"American Girl: Tuesday Weld"

The appreciations roll in as New York's Film Society of Lincoln Center presents a 10-film retrospective.
David Hudson

"Tuesday Weld will not be attending the Film Society of Lincoln Center's retrospective American Girl: Tuesday Weld, running from September 21—25, which will showcase 10 performances by the unconventional actress." Louis Jordan, who's working on a biography of Weld, at the House Next Door: "For a tantalizing moment, the reclusive Weld agreed to be interviewed at the Walter Reade Theatre in an event called 'An Evening with Tuesday Weld,' but later suddenly cancelled. Weld hasn't made a public appearance in more than a decade. Perhaps she's gone into self-imposed exile a la Marlene Dietrich, wanting to preserve the public's memory of the brazen, luminous beauty that made her an icon of the '60s and turned the heads of everyone from Elvis Presley to Pinchas Zukerman. But then again, Weld has made a career of not giving the public what they want, or expect."

"As an actress, Weld is famous for having not starred in Lolita (1962) and Bonnie and Clyde (1967), two films she turned down because she sensed that they would be successful," writes Dan Callahan for Alt Screen. "After an early career in movies with titles like Sex Kittens Go To College (1960), Weld gravitated toward more subterranean endeavors like Henry Jaglom's uninhibitedly self-indulgent A Safe Place (1971). 'No actress was ever so good in so many bad films,' said her friend and Lord Love a Duck (1966) co-star Roddy McDowell. It seems clear that Weld often deliberately chose weird, iffy film projects over more conventionally promising or respectable ones, and this urge led to a cult following. Though she looked like a placid blond of that era, like Sandra Dee, Carol Lynley or Yvette Mimieux, it took only a few moments of watching her on screen to see that Weld was more perverted and more cerebral, a Mimieux who'd confronted the abyss. For sheer perversity and cult-actress smarts, Weld is even on par with silent-screen icon Louise Brooks, though she has never released a memoir on the order of Brooks's seductive Lulu in Hollywood. At least, not yet."

As for George Axelrod's Lord Love a Duck, Alt Screen's a bit upset with the Film Society "for sticking this underseen curio in a single afternoon slot… It really has to be seen to be believed, particularly the scene where Weld takes her father on a cashmere sweater shopping excursion that is downright orgasmic." Related viewing (3'00"). At Trailers from Hell, John Landis notes that "United Artists did not have a clue how to sell this picture."

Back to Alt Screen for another fine roundup: "The most difficult of the lot to actually see, Joan Didion's adaptation (along with husband John Gregory Dunne) of her novel Play It As It Lays recapitalizes on Weld and [Anthony] Perkins's unique chemistry. Wildly divisive at the time (panned by Pauline Kael, but pronounced by novelist Ann Birstein as 'one of the best movies I've ever seen' in the Times), Play is a haunting modernist work by the eclectic and increasingly fascinating Frank Perry (The Swimmer, Mommie Dearest). It is also an invaluable showcase for Weld's expressive face. (Fun fact: Joel Schumacher got his Hollywood start as the film's costume designer!)"

"Tuesday Weld sparred with the material in her films and won every spat with acrid charm; she's the best thing in everything she was in," writes Miriam Bale for the L. "Stanley Cavell wrote that the reason she missed the fate of indistinctiveness which met most of the actresses of the 1960s was because the nervous awkwardness of her voice and body was out of register with her looks. Or, as similarly described in the best scene in the turgid and woman-hating Looking for Mr Goodbar, when the falling-apart Weld answers her sister's adoring litany of her 'perfect hair, perfect teeth, perfect legs' with, 'Ma, Pa, Brigitte, they all think I pee perfume. But YOU know I'm a little flaky, and you never blame me for it.' Weld herself wasn't flaky (she supported her family as a model from the age of five) but had a shakiness she brought to the self-destructive, pill-popping, manipulative characters she often played, which seemed like the outer layer of a simmering ecstatic rage. When asked how she is — as the left-wing intellectual bookstore worker she plays in the smug and drugged downbeat Boomer heroin heist film Who'll Stop the Rain — she answers, 'I'm feeling a little de-RANGED,' as she gulps down another valium. She consciously, brittlely, awkwardly voiced the neurotic way we make small talk, or assert who we are and how we are. There's an active emptiness to her performance style which was a good fit for the many parodies of 20th-century malaise that she appeared in."

At Cinespect, Michael Rawls has capsule reviews of Noel Black's Pretty Poison (1968), Lord Love a Duck and John Frankenheimer's I Walk the Line (1970).

"I interviewed Tuesday Weld for The New York Times in 1971 and found her ravishing, articulate, funny and more than a little sad." Read Guy Flatley's interview at Moviecrazed.

For news and tips throughout the day every day, follow @thedailyMUBI on Twitter and/or the RSS feed.

Don't miss our latest features and interviews.


Tuesday WeldGeorge AxelrodFrank PerryDaily
Please sign up to add a new comment.


Notebook is a daily, international film publication. Our mission is to guide film lovers searching, lost or adrift in an overwhelming sea of content. We offer text, images, sounds and video as critical maps, passways and illuminations to the worlds of contemporary and classic film. Notebook is a MUBI publication.


If you're interested in contributing to Notebook, please see our pitching guidelines. For all other inquiries, contact the editorial team.