SHEPARD & DARK (dir. Treva Wurmfeld) For over forty years American playwright, actor, film director, and Beat Generation apologist, Sam Shepard has been close friends with Johnny Dark, a man who chose to live a solitary life far from the limelight. In fact, Johnny Dark now works as a minimum wage clerk at a Hispanic deli in the backwater village of Deming, New Mexico, but for a time during the 70's the two men were related by marriage when Sam Shepard wed the daughter of Johnny's wife, and they, and their children, lived together in a ramshackle 'Hippie- style' commune.
But the heart of this intriguing documentary concerns the thousands of letters, postcards, and photos that Johnny and Sam have archived which painstakingly chronicle their lasting relationship. I wish that the film had focused more on the content of these eloquently written letters, and less on the ultimately failed attempt to bring this appealing correspondence to an amenable publisher. Although the monetary implications of this venture did not end their rather unusual friendship, you can't help but sense that the financial aspects of this deal somehow tainted their relationship. Both men are truly magnetic and charismatic personalities, and to watch their interaction is a positive delight, and the film is a kind of a testament to 'male bonding' and the power of written correspondence over a lifetime. MUST SEE
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