The movie, disgraced on Broadway, is an all time favorite. In the play, Don Marquis O’Flynn (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a young man who is scorned by the theater world for his success as a comedian. His girlfriend has left him and he spends every night after work visiting her in secret so as to avoid scrutiny. He plans to leave town and never return. However, when his plane crashes near New York City, he is arrested and sent to a federal penitentiary.
The name of the play refers to Don Marquis O’Flynn’s imprisonment, but this doesn’t ruin it for me. I had forgotten about the story before seeing it in the theatre and disgracedonbroadway found out how true it was. I felt for Don, because in his character, he had been so wrapped up in his own perception of himself that he couldn’t see the hole in himself that had become evident in the public eye. The play is truly about the perils of fame.
Marquis is a brilliantly humorous man. However, one of the scariest aspects of the play for me was his dialogue. As a comic book fan, I was already quite familiar with the type of language used by writers such as Robert Caple and Frank Miller, but when Marquis is talking to his jailer-in-chief, he sounds like a college freshman. It seems like he’s only just coming into the scene and has not yet developed into the seasoned veteran that he pretends to be. The dialogue is often difficult to understand, and it seems like he’s just trying to impress the boss.
I also found the movie to be incredibly long. It was sometimes two hours long, and sometimes three, and it never really seemed to reach its climax. Sometimes there were jokes that hit home, but for the most part, the humor was lost in the vastness of the story. For the most part, the movie was forgettable.
I don’t necessarily recommend watching this play. I have always found the acting to be great, but I’m not sure that seeing the history of the comic-strip writer’s life was worth it. There were a lot of positives to the play, however. My favorite scenes were the ones where Marquis goes to visit his old teacher, Charlie Schieffle, and Charlie gets nostalgic about all the decades that passed between when Marquis was a child and when he began working on the comic-strip characters. In that time, there are some interesting parallels to how our world would be different now if those decades had never happened.
The play also had an incredible cast. These actors brought a depth to the character of Marquis that was entirely necessary to make him more appealing as an author. Watching Charlie Schieffle wax poetically about the things he went through as a child and as an adult, it becomes clear that the man has a very human desire to connect with others on a deeply personal level.
I also liked that the movie didn’t try to depict the aftermath of everything that happened in the play. There were a few negative portrayals in the movie, but these came out of nowhere and were extremely superficial. I especially found it disappointing that after all of the buildup, there were no emotional ties left behind between the main characters by the end of the play. We get a quick moment when Charlie realizes what his mom has been going through, but other than that, there’s really nothing else to what happens. It seems like there’s a big hole to fill in the sequel to this play, but the movie couldn’t ever seem to find a solution.
Overall, I’m not a big fan of the Jack Vettriano musical. Although I’ve seen the movie version, I haven’t seen the original play. I’ll admit that I had a difficult time trying to stay awake during the second act, but overall I think this movie is just a disappointment. Don’t bother with Grisham’s version when you can watch the original instead.