Tennessee Williams and Truman Capote were two of mid-20th century America’s greatest writers. They were also close friends, though at times not so close. This new documentary examines that friendship, their celebrity, and their works. And it is told entirely in their own words, cutting between TV talk show appearances and clips from their famous movie adaptations, alongside a well-curated selection of their writings being read by actors Jim Parsons (“The Big Bang Theory”) as Capote and Zachary Quinto (Star Trek) as Williams. It’s a clever and engaging way to get to know these two geniuses.
Both of them were products of a Southern upbringing. Both had Daddy issues. And both were out homosexuals at a time when that just was not done. They vacationed together in Italy along with their long-time partners. And they both fell prey to addictions towards the end. They also used their lives as inspiration for their writing. What’s fascinating about the film is that as they talk about their famous works, so many of them made into movies, they also comment on how Hollywood edited out the intended essence. I’d have loved to see Breakfast at Tiffany’s the way Capote intended with with Marilyn Monroe as Holly Golightly, a decidedly more fragile creature. Williams who won a Tony and a couple of Pulitzers for his plays felt that the movies blunted the sexuality of his characters and tried to make things happier and simpler than he envisioned.
Going in I knew a lot more about Capote than Williams. I saw the documentary The Capote Tapes a couple of years ago as well as the two features Capote and Infamous, and together they painted a fairly full picture of him. Williams though never received that kind of Hollywood treatment. And I found him a fascinating and captivating character. The audience for this well-made documentary is probably people like me, somewhat ignorant of Williams’ the man and his plays, who only saw the film adaptations, and will now seek out the originals to see what we missed. The friendship between these men is a great device to tell their parallel stories. And I recommend it to lovers of movies, theater, novels, and characters. It’s also just in time to view for Pride Month.
In theaters and virtual cinemas through Kino Marquee.