Thursday, May 19, 2011
THE STORY OF WILL ROGERS is the blandest movie ever made, save for the weird spectacle I mentioned in the previous "post": watching Will Rogers, Jr., who plays Will Rogers, woo Jane Wyman as his mother, giving her an awkward smooch in an alleyway, for example, when he hears the news of his own impending birth. Oh, and there's a scene where Woodrow Wilson summons Will Rogers to the White House to demand that he become a writer, which is interesting because that's exactly how I became a writer. Then Will Rogers goes home and drinks a glass of milk and frets about becoming a writer, and Jane Wyman says (I'll paraphrase), "Will Rogers, you do what the president tells you!" Yep, that's the way it works. In his book ALPHABET JUICE, Roy Blount Jr. points out that Walt Whitman and Muhammad Ali (as Cassius Clay) were both juniors; he thinks it no coincidence that one wrote "Song of Myself" and the other declared, "I am the greatest." It's about making "a name for himself," writes Blount, himself a junior, in case you didn't notice. I wonder what he would make of Will Rogers, Jr., or the other juniors we have mentioned on the "blog" who played their fathers in movies: Dick Powell, Jr. (though that was just a cameo), and Jesse James, Jr. And what about Hank Williams, Jr., who dubbed his father's vocals in a biopic and has invoked (to put it politely) his name in so many other ways? Hey, I bet you are wondering why I don't put a comma in the name Roy Blount Jr. What? You're not? I'm going to tell you anyway. Roy Blount Jr. doesn't want a comma, that's why. "One stroke of fuss that I can spare the world," he calls it. If you read the Oxford American essay I wrote about Roy Blount Jr. and Woody Allen, you will see where somebody on the editorial side went behind me and stuck all the commas back in.