Freaky Deaky: Elmore Leonard's post-Sixties trip in print and on screen
"The People's Coalition for something or other."
"Peace and Justice."
"Yeah, they had a bunch of celebrities giving talks. It was so goddamn boring, that's why I ripped 'em off."
Another character "didn't look at her again after that, as he collected the checks and left with the Panthers."
A third character recalls how a rock festival--you know, those bastions of freedom from the man, and all that--inspired him:
"I think it was at that moment, driving past everybody in that fucking stretch, I knew I would someday be in the entertainment business."
On Abbie Hoffman:
"I feel sorry for him too. The poor guy hiding out all those years and nobody was even looking for him."
On one of the era's half-assed impresarios:
"Fifteen-dollar admission a bummer. Should be a free concert. The promoter, a smart-ass youth-culture rip-off artist, asks if we give our newspapers away free."
"And the guy's dopey girlfriend doesn't get it. She says, `Yeah, well, like there's plenty of freedom. We ball and everything.. ...' She was being used and didn't know it. You saw so much of that. All kinds of dumb kids taken advantage of by guys pretending to be gurus or Jesus..."
My favorite bit of the book, though, may be a blurb from an American newspaper that will likely surprise and amuse British readers:
"Leonard tops himself every time."
One interesting decision was the casting of Breanne Racano, who was probably in her early twenties at the time, as Robin, who is around 40 in the book and doesn't pretend to be other than that in the movie (unlike, say, Emma Thompson, who changed Elinor Dashwood's age from 17 to 27 for her 1995 screen adaptation of Sense and Sensibility and was not terribly believable playing 27--no shock, since she was around 36 at the time.)
The makers of Freaky Deaky (Walter Matthau's son Charles directed) made the canny decision to have Robin wear lots of makeup and make sure the audience knows she's wearing it. And that makes her look like a woman trying to look younger than she is, which lets her slip rather smoothly into the role of a woman two decades older than she is. She's not a bad actress either, so her casting works better than it could have.
© Peter Rozovsky 2013