About the Blog..

My blog title, Ossessione, American Style, is taken from a movie by Count Luchino Visconti, who borrowed the plot of his astonishing debut film, Ossessione, from James M. Cain's novel, The Postman Always Rings Twice. Unfortunately, Visconti never paid for the rights and his film was not shown in the U.S. until many years after its release. The star of the movie, Massimo Girotti, would be People's "Sexiest Man Alive" many years running had the zine been around at the time. We first see him as a truck driver in a filthy sleeveless athletic undershirt, another of my obsessions: remember Paul Newman in an a-shirt (e.g. Hud or Cool Hand Luke)? Nowadays, they cheapen this garment who confuse it with something tank troops wore in World War I. The a-shirt is an undershirt, usually with thin bands over the shoulders; a tank top is a shirt without sleeves, akin to a "muscle shirt," only with wider bands over the shoulders. But, I digress....)

The purpose of this photo/comment column is to present a record of my obsessions. These are wide-ranging and diverse. This blog is not intended to be pornographic. The only pornography today is in politics.

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Troubled Career of Nick Stahl

The first time I saw Nick Stahl was in the Mel Gibson movie, The Man Without a Face. I had read the novel and wondered if a film could be made of it because it skirts the issue of pedophilia by keeping the reader wondering if the protagonist is or isn't a boy lover. I thought it odd that Gibson wanted to do it; after all, the actor is member of a radical Catholic sect and a homophobe, and might not be capable of doing the work justice. But he did. The film is fine, and Stahl's debut promised a career marked by solid, sensitive performances...if only young Nick could escape the child star curse that felled many, not the least River Phoenix, the finest film actor of his generation.

At first, I wondered if Stahl might have gotten a head start in the business by virtue of being related to the auteur director, John M. Stahl, who died in 1950. That Stahl made The Keys to the Kingdom and Leave Her to Heaven. Auteur theory expert Andrew Sarris noted that John M. Stahl made Douglas Sirk movies before Sirk practically invented the genre of intelligent, cinematically remarkable soaps, including at least one Rock Hudson vehicle (Magnificent Obsession) and the classic weeper, Imitation of Life, with Lana Turner, both of them remakes of even more sentimental Stahl films. However, nothing in Nick's bio indicated any relation to John M. Stahl.

Nick has had some serendipitous career breaks. For example, he did one of the Terminators with Arnold Schwartzenegger. He also had a short-lived cable series about the strange world of carnies, Carnevale. He had a role in The Thin Red Line and worked with Larry Clark in Bully. Unfortunately, he's lately been more discussed more often because of his strange disappearances, reputed use of drugs, and post-marital problems. This is unfortunate and sad. His fans hope it's a passing phase and that he will make many more movies. I know I do.


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