I Shot Andy Warhol

But the hospital nurse still had the last word and the color was blue. This portrait of New York and the Warhol gang in the 60's falls far short of its potential, despite a cast of actors doing their best and straining their talents to recreate the superstars and various personalities of that past time and place. (Take it from one who knows, I was there and knew a good number of them with one very big exception -- Valerie.) Many of the originals will be turning in their graves each time this reel is spun. Even calling in the assistance and advice of Billy Name, who is still roaming New York, shooting photos and running his Goat Clinic, didn't seem to help the creators of this film. Pity, that. Viva is unrecognizable, Gerard Malanga not as snobbish or egocentric as in real life, Jackie is more Jackie than Jackie was, and only Ondine comes close to the real thing. Andy, I must say, doesn't seem at all like Andy.

The cast of this film includes actors who have done impressive work in the past, and this makes it even more unfortunate to be unable to cite even one of them for a convincing, much less remarkable performance in this film. It's not that they don't try; it's just that they've been led astray. Perhaps the idolization of Valerie Solanas inside the mind of director Mary Harron has blurred her vision to the actual facts and is ultimately responsible for rendering this empty canvas. Executive producer Anthony Wall who in the past has given us, among other wonderful programmes for BBC's "Arena", Paris is Burning (the film about vouging), also bears responsibility for this atrocity.

Most disappointing to me personally is Stephen Dorff as Candy Darling who, although attempting unsuccessfully to catch the gossamer quality of Candy's voice, doesn't look the slightest bit like Candy. (One can only imagine that he was too anxious for a chance to display his "versatility" after the self-involved, media-charged, egocentric, boring wanker he portrayed in S.F.W.) He looks like a drag queen done up in a cheap wig, whereas the real Candy was more gorgeous than Garbo and her own (real) hair was platinum. Candy considered herself a woman and there were numerous New Yorkers who never realized otherwise. She stunned photographers, directors, actors, writers, singers, and most of the people that came into contact with her. Her portrait in this film is, to say the least, appalling to behold. The magic is not there. (Let it also be noted, in all fairness, that Candy was never properly captured on celluloid in Paul Morrissey's films either. Jackie Curtis, on the other hand, always looked better on film than in real life, but Candy had a special charisma that remained a quality that demanded being experienced in real life.) We still love you, Candy, wherever you are.

So, now we must question whether this is really an attempt to make a docudrama that recreates the world as it was at that time or a insightful and sympathetic piece of feminist cinema that reassesses the thoughts and role of Valerie Solanas within the context of surrounding influences. It doesn't really matter because either way, it fails. I didn't know Valerie personally (lucky me), but have always had the impression, from others whose judgment I trust, that she was unquestionably a madwoman. Case closed.

As far as I'm concerned, I most definitely prefer spending an afternoon viewing a certain piece of Al Hansen's fluxus entitled "Who Shot Andy Warhol?" to seeing this film. It was last on display, to my knowledge, at the Cologne City Museum during the Hansen retrospective in the fall of '96. (Yes, Al's departed recently from our midst as well.)

So many people have left us since those unforgotten days. They certainly deserved a better memorial than this film.

© 1994-2006 The Green Hartnett