked you to do. . . .”

As Sandy Dennis speaks, the words tumble over one another, the sentences break over one another like ocean waves. She has a quick, agile, restless mind. Often she will interrupt herself with an interruption that interrupts the first fragment of a sentence. It gives an interview the challenge of a London Times crossword puzzle. Seeing her on stage, speaking someone else’s uninterrupted lines, is like listening to a broadcast without static.

“A lot of acting is embarrassment, people are embarrassed to do things. Once you get over that, and you can make an ass out of yourself in rehearsal or anywhere, then you have to the ability. . . . It’s when you feel foolish that you hold back in acting.And [Nichols] had the ability to let you go, to let all his actors go all the way with something, and then bring it down.”

Are there any roles Sandy Dennis would still like to sink her shiny white teeth into?She’s just recently finished doing one play she’s wanted to do for the last 20 years, Jean Anouilh’s verse play “The Lady’s Not for Burning,'” staged in a university production in Texas. She loved it so much she wants to do it again soon. “And I very much want to do again ‘Eccentricities of the Nightingale,’ Tennessee Williams’s play, a rewrite of ‘Summer and Smoke.’ I love doing Williams, he’s my favorite playwright. I did ‘The Glass Menagerie’ when I was young, and now I could play the mother. I’d love to do Martha [Elizabeth Taylor’s role] in ‘Virginia Woolf’.” She talks again of Tennessee Williams: “When you do Williams it opens up so much. . . . It’s like a whole leap that happens, all the things you’ve been putting together slowly, pop.”

 

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16 of Sandy Dennis’s 36 roles
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Elia Kazan Splendor in the Grass (1961)
‘Elia Kazan’s Splendor in the Grass  concerns the problems encountered by two teenagers – Wilma Dean (“Deanie”) Loomis (Natalie Wood) and Bud Stamper (Warren Beatty) – living in Kansas at the end of the 1920s. Their sexual desire for each other has no outlet because of the rigid morals of the time, and leads Deanie to attempt suicide. While the overall vision of the film appears to be grounded in a middle-class tale of love, it is important to note that the film focuses on morals, values and a way of life that are static and life-killing.’ — Arthur Rankin


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Mike Nichols Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)
‘WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? is one of the most remarkable adaptations of a stage work in American film history. By using black and white cinematography at the very moment that style was in eclipse, director Mike Nichols and cinematographer Haskell Wexler render George and Martha’s interior Hell in unforgettably dark imagery. The story of George and Martha’s (Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor) corrupt, verbally sado-masochistic marriage, and the unwilling recruitment of two nervous dinner guests, “Nick” (George Segal) and “Honey” (Sandy Dennis) into a tunnel of anger and desire, may have found its most sublime expression not on a stage, seen from a distant balcony, but on screen, in the harsh greys and blacks of one of the visual masterworks of the dramatic cinema.’ — NYSWI


Sandy Dennis’s screen test for VIRGINIA WOOLF


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Paul Bogart The Three Sisters (1966)
‘This is a rarely seen videotaped presentation of the famed Actors’ studio Broadway production of Anton Chekhov’s classic play, THE THREE SISTERS. Sandy Dennis, Kim Stanley, and Geraldine Page are splendid in the title roles, three equally unhappy Russian sisters who all believe that their troubles will end if they ever return to their beloved Moscow. Shelley Winters is also terrific as their brother’s nagging wife who does very little to brighten their dreary lives. Also in the marvellous cast is Kevin McCarthy and, in an early appearance, Robert Loggia. All-in-all, it’s a faithful adaptation of the play, but powerhouse performances by the once-in-a-lifetime cast is what makes it so good. I actually prefer this one over the later 1970 version filmed by and starring Sir Laurence Olivier.’ — vern55


the entirety

 

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Robert Mulligan Up the Down Staircase (1967)
‘We need more American films like “Up the Down Staircase.” We need more films that might be concerned, even remotely, with real experiences that might once have happened to real people. And we need more actresses like Sandy Dennis, who looks as if she may be alive and not a plastic robot turned out by the little elves who constructed Doris Day and Sandra Dee. Here, at last, is a film made in America by Americans in which no one is murdered by a cigarette lighter. Here is an honest film about one aspect of life as it is lived in our large cities. The school and the students come through with unmistakable authenticity. The camera is alert but not obtrusive, allowing the classroom to emerge spontaneously and not through stagy tricks, and everything is brought together by Miss Dennis’ quiet, natural, splendid performance.’ — Roger Ebert


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Mark Rydell The Fox (1967)
‘The film version of The Fox starts out with a series of shots of static, snowbound landscapes around the farm, ending with the fox’s POV invading the henhouse. March shoots at the predator, but misses, setting up the over-determined symbolism that characterizes both the novella and its cinematic adaptation. They talk soon after about the old tree by the house whose roots are dying, but which Jill insists is still alive and refuses to have chopped down, another central symbol that is only introduced toward the end of the novella. Jill is the femme in the relationship, fussing in the kitchen while March rests her big boots on the table. Jill gives her a “rub,” passively catering to her taciturn lover who does most of the outdoor chores on the farm. While the lesbian sexuality of the female lovers is mostly suggested in the novella, the film makes it quite explicit. After her rub, March retreats alone to the bathroom and looks at her naked body in the mirror, rubs lotion on her skin, dims the light, and masturbates. March is a deeply narcissistic character, as evinced by this scene, and the subsequent one in which she looks at her reflection in the river, like Narcissus, and feels her breasts. She then looks up to lock eyes with the wily fox that stares her down, a foreshadowing of the intrusion of the intimidating male character that will soon shatter their almost idyllic relationship. When their cow, Eurydice (another Greek reference not found in the novella), escapes, Jill and March chase her, ending up in a lovely, romantic snowball fight. But the scene ends in a still frame, turning to red, a portent of the violence to come.’ — Bruce la Bruce


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Robert Ellis Miller Sweet November (1968)
Sweet November is a love story with a charming, almost fragile and slightly nebulous premise. Sandy Dennis and Anthony Newley are the stars and each is outstanding in a strongly characterized role. They are called upon to engage in what some may regard as an over-abundance of dialog, which lends more an aspect of a stage play than a motion picture, but this fits the mood and the tenor of the plot. Plot itself, which deals with a quixotic Brooklyn girl, is curiously motivated but interesting in its fulfillment.’ — Variety


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Robert Altman That Cold Day in the Park (1969)
‘On that cold day in the park in Vancouver, well-dressed Frances Austen (Sandy Dennis) passes a bench where an unnamed Boy (Michael Burns) sits and shivers. Frances is on her way to her parkside apartment, where she’s preparing to host a formal dinner party – but as the soirée starts, and the rains starts to fall outside, Frances is drawn to the window to look out at the Boy, huddled and drenched in the downpour. Adapted by Gillian Freeman from Richard Miles’ Paris-set 1965 novel, That Cold Day in the Park is the second feature by Robert Altman – although he had been directing TV shows for decades, and his experience shows through. Some of the key elements of Altman’s work are already in evidence here. The sensitive interest in female psychology, which the director later explored in 1972’s Images and 1977’s 3 Women, is present and correct, while a scene in the waiting room of a family planning clinic exhibits the overlapping snatches of background dialogue that would become a trademark of his subsequent films’ soundscapes.’ — Little White Lies


Trailer


“That Cold Day in the Park”, a look behind the scenes, (B&W), 1968

 

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Arthur Hiller The Out of Towners (1970)
‘Lemmon is excellent, Simon again doing for him what Wilder once did. Defying the compounded aggravations of the big city, raging helplessly, whistling desperation through a chipped tooth, taking the name and number of every attendant to his delay and disturbance, he surpasses his performance in The Odd Couple. But it is Miss Dennis who profits most. Most of the annoying mannerisms have been scrapped. Those that persist are employed perfectly in the construction of a delightful comedy performance. Miss Dennis has a special gift for comedy, one that has been neglected in a succession of whimpering, lip-chewing, twitching soap operas ever since Virginia Woolf.’ — Hollywood Reporter


The Out of Towners Sandy Dennis “Oh My God” Compilation


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Steven Spielberg Something Evil (1972)
‘Steven Spielberg struck ratings gold with his 1971 Movie of the Week, Duel, and the film is still regarded today as one of the best TV movies ever made. It certainly jump-started his career which until that point consisted of helming TV shows like Columbo and Night Gallery. Most people would be forgiven for thinking he moved straight from Duel to Jaws while others know that his big screen debut, The Sugarland Express, predates the shark movie by a year. But relatively few seem to realize he made a second TV movie in the early ’70s — about an innocent family and a house with demonic intentions — because for some reason it’s never before been officially released on any home video format. Something Evil is lesser Spielberg compounded by his inexperience at the time and the restraints of TV, but it’s still a more enjoyable watch than the bookend scenes of Saving Private Ryan or the entirety of Always.’ — Film School Rejects


the entirety

 

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Larry Cohen God Told Me To (1976)
‘Larry Cohen’s jaw-dropping, sci-fi-horror primal scream follows a guilt-tormented Catholic NYPD detective as he investigates a most unusual crime wave—a rash of murders in which the perpetrators all justify the killings with the same motive: “God told me to.” Sinister cults, virgin births, and psychic extraterrestrials are all part of the delirium in this stunningly subversive portrait of a society gone mad. Look out for Andy Kaufman in his first film appearance as a crazed cop on a killing spree.’ — B.A.M.


the entirety

 

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Michael Lindsay-Hogg Nasty Habits (1977)
‘An all-star female cast (Glenda Jackson, Melina Mecouri, Geraldine Page, Sandy Dennis, Anne Jackson, Anne Meara, and Dame Edith Evans) enliven this satirical treatment of the Nixon Watergate scandal, Nasty Habits — based on Muriel Sparks’s novella The Abbess of Crewe. When a dying abbess (Dame Edith Evans) of a Pennsylvania convent is ready to name Sister Alexandra (Glenda Jackson) as her successor, Sister Alexandra and her two flunkies (Sandy Dennis and Anne Jackson) try to get the abbess to sign a document of intent. But their plans are dashed when liberal Sister Felicity (Susan Penhaligon) arrives and wants to change the institution. Her arrival delays the signing of the document of intent, and before the abbess can sign the paper she dies.Now the job of running the convent is up for grabs, with Sister Alexandra employing Nixon-like techniques of surveillance and dirty tricks to get the goods on Sister Felicity.’ — RT


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Robert Altman Come Back to the 5 & Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean (1976)
‘After directing a celebrated New York stage production of ‘Come Back to the 5 & Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean,’ legendary filmmaker Robert Altman (‘Nashville,’ ‘The Player’) gave the play the full cinematic treatment. Actresses Sandy Dennis, Golden Globe-nominee Cher, Karen Black, and Kathy Bates all reprised their stage roles, and the results are a magical convergence of theatre and film. A group of James Dean devotees reconvene at their teenage hangout, a rural Texas drugstore, twenty years after the death of their beloved idol. But much has changed in the intervening years, and the reunion provides them one final opportunity to expose the secrets and heal the emotional wounds that have lingered among them for two decades.’ — highdefdigest


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Woody Allen Another Woman (1988)
‘There was a certain period in Woody Allen’s career when he was trying desperately to imitate Ingmar Bergman’s work. It rarely worked, and often turned out disasters like the execrable September. Another Woman is a riff on Bergman’s Wild Strawberries: a college professor, played by Gena Rowlands, is past fifty and looking back on and reliving key events in her life as her present life is falling apart. The film is quite stagy at times, just as it was in September, Allen’s previous film. He seems to think that adds something, but it really doesn’t. One other problem Another Woman has is a couple of very clunky scenes, and a few poor bit performers, which were much bigger problems in September, which was actually the last Allen film that I saw and the one that made me subconsciously avoid him for the past several months. Allen’s script here is excellent. He has produced an excellent character study which is probably unsurpassed in all of his other films that I’ve seen. The lead actors are wonderful here, Rowlands, Ian Holms, Blythe Danner, Sandy Dennis, and Gene Hackman. Allen’s use of piano music is beautifully touching. It all adds up to a very touching and sad little film. It might not be Woody’s best film, but it ought to be better respected and known.’ — zetes


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Robert Englund 976-EVIL (1988)
976-EVIL is a 1988 horror film directed by Robert Englund, and co-written by Brian Helgeland. It stars Stephen Geoffreys, Jim Metzler, Maria Rubell, Pat O’Bryan, and Sandy Dennis. The film’s title refers to the 976 telephone exchange, a now mostly defunct premium-rate telephone number system that was popular in the late 1980s, but has since been superseded by area code 900. 976-EVIL received a negative critical reception and currently has an approval rating of 9% on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 11 reviews. The Washington Post wrote “From start to finish, 976-EVIL is a sorry, wrong number.” Allmovie however defended the film, calling it “underrated”.’ — collaged


Trailer


Rare Sandy Dennis/Robert Englund 976-Evil interview

 

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Bob Balaban Parents (1989)
‘Actor Balaban directs this mordantly funny story set in the Fifties about a kid who worries about his parents’ endless consumption of meat. And just what do they do in the basement all the time?’ — Austin Chronicle


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Sean Penn The Indian Runner (1991)
The Indian Runner is the thoughtful, surprisingly effective directing debut of Sean Penn, who also wrote the screenplay. He says his script was inspired by “Highway Patrolman,” the Bruce Springsteen song, but maybe it was also inspired, in part, by the two sides of Sean Penn’s own character: Here, in one person, is not only the media caricature of a hothead who gets in public shoving matches, but also the young man who is one of the three or four best actors of his generation. The Indian Runner is the last film to feature Sandy Dennis, who died shortly after it was released.’ — Roger Ebert


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p.s. Hey. ** rewritedept, Hey back to you! Tricks? Uh … tricky? Yes, super good and thorough and very interesting interview with Jeff! Great job, man. Everyone, Chris ‘rewritedept’ Gugino conducted a very rich interview with Jeff Jackson around the time the latter’s novel ‘Destroy All Monsters’ was published, and it has finally seen the light of internet at the great x-r-a-y site, and you can and really should, me thinks, go spend the next minutes with it. Do so here. Sounds very Xmas-y where you are, which it well should be, and that’s a good thing. I’ll let you know when I’m next bound for SoCal. Nothing in the cards yet. I hope you got promoted or will any second. Later/soon/love, me. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. My feeling sort of meh about Bacon puts me in a tiny minority, yeah. Things either feed you or they don’t. No objectivity to it. Wonderful Bacon stories, though. Reading them was a boon. Thank you. ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi, B. Yeah, its curious relevance is why I guess I re-upped it. Nice: Tropical World. I’ll search it. We have some tropicality at our two Paris zoos, but the scale is crunched. ** Montse, Hi, M! I’m not going to seek that film adaptation out. And in the novel, I mostly write about not remembering it well and about how my misremembering has turned it retrospectively into a mirror of my internal life, or something like that. Yeah, hopefully when we finish our next film, which I think is probably a long off, a Spanish festival will grab it/us. ‘PGL’ was at the Majorca International Film Festival, and that’s as Spanish as we got. Yes, I saw GbV a whole bunch of times back when, but I haven’t seen them or Pollard solo live in such a long time. Since I came over here. I still haven’t picked a buche. And I just realised upon awakening today that Xmas is a week away, so I’m going to buckle down and make a choice or choices today. Love, me ** Sypha, Every once in a while, someone still tries to solve the WT mystery definitively and imaginatively, but no one has come up with a non-boring answer, as far as I can tell. Yes, I appreciated and was delighted by the reference. Ultimate Spinach’s charm is very, very ‘of its time’, although I do very occasionally find myself singing ‘Hip Death Goddess’ to myself, so I guess that means something. ** Nick Toti, Oh, cool, thanks for the tip on that book. I’ll go find it. The title makes it very purchasable in any case. And I’m still to embark on a youtube hunt due to a heavy, time/brain-eating deadline. But any second. ** Corey Heiferman, Ho, Corey. Sounds like your indirection phase is probably a totally normal in-process kind of regrouping deal. I mean I certainly recognise that phase. Your approach and intention sound sterling to me, and hardly anyone makes films that way anymore, or films that way that involve live performers at least, which is obviously all the more reason. But don’t dig a hole with your impulse. Danger, danger. Sudanese falafel’s special thing, or one of its specialties, is peanut sauce, so watch for that as a major ingredient. ** Steve Erickson, Oops, but stress free showers are probably worth the miss. Cool re: the seeming locked in date(s) for the recording. Yeah, sadly, the answer to Webdriver Torso seems very, very uninteresting, but there are those still searching the nooks and crannies of their fantasies, and all luck to them. ** Okay. Today the blog does its attention giving thing re: the wonderful actor Sandy Dennis. Fans? See you tomorrow.


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2 Comments

  1. Sandy Dennis was like no one else. All her acting eccentricities came together in a way that made everything she did absolutely real and true. In his horrendous book “The Season” self-loathing closet case William Goldman (yes Mr. “Nobody Knows Anything” author of “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance kid” and “The Princess Bride” ) cited Sandy Dennis in “The Complaisant Lover” as proof that “the homosexuals” had taken over Broadway because no heterosexual would cast her in anything as she was so unattractive

  2. Lovely Sandy Dennis day, Dennis! I’ve only seen Virginia Woolf and the two Altmans. Have some catching up to do.

    “Come back to the five and dime…” is one of my very favorite Altman films. You probably know the story with Mark Patton, who played Joe? He went on to star in Nightmare on Elm Street 2, disappeared for decades, then a documentary on what happened came out last year. I was at the SF premiere screening, and asked him about working with Altman. But the audience was mostly obsessed with Nightmare on Elm Street etc.

    By the way, do you know the work of surrealist Merl Fluin? I just enjoyed her novel “The Golden Cut”. Here’s her blog:
    https://gorgoninfurs.com

    Bill

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