This is my Jonathan Demme story, which has little to do with Jonathan Demme and everything to do with one of his movies.
Somewhere in spring or early summer 1988 (the exact date is lost to the fog of memory), some friends and I had just left an early screening of some movie at the Eastgate Showcase when we were approached by a couple marketers. Would you kids be interested in a free sneak preview of an unreleased movie?
Yes. Yes we would.
And that’s how, the following week, we wound up seeing an early cut of Married to the Mob.
I don’t remember filling out any comment cards after; the marketers just asked us what we thought on our way out, maybe? (Again, the fog of memory.) If they did, I told them I loved it.
And I did. I was fourteen years old and just discovering how movies could be more interesting when they’re a little off-kilter. And Married to the Mob was a little off-kilter. The comedy was exaggerated, the imagery more colorful, the camera work more daring. (This was my introduction to Demme, whose trademark “actors deliver lines right to the camera” technique floored me.)
It was, simply, a weird film, discovered at a time when I was learning to love weird films.
The movie we saw that day was a bit longer than what hit theaters a few months later – many of my favorite shots were chopped from the final cut, now seen only in montage over the closing credits. (Most memorable was the playful dance between Pfeiffer and Modine, a sequence now seen at the very, very end of the movie.)
The film works better in its current state, but I missed having those shots in the movie proper because those extra moments meant more time spent in this gorgeous, chaotic cartoon dream world. And I always want more time there.
(Which may be why I devoured the soundtrack, which became one of the defining albums of my youth. But that’s a story for another day.)
Jonathan Demme died yesterday. Most of today’s rememberances discuss his most famous works (Silence of the Lambs, Philadelphia) or his groundbreaking cinematic collaborations with other artists (Stop Making Sense, Swimming to Cambodia). But me, when I heard the news, I immediately thought of one movie, the one that helped steer me in the right direction, toward the weird, the daring, the off-kilter. Thanks, Mr. Demme.
The fries are crispy
The shakes are creamy
The Double Continental with cheese is dreamy
Step up to the clown
It’s a Burger World town!
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