3 May 2005 | jgoodrich63
the changing world and Henry Orient
Such an interesting film, HENRY ORIENT, poised as it is---as other viewers' comments have pointed out---between the world BTB (Before The Beatles) and ATB (no explanation necessary). In retrospect, at least, the film hints at the enormous changes to come. The film-making reflects that, as well: note George Roy Hill's cautious approximations of the Nouvelle Vague in the lyrical running-and-jumping-through-NYC section with Val and Gil. (Note, too, the androgyny of the girls' names...) I read the book many years ago and remember it as a darker, more Salinger-esquire work. But that's not to diminish the playful, often painful strengths of the film. Paula Prentiss must rank high among its charms; as must Tippy Walker. There's inchoate youth for you in those years. Val is as imaginative as she is troubled. The old ways no longer work but the new ways have yet to appear. Elizabeth ('Tippy') Walker is really wonderful, and it's been most interesting (to say the least) and a real pleasure that Ms. Walker has shared so truthfully and fully her memories of the film and a part of her life story with us. I know all fans of ORIENT wish her all the best.
Another pleasure of the film is the way it captures NYC as it was then. Being a devotee of the city, it makes me both happy and sad to see it in its 40-some year old glory. Happy because I can vicariously experience what it was like; sad because it can only be vicarious. I love NYC, it's still a fantastic city---even though Disneyfication has robbed it of so much---but I get a special thrill when I see it like it was in ORIENT.
A lot has changed,yes. Adolescence hasn't, though, and that's why the film continues to resonate. And that's why THE WORLD OF HENRY ORIENT continues to be watched and written about. That's why we care.