Sunday, August 6, 2017

Home Wreckers

I've only paid sporadic attention to playwright (and sometimes movie star) Sam Shepard over the years, so I'm not going to give you a full rundown of his career. I did watch and "enjoy" the PBS version of his play True West with a young Gary Sinese and John Malkovich that first aired in 1984,  and has been shown several times since. If you're wondering why I put the word "enjoy" in quotation marks--Hey, I did it again!--the play is a trenchant commentary on the American Dream, family dynamics, the creative process, and what happens when you neglect the housekeeping. Shepard may have had some other response in mind than mere "enjoyment". Cold sweats, maybe. Anyway, have a look:


An actress by the name of Margaret Thomson played the mother. I don't blame her for wanting to get the hell out of that madhouse and visit Picasso, even if he was dead by then. She could drop in on Matisse and Duchamp while she's at it.

Well, I hope you enjoyed that (I thought italics might work better.)


  1. Hi, Kirk!

    It is nice of you to pay tribute to the recently departed playwright Sam Shepard by posting a scene from one of his plays. I remember Shepard's acting role in The Right Stuff, the film about the Mercury astronauts. In this scene from the play True West, Gary Sinise does indeed look and sound boyish, a far cry from his characters in Forrest Gump, Truman and CSI:NY. I have always admired John Malkovich including his role in Of Mice And Men co-starring Gary Sinese who also produced and directed the film. I "enjoyed" this scene from the TV movie produced from the stage play True West which was also directed by Sinise. It was brilliantly acted and the camera's circular tracking shot very effective. It made the older brother, Lee, seem like a predatory animal circling his meek, eager to please younger brother Austin.

    Thanks again, Kirk, for posting this Sam Shepard tribute along with a compelling scene from one of his best plays. Have a great week!

  2. Thanks, Shady. I too was struck by how boyish Sinese looks in this. He in fact not only acted in but directed the original Steppenwolf (an acting group in Chicago)production, in which Malkovich also appeared. The latter's performance is kind of scary. I've seen this before, but Malkovich still makes me wince.

    1. Shady, I just reread your comment now and see you already made mention of Sinese having directed it. I skimmed through it a little too fast the first time. My apologies.

    2. AOK, Kirk! I didn't know that piece of trivia until I did some extra reading on the subject to beef up my comment. No problem, my friend.

  3. I rather like sinese but shepherd left me rather cold..his writing and his acting.
    I adored his previous muse though...jessica lange

  4. I'm sure you're aware, John, that Jessica recently played Joan Crawford to Susan Sarandon's Bette Davis in a mini-series about the 1962 shocker WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE?