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American Splendor (2003)


Det Jim McLeod
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This is a bio-pic about Harvey Pekar, a cynical curmudgeon who worked as a file clerk in a Cleveland Ohio Veteran's Administration hospital. He achieved some fame when he became the author of a comic book called "American Splendor" in which he told stories of his mundane life, it was illustrated by Robert Crumb. 

Paul Giamatti plays the title role and he is excellent, the real Pekar also appears in some segments, some of which work and some do not. Pekar can be very strident and angry so this film may not be to everyone's tastes, while I would not have liked to hang around with somebody constantly complaining, it is pretty funny to see him go on rants. He appeared several times on the David Letterman show, back when talk shows would sometimes bring on eccentric ordinary people. Letterman seemed amused by Pekar, though Harvey would openly show his disdain for Dave. The two got into a huge argument on one show about GE buying NBC and Harvey calling Dave a "shill" and Dave coming back with sarcastic comments about Harvey's slovenly appearance and "Mickey Mouse" comic book, both angrily telling the other to shut up. You can see this on youtube and it was one of the more angry and real things you will ever see on TV. I liked the film a bit better on the second viewing, I would recommend it to anyone as long as they know what they are in for. Pekar died in 2010.

Did anyone see it? What are your opinions?

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Letterman was wonderful for that quality of his. One time, Cher made her first appearance on his program ...he starts out by thanking her and remarking on just how long they had been trying to land her, why she took so long to finally agree, and what was her opinion of him for so long, which made her deign to stay away? Like, what did she think of his show, what did she think of him? "I always thought you were an a-hole" she raps back to him, perfectly calmly and straight-faced. And they kept it in the show.

No one today is as good.

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7 minutes ago, Sgt_Markoff said:

Letterman was wonderful for that quality of his.

Did you see the movie? Or any of Pekar's appearances on Letterman? He was the type of guy who said he preferred to listen to his jazz records or read a good book, and he would rant about the "modern" world, he even insulted Letterman's audience, saying they probably don't read.

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Sounds like my kind of guy. Maybe I'm him! Anyway naw...I haven't seen it...I don't attend contemporary movies no matter how touted they are; whether they're even considered 'good' or not...just doesn't signify. However, this title you draw my attention to has a book at the source, and its a Robert Crumb-era source so I thank you--I am probably gonna check it out. Seems like its something in the vein of 'Diary of a Nobody' by George Grossmith, or 'Three Men in a Boat' by Jerome K. Jerome.

I have seen quite a bit of Letterman (I used to stay up waiting for the Late Movie(s) to air on my local station) but somehow missed these particular episodes. But yeah his guest was right, people don't read.

Oh well--pardon me for posting a comment in your thread which was only tangentially related at best. I veered off-topic.

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23 minutes ago, Sgt_Markoff said:

Sounds like my kind of guy. Maybe I'm him! Anyway naw...I haven't seen it...I don't attend contemporary movies no matter how touted they are; whether they're even considered 'good' or not...just doesn't signify. However, this title you draw my attention to has a book at the source, and its a Robert Crumb-era source so I thank you--I am probably gonna check it out

I thought you could relate, here is a sample of what the comic book is like.

Image result for american splendor images

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2 minutes ago, Sgt_Markoff said:

So if you don't mind one more question: is the original source work, a graphic novel, or a prose novel? I'm still unsure...

It was a series of comic book issues, spanning several years. It's just episodes from his life, sometimes an issue could be devoted to a trip to the grocery store.  Several issues have been published in book form. 

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4 hours ago, Det Jim McLeod said:

This is a bio-pic about Harvey Pekar, a cynical curmudgeon who worked as a file clerk in a Cleveland Ohio Veteran's Administration hospital. He achieved some fame when he became the author of a comic book called "American Splendor" in which he told stories of his mundane life, it was illustrated by Robert Crumb. 

Paul Giamatti plays the title role and he is excellent, the real Pekar also appears in some segments, some of which work and some do not. Pekar can be very strident and angry so this film may not be to everyone's tastes, while I would not have liked to hang around with somebody constantly complaining, it is pretty funny to see him go on rants. He appeared several times on the David Letterman show, back when talk shows would sometimes bring on eccentric ordinary people. Letterman seemed amused by Pekar, though Harvey would openly show his disdain for Dave. The two got into a huge argument on one show about GE buying NBC and Harvey calling Dave a "shill" and Dave coming back with sarcastic comments about Harvey's slovenly appearance and "Mickey Mouse" comic book, both angrily telling the other to shut up. You can see this on youtube and it was one of the more angry and real things you will ever see on TV. I liked the film a bit better on the second viewing, I would recommend it to anyone as long as they know what they are in for. Pekar died in 2010.

Did anyone see it? What are your opinions?

This is a major reason I don't watch talk shows anymore. Normally, the bigger the celeb guest, the more boring the interview will be. The hosts are afraid to offend and scare them and other guest away. So the sit there and shine their shoes and have them tell stupid stories no one cares about while they promote their project.

Some of the more interesting people aren't well known at all. Often the lesser known people make the best guests. These types of people don't get booked anymore.

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16 hours ago, GGGGerald said:

Some of the more interesting people aren't well known at all. Often the lesser known people make the best guests. These types of people don't get booked anymore.

I don't think they book "eccentric" guests anymore because they will probably be accused of exploiting them. Pekar had suffered from bouts of depression so it would be controversial today if someone like him were booked.

I remember Johnny Carson had on a farmer who made jewelry out of chicken droppings. He was an older guy probably in his 60s and he was hilarious, he got bigger laughs than Carson. He kept calling Johnny "Sir" and Johnny told him he didn't have to do that. He replied "Well my mama always told me to call men older than me Sir!'" The audience was in hysterics!

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I did see American Splendor and remember being amused, though it's been such a while ago that I can't bring up anything specific. I used to watch Carson, but in '72 moved to Montana with a good number of years without much TV.

I've always liked R. Crumb, got quite a few of his comix in the 70's still have them.

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I can see Pekar being invited to Seth Meyer's show, as he often has authors as guests, and even comic book writers and artists, as well. But never on Fallon, Kimmel or Corden's shows. Colbert has some authors, but usually just political ones. Conan O'Brien used to have "eccentrics" on quite frequently when he hosted Late Night, but that ended when he went to the Tonight Show and then TBS.

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1 hour ago, LawrenceA said:

I can see Pekar being invited to Seth Meyer's show, as he often has authors as guests, and even comic book writers and artists, as well. But never on Fallon, Kimmel or Corden's shows. Colbert has some authors, but usually just political ones. Conan O'Brien used to have "eccentrics" on quite frequently when he hosted Late Night, but that ended when he went to the Tonight Show and then TBS.

I could see Pekar doing a segment on Dick Cavett, like this one.  I've been watching a bunch of Dick Cavett segments like this one lately on Youtube.  He was ever so slightly more polished than Letterman.

 

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AMERICAN SPLENDOR was one of my favorite movies when it first came out. I enjoyed the normalness/eccentricities of the charactors and the unconventional story line. MrTiki has the DVD he liked it so much. I've tried watching it again a few times and just can't get into it -although not disliking it- just didn't engage.

Guess it's one of those movies you have to be "in the mood" for. I do recall thinking Giamatti was outstanding in it.

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13 hours ago, cigarjoe said:

I did see American Splendor and remember being amused, though it's been such a while ago that I can't bring up anything specific. I used to watch Carson, but in '72 moved to Montana with a good number of years without much TV.

I've always liked R. Crumb, got quite a few of his comix in the 70's still have them.

Hell, I still got some Crumb from the '60's 'round here somewheres. AND still got my old "Stoned Agin!" poster on a wall in my basement.  ;)  Next to a large poster of MR. NATURAL.  Never did however, see the flick y'all are going on about.

Yeah, and talk shows DID change a lot over the years.  There are kids in my family who CAN'T BELIEVE that the "Tonight" show used to be 90 minutes long.  AND that most of the time celebrities didn't show up just to promote a movie or book or whatever.  I quit watching it when Fallon took it over( never did like him), and before that, only watched it until Leno's opening monologue was over, or as far as "headlines" and then switch to something else.  One of the FEW times I watched it longer than that was when guitarist JOHN McLAUGHLIN was a musical guest.  That was "pre-Leno".

Sepiatone

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On 3/23/2019 at 6:36 PM, MovieCollectorOH said:

I could see Pekar doing a segment on Dick Cavett, like this one.  I've been watching a bunch of Dick Cavett segments like this one lately on Youtube.  He was ever so slightly more polished than Letterman.

That's a good one, Cavett rarely got annoyed with anyone like he did with Mailer. Letterman was snide with Pekar and Harvey would get furious. Pekar also said that Dave was baiting him.

here is Pekar's big fight with Letterman

 

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