Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Fool For Love


Another of the plays Altman filmed when he wasn’t able to put together a major movie. It is written by Sam Shepard, and he is the male lead, with Kim Basinger. Harry Dean Stanton, that great actor who sadly died just a month ago as I write this, is an enigmatic old man. He worked right up to his ninetieth birthday!

There was one basic problem with this filming of the play, for me, at least. The writing and acting were both just fine, but I get fed up quickly with battling couples. They have had a long-term relationship, she has fled, and he has tracked her down in a tiny motel out in the desert. She seems to fear him, tells him to get lost, hates him, but then keeps pulling him back. He is determined to get back with her, tells her she will never get rid of him. I hate men like that, and I hate women like that. So I didn’t much care what happened to either of them. It turns out that something a lot more interesting, and shocking, is actually going on, but the big reveal happens so late in the story that it was hard for me to make a U-turn and care about them again. Possibly that is just my own weakness. But reading about how the actual play was done and the changes they made for the screen, I think I would have had a much easier time of it in the original form.

They built a motel set, a restaurant and six tiny cabins with a gaudy neon sign out front. It looked so real that people kept stopping and wanting to stay or get a plate of bacon and eggs. The crew used the four cabins that had no dressed interiors as storage for the various departments, like camera, lights, grips, etc.