Friday, January 15, 2010
Friday Favorite - The Loved One by Evelyn Waugh
In keeping with my tradition of picking Friday Favorites that have been made into movies, here's another one for you. Although I'd bet that most of you have never seen the movie--and maybe never heard of the book.
I don't remember when, exactly, I read Evelyn Waugh's "The Loved One." I'm certain I picked it up in the library and equally certain that I had no real idea what I was picking up. I don't recall if it was because Waugh is also the author of "Brideshead Revisited" and I assumed I was getting something in that vein. What I got was definitely not something having to do with the British aristocracy. Instead Waugh has, in "The Loved One," turned his satirical bite on the Hollywood way of life and the American way of dealing with death. British ex-pat Dennis Barlow is working nights at the Happier Hunting Grounds pet cemetery (while aspiring to be a poet by day) and living with his uncle. When his uncle is fired from a Hollywood studio, he commits suicide and Dennis is called upon to plan the funeral. The arrangements are to be made at the Whispering Glades Cemetery (read Forest Lawn here), the poshest cemetery in town. While working on the funeral, Dennis meets Aimee, a junior cosmetologist and soon finds himself competing for her attention with the sinister Mr. Joyboy, the senior mortician. Would you believe me when I say that this book is funny? No? Okay, maybe not laugh out loud while you're reading funny but it is funny in that way that makes you snort just a little bit.
The movie version, directed by Tony Richardson (father of Joely Richardson of Nip/Tuck fame) was made in 1965 and starred Sir John Gielgud, Jonathan Winters and Robert Morse with appearances by James Coburn, Roddy McDowall, Milton Berle, and even Liberace. While not completely true to the book, the movie is also very funny and billed itself as the movie with something to offend everyone when it came out.
My Favorite Read is hosted by Alyce of At Home With Books. Be sure to check out Alyce's site on Thursdays to find out what her favorites are.