When I was hired for one position, I jokingly told my editor, "I don't do windows or interviews." It's too much of a compromise for a critic, who is supposed to be objective, to get too close to the people whose movies he/she will be reviewing. There's the threat of being finessed. The New York Times has the right idea, keeping criticism and interviewing apart.
But I did interview Jackson and I guess writing about her brought back a wonderful memory of the events surrounding our session together.
Consider this a tiny postscript:
It was January, 1971. A small number of the press gathered in New York for a private Friday night screening of Ken Russell's "The Music Lovers," which Jackson would be promoting with her co-star Richard Chamberlain.
The screening was at the fabulous, now-gone Coronet Theater.
The Coronet and its twin, The Baronet, located on Manhattan's Upper East Side (59th Street at Third Avenue), were two of the smartest movie houses in Manhattan (the marquee announced them as "A Walter Reade Twin Theater"), specializing in the highest pedigree of Hollywood films and foreign-language movies. They closed in 2001 and were eventually razed.
A sad end to a glittering movie era in New York.
The subsequent one-on-one interviews the following day took place in a suite at The Plaza Hotel, where the out-of-town press was also based.
I was happy to have an early-morning time slot because I was anxious to get back to the Coronet which was playing Robert Altman's ”Brewster McCloud.” (It was one of MGM's arty 1970 Christmas releases, along with Paul Mazursky's "Alex in Wonderland." These two titles, so hot at the time, are now barely remembered.)
But first, the interview...
Chamberlain arrived for the session with the beard he grew for the role of Tchaikovsky and a new British accent. He was friendly but very actorly (if that's a word). Jackson was surprisingly down-to-earth. Known largely as a stage actress, she was new to film and, no snob, claimed that she now preferred it to the stage. She confessed an admiration for Joan Crawford among Hollywood legends and I asked her if she'd ever consider a Crawford-type role in a more conventional Hollywood movie.
"Who could top Joan Crawford,?" she responded.
I guess at some point we got around to discussing "The Music Lovers," but then Jackson noticed that I was wearing a Mickey Mouse wristwatch.
Uh-oh, nerd alert. But wait! She was wearing the same watch. Whew! No judgment. A chat about our watches followed, until I was rather diplomatically escorted me out of the suite by the United Artists press rep. Just in time for me to make the first show of "Brewster McCloud" at the Coronet. Which I adored. And still do.
* * * * *
~Ken Russell directing Glenda Jackson and Richard Chamberlain in "The Music Lovers"
~photography: United Artists 1971©
~The Coronet and Baronet Theaters
~photography: Matt Weber/Street Photography 1985©
~Bud Cort in "Brewster McCloud"
~photography: MGM 1970©
~An authentic Mickey Mouse wristwatch, circa 1970