Mrs. Parker And The Vicious Circle (1994)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):    BBBB

USA, 1994.  Fine Line Features, Mayfair Entertainment, Miramax, Odyssey Entertainment, Park Bench Productions.  Screenplay by Alan Rudolph, .  Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by , .  Film Editing by .  

Alan Rudolph, the mini-Robert Altman, comes up with a formless foray into the world of Dorothy Parker (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and the Algonquin set of New York in the 1930s. Parker, a noted drama critic and fiction writer, was the most notable individual of a group of writers, painters, actors and other artists who gathered at Manhattan’s Algonquin hotel to such an extent that they actually became a curiosity for tourists to see. The film, which peers into the lives of most of these individuals while hinging its focus on Parker, is endlessly entertaining provided you come to it with an interest in one or more of its subjects. Leigh herself has found her perfect role:  the great wit was over the top and completely melodramatic, and the actress is marvelously smooth in her representation.  Backing her up is a magnificent performance by  as her longtime best friend Robert Benchley, plus excellent support by (among many, many others) a then-unknown Gwyneth Paltrow as a fictionalized version of Tallulah Bankhead,  and  as Harold Ross and Jane Grant (who started the New Yorker) and  as Show Boat novelist Edna Ferber. Lots of Parker’s work is featured here (through Leigh’s excellent dramatic readings), and Rudolph’s camerawork manages a beautifully accurate glimpse at a sunny, stylish Manhattan of yesteryear (though it’s actually filmed in Montreal).

Cannes Film Festival:  In Competition

Golden Globe Award Nomination:  Best Actress-Drama (Jennifer Jason Leigh)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s