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(November 2002)

A Great Screen Couple From The Past

Today we give you Terror & Peewee from 1979 in that surreal and foretelling movie The Wanderers from the sublime Philip Kaufman. This movie is about coming-of-age and high-school gangs in the Bronx circa 1963- a time of gut-wrenching change with the assassination of President Kennedy and the Vietnam War just over the horizon. The gangs include, besides the eponymous Wanderers; The Wongs, The Del Bombers and more. Two of gangs were the scary and mysterious Duckie Boys and the aptly named Baldies – all Baldies with clean shaven domes. The head Baldy was the gargantuan Terror played by Erland van Lidth. Van Lidth was a super-sized actor originally from the Netherlands. His sweetheart in the movie is the butch preteen Peewee played by the pint-sized Linda Manz.

Linda ManzThere you have your grand screen couple. Terror- the 6’6”, 300 lbs Erland van Lidth, and Peewee- the 4’11”, 86 lbs Linda Manz. Manz is a terrific actor probably handicapped in Hollywood by her very small size. She had been great a year earlier in Terrence Malick’s Days of Heaven. Since The Wanderers she has appeared in less that a dozen movies, the last being Buddy Boy in 1999.

The Times are changing. The soundtrack in The Wanderers is layered beautifully with some of the best rock & roll, R&B and soul music from the Fifties and early Sixties – the Four Seasons “Walk Like a Man” and “Big Girls Don’t Cry”, the Angels “My Boyfriends Back”, and “Stand By Me” from Ben E. King with many other blasts from the past. Of course we have “Runaround Sue” and the movie title “The Wanderers” from Dion. The film music ends in a smoky coffee house called Folk City with a skinny singer playing the guitar and harmonica and whining “The Times They Are A-Changin’”. Reese Witherspoon

Witherspoon vs. Ryan
We were a little surprised at the volume of response we received with our question “Is Reese Witherspoon replacing Meg Ryan as the sweetheart of America?” You folks have opinions! And the overwhelming response was “Yes! Meg Ryan is a has-been and Witherspoon is hot!” Even more surprising were the reasons given – many, many people are upset with Meg Ryan because of the turmoil in her private life. You know, where she left her husband Dennis Quaid for Russell Crowe whom she met during the filming of Proof of Life (2000). She divorced Quaid in the summer of 2001. Crowe soon moved to some other chippie. Should an actor be judged on anything other than their performances?

For contrast, Reese Witherspoon has been quoted: "The battles that we face in this business aren't financial, but they are moral. And I certainly think that the longer you can keep your values, and your morality intact, and keep your head on your shoulders about what is important at the end of the day, you can get the most out of this business and really emerge with something wonderful." She is currently married with a new baby. In fairness, Reese is still pretty young and who knows what will happen in the future.

Should any creative person succeed or fail on what they are able to create, or should their personality and private life be mixed into the judgment and appreciation? The Toast had a good friend who was a big fan of Bettie Page, the pin-up star of the Forties and Fifties, but dropped her as an object of admiration when he discovered that her personal life was not very savory. We don’t agree. We think an artist should be valued for what they do and not who they are. However, this can be discussed in great detail at a later time. In the meantime, what do you think? Email us with your opinion.

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