The Sordid Lives of Others…
In 2007 I came across a film… I stumbled upon the film because my adolescent self had fallen in love with Beverly D’Angelo. She is probably best known to the casual viewer as the mom from the National Lampoon Vacation movies. The film was called “Daddy’s Dyin’… Who’s Got the Will?”. I first saw Beverly D’Angelo when I watched “Christmas Vacation” with my Granny in the late 90s. I was allowed to watch that one because it was a PG, but I wasn’t allowed to watch the original two Vacation films until I had reached my teenage years. After sneakily ordering the DVD of “Vacation” I waited for a day when the parental units were out of the house before I sat down and popped it in the DVD player…
I discovered on more than one occasion during that film why my parents hadn’t allowed me to watch it until I was older… My god! I saw the Vacation mom’s boobs! Shocking! Nudity, swearing and a dead granny all crammed into one hilarious film! Since then I have watched the Vacation films a few times now with my parents and we’re all grown up enough now to enjoy the rudeness together.
But it was from those early days of my teens that I became infatuated with Beverly D’Angelo. She had a sort of elfish beauty to her – those eyes, those lips, that overbite… I started tracking down every film she had ever been in and buying them off Amazon. There were quite a few stinkers… “Big Trouble”… “Crazysitter”… “Pterodactyl Woman from Beverly Hills”… to name a few.
But for every stinker there was always two really great films that I discovered thanks to her, and thanks to her performances. “American History X” (she should have won an OSCAR)… “Pacific Heights”… “Hair” (genius)… “Coal Miner’s Daughter”… and a funny little film called “Daddy’s Dyin… Who’s Got the Will?”
Now… when I first saw the title to the latter film I initially remembered an old film proverb I heard from someone, that said any film whose title had a question mark in it was destined for doom. Examples:- “Dude, Where’s my Car?”, “Shall We Dance?”, “Did You Hear About the Morgans?” and “Are we There Yet?”. Oh dear… I had already resigned “Daddy’s Dyin…” to the stinker bin?
But then I watched it, and gave it a chance, ‘open mind’ and all that malarky… And lo and behold it wasn’t a stinker. Far from it. It was a well written (who am I to judge?) funny, yet touching portrayal of every small American town stereotype imaginable. I loved it.
Skip ahead a few years and I’m watching an interview on the TV with Caroline Rhea (Aunt Hilda from TV’s “Sabrina the Teenage Witch”), where she is discussing a new television programme she is part of called “Sordid Lives”. The interviewer, Paul O’Grady, is raving about the show, looking down the camera and pointing to me telling me I must watch this programme. So I do, I give it a whirl, I watch the show, I watch the film – it’s great. I do a little bit of Miss. Marple and discover it was written by a man called Del Shores. Oh, he’s written quite a lot… and oh! He wrote “Daddy’s Dyin… Who’s Got the Will?”
Since then I have been in correspondence with Del quite a lot. He’s a very genuine, down to Earth man and a very, very funny comedian. After the passing of my best friend Cameron he sent me a DVD of his comedy show and it had me in stitches the whole way through. He gave me comforting words and has since then shown me there are good people in the world. I have since then sent Del a copy of my book in the sheer hope a writer like him can read it and give me back criticism or praise (please God let it be praise) on my first novel. And who knows, if he loves it enough he could maybe turn it into a movie starring Beverly D’Angelo.
For the record… not all films with question marks in their title are stinkers! Examples:- “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?”, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf?”, “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?” and “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?”