Play It As It Lays (1972)

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I’ll tell you what I do. I try to live in the now. Burned-out B-movie actress Maria (Tuesday Weld), depressed and frustrated with her loveless marriage to an ambitious film director, Carter Lang (Adam Roarke) who would rather work on his career than on his relationship with her, numbs herself with drugs and sex with strangers. Only her friendship with a sensitive gay movie producer, B.Z. (Anthony Perkins), offers a semblance of solace. But even that relationship proves to be fleeting amidst the empty decadence of Hollywood as they both start to crack up ... How do you get to the desert? You drive there. Husband and wife screenwriting team Joan Didion and John Gregory Dunne adapted Didion’s sensational novel of alienation and its transposition to the screen by director Frank Perry captures its existential sense of crisis. Weld is perfect as the model turned actress whose flashbacks are a faux-documentary and some biker movies she has made with her husband (and Roarke starred in some himself, of course). Her narrative is determined by movie business ghouls and Sidney Katz’s editing plays into her disjointed sense that she is losing control in a chilling world where her retarded daughter is locked away and she undergoes an illegal abortion.  Weld is teamed up again with Perkins after Pretty Poison and they work beautifully together – you really believe in their tender friendship. An overlooked gem which reminds us what a fine performer Weld is and also the fact that Charles Bukowski wrote about her in the poem the best way to get famous is to run away.  A cult classic. The fact is, when an actress walks off a picture people get the idea she doesn’t want to work

Lord Love a Duck (1966)

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“Everybody has to love me! Everybody!” It’s Barbara Ann Greene’s year, or so her horoscope says. So enamoured is prodigy Mollymauk (Roddy McDowall) of gorgeous Tuesday Weld he endeavours to give her everything she wants. It starts with 12 cashmere sweaters, spring break at Balboa, marriage to an appropriate doofus and … murder! Taking potshots at all teen trends from beach party movies to progressive education (botany is called plant skills, years before Allan Bloom warned about listening to educational weirdos), this satire skewers and cauterises everything a couple of years before If… and The Graduate. Al Hine’s 1961 novel was adapted by debut director George Axelrod and Larry H. Johnson. Lola Albright is great as BA’s mom the Playboy Bunny turned cocktail waitress and Weld is brilliant:  see her model those sweaters for her father – seriously provocative and strange and it’s a shame given the focus on costume that it’s not in colour. Ruth Gordon is always worth watching. This is a lot of fun, even if the scattershot approach isn’t entirely satisfactory.