Roy Cohn/Jack Smith

"Weak"

Roy Cohn/Jack Smith Review


Roy Cohn/Jack Smith executive producer Jonathan Demme is no stranger to the monologue on film. Spalding Gray's Swimming to Cambodia (which he directed) is one of the best of the genre.

You'd think Demme would know what he's doing. At best, Roy Cohn/Jack Smith is a cinematic oddity, rambling and barely coherent -- a common problem with films in which there are few diversions aside from moving lips (see The Designated Mourner for a prime example of this).

Performer Ron Vawter presents two monologues, each about 40 minutes long, one imagining a speech made by Joseph McCarthy's lawyer, Roy Cohn, one performing a monologue by Jack Smith, a flamboyant-yet-morose "entertainer" of the high camp variety.

The two men, Cohn and Smith, had absolutely nothing in common, except they were both gay (Cohn secretly) and they both died of AIDS in the late 1980s. In his red velvet tuxedo, Vawter-as-Cohn is a smarmy gladhander, speaking of the need for modern morality while disguising his talk with thinly-veiled allusions of nastiness. The Cohn scenes are memorable and funny at times, thanks to Vawter's oozing portrayal of a relatively hateful man.

But in his scenes as Jack Smith, we are presented with a man in a pharaoh getup, playing with costume jewelry he keeps in a toilet onstage. Vawter-as-Smith has plenty to say, but I didn't understand a word of it. Lowering his voice ridiculously, he mush-mouths his way through 40 minutes of nonsense, incomprehensible except when he is preening over his outfit. (See What's Underground About Marshmallows? for a better cut of this performance.)

To make matters worse, director Jill Godmilow is not content to let the performance stand as two distinct parts. Instead, she meddles and the two segments are cut together such that we switch back and forth between the two. As such, any sense of narrative of what Cohn is saying is lost among the nonsense of Smith. But I'm not sure that it would have mattered much: Frequent shots of the live audience with perplexed or stunned looks on their faces would portend that it wouldn't have mattered either way.

Vawter died four months after the taping of this performance. It's too bad his legacy is as unmemorable as this.



Facts and Figures

Run time: 90 mins

In Theaters: Friday 4th August 1995

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

IMDB: 6.0 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Jill Godmilow

Starring: as Roy Cohn, as Jack Smith, as Chica

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Hampstead Movie Review

Hampstead Movie Review

Deliberately appealing to older audiences, this undemanding comedy-drama comes with a hint of social relevance...

The Book of Henry Movie Review

The Book of Henry Movie Review

Apparently, this offbeat script had been making the rounds in Hollywood for some 20 years...

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

With this fifth Transformers movie, it seems clear that Michael Bay is still trying to...

Churchill Movie Review

Churchill Movie Review

This drama about the iconic British prime minister tells a darkly personal story set over...

Gifted Movie Review

Gifted Movie Review

This is one of those films that dances right up to the edge of soapy...

Whitney: Can I Be Me Movie Review

Whitney: Can I Be Me Movie Review

Notorious British filmmaker Nick Broomfield teams up with Austrian music documentary producer Rudi Dolezal to...

The Mummy Movie Review

The Mummy Movie Review

To launch their new Dark Universe franchise, Universal has taken an approach that mixes murky...

Advertisement
My Cousin Rachel Movie Review

My Cousin Rachel Movie Review

Daphne du Maurier's 1951 mystery-romance novel has been adapted for theatre, radio, TV and film,...

Wilson Movie Review

Wilson Movie Review

It's never helpful when a comedy becomes a bit too smug about its own quirkiness....

Interlude in Prague Movie Review

Interlude in Prague Movie Review

A fictionalised story from the life of Wolfgang Mozart, this lavishly produced period drama is...

The Hippopotamus Movie Review

The Hippopotamus Movie Review

This British satirical comedy may be a bit of a mess, but since it's based...

Detour Movie Review

Detour Movie Review

This may look like a rather typical American indie thriller, but British filmmaker Christopher Smith...

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Boldly optimistic, this action-packed adventure breathes fresh life into the DC universe with a welcome...

Baywatch Movie Review

Baywatch Movie Review

Clearly, it's a risky proposition adapting a cheesy vintage TV series for the big screen:...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.