Friday, March 5, 2010


Guaranteed to Make You Thinner!

In the novel Laura by Vera Caspary, the supercilious esthete Waldo Lydecker admits that among his failings are “obesity” and “the softness of pale flesh.” He stands “three inches above six feet,” but “the magnificence of my skeleton,” he tells us, “is hidden by the weight of my flesh.” Lydecker’s description of himself is supported by a reaction to his behavior later in the novel by the detective, Mark McPherson: “I felt like picking up that big hunk of blubber and bouncing him like a ball.”

So, when it came to casting the bloated Lydecker for the famous 1944 film adaptation, who got the juicy role? The decidedly lean Clifton Webb.


When Hickey, the main character of Eugene O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh, enters near the end of Act I, he is described in the stage directions as “about fifty, a little under medium height, with a stout, roly-poly figure.” The description continues as follows:

“His face is round and smooth and big-boyish with bright blue eyes, a button nose, a small pursed mouth. His head is bald except for a fringe of hair around his temple and the back of his head.”

Considering this description, who would have been the perfect physical embodiment of Hickey on stage or in the 1973 film version? Why, Don Rickles, of course.

Instead, the most memorable portrayal of Hickey on stage and in a TV adaptation was by Jason Robards, Jr., famous for his lean-and-hungry look, while the 1973 film version featured another unplump Hickey in Lee Marvin.


During a respite in the climactic duel between Hamlet and Laertes (Act V, Scene 2) Gertrude offers her son her “napkin” [handkerchief] to “rub thy brows.” Hamlet, she says, is “fat, and scant of breath.” But when was the last time you saw a Ricklesesque Hamlet on stage?


The conclusion is clear: If you wish to be thinner, get someone to play you!

No comments:

Post a Comment