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Would You Kindly Direct Me to Hell?: The Infamous Dorothy Parker (1994)

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Moderately interesting documentary on the life and writings of Dorothy Parker
9 February 2015 | by (Tucson AZ) – See all my reviews

This is a TV documentary done by A & E in 1994. There will be mild spoilers ahead:

In 1994, the film "Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle" was released. I don't know whether or not this documentary came about because the film was done, but it uses notable amounts of footage from the film as well as including interviews with three of its stars (Jennifer Jason Leigh, Matthew Broderick and Campbell Scott) and its director, Alan Rudolph.

Intermingling old photos, text quotes from Parker's works, film clips and interviews with not only the aforementioned but people like Gloria Steinam, Fran Leibowitz, Molly Haskell, Marion Meade, Heywood Hale Broun and others, this goes from Parker's childhood to her death in 1967. It focuses principally on her work at The New Yorker, her poetry and screenplay work in Hollywood, her social activism and her often rather sad personal life, which is often reflected in her poetry (the title of this documentary, for example, is the last line of one of her poems, Coda).

While there's a good deal of interesting material here, the construction of the film makes it a "talking heads" style reflection on one hand and a puff piece intended to promote the film "Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle". Wendy Liebman, acting as hostess, injects some wry humor here and there, but it still comes off as a 48 minute PR release.

Unsurprisingly, this appears as an extra on a DVD release of "Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle". It's worth watching if you have the DVD.


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