Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

November 22, 2005

Love, Ludlow

Filed under: Uncategorized — louisproyect @ 10:45 am

Posted to www.marxmail.org on November 22, 2005

As a member of New York Film Critics Online (NYFCO), I often get a chance to view films that are truly off the beaten track. Last night I watched a complimentary copy of “Love, Ludlow”, a bittersweet comedy set in New York City. This is a film version of an off-Broadway play by David Paterson who is a volunteer with the Manhasset Fire Department when not writing. The project is a labor of love. It cost $75,000 to make, which is about the same amount that is spent on breakfasts for a Stephen Spielberg movie.

Despite some flaws not even worth mentioning, I found it much more interesting than the fare at the local Loew’s Cinema. It revolves around a kind of love triangle between an office temp worker named Myra, her suitor Reg who works in her office and her 20 something brother Ludlow, who is a case of arrested development that has reached clinical proportions. Ludlow has no job and whiles away his days eating twinkies and finger-painting.

Cramped into a one-bedroom apartment, Myra and Ludlow bicker with each other continuously. With the death of their parents, she has ended up with the job of caring for her hapless brother. This leaves little time for a social life. In addition, any suitor would likely flee from such a situation, especially when they have to put up with abuse from Ludlow who fears that his sister will abandon him for a lover.

When Reg arrives at their home, he is put to the test by Ludlow. Despite being goaded repeatedly, he stays the course. Not only does he have to put up with her brother’s abuse, he also has to break down Mona’s resistance. Like countless young New Yorkers, she has chosen celibacy because the dating game is just too much of a hassle. Plus, she won’t have to explain her nutty brother. Reg is played by David Eigenberg, who fans of “Sex and the City” (including myself) will recognize as the Queens bartender who courted and then married Miranda, the high-powered corporate lawyer. Eigenberg is an extremely likeable actor who seems eminently suited to these sorts of self-effacing roles.

As I sat watching “Love, Ludlow,” I found myself reminded of Paddy Chayevsky’s “Marty,” another play about lonely and lowly New Yorkers trying to find love. It was aired on NBC’s Philco Television Playhouse on May 24, 1953 and starred Rod Steiger and Nancy Marchand. This was at a time when live dramas could be seen weekly on network television, including Kraft Television Theater, the Ford Theater, Philco and Goodyear Television Playhouses, Studio One, Tele-Theatre and Actors Studio.

Many of these plays were written or directed by men and women who had sympathies for the left, or had even been members of the Communist Party. If the blacklist made work in Hollywood impossible, there was always television which was less repressive. Even after many of them had shed their ties to the left, they continued to write about the concerns of ordinary working people like Reg, Mona and her mentally disabled brother.

As corporate control deepens in both Hollywood and television, it becomes more and more difficult to create intimate, small scale drama of the sort that was found in an earlier period. While “Love, Ludlow” came into existence as an off-Broadway play, it makes sense to produce it as an independent film in the hopes that it can reach a wider audience through video rentals. As is so often the case nowadays, the Internet can help low-budget films make a breakthrough. This, of course, is how “Blair Witch Chronicles” became a hit.

If the Internet can help independent films over the top, they can also serve to warn potential ticket-buyers away from turkeys. In an article titled “In a losing race with the zeitgeist” that appears in today’s Los Angeles Times, film business reporter Bruce Goldstein writes, “New technology is also accelerating word of mouth. Thanks to instant messaging and BlackBerries, bad buzz about a bad movie hits the streets fast enough to stop suckers from lining up to see a new stinker. Even worse, the people who run studios are living in such cocoons that they’ve become wildly out of touch with reality.”

In any case, if you want to check out a sweet, affecting love story drenched in local color, look for “Love, Ludow” on-line or at your better video stores.

Film website: http://www.loveludlow.com/

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