Starlite Photoplays

STARLITE PHOTOPLAYS
Starlite Photoplays combines three novels under one cover, over 1030 pages that feature Hollywood’s brightest stars: Greta Garbo, Cary Grant, Marlon Brando, Meryl Streep and Orson Welles, and many more.

Archie: A Screwball Tragedy Starring Cary Grant marries screwball comedy to tragedy. Boston’s world-famed restaurateur Billy Archibald, a bastard child, rescues his mother from Bedford Asylum where she has been for 27 years. He retires from food services and joins his friend Sidney Pollock shucking men’s toiletries. Sidney’s latest, called BALLS for Men, made from raw whale spermaceti, drives women into tiger fits of desire, although Billy has not yet tested it on his wife, Met soprano Irene Dunnevskaya. Billy’s vet for his seemingly immortal fox terrier Archie (a dog even older than Billy) warns that Archie’s end draws near. Only a serum from the urine of a pregnant yak can save him. Billy at once takes Archie to Kathmandu’s Thyangboche Monastery partway up Everest for the serum. Thyangboche embraces deep Yabyum, or Hindu spiritual enlightenment through sex, and this leads Billy to bring three bottles of raw industrial strength BALLS to trade with 140-year-old High Lama John Gielgud for Archie’s supply of yak serum. Woven in is bastard Billy’s search for love from his relentlessly distant mother, Blythe Kingdom, who carries much of the novel’s tragic weight.

The Welles Requiem brings to print Newlove’s fascination with all things Wellesian. He says, “Since childhood and first hearing The Shadow’s bodiless chuckle on the radio, and then being charged with delight by the Martian invasion of “The War of the Worlds”, I find myself obsessed by Welles. From my earliest days I read, saw and collected everything by or about him. So in the mid-1950s I set forth on a novel about him, called Les Quotables. I revised and revised it until by 1985 I’d plucked from his work on stage, screen and radio many roles he’d played, and shuffled them into one story played largely by him. I called this Finnegans Welles after Joyce’s Finnegans Wake.

His genius at playing giants, the arches and buttresses of his originality, his voice that hypnotizes and thrills, the endless shock of his camera, and his gigantic presence as an artist haunt me still. He rises in me as my Rembrandt, my Picasso, and my stage, film and radio Shakespeare, my Welles.

I sent a draft of the work to Orson’s close friend and fellow filmmaker Henry Jaglom who often lunched with him. When he told Welles of my book, Welles laughed, delighted to be split up as a Joycean hero. He looked forward to reading Finnegans Welles. But then he died, midway through my fresh revision and in tears (no joke) I retitled the novel The Welles Requiem and set forth on a still deeper and fresher revision. This work honors Orson Welles and with its own fantastical tale and setting at last fulfills my every hope and bathes the reader in his sublime magic.

It is 1915, the year of Welles’s birth. The Orient Express takes faded filmmaker Grandfather Orson Welles from his home in Kenosha, Wisconsin to Chicago and to his mother there, Isobel, a classical pianist. The first scene has Akim Tamiroff as Death in Underwear (the Tamiroff from Mr. Arkadin) who with a heart attack strikes down Grandfather in his stateroom. But a shadow show Grandfather performs with his fingers holds Death off and supplies the novel we read.

Also aboard is ten-year-old genius Georgie Welles, whom Grandfather Orson hires as his film cutter and through whose eyes much of the story unfolds. Fellow passenger Lucy Morgan (Anne Baxter) leaves Georgie love-struck, while she remains stunned by his power of invisibility and shape-changing. Meanwhile, Grandfather has built a film studio into a car on the Express and using foreshortening and other devices shoots his version of the HMS Titanic Disaster of three years earlier in 1912.

Figures arise from Welles’s stage, radio and film work: Cousin Orson from CBS radio, Touch of Evil’s Hank Quinlan, Lamont Cranston (The Shadow), Larry Lime (Harry’s twin brother), Uncle Falstaff, and Baby Orson (at age two Welles plays the baby of Puccini’s Madame Butterfly and waves a tiny American flag on the stage of the Chicago Opera house). All these players become characters on Titanic.

Throughout the novel Grandfather films the sinking, from the sharp-edged iceberg to the empty sea that’s left. Also on board are Gregory Arkadin, along with Joseph Cotten, Agnes Moorhead, Joseph Calleia, Mischa Auer, and a troupe of familiar Wellesians. Much takes place on the train but the sinking soon becomes the great set piece and backdrop for the action and actors. This leads toward the recovery from the sea bottom of the lost reels of The Magnificent Ambersons, and to Georgie’s recutting of that mangled masterpiece, and to a last meeting between Grandfather and Akim (no long Death in Underwear) that is deep-felt indeed.

One could call this novel a comic fantasy but that would leave out the ecstatic breath that blows through it, a rapture of invention that surges and suggests Welles’s own genius now plunging into the scenes before you as a mad dream fulfills your every hope for this novel.

Set in Greenwich Village in 1937, Together at Last tells of Marlon “Bud” Rambler, 65, a Fox Movietonews cameraman and now a drunk, whose filming of horrors around the planet, from China to South America, has at last worn him flat. His friend Eugene O’Neill, himself now sober for years, leads Bud to meet his gifted analyst, a white-headed and violet-eyed albino Dutch philosopher, Dr. Marie-Louise Van der Streep, 80, a virgin. She lives half a block down Tenth from Bud. And so here meet these two fabled creatures, face to face, together at last as never on film or in real life—a pairing movie lovers long have wished for but not seen, until now. Why did I write this story? Well, wouldn’t you, if you felt able to do it justice? And how one wants to see these two forces meet and trade lines!
Earlier in ’37 Bud lost a kneecap on the Yang-Tze while shooting the sinking of the U.S. Gunboat Panay for Pathé News, which becomes a famed newsreel. As his leg recovers and while suing Pathé for the insurance on his kneecap, he works for Fox Movietonews. Fox has him on a milk run, filming the arrival of the Hindenburg at nearby Lakehurst Naval Air Station every Friday. During his sessions, as he dumps his horrors on Dr. Van der Streep, he comes up against her Japanese philosophy of Mu. Mu? Mu, or Nothingness. And he astounds her as he spells out his filming of the Japanese invasion of China and bloodshed in Shanghai.
She’s retired from Columbia but teaches at The New School and on a rainy night, coming home with Bud from her class, Dr. Van der Streep slips on a wet step and breaks both wrists and an ankle in a fall and then hires him as her nurse. He’s also to be butler for her 80th Birthday party. Many famed clients recovered through Mu attend this private party: talkative Greta Garbo, teen radio actor Orson Welles, Claude Rains, Fritz Kreisler, Thomas Wolfe and his mistress Aline Bernstein, Cary Grant, and so on, all still on their feet because of her. Despite the age difference that parts Bud and his white Dutch beauty—a virgin!—a love affair grows between them. And the great Hindenburg Disaster lurks ahead. But the deep soul-to-soul dialogue between Bud and Dr. Van der Streep? Just what you came for.
The reader sinks in the lost Village and its marvels of atmosphere. I know of no work like it or as daring in its choice of leads. The novel creates its own genre and its devices will be clipped by those delighted and fearless enough to steal from it. No synopsis can bear an author’s voice, and the selling quality here, aside from Brando and Streep, is the author’s voice. Should Together at Last be picked up by the movies, let us not forget Jack Nicholson’s two movies with Meryl Streep, the magnificent Ironweed and Nora Ephron’s Heart Burn.

ARCHIE, THE WELLES REQUIEM, and TOGETHER AT LAST are available individually, or all together in STARLITE PHOTOPLAYS, as ebooks from Amazon. Click here to go to his author page on Amazon in a new window, or use the pull-down menu under his name in the black bar above to see other titles available through Otego Publishing.

Advertisements