Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Not So Obscure Trailer, but still MIA on DVD: 92 in the Shade (1975, Thomas McGuane)

"As the temperature rises, the tension mounts and someone just might get killed."

If you haven't already read The Onion interview with Margot Kidder, it's a dandy.  This one's right up there with the one they did last year with Teri Garr.  Margot pulls no punches when it comes to her time in Tinseltown and no one, including Christopher Reeve, Peter Fonda, ex-hubbies Tom McGuane and John Heard, Dick Lester, Olivia Hussey, and Burt Lancaster, is spared.

As for ex-husband McGuane's lone directorial effort, 92 in the Shade, Margot is pretty rough. This was the film on which she fell in love with McGuane and had their child so her vision was clouded and she "didn't notice that it was being incompetently directed and didn't make a lot of sense."  The film is based on McGuane's own National Book Award-nominated novel, Ninety-two in the Shade.

I have to confess that I still have not seen the film, and the early '90s Vintage paperback edition has sat unread on my shelf since the time of its publication.  Still, since I will drop everything for most anything involving Warren Oates and/or Harry Dean Stanton, I would really like to see 92 in the Shade hit DVD.  Add Peter Fonda, Burgess Meredith, Elizabeth Ashley, Sylvia Miles, Kidder, Joe Spinell, William Hickey, and Louise Latham to the mix and you have the makings of another lost '70s classic.  This one is about charter fishing guides in Key West and the dangerous competition that develops between Fonda's rich kid Tom Skelton and hardened veteran angler Nichol Dance (Oates).  

McGuane, Tennessee Williams, and Chorus Line playwright James Kirkwood at the wrap party for 92 in the Shade

I'm not sure how novelist McGuane was able to get the directing gig here, but I guess he'd developed enough cache from the success of his books (The Sporting Club, The Bushwhacked Piano, and Ninety-two in the Shade) and screenplays (Rancho Deluxe and The Missouri Breaks) to broker the deal.  

Things changed for "Captain Berserko" (as he was known at the time) after he divorced his first wife (who would marry Fonda), had an affair with Elizabeth Ashley (who appeared in both 92 in the Shade and the McGuane-scripted Rancho Deluxe), married and divorced Kidder, and crashed his Porsche on a Texas highway.  He never matched the critical acclaim of his early works ("a talent of Faulknerian potential"), but he did settle down long term with the sister of Jimmy Buffett (this seems very fitting) and settled and invested in Montana's Paradise Valley long before it became a haven for Hollywood royalty.

Originally distributed by United Artists, there was a VHS tape put out by Key Video (CBS/Fox subsidiary).  The below trailer is actually a video trailer for the Key Video release. 


mandingo said...

I too await the overdue release of this film.

I have the hardcover book in it's first edition, (as pictured) and treasure it, but have been tantalysed by it's impending DVD release. I thought around the time of the release of "Hired Hand", it might be close, but that is going back a few years now, and still nothing. I guess the title is in some legal hell, or not worth the effort when it would be at best a fringe release of limited appeal.

I can't think of Thomas McGuane (or Fonda) without thinking of his neighbour Richard Brautigan. I think a biopic is well and truly overdue. It it has not/is not being done, then I will write it. Any helpers?

I guess the key is to find a reason for making it that resonates with contemporary audiences; I think he was a colourful character, and the suicide thing always fascinating, and for want of a better suggestion, Michael Shannon (as he was in 'Grand Theft Parsons' with the Brautigan moustache) would be a good choice.

Great blog. Keep up the good work.

Ned Merrill said...


Thanks for the comments. Brautigan, eh? I did not know he was neighbors with McGuane. Last I checked most of Brautigan's works were out-of-print. Is this still the case?

Peter said...

Just watched 92 in the Shade via Netflix's instant streaming. The film looked washed out, and the audio was spotty at the beginning. Oates and Stanton are great as scoundrel boat captains, and the plot is able to avoid total derailment. Perhaps I'm just a sucker for 1970s cinema (especially when set in the South), but this movie was easy to sit through.