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Beautiful Darling: A Too Shallow Look at the Far More Than Skin-Deep Warhol Superstar

One of Warhol’s last superstars, Candy Darling—born James Slattery in Massapequa Park, Long Island, in 1944—idolized Kim Novak, herself one of the final big stars built up by the studio system. Many of those interviewed in James Rasin’s polite but poorly structured documentary narrowly contend that the great tragedy of Candy (who died in 1974) was her deluded insistence on living in a fantasy fueled by the movie-fan magazine Photoplay; at least Paul Morrissey, who directed Candy in Flesh (1968) and Women in Revolt (1971), acknowledges her intelligence when he says, “She didn’t live in the past. She was a humorist.” Yet Rasin does not (or could not) show clips from either of those films; he includes only a brief excerpt from the trailer of Women in Revolt. Denied the opportunity to see Candy at her best, simultaneously mocking and paying homage to golden-age glamour, viewers instead get too much of Jeremiah Newton, a close friend of the actress’s and guardian of her papers, personal effects, and ashes (and one of Beautiful Darling’s producers). Rasin organizes his film around Newton’s efforts to have Candy’s remains buried with his mother’s in upstate New York—a tedious, maudlin thread that the blond performer, who famously posed in full glam in her hospital bed as she was dying from cancer caused by the toxic hormone pills she’d ingested, surely would have parodied.

 
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