teenybuffalo (teenybuffalo) wrote,

"The Last Word" by Gwynne Garfinkel

I am very taken with this horror meta poem: "The Last Word," by Gwynne Garfinkel. Sad and funny, and a true appreciation of two characters who are overshadowed by the more monstrous figures, but who are pivotal to the plot and meaningful to some of us. I'm feeling warm and fuzzy about Garfinkel's appreciating these two for themselves.

Colin Clive: played tormented and morally ambiguous characters who were also wry and ridiculous; was good at looking embarrassed; was bisexual according to Wikipedia; was the subject of this picture, which I like a lot, along with the also-underappreciated Valerie Hobson (he's smiling! I didn't know he could do that! he looks relaxed and everything); starred in an entire movie about beautiful young soldiers caring about each other and dying in each other's arms; died a stupid, preventable, Hollywood death of alcoholism-related pneumonia, or possibly alcoholism-related complications of tuberculosis, but you see the common thread here, at the age of thirty-seven. All those decades ago, and why do I give a fuck? The fact is that I do. And other people do, other writers, I see, do, and that is flipping delightful. (And by caring about him I care for myself.) (Shut up, Teeny.)

Look, the most prominent story in Mad Love is a tragedy about how a formerly decent man becomes a stalker and master manipulator, and justifies his crimes by saying they're for Twoo Luv as he slides downwards into murder, sexual assault, and a spectacularly complex and nasty gaslighting session. Thank you, Peter Lorre, you are a wonderful dumpling and I would follow you anywhere.

But somewhere in there is also the story of a concert pianist who is maimed in a railway accident, has to regain the use of his body during a long and humiliating recovery time (during which, I'm sure, being hand-fed by his gorgeous wife the former torture porn star was only a slight consolation), and after all that has to live with the facts that (1) he has someone else's murder hands attached to his wrists and they constantly hunger to kill, and (2) he can kiss his career as a concert pianist goodbye, because murder hands won't cooperate. And that's kinda funny in a nasty way (MURDER HANDS) but I wasn't laughing. (I was watching this movie over and over circa 2006, in a long, dismal period when I'd burnt out on trying to be a novelist and didn't know what worth there was in my life if I wasn't a writer. Coping mechanism? HOW VERY DARE YOU.) (Boy, I'm so glad that's ten years ago.)

Watching his character figure out that no matter how hard he tried, he couldn't get his old life back... that was sad, I would go so far as to say that it's the other tragedy of the film, and it's one of the important parts of Mad Love for me. The movie realizes how depressing that is and gives us a little gift for his character at the end. I have never seen "my evil hand has a mind of its own and likes to kill people with knives" presented as a good thing before, but damn, Mad Love pulls it off.

If the world ends with this foul year, I want it known that I died as I lived: raving about dead horror actors on the internet, for an audience of dozens. What I am trying to say is that Colin Clive resembles one of those shivery greyhounds that is very dignified but that you just want to pet and guide to a fleecy sheepskin by the fire, possibly also applying a warm coat and boots.
Tags: actors: colin clive, colin clive, mad love, meta, movies: mad love, writers: gwynne garfinkel
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