Although the real Diamond Jim Brady died in 1917, almost 20 years before this film was made, Edward Arnold, who played him, actually met Brady twice when Arnold was a young actor just starting out in the theater - once when Brady came to pick up an actress who was in the same play as Arnold, and another time when Arnold was in Ethel Barrymore's acting company and Brady came backstage to pay his respects to her. See more »
I saw this movie a couple of days ago at Film Forum, one of a double feature with another Sturgis film, If I Were King. Almost missed Diamond Jim because had never heard about it before, and only wanted to see the other film. After coming in a few minutes late, I found it fascinating also because of actor Edward Arnold, who played Diamond Jim more as a sympathetic, rather than, e.g. a pathetic, man. Aghast at his eating habits, I thought it morbid and indicative of depression. When I later read his biography on the Internet, I immediately thought that his dining habits might be a substitution for not drinking alcohol. Certainly a Type-A personality, and an Alpha-male. Big in every way, his largeness of appetite(s) was endearing and sad, in equal measures. Likely he could not have become what he became without the morbid appetite! Or he would have become an alcoholic or a drug addict -- the latter maybe less likely in his time and place. Definitely glad to have seen it, I recommend the movie. The movie was perhaps a forerunner of Leonardo DeCaprio's Howard Hughes in The Aviator.
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