(a.k.a. TRUMAN CAPOTE’S TRILOGY)
Article #1337 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 11-11-2004
Posting Date: 4-10-2005
Directed by Frank Perry
Featuring Mildred Natwick, Geraldine Page, Martin Balsam
A trio of stories by Truman Capote are presented.
Fantatstic content: Truman Capote isn’t a genre author, but the opening story here (“Miriam”) does have a fantastic premise; a retired nanny finds herself dealing with a mysterious and somewhat rude child who turns out to be not strictly human.
Dealing with loss is the theme that strikes me most from having watched these three adaptations of Truman Capote stories. In the first, a retired nanny has trouble coping with the fact that her lifelong devotion to her charges has actually alienated them rather than endeared them, and she builds up fantasy scenarios to cope (“they just couldn’t have the wedding without their old nanny” is a paraphrase of her every statement). The second, “Among the Paths to Eden”, deals with two lonely middle-aged people who meet in a cemetery. This one is perhaps the weakest of the lot due to the fact that it goes on somewhat longer than is necessary; you should be able to figure out what’s actually going on fairly early in the proceedings. Nonetheless, it still works, mostly due to the sheer likability of the performances of both Martin Balsam and Maureen Stapleton; you end up caring about both of them. The last one is the most memorable; it deals with a man’s childhood memories of the last Christmas he spent with a dotty old aunt (Geraldine Page is great in the role) who proves to be the sole relief from the smothering joylessness of the rest of the family. Most of the story centers around the aunt’s yearly ritual of making fruitcakes, which she distributes not to her immediate friends and family, but to any stranger who strikes her fancy (she sends one to President Roosevelt every year). My favorite scene in the movie involves her attempts to procure some whiskey for the recipe, which, being illegal, is only available for purchase from an intimidating Indian known as Mr. Haha. The direction is fairly humdrum, but the acting is right on the mark, and the movie is quite enjoyable.