Friday, March 25, 2011

David And Lisa

David And Lisa:
Not Your Typical Love Story
For Not Your Typical People

When I talk about Grindhouse here, I tend to talk mostly about the over the top so goofy thats awesome kind of stuff, or the shock you till you have nightmares kind of stuff, or the wholesale selling of just enough sex to make it non-pornographic type of films as well, but what most people who remember those aspects of Grindhouse tend to forget is that the genre also served for the home of the early independent cinema, the art house movies that weren't just about naked people eating watermelon and then smoking a cigarette through a cigarette holder while reciting beatnik poetry then having sex with each other, nor was it just about homosexual cowboys eating pudding together while reciting lines Sam and Frodo say to each other in The Lord Of The Rings trilogy than having sex with each other, though there was, and still is a large amount of films like those in the Art House field, there is also more subdued, down to earth, and down right brave films in the genre as well. Independent films like 1962's David and Lisa, a story of true love, teenage angst, and mental illness.

David and Lisa is one of those films that I often find has either passed under the radar of, or been completely forgot save for afew small film buff conclaves that like to dig up the forgotten and lost stuff. Its the kind of film that sort of defines the bravery and early attempts at understanding mental illness, but also shows that those who are suffering from it, are just like you and me, life is just vastly different in how they see the world and how they go about their day to day lives, the plot is rather touching and sweet in its own way. Its sort of like One Flew Over The Cookoo's Nest if cookoo's nest was a love story, and didn't have Cheif killing the main character with a pillow at the end of the film to end his suffering from being forced to conform to how everyone else wants you to be.

The film starts with us meeting David Clemens, who's just been left in the hands of a state run home for mentally ill, we learn that David's mother is overbearing and overprotective and kind of a bitch, and as she leaves David at the school, we discover that David suffers from Aphenphosmphobia, which means he hates and has a fear of being touched by others, the slightest touch at all will send him into a rage of sorts, it isn't that he finds other people disguising or anything, he just believes their touch will kill him, when he isn't having a fit, he's calm, very cold and isolates himself from others, we also discover that he's got some weird fascination with time and clocks, at one point in the film he mentions a dream he has where he murders everyone around him with a giant clock.

As David interacts as best as he can with the others at the home, he meets a pretty girl named Lisa Brandt, Lisa has a split personality disorder, meaning she's literally two people, one of her personalities is Lisa, who can only speak in rhyme, her other personality is Muriel, who can not speak at all, but can write what she needs to say down on paper. David befriends her by talking in rhyme with Lisa, and talking with Muriel as if there is nothing wrong with her only writing down statements. Their relationship puzzles everyone at the home, most of all their doctor Dr. Swinford, who finds them both to be two of the more high level cases of mental illness at the home.

At one point, David and his mother have a rather large argument about his relationship with Lisa, even though she doesn't see the signs that a boy who believes the touch of everyone will kill him, wants to be close to a girl, and the progress that is. David's mother takes him away from the facility and forces him to be at home with her, believing it a better place for him. David eventually leaves and returns to the facility despite his fear of being touched by others, where Dr. Swinford convinces David's mother that its best for him to stay at the facility, she reluctantly agrees and leaves David there. Not long after, David and Lisa have a small argument, that leaves Lisa so mad that she leaves the facility, and none of the staff are able to find her. David again braves off on his own despite his fears of touch, and finds Lisa at a museum where she once spoke of a statue she spoke of before. Oddly, when David finds her, Lisa no longer needs to speak in rhymes, she speaks as a regular person to David, who then reaches out and holds her hand, which she holds the whole way back to the facility.

The film might seem simplistic, or abit easy to figure out, but it speaks volumes in the sense that it really is just a quiet little love story, set in the oddest of places, and about the oddest of people. It should also not be confused with the 1990s sort of remake starring a young and not dead Britney Murphey, though the two leads do share her uniquely gifted for their young age claim that Britney also had in her early career. Keir Dullea stars as David Clemens, most would know Keir as Commander David Bowman in Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, a film that my friend Deb still doesn't understand no matter how often I explain it to her, he also is known for playing Peter Smythe in the original 1974 version of the film Black Christmas, and most recently played a senator in a small but important part in the film The Good Shepard. Keir plays David so well you truly believe at times he's terrorized by the idea of another person's touch, and as he grows closer to Lisa, you feel his disorder slowly fading, as he forces it down inside to brave public interaction to get to the facility, and again to find Lisa, so well done. Janet Margolin plays Lisa Brandt, Janet went on to mostly do stage acting after the film, but did have afew small roles in films like "The Greatest Story Ever Told", "Nevada Smith" with Steve McQueen, in both "Take The Money And Run" and "Annie Hall" with Woody Allen, and a small role in "Ghostbusters II", but again she is mostly known for her stage roles, which she happily did until her death from ovarian cancer in the early 1990s, she always spoke highly of her role as Lisa, saying that it was the most fun she had infront of the camera, given how she was allowed to be as different and unique as possible.

So if you haven't had a chance to see this film, or if you just love to watch obscure but brilliant mostly unseen films, then give David and Lisa a look, you really won't regret it, but if you need more convincing, here is one of the more important scenes, it might seem silly by today's standards, but remember, in 1962, this was brave new world kind of stuff.....



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