Monday, April 3, 2017
'Cooper & Hemingway: The True Gen' VOD: Real McCoy Narrates Doc on Notable Friendship of Screen and Literary Legends
[EDITOR'S NOTE: Unreal TV has run an article on a recent interview with "Cooper" director John Mulholland.]
Transmultimedia Entertainment awesomely blends the old and the new by recently releasing the 2013 documentary "Cooper & Hemingway: The True Gen" on VOD platforms that include iTunes and Amazon. Unreal TV looks forward to the special features in an upcoming Blu-ray release and will provide updates regarding when it will hit real and virtual store shelves
This film by veteran Cooper (and other Old Hollywood topics) director John Mulholland comprehensively chronicles the parallel lives/20-year friendship between that member of Hollywood royalty (who has his period of being box-office poison) and a Pulitzer and Nobel winning author (whose work includes remainder bin wonders).
Modern Hollywood royalty Sam Waterston (a.k.a. Jack McCoy of "Law & Order") puts his oratory skills to excellent use narrating "True Gen." One of the best moments in the documentary is the even-toned and laidback Waterston discussing Cooper being a natural actor whose lack of inflection makes it seem that that real-life rancher/covert culture vulture is talking, rather than acting.
Equally notable narration comes via veteran actor Len Cariou standing in for the deceased Hemingway regarding reading journal entries, correspondence to Cooper, and other documents. Some of this writing is better than the published works of Papa.
Aptly for a movie produced by a company that features the term multimedia in its name, "True Gen" utilizes virtually every film technique except for animation. One such method is a series of written quotes by Presidents Obama and Clinton and several other 20th and 21st century notable people. Mulholland also uses this method to communicate that the term "true gen" in the title refers to a Hemingway-coined phrase; it essentially means the genuine article.
This literal cradle-to-the-grave project states early on that Cooper and Hemingway are turn-of-the-century babies who grow up under the "rough rider" influence of Teddy Roosevelt. Cooper is a real cowboy and Hemingway is a suburban one. We metrosexuals generally think of these macho types as "real men" who would rather starve than eat quiche.
Mulholland then illustrates how the early childhoods and careers of matinee idol Cooper and literary god Hemingway parallel each other until they achieve their mutual wish fulfillment when their bromance of the century begins in 1940. The basis for the admiration includes the performance by Cooper in the 1932 film adaptation of the Hemingway novel "A Farewell to Arms."
Much of the Cooper/Hemingway story is told by folks who either were there or know people who were. The most notable is Hollywood royalty Patricia Neal, who is a former co-star and lover of Cooper. Other celebrity highlights include must-see reminiscences by Charlton Heston and Kirk Douglas. (The fact that many younger readers do not recognize at least one of these names illustrates the importance of the work of Mulholland and his peers.)
Numerous segments that feature academics provide additional historical perspective. Getting insight from recently deceased (and greatly missed) film historian Robert Osborne reinforces the tragic truth that we are losing all the greats such as Cooper, Hemingway, and Osborne.
We also hear from Hemingway son Patrick and other son Jack's widow.
An amusing and relatable aspect of the roughly 20-year friendship is that the wives did not like the "other woman" in the life of their husbands. Veronica "Rocky" Cooper objected to Hemingway putting everything in the context of a manly pursuit, and Hemingway spouse Martha Gellhorn had enormous problems with the conservative politics of Cooper. Cooper cooperating with the McCarthy era House Un-American Activities Committee hearings did not help.
The award for most creative segment goes to illustrated scrolling lists of '50s-era stars and novelists in a portion of the film that discusses the generation of artists who come after Hemingway and Cooper getting their share of the spotlight.
Although Mulholland does not explore this aspect of the lives of our subjects, the death of an ailing Hemingway not long after the passing of Cooper arguably reflects the feelings related to one elderly spouse dying within months of losing his or her husband or wife; the survivor simply cannot get along without the other.
This love between two men with more than their fair share of women in their lives further demonstrates that a soulmate is not necessarily of the opposite sex. It further prompts asking the "what if" questions of whether Hemingway and Cooper would have enjoyed a romance if one had been born a woman around 1900 or if had both been born men in the more progressive era of 100 years later.
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