21 March 2015 | bkoganbing
All the worms turn
Calder Willingham started a career in Hollywood by writing the book, the Broadway play it was based on and finally the screenplay for his work End As A Man. Now on the screen with the title The Strange One it presents a really nasty picture of a southern military academy and some of the cadets there.
There's more than one strange individual in The Strange One. But the title refers to protagonist Ben Gazzara who is both charismatic and evil. A good old southern boy he holds the rest of his set in some kind of sway and they're all afraid of him.
What Gazzara has put in motion is a carefully laid out scheme to embarrass Larry Gates the second in command of the academy by getting his son Geoffrey Horne expelled. With the aid of some lower classmen and a couple of sycophants he gets Horne drunk and leaves him out all night on the parade grounds. Horne is expelled and later Gates loses control when confronting Gazzara.
But at some points all the worms turn. I suspect in both the novel and the play Gazzara gets worse than what he got here.
The play ran 105 performances on Broadway during the 1953-54 season and besides Gazzara, Pat Hingle, Paul Richards, Arthur Storch, and Peter Mark Richman all repeat their roles from Broadway.
Richards is a halfway out of the closet gay man who Gazzara just toys with, catch that deliciously erotic scene as Richards who fancies himself a novelist reads some of his writings to Gazzara as Gazzara plays with his ceremonial sword. The shy and introspective Storch is another closet case who is just crushing out big time on roommate George Peppard who was making his big screen debut as was Gazzara.
It seemed like half the Actor's Studio got involved in this project. But they all do a fine job especially Gazzara who is terrifying and twisted.
And these are the guys who will be defending America.