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Dorothy Parker remembers the heyday of the Algonquin Round Table, a circle of friends whose barbed wit, like hers, was fueled by alcohol and flirted with despair. Written by
While watching this film last night on IFC, I found myself appreciating the social, historical and artistic subject matter. Despite Mrs. Parker's obvious and overwhelming psychological dysfunctions, I felt this was a genuine "true to life" expression of one participant's subjective experiences. This was a unique, if not quite legendary, circle of literary talent -- certainly deserving of serious cinematic treatment such as this.
There was another side to the story -- a healthier, less appalling, less depressing side. To discover "the rest of the story", I highly recommend Harpo Marx' autobiography "Harpo Speaks". Although Harpo also recalls the scathing insults and practical jokes that were a central part of the story of this Round Table group, his book relates a number of hugely funny and sometimes heart-warming scenes that indicate that at least some of these people truly cared for each other and expressed strong positive feelings in many different settings. In short, Harpo's stories (e.g. several "croquet fanatic" episodes) offer a telling comedic counterpoint to Mrs. Parker's almost continually cynical and self-pitying pathos. Read Harpo's book to balance out the negative. You'll be glad you did.
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