An interpretation of “Catcher in the Rye” from “Six Degrees of Separation” (1993) dir. Fred Schepisi, scr. John Guare

Video

I’ve been on a J.D. Salinger kick recently based on my total absorption into the new 12-pound David Sheilds / Shane Salerno Salinger bio that came out last week. At some point, I may give some thoughts on this book and Salinger, but in the meantime, here’s a terrific critique on Salinger’s “Catcher in the Rye” delivered by one of the characters from the film adaptation of John Guare’s “Six Degrees of Separation.” Will Smith plays the character giving the analysis and it’s a nice reminder that Smith is a very good actor when he’s not playing some variation of the Tom Cruise-inspired cocky jacka– that sadly makes up many of his more, um, renowned roles. Playing the other roles here are Stockard Channing, Donald Sutherland, and Ian McKellan. A damn fine and sadly ignored film if I do say so.

“Bell Boy” – The Who

Video

The best song from what I would describe as the British “Catcher in the Rye”. This is the song where our protagonist Jimmy discovers his ass-kicking hero, Ace Face, is actually (gulp) a bellboy who licks the boots of people Jimmy despises.

This is the final straw for Jimmy and leads to the ambiguous finale where Jimmy either dies or becomes an adult (which in Jimmy’s mind is the same thing). Yes, on one level this is quite silly once you’ve become an adult and see it from the other side, but when you’re not quite a grownup, sometimes this s–t really seems like life and death. To Pete Townshend’s credit (and Franc Roddam’s, who directed the 1979 film version), he takes Jimmy’s issues seriously without actually supporting them. The Criterion Collection released the film version on Blu-Ray in August 2012 with all the usual bells and whistles. From what I’ve read, it was quite a cultural phenomenon in Britain back in the late 1970s. Johnny Rotten almost got the lead role, and while he would have been interesting, I’m much happier they went with Phil Daniels. A great flick.