Thursday, May 17, 2012

Thomas Tryon

If you follow me on Pinterest (or 'Pintercrack', as I affectionately call it), you've probably seen my 'Silence is Golden' board.  It's devoted to famous silent film stars, give or take an animal or two.

When I was eleven years-old (an age when most children find their 'bliss'), I discovered silent movies.  Our public television station was running an old Mary Pickford movie, and I sat there, transfixed, as I watched it.  My world had changed.  I soon ate up anything I could find about 'the silents'; biographies, trivia, even magazines (I was fortunate enough to be living during the 'nostalgia craze').  Before long, I turned to movies released in the '30's, '40's, and '50's (Brando in 'A Streetcar Named Desire' made me a good way)  Before I knew it, my brain was filled with all kinds of movie information, much of it obscure.  When a friend or family member had a movie question, they turned to me.  And they sometimes still do.  As time went on, I discovered that my oldest brother, John, and his wife, Denny, were movie fans, and together we shared information and lists of our favorite films.  

It was inevitable that I would find myself looking for novels relating to the film business.  I don't mean the sordid, trashy stories.  I'm talking thinly-disguised novels.  After I read Thomas Tryon's first novel, 'The Other', I was excited to discover that he had written a 'movie' novel, 'Crowned Heads'.  Soon after that, I found 'All That Glitters'.  I've read both books several times, and I cherish them.

Thomas Tryon was initially known as a film and television actor, his most notable role being a Catholic cardinal in the film of the same name.  After he became disillusioned with acting, he turned to writing, from which he became best known.  His first novel, 'The Other' became a film, and his second novel, 'Harvest Home', was filmed as a tv mini-series starring Bette Davis.

But it is his Hollywood novellas that I always turn to when I want a bit of the macabre.  

'Crowned Heads' is a series of novellas about four film stars:  Fedora, the enigma, the 'perfect work of art'; Lorna, 'The All-American Cookie'; Bobbitt, the film fantasy child who can't deal with adulthood; Willie, the thinly-disguised story of Ramon Navarro's tragic end.  All the stories contain secrets and lies.  All of them shocked me to some degree or another.

'All That Glitters' follows that same theme, but less macabre.  Five famous (and once-famous) film stars are linked by Charlie, the narrator, and they, in turn, are linked by the deliciously-written character of Frank, an agent and lover who touched all of their lives.

Thomas Tryon left us with some wonderful stories, but for this film lover, his Hollywood novels will stay with me always.

Just like the movies.

If you are unable to find Thomas Tryon's wonderful Hollywood novels in the library, try various book sites.  Hopefully, they aren't out-of-print.  And if they are, it's a damned shame...

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