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The Charlotte Observer from Charlotte, North Carolina • Page 31
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The Charlotte Observer from Charlotte, North Carolina • Page 31

Charlotte, North Carolina
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Saturday June 25 1994 PAGE 9C COMMENTARY USA MASSEYStaff Viki Rome of Charlotte went to high school with Nicole Brown Simpson Rome holds the 1976 Dana Hills (Calif) High School yearbook Remembering warmth Viki Rome of Charlotte was a student at Dana Hills High School in Dana Point Calif from 1974 to 1976 She attended homecoming as a sophomore in 1975 and recalls one of the princesses of the court Nicole Brown who later married OJ Simpson Smelly encounter: Nicholas Earp (Gene Hackman right) confronts his dirty hung over disillusioned and wayward son Wyatt (Kevin Costner) who is in jail Dances with tumbleweeds Kevin Costner and Lawrence Kasdan shoot for realism in a gritty Wyatt Earp went sifting through my old high-school yearbooks this June not in preparation for a class reunion but as the result of a newspaper article Even so I had to read almost all The front-page story June 16 on the life and murder of Nicole Brown Simpson before I even suspected she was someone I would remember Maybe that was because there was no mention of the brown satin dress she wore at homecoming or how the stadium lights brought out the silver shimmers in her hair 1 was there that night Nicole have remembered me I was three-quarters of the way up in the bleachers just to the right of center 1 remember what 1 was wearing but it brown satin I remember the mist starting to gather around the stadium lights and the taste of Pacific salt blowing on the breeze There were damp echoes to the voice In the stands we felt anticipation The homecoming court the princesses were gathered The ballots were counted We all waited to hear the name of the winner who would be the homecoming queen The name was called It was not Nicole but another princess Linda Broth- More Wyatt Earp movies you can seepage 1 1C fense in the 1870s Saved from a necktie party he takes odd jobs and ends as a deputy in Wichita Kan He moves to Dodge City where the marshal pays a commission: $250 for every arrest Earp discovers he likes cold-cocking criminals and gets about as rich as a lawman can legally He moves to Tombstone Ariz with his brothers to invest in copper mines yet pulled again into bloody Some historians say he and his brothers persecuted the Clantons and McLaurys there forcing them into a losing gunfight at the corral Kasdan disagrees though he seldom soft-pedals behavior Where made us think Earp's second wife was addicted to laudanum "Wyatt Earp" reveals the drug addict as a prostitute (Mare Winningham) who had a long unmarried liaison with Earp and called herself his wife with his permission The coldblooded treatment of her and almost every woman makes him unsympathetic for long stretches The director thinks of details I seen in other westerns When a man gets shot at point-blank range the spark from the pistol sets his waistcoat on fire Making morning rounds Wyatt and Virgil stop by a bakery for a freebie even then cops were collecting pastries on their beats! Such touches sustain the leisurely film The movie runs 40 minutes after the corral shoot-out and Kasdan could easily have cut half an hour overall For example he devotes one scene to pursuit and execution of a minor outlaw who has no lines But the writer-director needed three-plus hours to make us feel the weight of actions ambitions are as great as or to see the bloody chaotic frontier experience through the eyes of one amoral womanizer who gradually becomes horrified by violence and does what he can to prevent it though he ends in poverty and must leave his home What Kasdan has given us is Wyatt Earp Stars: Kevin Costner Denrs Quaid Gene Hackman Writer-director: Lawrence Kasdan Rating: PG-1 3 (bloody violence profanity) Excellent Good Average Poor Showing at: Arboretum Clear Springs Delta Movies at Sardis Movies at the Lake South-Park Tower Place Town Cinema Union Square well And when I happened to see Nicole lean forward a little to catch the new eye clapping and smiling congratulations to her In the middle of my sophomore year she gave me something to admire something a little richer than even classy good manners It was the generosity of her celebration I believe celebration and the spotlight come naturally to some people and 1 could see that night that Nicole was one of them good part: Val Kilmer gives the best performance in as the dentist-turned-cardsharp) Kasdan has done what Hollywood calls "luxury putting familiar actors in insignificant parts: Gene Hackman as patriarch of the Earp clan Michael Madsen as brother Virgil Mark Harmon (surprisingly good) as sneaky sheriff Johnny Behan Bill Pullman as Ed Masterson brother) and Isabella Rossellini as paramour a whore inexplicably named Big Nose Kate But the picture work if we didn't believe Earp The actor who frosted over to play an escaped murderer in "A Perfect thaws only a little here With the help of makeup artists he looks almost young enough to be the 2 1 -year-old who marries Ur-illa a hometown sweetheart (An-nabeth Gish) Later moving from cow town to cow town he ages and hardens perceptibly By the time of the gunfight at OK Corral emotional armor has been forged from years of distrust and anger and too thick for any woman but a loyal actress (Joanna Going) to penetrate At first the script by Dan Gor- don and Kasdan seems meant to nominate Earp for sainthood brave obedient thrifty patient respectful to elders willing to settle down and study law with his Missouri grandfather to support Urilla When she dies suddenly the transformation begins He becomes Wino Earp beating a man who lectures him about drunkenness In his semi-stupor he steals a horse a hanging of- John Ford never made a three-hour western Neither did Howard Hawks Anthony Mann George Stevens or any other great director of horse operas Even Sergio Leone master of the endless close-up never broke that barrier in his classic spaghetti westerns You need a streak of self-confidence as wide as Monument Valley to think you can grip an audience for more than three hours without an intermission Actor-producer Kevin Costner has tried it twice in With Wolves" and now in "Wyatt a 190-minute profile of the most famous lawman-Disney got a head start on Warner Bros Costner and writer-director Lawrence Kasdan a shorter and slighter version of the same story came out at Christmas and earned close to $70 million (In one last jab at "Wyatt Disney put out on video three days ago) Whose version sticks closer to the truth I know Reportage of the times was more suspect than it is today and Earp who lived until 1 929 and died in Los Angeles at 80 liked to reinvent himself for the media The CostnerKasdan version tacitly admits that in its last scene a postscript from gold-rush days that lets the filmmakers off the hook for poetic license and inaccuracies fine Kasdan who made Costner a star in 1 985 with the western "Silverado" has bigger things on his mind than biography 1 had nothing to give her in exchange then taken vows of invisibility to hide my awkward insecurities But I offer these thoughts now in return Nicole 1 see no reason for the troubles in the last years of your too-short life He grapples with all the significant western themes: violence in the service of law the responsibility of a man to his blood kin the value of women in western families the rootlessness of pioneers That he succeeds most of the time is a tribute to his craftsmanship Next to Earp every role except Doc Holliday is an extended cameo Dennis Quaid lost 40 pounds to play him and gives the performance of his career drawling insolently and hacking blood into a handkerchief burrows down among his bones making him the most tubercular Holliday I've seen like a diseased version of the gambler John Carradine played in (Doc a I wish it hadn't been your death that recalled that homecoming night to me that I could have remembered your elegant gesture apart from circumstances of grief But now when I remember you I think of the tragedy in the news remember brown satin and a yellow rose corsage think of the halos around the lights and your smile for Linda I was smiling and clapping too but I looked away from the queen for a moment After that I was clapping for you Mountains resound with musicals Red hot: Robin Irwin (left) plays Sophie Tucker in her middle years and John Hoshko plays Frank Westphal in "Last of the Red Hot at Blowing Rock Stage Company Summer stock productions could head for bigger stage fo a couple of wide places on the road in the NC mountains playwrights bring new musicals before going to bigger places Two musicals that just may have futures opened this week at the fully professional summer stock theaters in the two tourist meccas Flat Rock in the south and Blowing Rock to the north The country-western "Lucky Guy" opened Wednesday at Flat Rock and the jazzy of the Red Hot Mammas: The Sophie Tucker Revus-ical" had its premiere Thursday at Blowing Rock Both projects contain deep flaws and needed polish on opening night (But bear in mind that the summer stock schedule puts a show up in about a week) of the Red Hot Mammas" a docu-musi-cal about jazz great Sophie Tucker is the more substantial of the two Author-directors Tony Parise and Karin Baker a couple of New Yorkers with extensive directing and choreography credits have done extensive research Just hearing these great old songs from "Life Begins at 40" to "The Darktown Strutters while looking at slides of the covers of Please see Musicalsnext page Theater It TONY BROWN Photo courtesy of the Blowing Rock Stage Company.

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