Seeing an early screening of a film or documentary is always an exciting event, like watching a bird hatch. This afternoon I saw the third ever screening of a documentary called Troopers about actors in their 80s, even 90s, who just keep working. The film makers are two young women, Sarah Ballantine and Dea Lawrence. Sarah Ballentine if the daughter [granddaugh†er?] of one of the actors featured in the film. They had shown it twice to the Screen Actors Guild and now were showing it in the delightful Cape Cinema in Dennis [a landmark theatre with an arched ceiling splendid with Rockwell Kent "sky" full of mythological constellations as the Greek heros they represent. The film was shown here at least in part because of Pat Carroll, a wonderful actress who was one of 7 or 8 actors interviewed in considerable depth in the film. She is possibly the next best known after Kay Ballard who is known because of recordings maybe more than her acting credits. But all the faces are well known to television and movies watches because they are the character actors who have supported the stars since the 1940s in most cases.
The film is a celebration of lives lived doing the thing these people loved doing -- acting, singing, dancing, being funny. It touches on beginnings, on successes, on hard times [both blacklisting of some and periods of no jobs that most suffered, especially, it seems during their 60s]. None became household words, none make a lot of money. But always they loved their work, they loved their coworkers, they had and continue to have a zest for life that comes across strongly. They are all people you'd love to sit down and talk to. The film makers didn't want it to be merely talking heads so they've add in a lot of clips. Especially for a woman the contrast between the slender, polished, lovely young faces and the women they've become with faces that show their years, sometimes with lipstick that's too red, is a lesson ponder. Very little is said about appearance, that's not the point of the film -- guts, dedication, resllience and zest for life is the point.
Pat Carroll lives here on Cape Cod and was at the filming. She is a wonderful, down to earth person with a very big talent. I had the great delight of having had her read an important role in a play I wrote that was chosen for inclusion at the New Harmony Conference [in Indiana] several years ago.
The mid-70s are a surprise! Part of me remains in the 50s -- age, I mean, not decade of 20th century. It's a joy ride, new experiences land in my lap and I've become a better quilter, poet, writer than I expected. It's a rich life for a person never rich financially. Hey, this is what the mid-70s are like!