LOCKE BIOGRAPHY OF EASTWARD

THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE VERY UGLY
Sondra Locke

Any autobiography suffers from the writer’s inability to tell the truth, fully, moderately or partially. This flaw has been noted among writers. [William L. Shirer, Twentieth Century Journey, vol. 1, Chapter 1] However, Sondra Locke in The Good, the Bad & the Very Ugly (no index) remarkably tells the truth in a well-written autobiography while coming to incomplete and imprecise conclusions.

General impressions. I like Sondra Locke; this book does not endear me to her. But I am happy she has managed to act in and direct additional films. The more films made the better. This autobiography lacks any setting: What was Los Angeles like for an up-and-coming actress in entertainment(1968-1973)? Locke gives the impression that every role she got except the first and those until she met Eastwood, magically came to her. Indeed, it seems her first and only mentor in entertainment was Eastwood.

Locke presents her life as a fairy tale; the writing is consistent. In a deposition the first questions were about the fairy tale life. She is admirably loyal to persons in her life and hometown who have helped her, especially her best friend Gordon. They marry. Gordon declares he is gay; he finds other lovers. They live separately in Los Angeles but talk daily and see each other often.

Sondra Locke had a good start to a film career in The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. Thereafter her roles diminished, three films that tried to develop the alternative reality of the Sixties: Reflections of Fear was the most establishment.The Seducers, supposedly a true story about teenage girls, gone wild. The Second Coming of Suzanne, hipsters supposedly making a movie. None of these movies added anything to Locke’s career. She mets Eastwood in an audition for Breezy which Locke pejoratively and quickly dismisses: “about a man in his late fifties who choses a young teenage chick with lots of T and A.” (131) Eastwood hires Locke to perform in The Outlaw Josey Wales. It is “love at first sight,” but it was also roles in better movies at first sight.

It might also be better described as physical relations at first sight. Eastwood learns about Gordon. They meet, socialize, chat and laugh. Eastwood produces movies, some of which Locke acts in. For those movies and others Locke says she worked on them when Eastwood viewed them in post production at the ranch.

After discussions with Locke Eastwood divorces his wife in the early 1980s; Locke remains married to Gordon. Eastwood buys a house, and Gordon lives in it. He buys a second house in Los Angeles (Stradella) for himself and Locke, apparently selling a Studio City house about the same time.

What was life with Eastwood like? There is some of that but more about Gordon. The whole book must be consumed before making an impression. Locke and Eastwood spend time in Carmel, Sun Valley Idaho, Lake Shasta and other places. But get to the nitty-gritty – before, during and after dinner talk, the sweet words soothing life to get to sleep.

In the mid-1980s Locke spent a couple of years decorating houses.(175) Gordon is frequently with her during that shopping. If Eastwood is in town, Locke and Eastwood would be together during the evening: What did you do today, darling? Chapter 12 late in the book gives a run down of a Locke and Gordon day. Gordon has spiritual qualities and abilities. Locke enthusiastically writes about days of spirituality but lacks specifics. In talks with Eastwood Locke likely was very verbal about those spiritual events. There was no communication. Eastwood seems like a feet-on-the Earth fellow.

Screaming at the reader is one word: INCOMPATIBLE. It is completely unfathomable why Locke would call Eastwood, a man 14 years her senior: “Daddy.”(152) And when Eastwood left she would “cry like a school girl.”(148)

For Every Which Way But Loose Eastwood wanted Locke to sing songs she had written and composed. She didn’t want to and never wanted to sing again.(157) Eastwood liked Locke, a beautiful woman, to wear no make up.(148) NO: put on the ughs and toss on the paint. Locke wanted to direct. Through Eastwood’s production company the script of Ratboy is bought(mid 1980s).

First-time director Locke and Gordon want to rewrite the Ratboy script. Gordon has no writing credits (that are mentioned)l Locke has none. Eastwood says no. There are schools of practice about producers/directors rewriting scripts. Eastwood may favor, Buy a script, shoot it. Undisciplined, enthusiasts among producers and directors don’t believe writers do anything, but they, themselves, can take years rewriting screenplays. This autobiography does not go into business customs and practices. Eastwood’s point of view is clear. Locke is deeply offended. It should be observed for her next film, Impulse (1989) Locke does not admit doing a director’s rewrite of the script.

While Locke is engaged in the film as a director, someone she likes back home dies. Gordon returns. Over Eastwood’s objections Director Locke returns home (203). The autobiography casts adjectives, one of which is mean which is completely meaningless. Locke’s adjectives are belied later in The Good, The Bad (249): “In a near-hypnotic manner I went back to work. Directing a film requires awesome stamina and with claiming of so much emotional drain on the my life I could hardly stay afloat.” There is no discussion of Locke’s emotional state after her return to directing of Ratboy.

Locke is incredulous about her palimony suit (remember she is married to Gordon throughout), that participants can be petty in a domestic relations litigation. Locke’s description of what happened is run of the mill. It is equally surprising that entertainment closes in trying to keep people out, but think of the earlier incident: Academy Award Winner Cliff Robertson and the $10,000 check. None of those schemes are very sophisticated. It is probable that Sondra Locke has now learned Samuel Goldwyn’s aphorism: “An oral contract is not worth the paper it is printed on.”

There are items every writer ought to know: A baby deer is a fawn.(165) There are no “preliminary hearings” in civil cases.(7) There are Pre-trial conferences, Settlement Conferences and Law and Motion. One “saves” money. One does not go about “saving up” money.(46) And it is inconsistent to call Eastwood a “spoiled child”(236) all the while the author is describing her life as the fairy tale she has lived in since the 1950s.

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A PAST IN HIDING

Mark Rosenman is the author. He labels this a memoir which is usually written by the person[Marianne Strauss] involved in the memories.

In the Introduction the author writes,

“It became clear that Marianne had subtly changed some incidences, forgotten others, or “appropriated” memories that…belonged to other people.

Sometimes, the discrepancies were not factual errors at all…[From the underground diary] the picture that emerged…of what illegal life was like, and above all of what the young woman was like who had lived that life, was very different from the picture she had painted for me. Marianne had evidently lost sight of the person she had once been.”(page 11)

This is always true. As human beings age, they disregard and diminish traits and behaviors which once controlled their actions and thoughts.

The book supposedly is about Marianne Strauss, daughter of a Jewish family from Essen, Germany. Unlike other members of her family murdered by the Nazis in the Holocaust, this 20 year-old Jewish woman survived by going underground for two years. Of the 420 pages of text only 90 concern life underground or people she met there. (page 250-340)

The author interviewed Marianne when she was 66 years old and after her death seven years later  he learned her story was not complete. Hence the quote above. The mistake the author makes is presenting an oral history. He relies on Marianne’s version, and next quotes from other interviewees. The feel of the book is a debating society, quibbling over irrelevant facts: what the middle school was like.

The problem with additional sources is they come from other elderly persons. The author interviewed Marianne because she was 66 and frail, but it seems that most of the research for the book was done after that interview. He later learned things and needed clarifications and had additional questions.

Throughout the book are sentences, so obvious, they are concessionary and cliched. They don’t belong: “For Marianne’s parents, life in 1942 must have been one long miserable wait under steadily worsening conditions.” (page 219) Miserable! Jews living in Nazi Germany had more than misery. In his diary Victor Klemperer tells of the petty steps the Nazis officialdom took to torment him: Taking the pet cat; during searches stealing food, money and clothes from their living space. These actions go far beyond misery, especially for the educated victims who know most Nazis never got past the sixth grade and had all the compassion and understanding of baboons.

One way this oral history reveals itself and weaknesses is it is written by subject. Years bounce around, sometimes in the same paragraph; persons come and go; imprudently the author puts the reader in 1942 and in the next paragraph he injects himself: “In the summer of 1997 I gained an unexpected insight into Marianne’s effect on this group…” (222). Sources go from diaries to fax transmissions.

About halfway through the book the author tells about the Gestapo evacuation of the Strauss family and Marianne’s escape. The author returns to the debating sources and foolishly, irrelevantly concludes, “…it seems the Gestato story was true – and on this point Marianne’s account was inaccurate.” (p. 258)

The author’s attempted explanation at the end of the book about Marianne’s not remembering things just as they happened is folly. Individuals living normal lives don’t remember what they ate for lunch on any day, or on which day two weeks ago they went to the dentist. Anyone who investigates anything – politics, government, journalists, spies, attorneys – knows that human memory and eye witness accounts are fallible, sometimes completely unreliable, although the event occurred a half hour before. It is nonsense to expect a 66 year old woman to remember everything that happened to her 45 years before without her referring to her own papers or walking the arena.

However, this text tells of the German underground (incompletely) which is an important subject. Most Germans lost their heads, manically worshipping human idols and following the simplest, cliched ideas to lead them to Valhalla. There was a sliver of people in Germany who defied that mindset, disparaged that ignorance and obscurantism and kept their humanity. They helped persons like Marianne.

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BERLIN DIARIES 1940-1945

A diary to read.

MARIE VASSILTCHIKOV was a White Russian emigre whose family or royalty came west during the Russian Revolution (1919). She was in Germany throughout World War Two, and kept a diary half of which was lost.

She knew many Germans involved in the July 20, 1944 plot to kill Hitler, but she really does not say how much she knew. e.g. she knew how the extra bombs were disposed of.

Throughout the War she worked in a German public relations office, mostly collecting photographs; she visited friends, foreigners like herself, well-healed Germans like the Bismarcks, and Twenty-something persons like herself.

There is no telling how much better this book could be if she had all her diaries from those years. The author has managed to tell about society and culture in a closing circle. As the Germans were losing the War, they restricted all activities more and more: bathing, use of cosmetics, food rationing in effect immediately except for oysters which were not rationed. Marie tells about traveling across Berlin to rescue 200 oysters in a friend’s bombed out building.

This is not the first diary I’ve read about Germany during that War. But this story conveys (and provides an outline) how human beings live through disabilities, whether it is war or those suffered by human beings.

GONE GIRL Review

Supposedly the story is about two writers, Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike. She goes missing.

The story is not about writing. It is about complimenting writers: “I loved it”and “Brilliant” are not subjects, adjectives and admirations writers use. They are more critically subtle suggesting an intimate sublime understanding of the writing. There is none of that in the movie.

The cops learn that Rosamund has gone missing. They are the most inept cops on the planet. There is no victimization; there’s no in-depth investigation into Rosamund or Ben. There is no body, not much blood, no search dogs and no way to transport the body anywhere. The cops don’t talk to the neighbor whose entire life appears to be sitting on his front porch looking at Ben and Rosamund’s house. They don’t talk to Rosamund’s “best friend” until … Ben is a suspect but the cops don’t ask many questions; they let him wander and contaminate house, the supposed crime scene. Ben’s attitude to the cops: he is offended questions are being asked and has a unsettling annoyance his life is disturbed.

So this is not a police story; the cops and their lines are annoyances to tell other parts of the script. The cops don’t learn until late that Ben wants to divorce Rosamund. They don’t learn until late that Ben has been rogering one of his students.

Ben reminds me of Donald Trump, legitimately attacked by women who call him out for his bad judgment and egregious decisions.

At minute 67-69 the audience learns that Rosamund is on the fly and has set Ben up for murder. The big problem is her creating a new identity. Identity is problematic when the subject is known: Amazing Amy is Rosamund’s character. It is coupled with Rosamund’s trademark smile.

Rosemund stays at a resort with a miniature golf course where she monitors the missing person’s investigation over the Internet. With another woman she talks about her experiences with Ben. Dumb.

If Rosamund were decidedly against Ben and wanted him to be charged with murder, it seems a good time to do a WILD venture and hike the Pacific Rim trail, thereby disappearing for a long while. NOPE, Rosamund is not that smart. Her motivation throughout the movie waivers; she goes with the flow.

Rosamund is robbed at the resort by her girlfriend and her boyfriend. Rosamund calls old boyfriend who has held a candle for her for 20 years (believe it or not, life can be that short). He’s rich and promises to hide her at his Lake side, high-tech mansion masquerading as a cabin.

Note it is about this time in the movie that the cops get around to arresting Ben.

Cabin life in the woods is not what Rosamund wants. She more or less does a Basic Instinct  murder on the old boyfriend, and reports that he was obsessed with her, kidnapped and raped her. She drives home to Ben.

The situation becomes a public relations campaign. The movie is about writers becoming more famous without going to jail.

If all the ingredients of the story had been hard and accurate, I would not now write, Don’t see this movie.

 

 

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