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David and Lisa (1962)


kingrat
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Duryeafor Hollywood, would you re-post your excellent review of this film here? It's gotten buried beneath other threads, and this is certainly a film worth talking about.

 

 

{font:Arial}*DAVID AND LISA* (*Frank Perry*, 1962) is yet one more reason that 1962 was an amazing year in American films. David (*Keir Dullea*) and Lisa (*Janet Margolin*) are mentally ill teens who help each other as they begin to fall in love. Lisa has multiple personalities and always talks in rhyme when she's Lisa. David has a phobia about being touched. *Howard Da Silva* plays the kindly psychiatrist. {font}

 

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{font:Arial}All right, maybe some of you are rolling your eyes or deciding from the description that this isn't your cup of tea. First, the acting is all quite good, with none of the cliches of actors pretending to act crazy. This is the opposite of *ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST*, where the patients are not only the sane ones, they're cool. Keir Dullea isn't afraid to play David as supercilious, awkward, and cruel. Deep down he may be a lost boy desperate for love, but he has barbed-wire defenses against showing any of that. Dullea isn't like *James Dean*, whose characters are always saying, in effect, "Love me, love me, love me!" {font}

 

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{font:Arial}Second, as DuryeaFor Hollywood mentioned, Frank Perry's use of spatial relationships to indicate character relationships is masterful. The positioning of actors within the shot is wonderfully satisfying. This does not look like the work of a first-time director. Third, the black and white cinematography of *Leonard Hirschfield* is just as masterful. This is his first credit as cinematographer, and imdb shows only one other film he photographed, as well as one he wrote and directed. That's unfortunate. *DAVID AND LISA* does not look like a low-budget indy film.{font}

 

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{font:Arial}The film does lose focus a bit when Lisa runs away to the city one night. This is competent New Wave stuff, but less interesting than what has been shown before. {font}{font:Arial}The ending may be too quick and too upbeat, but resolving this story in a realistic way is a problem. Although I did enjoy *Neva Patterson* as a mother from hell--she was playing this same role years later in the original miniseries *V*--this is standard 1950s Momism. Dominant mother ruins her weak husband and messes up her sensitive son, like *REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE* but with more money. There are delicate hints that without the wise doctor and a pretty (if crazy) girl, David might even turn away from women. A bright Jewish boy named Simon wants a special friendship with David, and Lisa is jealous, which leads to the crisis which makes everything all right.{font}
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