Warhol’s Work

December 19, 2012

Watching the movie Capote (2005) yesterday, and it was pretty good, I got to thinking of Warhol.  Turns out he was fascinated by Capote and his portrait on the back of his first book.  Seems a lot of people were taken by the photo, and it became as much, or more of a cause célèbre than the book itself.  Warhol wrote fan letters to Capote and called his first gallery show Fifteen Drawings Based on the Writings of Truman Capote.  

Yes, I think the visual influences are clear.


There’s a scene in the movie when Capote is talking to the New Yorker editor, William Shawn, after his successful preview reading from In Cold Blood:  he asks breathlessly, “Should we do more readings?”  Shawn replies that they should not; they will let people talk about the book, build interest.  “Let them do the work.

Well, nobody could accuse Capote of not doing his work.  As one character in the film remarks, “You’re nothing if not hard-working.”  But then there’s Warhol…

I think Warhol realized that popular culture in the early 1960s was ready to step lightly over the homosexual bar, and Capote’s unabashedly affected and effeminate manner were probably an inspiration to him.  His great insight was that if he just played himself straight, people would not know how to accept – process – his personality, and would assume he was ironical, sophisticated, in other words, an artist.  Then he could do the things he most wanted to do: get rich; hobnob with the rich and famous; be famous; and play with pictures other people made, while others did his publicity and produced critical laurels and justifications for him. He was dead on, and his blockbuster success was the proof.  The only irony was that he assumed others would assume he was an ironist, and he was happy to let them.

There’s really not  much to Warhol’s work, unless you enjoy his colors and designs, at least, not much that isn’t created and put there by others.  But that never mattered to him.

Fasten your seatbelts!

February 2, 2010

In All About Eve, another female screen icon, Bette Davis, says, “Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night!”  Not a bad warning for those who decide to watch Elizabeth Taylor in The Driver’s Seat! (1974, aka Identikit) This movie is, well, awful…but you may find it interesting.

I am not of the aesthetic school that says, “Ooh, it’s so bad, it’s good!”  No, bad is bad, and good is good, but when the blogger at Swiftly Tilting Planet, who shares my taste for French realist novels and film noir, commented on my post about Butterfield 8 that I might want to see it – he didn’t say it was good – I decided to take a look.  What kept me watching?  Was it seeing the great Liz playing a ridiculous role?  No – the film is weird.  Repeat, WEIRD!

The plot is absurd:  an unhinged woman leaves her home in northern Europe to go to Rome, looking for a man who is “her type.”  At the end, or if we read the DVD notes, we learn that her type is the murderous type, with her as the victim.  No wonder she’s always asking, “Why is everyone afraid of me?”

The dialog is absurd: Men seem to want to have sex with Lise (Taylor).  She, however, will have none of it.  “I’m not interested in sex.  I have no time for sex!  You won’t be having sex with me!”

Ah, but the weirdness pulls it through.  Lise throws a fit in a clothing store when the salesgirl tells her the fabric of the dress she is trying is “stain resistant.”  Infuriated, she shouts, “Do I  look like someone who will get stains on her dress?”  Andy Warhol, who had no need for fifteen minutes of fame, has a bit part as an Italian nobleman encountered at the airport.  Is he her type?  Hmmm…maybe.  She flashes her legs, and more,  to come on to a good looking mechanic who then takes her for a ride, for sex, he thinks, but she fights him off, wheezing as if she’s having an asthma attack.  (Oh yeah, this happens after she takes refuge from the chaos in the street caused by a terrorist assasination of a visiting Arab dignitary…)  And then there are those faces, starting with the housekeeper who breaks out into raucous laughter as she leaves for her Roman holiday:  “Those clothes!  You look like you’re dressed for the circus!”

Special note goes to the weird cum comic effect produced by Ian Bannen who tries to hook up with Lise as soon as he sees her in the next seat on the plane.  He even attacks her neck with smooches after just meeting.  After all, he’s on a macro-biotic diet, and he needs to have one orgasm a day.  He repeats this imperative later as they are walking in the Borghese Gardens in Rome, but she will have none of it.  “But what will I do?” he wails.

The film intercuts the police investigation of her murder – she eventually finds an obliging man who is her type – with the earlier events.  Why does she want to die?  Too many stains on her dress?  Blood, semen?  Her lover-murderer turns out to be a fellow she met on the plane – he tried to get away, but she drew him in irresistably – who is the sickly nephew of the dotty English Jehovah’s Witness she goes shopping with in Rome after sharing a taxi with her…another fortunitous plot twist.

Lise throws a fit and fixes her eyes


A nice old lady at the airport asks for help choosing a book:  Which one has more S&M?  Then Lise get’s searched.


Almost sci-fi – they board the plane to Rome.

“You look like Little Red Riding Hood, with that grin!”  Still, a guy’s gotta try.


The billing was, I think, “With the cooperation of Andy Warhol.”


Two dotty ladies, one a Jehovah’s Witness with a psycho nephew, the other a psycho looking for a psycho lover. Eventually, they get together, and she gives him strict instructions on how to please her.


The police mumble, look chic, and beat up witnesses in modernist interrogation rooms.  Later, the cops and the killer gather where the body was found to share a Blowup – Antonioni moment.  There’s nothing there!


If you noticed that the images are of poor quality, it’s because the DVD was a mediocre digital transfer of the godawful original.