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Dean Stockwell – Delicate to Delirium

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    (Dean Stockwell photo by Dennis Hopper)

    “Long Day’s Journey Into Night,” states Stockwell, “was as intense and rewarding an experience as I’ve had. It’s a small cast, and one of the greatest plays of the century by one of the greatest American playwrights. We rehearsed it six weeks with a brilliant director, Sidney Lumet. I feel that the film is the best American film made from a play – that I’ve ever seen. There was no screenplay. Some cuts were made to make it feasible for a film – but nothing was transposed. It was very gratifying.”
    In the book, Kate, by Charles Higham, Sidney Lumet is quoted: “Dean would come in with a bottle of vodka, and Kate at first almost did what she did to him in the movie – struck him. She was so angry at him – out of love. But she was tender to him. The first day of work was cold, and he had forgotten to bring an overcoat. The next day, there was a coat in his dressing room; she had gone out after shooting and bought him one. She always had an enormous affinity for heavy drinkers – maybe because of Tracy.”


    Sons and Lovers

    Of Sons and Lovers, Stockwell maintains, “It’s a classic film. It holds up – over a long period of time. It had a brilliant cast, and I feel it was a pretty damn good rendition of that book.” Sons and Lovers headed the National Board of Review’s 10 Best Films of 1960 list. It tied with The Apartment as the NY Film Critics Best Film. In his FIReview, Henry Hart wrote: “Rarely has so honest and meaningful a novel been turned into so good a motion picture.” He noted, “Stockwell does things . . . an actor twice his age would be proud of,” and added, “I think the thing about his performance that fascinated me most was his seemingly spontaneous use of bits of business which seemed to come . . . from his feeling for the character.”

  • Compulsion (1959)

    Dean Stockwell made three remarkable films in his mid-career starting with Compulsion followed by Sons and Lovers and Long Day’s Journey into Night.

    The O’Neill classic, says Stockwell, “remains one of my favorite films. And Paris, Texas is certainly another. The film was put together and shot in a most unusual way. Sam Shepard, probably our leading playwright right now, wrote the screenplay. But, as we started, it was simply a synopsis, a breakdown of scenes – with no dialogue at all. At the time, Sam was shooting Country, which opened the New York Film Festival. Everyday, when he got through acting, he would type out dialogue for Paris, Texas.” (Interview with Dean Stockwell)

    Dean Stockwell dean-stockwell in Blue Velvet

    Dean Stockwell, Blue Velvet – It’s not easy to out-bizarre your fellow cast members in a David Lynch movie, but Dean Stockwell managed to do just that in his one-scene turn as Frank Booth’s (Dennis Hopper) unctuous, kabuki-faced, satin-jacketed mentor in malevolence, Ben. The mellow yin to Hopper’s manic yang, Stockwell’s eerie lip-synching rendition of Roy Orbison’s “In Dreams” just barely hints at what lies inside the depraved mind of the drug dealer/pimp. (via)

    “I hate to admit it, but you can’t do a role unless it’s somewhere in your psyche. People don’t realize how vast the subconscious is. It’s like infinity.” Dean Stockwell.

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