Tuesday, August 24, 2010

“The Whole Wide World” Is a Big, Little Movie

The American Culture, 8.23.10
by Lars Walker

Here’s a remarkably fine, distinctive film, the victim of criminally bad distribution, which ought to be better known.

In 1933 Novalyne Price, a young schoolteacher and aspiring writer in Cross Plains, Texas, met the most famous man in town, the pulp magazine writer (and creator of Conan the Barbarian), Robert E. Howard. They liked each other, and Novalyne wanted to learn about writing, so they dated for a time (she was his only known girlfriend). Eventually they broke up due to Howard’s volatile personality. In 1936 she went to college in Louisiana and never saw him again. He committed suicide that same year.

But thankfully for fans and scholars, Novalyne had taken up the Boswell-like discipline of writing down conversations she overheard or participated in, including those she had with Howard. She kept these journals for many years.

In the 1970s and ’80s, after Howard had been rediscovered by fans and critics alike, she grew irritated with the amount of armchair psychoanalysis that was being done on her old friend. She organized her journals into a memoir called The Man Who Walked Alone, which came to the attention of filmmaker Dan Ireland. And so the movie The Whole Wide World came to be.

The role of Robert E. Howard is a big one, and actor Vincent D’Onofrio is every inch its equal. I’m not sure that what we’re seeing here is actually close to the original (I can’t help thinking it’s more a New York boy’s idea of a Texas boy than the genuine article), but he fully inhabits the part and you can’t take your eyes off him. (There’s an interesting scene, no doubt lifted directly from Novalyne’s journals, where he complains of his weak chin. This is manifestly untrue of D’Onofrio, but not of the real Howard). He plays Howard as a bipolar man-child, sometimes euphoric and grandiose, sometimes depressed and frightened at the prospect of facing life without his dying mother (to whom he has an unhealthy attachment, and sometimes just angry at the world.

qually effective is Renée Zellweger as Novalyne. Now I have to confess I don’t care much for Ms. Zellweger as an actress. Her “I just bit into lemon meringue pie when I thought I was getting banana cream, and I don’t like lemon” face just doesn’t work for me. But I can’t deny that she gives a powerful, affecting performance here as a strong, compassionate woman who cares for a man but knows she can’t be his salvation. Full review

Thanks Linda!

More on The Whole Wide World


judith said...

A truely wonderful film.

janethyland said...


Anonymous said...

I think this is still one of Vincent's finest pieces of work - and it still kills me, every time I watch it :0(

val said...

Vincent should have won an Oscar for his role.

TJara said...

It may not be popular, but it's one of his most powerful pieces.

[Browse Amazon]


List of films in production.

"In Dubious Battle" [2016]

"In Dubious Battle" [2016]
An activist gets caught up in the labor movement for farm workers in California during the 1930s. Vincent....Al Anderson


A story about the early life of Tennessee Williams

Directed by James Franco
Vincent D'Onofrio, Jacob Loeb

"American Falls" - [TBA]

In a rural town in Southern Idaho, the Suzukis, a Japanese American family, run a small motel. One night they get a strange visitor who sports ‘city’ clothes who turns out to be the first African-American man that Toru Suzuki’s children have ever seen. Yoshiko takes it upon herself to solve the mystery about this man, especially when 2 police officers come knocking on their door.

Short film produced by Erika Hampson.
Vincent D'Onofrio as Detective Foster.

'Purgatory' [TBA]

'Purgatory' [TBA]
Tagline: In the Wild West a lot of blood was spilled... but it didn't go to waste. Vincent....Dallas Stoudenmire

"A Fall From Grace" [TBA]

Detective Michael Tabb knows the city of St. Louis inside and out. He has felt its true heart, as much as its dark underbelly: but he does not know who, in both the dark and light - is taking the lives of young girls.

Director: Jennifer Lynch
Producer/Writer ...Eric Wilkinson

Vincent D'Onofrio ....George Lawson (GRACE's father)
Tim Roth.......Detective Tabb

Filming in St Louis - TBA

"Supreme Ruler" [TBA]

A man campaigns to become the leader of the Buffalo lodge.

Vincent D'Onofrio as Hank Dory
Ron Livingston as Steve
Marcia Gay Harden as Nancy

"The Monster Next Door" [TBA]

"The Monster Next Door" - Comedy Horror

Executive Produced by Dennis Johnson, Melanie Mohlman Produced by Eric Wilkinson, David Michaels
Written by Jim Robbins
Directed by Jennifer Lynch

Cast: Vincent D'Onofrio, Bill Pullman, French Stewart, Bill Moseley

'Down & Dirty Pictures' - [in Production - Filming TBA]

'Down & Dirty Pictures' - [in Production - Filming TBA]
Vincent......Harvey Weinstein

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