Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Troopers


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.

7 comments:

thesewinggeek said...

This would be a very interesting film to see. I hope it comes to a venue that will make it accessible for others to access. (live in a small town....) Thanks for sharing and if you find out how or if it will be shared on the web could you post that info?

schmidleysscribblins said...

Pat Carroll, I remember her well as 'Prunella' in the Cinderella story, on 'Make Room for Daddy' and Carol Burnette shows. Seems to me she appeared in TV shows and on the large screen. I love it when these older but good actors appear in comtemporary films. We need more films about older people with older actors playing the roles. Will keep an eye out for this one. Thanks, Dianne

Kass said...

These kind of troopers give me hope. Love to hear about people like this.

June Calender said...

sewinggeek -- If I hear further, I'll post it or even email you ... except these things take months. But lots of documentaries eventually get into DVD, so maybe in a year or so... Thanks for commenting.

Yes, Schmid, Pat Carroll has done a lot. She spent nearly five years with a one-woman show as Gertrude Stein on stage, among much, much else.

Nice to hear from you, Kass.

Rain said...

I loved Pat Carroll in Songcatcher which it looks like that was a clip from. When I saw the film, I thought I know this lady and then saw her name. We do change as we age but in some cases, in a good way. I'll keep my eyes opn for the documentary.

FOLKWAYS NOTEBOOK said...

June --I'm not good at the names of actors but the idea that aging ones are now regularly employed is great. Life is not made up of slim beautiful men and women so a movie that is diverse needs the real thing -- old actors, middle-age actors and young actors.
-- barbara

dealaw said...

Hi June, thanks for your lovely comments about our film, "Troupers". Just wanted to spread the word that we are playing in the Hollywood Film Festival Oct. 22 www.arclightcinemas.com and the Ft Lauderdale International Film Festival at the end of October. For more info about the film go to:
www.troupersthemovie.com
www.facebook.com/troupersthemovie