The Explanation
(for those who require one)

And, of course, that is what all of this is -- all of this: the one song, ever changing, ever reincarnated, that speaks somehow from and to and for that which is ineffable within us and without us, that is both prayer and deliverance, folly and wisdom, that inspires us to dance or smile or simply to go on, senselessly, incomprehensibly, beatifically, in the face of mortality and the truth that our lives are more ill-writ, ill-rhymed and fleeting than any song, except perhaps those songs -- that song, endlesly reincarnated -- born of that truth, be it the moon and June of that truth, or the wordless blue moan, or the rotgut or the elegant poetry of it. That nameless black-hulled ship of Ulysses, that long black train, that Terraplane, that mystery train, that Rocket '88', that Buick 6 -- same journey, same miracle, same end and endlessness."
-- Nick Tosches, Where Dead Voices Gather

People Who Died #44


Barry Brown

10 comments :

swac said...

Funny, I watched Bad Company fairly recently, and I've always been struck by Brown's very natural performance in it. Sad to say, I've never seen Daisy Miller, but I have a copy I've been meaning to get around to, this post will surely spur me on, since I've got some downtime coming up.

There's a website dedicated to Brown that's worth a look. Going through all those photos, I wonder if someone will ever make a movie about Brown starring Sam Rockwell.

Tom Sutpen said...

I happened to catch Bad Company again the other evening/morning on TCM; a few hours after I scheduled this image . . . I tellya, this place is spooky sometimes. It's a lovely film, but I think it gets tagged as a Western unduly. Daisy Miller is an interesting movie, but at times it's a bit of a precursor to the Merchant/Ivory Quality Lit cycle, and not in a good way. I'd say this is a malady all James adaptations are naturally susceptible to were it not for Wyler's The Heiress and Jack Clayton's The Innocents. There's no reason (no good one) why adaptations of this man's work are compelled to be so glacial and bloodless in tone.

Brown was certainly a good actor, but I've never quite grasped his (admittedly small) cult following, best represented by that website. Maybe it was the suicide angle; who knows. I remember years ago, when I discovered that Barry Brown had been a film scribbler . . . by the way, how does one get to be a "noted film historian"? I wanna get in on that racket . . . I says to myself, I says: "Well, that explains everything".

Tim Lucas said...

>>by the way, how does one get to be a "noted film historian"?<<

By interviewing Bruno ve Sota for MAGICK THEATRE magazine! Or by writing the excellent Allison Hayes chapter in Calvin Beck's long-out-of-print book SCREAM QUEENS (the best thing in it). To me, Brown's work as a fan journalist far eclipses his work as an actor.

Tom Sutpen said...

Point well taken, Tim. Though I hasten to add that the moderate snark factor of my question had little to do with Brown (whose work I have never read), more at the tendency of some to toss around constructs such as 'noted film historian' as if they had great authority, when they're merely terms of art one normally encouters in dust jackets, DVD booklets and ad copy.

'Twas a gentle rebuke, in other words.

swac said...

There are huge chunks of Brown's writing on that website I posted (click on Unsung Heroes), well worth reading. Who doesn't love an indepth profile of Jonathan Haze or Rondo Hatton?

There's also a decent (if not great) piece on my homeboy David Manners that Brown didn't write, but it filled in some blanks for me.

And I agree Tom, Bad Company is about as much of a western as Days of Heaven. (It's also a treat to see Jeff Bridges and David Huddleston facing off years before they became Lebowskis).

Flickhead said...

Barry Brown’s Bruno VeSota interview was originally slated for the last (unpublished) edition of Castle of Frankenstein magazine. I later ran it in Magick Theatre, unfortunately in the issue after my budget went bust and typesetting became unaffordable. (This was years before you could do this stuff at home on a pc.) You can see scans of the interview on this VeSota tribute site.

Barry’s brother James wrote a 12-Step confessional masquerading as an autobiography, The Los Angeles Diaries, which I reviewed on Flickhead.

Flickhead said...

By the way, Barry's chapter in Scream Queens was about Katherine Victor, not Allison Hayes as mentioned by Tim. Barry did interview Allison, but when she was drifting into a state of confusion, either from a disease or medically-induced dementia. The interview was apparently unfit for print. I tried to get a transcript of it, but the Castle of Frankenstein folks Barry was writing it for wouldn't send me one.

Tim Lucas said...

I stand corrected by Flickhead. I was superimposing the published Katherine Victor profile with the merely legendary Allison Hayes one. I've heard from people who read it, or were told by people who read it, that the Hayes piece went into so much detail concerning the gynecologic problems that plagued the actress' final years that parts of it were almost too repugnant to read.

swac said...

Here's Brown's Hayes piece.

To quote Tom Servo: "Allison Hayes is in my brain/Lately things don't seem the same..."

Roberta said...

I must take exception to the remark that the memorial website dedicated to Barry Brown constitutes a "cult." We neither decorate our homes exclusively with Barry Brown memorabilia (as do many of the Elvis Presley aficionados), nor have any of us attempted to follow our favorite actor into Eternity (in the manner of some of James Dean's devotees.)

In fact, the issue of Barry Brown's suicide is something that
we do not ruminate upon, if at all possible, given the horrific circumstances of his tragic death.

We are fans of his because he was a very special actor to us; we appreciate the emotional intensity
of his performances. The TV shows wherein I was first introduced to Barry Brown and his talent roughly 40 years ago still appeal to me today, and will continue to do so,
because although the shows are somewhat dated, he possessed a timeless quality.

Perhaps we are small in number because unfortunately, Barry Brown's career spanned only a decade. But we prefer the quality of Barry Brown's cinematic legacy
to any of the present-day output
from Hollywood, which seem to be short on coherent storylines, but long on destructive car chases, or cataclysmic explosions.

Devoted fans of Barry Brown we may be, but cultists? Not a chance!