Phantom of the Cinema

T his story begins on a grey morning, about two weeks ago. We decided to journey to Walden Pond, to

This story begins on a grey morning, about two weeks ago. We decided to journey to Walden Pond, to experience nature. We got there and were experiencing nature, walking across the frozen pond, wondering if we could find a live beaver to eat--as Henry David Thoreau used to fantasize--when we discovered upon climbing over a slight rise, that our car was no longer there. Now, the first thing we figured was that our car had been stolen. But then we realized that it probably had only been towed--although it was 9:05 on a Sunday morning--and we walked up the road to Ranger Bill. Ranger Bill said. "Uh. well look--your car was probably towed by the Lincoln police," and we said. "Uh, well look--where would they have towed it to, perchance?," and he said. "Uh, well they probably, uh, towed it out to the Shell station out there on Route?" and we said. "Uh, well how far is that?," and he said. "Well, it's about six miles that way--just keep walking."

And so while we were out taking the air, experiencing nature, strolling through the quaint New England fields, shot with the first green of a new spring, we happened upon the idea that this was just fucking idiotic, this nature shit, and who wanted to eat a live beaver anyway, and we stopped at a lonesome farmhouse to call a cab.

That's when we met DeWitt.

This guy has been mailing his film columns in from Lincoln for a long time, and nobody had ever met him or even laid eyes on him. He was horribly disfigured many years ago, when a projector blew up in his face, but even that little incident didn't diminish his love for "la cine," as we say in France.

We said. "Could we use your telephone?," and he said. "Have you seen Notorious?"

We never did use his telephone, but we had a fascinating talk about movies, extracts of which are printed here.

DEWITT: The Deer Hunter. Well, first off, five bucks for a movie is an outrage--although you guys'll have to pay $25 to get your car out of hock--and frankly. I almost didn't go. Dolby or no Dolby. That music--Christ--I still have a headache. And the gun shots--every time they blew up a face I hit the roof. It was very well filmed. Vilmos Zsigmond is a genius. Well edited. Those weren't Pennsylvania mountains, though. Man, it was elaborately bogus--the choral music in the mountains, the Russian Orthodox Church that looked like the Vatican--and those scenes in the beginning...During my youth, after an unpleasant incident with the wife of the Marquis De Palona--from which comes the English, "marquee," which applies to movies--I was forced to take a sojourn along the Ohio, and I was struck by how true-to-life the scenes in the steel mills are. Those people, though, do not sound like steel workers--they sound like transplanted New Yorkers, and they keep trying to work up a "rapport," you know? A rapport with each other to make us think they're life-long buddies. A rhythm very influenced by Mean Streets. Bogus. DeNiro, though, is marvelous--that studied inarticulateness. DeNiro's got all the equipment to be a great stage actor--he can use his voice, if you remember The Last Tycoon. He was wonderful in that. He would have made the greatest1