Tuesday, February 8, 2011

God - and Gilette- know all!

ROSEMARY: Anyone who's ever seen the movie A Place in the Sun knows that it's a compelling story of of a poor but handsome boy, Montgomery Clift, who falls for the wealthy and breathtaking Elizabeth Taylor - at the height of her ...everything - all the while trying to extricate himself from the needy, clinging, whiny (was she ever anything but needy, clinging and whiny in films) Shelley Winters. It doesn't go well.

I knew that the movie had been loosely based on An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser, but I didn't know that that book had been based on the true story of a murder in the Adirondacks in 1906.

I suppose one of the most compelling facts in the story was that the Clift character - the real man's name was Chester Gillette - was the son of Salvation Army missionaries and his fall from Grace - also odd because the murdered girl's name was Grace - came at the hands of a rich, beeautiful woman against woman the weak-willed and sheltered Chester had no defenses.

History questions whether there was a real or only an imagined romance between Chester and Harriet (the character later portrayed by Elizabeth Taylor) - the woman denied it, but that would not have been unusual for the time. They were also distant relatives. But the tale is so well-known in the Adirondacks that there is even a old folk song about it..

"Away from the sight of people

where nobody heard her last call,

or no one could tell how it happened

But God - and Gillette - know all. "
So how many movie and books that we think ar just fiction ar really based on actual events?
Stop by tomorrow for a visit from prolific author Sue Ann Jaffarian - one of my new best buddies!


  1. Ro, I'm sure I've never seen that movie--looks like a good one to put in the Netflix queue...

  2. I just wonder how many things were based on true crimes that I'm not aware of. I remember when An Inconvenient Woman came out..another one based on a true crime.

  3. OH, that's so interesting, Ro!

    Movies based on real events? How about And BAby Will Fall? A terrific film that was just on LIfetime movies...

    Oh, wait, that's based on a book..which one, again?

  4. Oh, yes the Dominick Donne book...and what was the other one he did? Ah...

    And Tom Tryon's Blood and Money. A fabulous book--was that ever a movie?

  5. I loved A Place In The Sun, though haven't seen it in years.

    While there are lots of movies obviously based on real events, one of my favorite movies that I later found out was inspired by real events is Chicago.

  6. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil - based on a real murder in a Savannah mansion. NY Times reviewer said of it: "might be the first true-crime book that makes the reader want to call a travel agent and book a bed and breakfast for an extended weekend at the scene of the crime."

  7. In Cold Blood sticks in my mind...suitably gut-chilling whether in print or on the screen. Monster, the film about Aileen Wuornos is another. And didn't Lifetime do a mini-series about the Green River killer. Oh and one more--The Black Dahlia...noir in real life in the late 40's I think.
    We were just talking about L.A. Confidential the other night...great movie, although I'm not sure it was based on true crime.
    Now I'll have to join Roberta and get this one on my Netflix.

  8. All those Zodiac killer movies--fascinating!

  9. Okay, I confess. I don't watch scary movies. There might be a whole host of serial killer copycat movies out there but I haven't seen them.
    One of the disadvantages of a vivid imagination is that I can't get horrifying images out of my head.
    But I suspect that many, many mystery novels are based on true crimes, even if the writer doesn't think they are. Hearing the news will spark the thought process.

  10. Hallie, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil - YES! Another book/movie I didn't realize was based on a true event until much later.

  11. Well, we have to get our ideas from somewhere . . . :-)

  12. Of course, Deb..as a TV reporter, I'm always taking a little from today's story, a little from last weeks..
    Hey--aren't you--abroad??

  13. When I Google-search my own name (Edith Maxwell), all the first references are to the teenaged schoolteacher who was convicted of murdering her own father in 1935. Sharon Hatfield published a non-fiction account in 2005 called Never Seen the Moon: the Trials of Edith Maxwell. Now Sharyn McCrumb has a fictionalized account, The Devil Amongst the Lawyers. I own both books and haven't gotten around to reading either. Wish I'd gotten to the fiction version first!


  14. [I mean, I wish I'd WRITTEN the fiction version first...]

  15. “Never Let Her Go” (2001) was a true-story movie starring Mark Harmon. He played Thomas Capano, (the Delaware Attorney General, I think it was) who killed his girlfriend. The book was written by Ann Rule. Mark Harmon did a fabulous job playing the part but I hated the character in this movie. I only know all this because I am an NCIS fan.

    Re: “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.” A few years ago, my sister took me to Savannah for my birthday and Mandy, who lives in Joe’s house (Joe died after the book was written), let us in for a tour. We even went out on the roof. What a great view! I knew who she was because I’d read the book. Have to admit, I liked the movie just as well.

    I did see Hallie Ephron’s movie “And Baby Will Fall.” Man, was that a thriller. I was at the edge of my chair thru most of it. Now I have to get the book to see if they followed it. I hope sales go up, Hallie. If you didn’t see this movie, I highly recommend it.