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Big Blonde (Broadway Theatre Archive)
Big Blonde
Broadway Theatre Archive
Actors: Sally Kellerman, Victor Griffin, Harris Laskaway, Trey Wilson, Jess Osuna
Director: Kirk Browning
Genres: Drama, Television, Educational, Musicals & Performing Arts
NR     2002     1hr 15min

Oscar-nominee Sally Kellerman (MASH) stars in Dorothy Parker's 1929 O. Henry Prize-winning short story which poignantly chronicles the life of a vivacious showroom model and good-time party girl in the 1920's who gives up ...  more »

     
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Movie Details

Actors: Sally Kellerman, Victor Griffin, Harris Laskaway, Trey Wilson, Jess Osuna
Director: Kirk Browning
Creators: Norman Leigh, Douglas Cheek, Ann Blumenthal, Jac Venza, Patricia Curtice, Dorothy Parker, Ellen M. Violett
Genres: Drama, Television, Educational, Musicals & Performing Arts
Sub-Genres: Love & Romance, Television, Educational, Broadway Theatre Archive
Studio: Kultur Video
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 10/29/2002
Original Release Date: 12/01/1980
Theatrical Release Date: 12/01/1980
Release Year: 2002
Run Time: 1hr 15min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 1
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

"What a sport, what a dancer, what a girl!"
Mary Whipple | New England | 07/04/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Dorothy Parker's 1929 short story, transformed into a stage play under the direction of Kirk Browning in 1980, loses much of its impact in the transformation. Though the script, written by Ellen M. Violett, stays close to the action of the story, the sense of time and place--the Roaring Twenties in New York--is lost in this production. Parker wrote this story with mordant humor and malicious wit, presenting a free-spirited model who married, suddenly discovered that she loved being a housewife, lost her husband when she lost her excitement, and descended into alcohol, drugs, and eventually a suicide attempt (paralleling, in some ways, her own life). Parker's sense of irony and her implied criticism of women who allow themselves to be victims create a bleak short story, to some extent a morality tale, but Parker never stoops to sentimentality.

This production plays the story straight, sacrificing Parker's dark detachment in favor of an appeal to the emotions. The wittiness and cynicism of Parker's prose vanish as Hazel, played by Sally Kellerman, shows her excitement at being a wife and then begins her downward spiral. John Lithgow, as Herbie, the man to whom she is willing to dedicate her life, loves nights out and parties, and is unable to be faithful. Their arguments, which become physically abusive, are dramatic, appealing directly to the emotions of the viewer. The wit and world-weariness of Parker's real-life milieu becomes melodramatic in this stage production.

Kellerman does the best job she can with the role--both beautiful and vulnerable--and the reader feels enormous sympathy, at first. The potential of the opening scenes, in which one of Hazel's beaux tells her that he is getting married to one of her model friends, soon dissipates, however. Hazel's acceptance of her victimization by Herbie palls, and her descent into drink and drugs feels self-indulgent. Lithgow's role requires him to be shallow--a party-guy whose need for action makes him an unlikely husband--not a role which requires any great subtlety. The ending, instead of being poignant, feels maudlin.

Though the costumes and sets beautifully convey what the people, apartments, clubs, and bars of the period looked like, the overall mood of the play lacks the cynicism and the detachment found in Parker's most famous story. The viewer feels sorry for Hazel here. In the short story, one feels that Parker recorded the action, observed the results, and then, symbolically, went back to dancing. Mary Whipple
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