The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #309: Welcome Lance Guest to Discuss The Wizard of Loneliness Part 2 + Bonus Lea Thompson Segment
As with last week, I’m joined by actor Lance Guest (The Last Starfighter, Jaws 4, Halloween 2) to talk more about his favorite project, the 1988 film, The Wizard of Loneliness. We wrap up talking about the film and also touch a bit on some other aspects of his life, including music and on a 2001 Disney Channel film Lance was in featuring a juvenile chimpanzee, The Jennie Project.
If you missed the first part of the interview, you can find it here as well as catch a video segment that gives you visuals for the video clips we’re watching and commenting on together:
Here’s a little clip from David Letterman where Lance (who is portraying Johnny Cash) performs with his bandmates in the show Million Dollar Quartet.
There isn’t much out there on The Jennie Project, but here’s a little promo clip that I vaguely remember playing on The Disney Channel. Interestingly enough, the movie itself is not on Disney+ last time I checked, though you can find it to buy on Youtube or as a part of Amazon Prime (again, like The Wizard of Loneliness, only if you have a subscription). I don’t think it was ever released on DVD, though someone uploaded it here (you may have to sort through the three links to the right to find one that works, though; beware of popups).
Speaking of not having much out there on Youtube, The Wizard of Loneliness has very little there. There is a nice trailer, though, as well as a snippet someone uploaded on a scene with Sybil Oler (Lea Thompson) and Duffy Kahler (Dylan Baker). The scene is very close to how it occurs in the novel of the same name by John Nichols, which was written in 1966.
Above is the cover of the novel, which, interestingly, features two different scenes from the film and merges them together in and outside the Oler house. Unless I’m wrong and this was a deleted scene, not sure why they did that and didn’t just use the movie poster/VHS coverart made for the film (a portion below), though it’s a nice image that works well enough.
Anyhow, thanks to the support of the fine folks on The Thirteenth Hour Arts Patreon, I reached out to Lea Thompson on Cameo to ask about her work on The Wizard of Loneliness and if the novel was helpful in portraying Sybil. I think she is a more complicated character in the film than she is in the book since they merged an additional character (that of the town librarian, Marty) into the on-screen version of Sybil.
In both book and film, Sybil had a short relationship with Duffy, bore their child out of wedlock, married, then lost her husband in WW2. But in the novel, the relationship with Duffy is portrayed as a not very serious adolescent fling, and Sybil’s husband’s death happens during a few brief paragraphs of exposition. We don’t really see it as actively as we do in the film.
In the book, the town librarian, Marty, is a lonely figure that finds a kind of awkward connection with Wendall over books and photography. It’s hinted that there is a kind of mutual attraction there, though I don’t think it was meant to be sexual in nature (more just two lonely souls finding solace in their mutual misery). However, I’m guessing the filmmakers probably felt it best to avoid material that would lead to questions about the age difference between Wendall and Marty, especially if the attraction – however platonic – was to someone of the same sex. In the movie, you kind of get the sense that Wendall has a crush on his aunt (which, to be fair, is also kind of weird), but maybe they felt that was preferable to the former.
In the book, it really is the whole community that helps Wendall come out of his shell, whereas in the film, though the family and community role is definitely there, it seemed like they were going for Sybil becoming kind of a surrogate mother figure for Wendall (even hinted at in the cover art below). In any event, both versions are good, and it was great to get Lea Thompson’s take on the film. Look for more on the novel in the last part of the podcast.
Thanks to Lance and Lea for providing the guest spots for this episode and for the Patrons and all the listeners for their support.
In the coming weeks, we’ll get back to more 30th anniversary Rocketeer celebrating. We still have a handful of Rocketeer cartoon episodes to discuss as well as a number of other guests and other fun activities in the works.
I know we didn’t talk much about The Last Starfighter here, but if you look for The Last Starfighter group on Facebook, you can find many more interviews and pictures from the film, including all those speculations about sequels and so forth. (Just with like The Rocketeer, I will believe it when I see it! 🙂
Speaking of those two properties, if you every wondered what might have happened just prior to The Last Starfighter, should our hapless hero Cliff Secord (a.k.a. the Rocketeer) live to 1983, check out the shenanigans and misadventures that follow in the fanfic short story, “The Last Rocketeer”!
What would happen if The Rocketeer collided with The Last Starfighter? What would happen if Cliff Secord, our hapless hero from the 1991 film and the Dave Stevens comic from the 80s really did live in the 80s? Say, 1983? He’d be about 71. What if Centauri, the fast-talking game creator from the 1984 film, recruited Cliff for a special mission? What if, knowing Cliff’s luck, it all went bad? Will he reluctantly don his antiquated rocketpack and helmet for one last flight? Will his jodhpurs even fit after all these years? Read on and find out as world collide! Cliff’s back may not take the strain, but at least you can do so from the comfort of your favorite chair!
Thanks for tuning in!
There are now Thirteenth Hour toys! If you’d like to pick up one of these glow in the dark figures for yourself, feel free to email me or go to the Etsy store I set up (https://www.etsy.com/shop/ThirteenthHourStudio) and get them there.
If the past few months have got you needing a break, you may want to chill out to this 80s synth throwback track for a upcoming LP with the accompanying music video:
Empty Hands, the synth EP soundtrack to the novella, Empty Hands, is now out for streaming on Bandcamp.
Stay tuned. Follow along on Spotify! There is also a growing extended Thirteenth Hour playlist on Spotify with a growing number of retro 80s songs.
As always, thanks for listening!
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