Truman & Tennessee: An Intimate Conversation
Featured voices: Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto
Originally envisioned as a documentary exclusively about Capote, but revised in the event of ‘The Capote Tapes’, Vreeland’s film is a fascinating account of the forty-year friendship between writing giants, Truman Capote and Tennessee Williams.
It’s not quite the dialogue mooted in the title though, more a contrast and compare exercise on the writers’ attitudes towards their art, their sexuality, celebrity, their strikingly similar backgrounds, and of course each other, with the private but sincere Williams contrasting with the image-conscious and mischievous Capote.
Drawing from correspondence and letters, Jim Parsons and Zachary Quinto narrate Truman and Tennessee respectively, but wisely stay clear of outright impersonation. Parsons is less performative than Truman making it easier to concentrate on the substance. Director, Vreeland also draws on TV interviews the two conducted (separately) with Dick Cavett and David Frost. The latter’s grilling of Williams is penetrating, bordering on intrusive, serving up a reminder how chat shows used to be far more substantive and less PR-managed. The late career TV interviews also illustrate how ravaged the two became by drink and drugs as critical acclaim began to dissipate.
The judiciously-selected visuals range from tasteful black and white portraiture in the early passages to blurry, more lurid imagery in the closing sequences, while Italian composer Madi’s score lends a plaintive note.
The documentary is at its most dramatically satisfying in the later passages when it dovetails with ‘The Capote Tapes’ and tells how excerpts from Capote’s never-completed novel ‘Answered Prayers’ with its thinly-veiled society portraits infuriated may of Truman’s friends and acquaintances, Williams among them. The heat generated from the fallout, however, makes their last meeting all the more affecting. They died within eighteen months of each other.
Truman & Tennessee: An Intimate Conversation is available in virtual cinemas and on Dogwoof on Demand from 30th April
Follow David on @DWill_Crackfilm