Patricia Neal, R.I.P.

By Ta-Nehisi Coates
EarthStoodStill32.jpg

by Neil Drumming

Admittedly, I'm not that familiar with Patricia Neal's work, but her death this past Saturday just kind of floored me because my wife and I had just watched Elia Kazan's remarkable A Face in the Crowd for the first time the afternoon before. Neal appears somewhat less in the second act than she does in the first and third, as Andy Griffith's outsized Lonesome Rhodes dominates the screen. But even where the camera flashes briefly to her face, she radiates an incredible amount of emotion and context. And her scenes with Walter Matthau made me wish there was an alternative-universe film dedicated strictly to their romance. 

Aside from the riveting performances, that movie brought on one of those "nothing new under the sun" moments for me. I'll leave it to Ta-nehisi's more astute and worldly commenters to compare and contrast the pseudo-folksy, secretly-disdainful megalomaniac Rhodes with modern day pundits and politicos of any stripe. All I can say is, if you haven't seen it, you should. Next up for me, Kazan's On the Waterfront.

(Oh, sorry. Like Oliver, I decided to dive into this guest-blogging stint before actually introducing myself. I'll try to fix that quickly: Until very recently I was a full-time music critic and entertainment journalist. I worked here and, for a long, wonderful time, here. Clearly, I love film and television. So, in recent years, I decided to focus on writing for the big screen. Sounds like a gamble, I know. But not so much. My actual undergrad degree is from here. Currently, I have one script in development and am working to produce another that I wrote which I hope—when finished—will evoke this or even this, mixed with a little bit of this. Fortunately, I have this guy attached to direct. Feel free to wish me luck, but what I really need is this.)

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2010/08/patricia-neal-rip/61285/