Friday, May 29, 2015

Susan Sarandon Mama Dramas

THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW.  THE HUNGER.  BULL DURHAM.  THELMA & LOUISE.  Since the 1970s, Susan Sarandon with her big bright eyes has slammed across some smart and lively work in films that became high points in baby boomer pop culture.
She went from musical comedy with a sweet transvestite to being seduced into lesbian sex with a vampire to leading male cops on a wild car chase with her best friend to winning an Oscar for playing a real-life nun who helps a death row inmate in 1995's Dead Man Walking co-starring Sean Penn.
               

On Saturday and Sunday, May 30th and 31st, Susan Sarandon will play the mother of Hollywood's legendary sex symbol and movie superstar, Marilyn Monroe.  Lifetime TV presents  The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe.  The mother of the talented and troubled film star was schizophrenic.  Here's a trailer for the Lifetime TV two-part original movie.
Last year, I saw Sarandon give one juicy performance as a stage mother in another movie star biopic.  It only played at a few movie theaters and it's now available on DVD.  Two terrific performances graced an indie film with a bad title.  The Last of Robin Hood sounds like an action/adventure or perhaps even a comedy.  It was neither.  It is a very respectful, revealing and often heartbreaking look at the last love and years of the Hollywood actor who famously starred in 1938's The Adventures of Robin Hood for the Warner Brothers studio -- Errol Flynn.                                                                                                                      

Kevin Kline gave one of the best performances of his film career as Errol Flynn.  I like Kline.  I have ever since I saw him in Sophie's Choice way back in 1982.  I've seen him on stage.  On the big screen, he can often do a little too much.  On stage, that excess works well.  But on film, it can make him come off a bit hammy.  He was excessive in A Fish Called Wanda and it was just fine.  That was a comedy and he, as mean Otto, was basically a live action Yosemite Sam.  Think of Otto's final moment with a steamroller.  The 1989 comedy earned Kline the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.  I wish he'd gotten some award nomination consideration for his The Last of Robin Hood work.
In The Last of Robin Hood, Kevin Kline did less and delivered more.  He was really in the weary, spoiled soul of Errol Flynn with that fine, subtle performance.  What must have made the movie a hard sell was the fact that it details Flynn's relationship with Beverly Aadland.  She was a showbiz hopeful.  Flynn met her in his later years thinking she was of legal age.  They met in a Hollywood studio environment.  She'd lied about her age to get film employment.  She and Flynn started a relationship when she was really 15.  He thought she was older.  She was 17 when he died.
Susan Sarandon played the driven, one-legged mother of Beverly who practically dropkicks her daughter into a relationship with the scandalous action movie star, feeling it would be a financial touchdown for the family.  The mother is the one who'd like to be courted by Errol Flynn and attend some Hollywood functions.  Beverly's father opposes his wife's manipulative intentions.  Here's a trailer for The Last of Robin Hood.
The mama hungered for Hollywood fame and money more than her daughter did.  Today, reality TV has made achieving celebrity status a microwave experience.  TV programming is bloated with instant celebs, folks who want face time on a red carpet.  Young Beverly (played by Dakota Fanning) comes to care for Errol Flynn.  And he needs someone to care for him.  He's still famous but his studio star power, his movie star good looks and his good health have faded.  He meets with Stanley Kubrick and is disappointed that he can't get the male lead in a film he seemed perfect for -- Lolita.  But his real-life courtroom woes with almost legal females made hiring him risky business.  Errol Flynn went charmingly to seed because he couldn't curb the party animal in him.  The popular yet under-rated actor was a notorious ladies' man and a heavy drinker.
In the biopic, Beverly (seen in the black and white photo with the actor) was a loyal friend to Flynn during their relationship.  She didn't seek fortune or fame from him.  She never wrote a tell-all book, never talked to the press and never capitalized on her relationship with the Hollywood star after his death.  He died at age 50 in 1959.  She went on to marry and become a mother.  Beverly died in 2010 at 67.  She'd been a wife of 40 years.
Susan Sarandon and Kevin Kline are in top form together in the Flynn biopic.  Sarandon really rips into the role of the fierce mom in the Hollywood jungle who will keep pushing her daughter into a possible Hollywood spotlight...as long as she has a leg to stand on.  Literally.  Check Sarandon out in the 2014 release now on DVD, The Last of Robin Hood.

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