Saturday, March 8, 2014

Weirder than you would think - Kings Row

You might have heard of the movie.  Made in 1942, Ronald Reagan gets injured and this wildly insane doctor amputates both his legs.  So when R.R. wakes up, he looks down and cries, "Where's the rest of me?"  (Later Reagan used that as the title of his autobiography.)

Henry Bellamann wrote Kings Row in 1940, set in a town not unlike Fulton, Missouri, where Bellamann grew up.  It is one wacky book.  I don't remember what made me read it - I'd never especially liked the film, but I think I'd read an article on Bellamann and how his hometown had been angry over their portrayal in the book and for a long time didn't allow a copy of Kings Row in the Fulton library.

Harsh, you might say.  Well.  Read the book.  It starts in 1890 with two friends, Parris Mitchell and Drake McHugh, growing up in small town Kings Row (aka Fulton).  For a small town, there's a lot going on.  A great deal of sex (heterosexual and homosexual).  Incest, sadism, nymphomania, mental illness, mercy killing.  Just for starters. (Needless to say, when the movie was made, most of these things didn't make it into the film.)

But it's an entertaining, melodramatic read in a Peyton Place/Douglas Sirk sort of way.  And amazing to think it was written in 1940.  It must have been the kind of book kids had to read under the covers so their parents wouldn't know.

If you're feeling brave, track down a copy.  (And there's a sequel, too - Parris Mitchell of Kings Row.)

No comments:

Post a Comment