Daily Archives: November 12, 1993

Turnabout: The Story of the Yale Puppeteers

A fascinating and highly entertaining hour-long video (1992) by Dan Bessie about a trio of puppeteers who toured America for more than seven decades with their satirical musical revues: Bessie’s 92-year-old uncle, puppeteer Harry Burnett; Burnett’s cousin Forman Brown; and Brown’s lover, Roddy Brandon. (Their LA theater–which counted Charlie Chaplin and Albert Einstein among its fans–was called the Turnabout because it had a puppet stage at one end, a cabaret stage at the other, and seats that swiveled.) Burnett and Brown, both still alive, perform entertainingly, and we also get fascinating archival footage of some of their shows. Brown, who wrote songs, also talks about his recently republished 1934 novel Better Angel, originally published under a pseudonym, perhaps the only gay novel of its period with a happy ending. A fascinating piece of show-business history, this also offers many interesting comments about what it meant to be gay in the early part of this century. On the same Gay & Lesbian Film Festival program, four short films by Sandi DuBowski, Ruth Scovill, and Iara Lee; one of Lee’s films features Allen Ginsberg narrating, the other features Matt Dillon reading T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.” Chicago Filmmakers, 1543 W.… Read more »

A Home of Our Own

Director Tony Bill (My Bodyguard, Five Corners, Crazy People, Untamed Hearts) brings a lot of feeling and detail to this sort-of-true-life tale written by executive producer Patrick Duncan. It’s about a single mother (Kathy Bates) with no savings who leaves Los Angeles with her six kids for rural Idaho in 1962, and much of the family’s saga is very moving. (Duncan himself, who actually grew up with 11 siblings, corresponds to the oldest child and narrator here, played by teenager Edward Furlong.) Along the way the film loses some of its conviction; it winds up trying too hard and pushing some of its effects. Even so, the depiction of poverty has plenty of grit and flavor, and the cast–which also includes Soon-Teck Oh and Tony Campisi–does a creditable job. Chestnut Station, Golf Glen.… Read more »