TRAILERS / MEDIA
ABOUT THE FILM
CAST AND CREW
ABOUT THE FILM
A genre-defying surreal black comedy which combines actual documentary interviews; staged portrayals of larger-than-life figures Ayn Rand, Mike Wallace, Cesar Romero, Lee J. Cobb and others; telephone interviews and aged newspaper clippings; and the proverbial Google search -- all in an effort to solve several lifelong mysteries: who was David Whiting (who died mysteriously in an Arizona motel during a Hollywood film shoot), and what was the mythic so-called "Cesar Romero joke" (which all of the film maker's classmates still remember as being utterly hilarious but which nobody can recall what the joke actually was)?
How did David Whiting die? What led to a tragic phone call in which a father and mother wished their son dead? And why did a friendship with a legendary film critic inexplicably end so horribly?
Imagine the classic film Rashomon (which deals with memory and truth) on steroids: a movie about love, betrayal, film history and memory, which playfully challenges your own memory of what you have already seen.
SCREENINGS / AWARDS
August 13, 2014
North American premiere
February 25-March 1, 2015
Century City, CA
December 7, 2014 (announced), January 10, 2015 (formal presentation)
Douglas Edwards Independent/Experimental Film/Video Award 2014
"There's really nothing quite like The David Whiting Story; or The Cesar Romero Joke. A collage that mixes a dramatic re-creation of a real-life event, an obscure television broadcast and a dramatization of a pivotal scene from Henry James' The Wings of the Dove, Walter Reuben's film might be likened to the work of some avant-garde predecessors like Michael Snow -- particularly his magnum opus "Rameau's Nephew" by Diderot (Thanx to Denis Young) by Wilma Schoen -- and George Landow (On the Marriage-Broker Joke). But what makes Reuben's film different is the engaging way he's put these seemingly disparate elements together.
David Whiting was a 'personal assistant' to actress Sarah Miles who died during the making of the 1973 Western The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing, starring Miles and Burt Reynolds. Whiting, who was obsessed with Miles, committed suicide in a manner suggestive of an attempt on his part to make it look like murder and to blame Reynolds for the deed. Gone Girl avant la lettre, as it were. His nefarious plan didn't work, but the scandal dashed Miles' hopes of an American career and ended her marriage to screenwriter Robert Bolt (they were remarried, however, in 1988).
Reuben's film presents testimony from the inquest and a dramatic reconstruction of how Whiting might have gone about doing himself in, with a variety of performers (Zachary J. Luna, Woolsey Ackerman, and C. Jerry Kutner) playing different parts. There's also a television interview with actor Cesar Romero, tacked on to the end of a Saturday Night at the Movies broadcast from the same period. This amiable but scarcely complex performer 'seriously' discusses his craft to unintentionally comic effect.
And then there's the Wings of the Dove scene in which the characters 'Kate Croy' and 'Merton Densher' plot to inherit the money of the rich, dying 'Millie Theale.' The drama is enacted several times with different parties playing different roles -- and, in the case of some scenes involving Lee J. Cobb, Mike Wallace and Ayn Rand, with a performer playing a character playing a character. Sound dizzying? Yes, it is. But very entertainingly so, and, in an increasingly moribund film world, remarkably refreshing."
Los Angeles Film Critics Association
40th Annual Awards program
Jan. 10, 2015
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“Like a symphony's recurring musical motifs, Walter Reuben's The David Whiting Story utilizes repetition through theme and variation. Effortlessly employing concepts of queer temporality, trauma, and memory, with a healthy dose of humor, this film might have been a heavy slog through some hard stuff, but it's not.
These meditations on slights and hurts and disingenuous log rolling are beautifully rounded out by casting different actors in the same roles. Walter Reuben comes up with gender-bending scenes that cast a whole new light on how this scene has been played before. But when we see it played again in a different way a new meaning of, dare I say, universality now replaces the story as specifically gendered or specifically personal.”
Austin, TX, USA
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Finally yesterday I watched your movie.
First, I want to apologize for my English, maybe my skill on this language isn’t enough to express my opinion but I’ll do my best.
It’s difficult to say after watching your film “I loved it”, and my advise is you have to mistrust on anybody who say that. It’s a complex film, and it has this “experimental” way you chose that is a challenge for the spectator. So, after that, I can tell you I find it very interesting and with many aspects enjoyable.
To risk to try an experimental way to tell a story at this point of our lifes, (I assume we are on the same generation, I’m 56), it’s really something, we did many things, we saw many more, we lose part of
curiosity to search for different ways to tell. So in this sense and on the contents, your film shows courage, courage to choose this way for narration, and courage to tell your story. I don’t know you very well as a person, but it seems this film has given to you a good catharsis. It isn’t a sick film, it’s a healthy one.
I find very interesting to tell a story telling just same text rotating characters, this is something to work on. In my opinion there some ones not enough strong to add something (may be because the acting), but
others absolutely amazing.
I really enjoyed Woosley Ackerman and the old lady Gina Lalli, I regretted there was no scene with both together interacting, you must think to have something between both in your next film. I don’t want to be very psychoanalytic, but, of course, it was a perfect choice to you to be your father.
At least, and last, I liked, and I liked very much to watch it, thank you for the opportunity.
All the best"
Buenos Aires, Argentina
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“Walter, Walter, Walter. Sleep was my only other option. It's late but I couldn't stop watching The David Whiting Story! My first real viewing and a delight. Much better than dreaming -- meta dreaming. Beautifully done. Strangely memorable with heartbreak just below the surface. Familiar. It's you.
Claremont, CA, USA
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“Walter Reuben has taken the ambiguity, heartbreak, and humor of both real life and history, melted it down in a cauldron, and edited the resulting confabulation with a surgeon’s knife. Fans of Chinese puzzles, David Foster Wallace-level micro-study, and the utter meaningless of everything can join hands and rejoice."
Rare book dealer
Baltimore, MD, USA
"A fascinating cultural collage mixing documentary, fiction, speculation, and repetition in which a supposed suicide during production of a Hollywood movie is surrounded in mystery and connected to Henry James' The Wings of the Dove in a manner remindful of the best of
George Landow and Michael Snow."
- David Ehrenstein
copyright 2015 Walter Reuben, Inc.