Sunday, November 18, 2012

"Catching Salinger" is more a matter of "chasing Salinger" or maybe stalking him, or making a stakeout


In the 2007 documentary featurette  (53 minutes) from Kultur, “Catching Salinger”, (L'Attrape Salinger") directed by Jean-Marie Ferier, young French writer and filmmaker Frederic Beigbeder goes on his own quest to locate reclusive author J.D. Salinger, author of the famous counter-cultural “The Catcher in the Rye” (1951) with its youthful anti-hero Holden Caulfield.  Even after Salinger’s death in 2010, the estate so far has refused to sell movie rights.  Salinger had even sued to stop publication of a “fan fiction” novel showing Caulfield as an eldery man.  Salinger wrote some other works, like “Franny and Zooey”, and some shorter novellas.  He moved out of New York in 1953 and gradually withdrew from public life, although his family life seems to have been interesting.

Frederic starts his journey in Paris, literally in his own apartment, then goes to New York and finally drives his crew to Cornish, New Hampshire, to look for the home (just the mailbox) of the writer. Along the way he interviews man people, including writers Nicholas Rey, Eric Neuhoff,  Marie Darrieussecq, Jonathan Ames, Jay McInenrey, Rick Moody, singer Ellis Paul, Bruce Benderson, and especially Stewart O’Nan (“D’Angelo”), who talks about “the public side of writing” as dealing with “people who don’t understand the private side of writing”.  I know the latter side, entering the world of my own characters (even my “lineup”) in my script “Angels’ Brothers”.

Frederic near gets tossed out of a Cornish bookstore, where he is told he can’t film – but there is some footage in this movie.  At the end, he flirts with criminal trespass on what appears to be Salinger’s property (three years before his death).

A great quote of Salinger seems to be “Freedom equals solitude.”

At the end, in soliloquy, Frederic asks, “Are you happy Mr. Salinger?”

The film comes from Rappi Productions and Transfuge. Some of it is in French, with voice overlay; but the US part is in English. It was apparently intended originally for French television. 


IMDB shows a new film by the same name scheduled for release in early 2013, directed by Charles Moore.

There is a 2001 film from Lionsgate, "Chasing Holden", dir. Malcom Clarke, in which a rebellious teen played by J. D. Qualls, after being forced to return to boarding school, goes on a hunt for Salinger, believing himself to be like the Holden character.

When I substitute taught, an English teacher did allow “The Catcher in the Rye” to be chosen for a book report early in the ninth grade.  I remember seeing one student’s report, an “A”. 

There’s a great observation by Holden real early that I recall, “Old guys legs are so white and unhairy.” 

Note: this 2007 film, the verb is "catching", not "chasing".  

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