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"American Girl: Tuesday Weld"

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

"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.

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One of the great talents of our time! Frankenheimer’s I Walk the Line is one of his best, as well as the best of Weld and Peck. In the 70’s when I still watched tv, she did memorable work in Reflections of Murder, F. Scott Fitzgerald in Hollywood, and A Question of Guilt.
Thanks for featuring my article! I’ve been raving to my friends about Weld for years and am absolutely thrilled about this festival.I hope young people who have never seen her films will head over to Lincoln Center to see what the fuss is about- they won’t regret it.
I’ve always loved Tuesday Weld and have always been sorry that she shunned the spotlight. I haven’t seen Play It As It Lays for years but I remember that her performance was mesmerizing. I’m so sorry I’m not in New York for this retrospective.
I wish I had attended the Tuesday Weld Film Festival. Maybe, another one will come along soon. However, I would have also featured A Safe Place at the festival. Tuesday is stunning and so good in this movie despite the dismissal from critics because of the artsy and strange nature of the film. Perhaps, Rock, Rock, Rock! should also be shown. It is Tuesday Weld’s first movie. She was just 12 years old when she made it. I know it is goofy, and campy. But, actually has some fine moments and scenes where Tuesday Weld shows signs of what is to come despite the inexperience that is sometimes on display.

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