Magazine article The Nation

Miss Firecracker

Magazine article The Nation

Miss Firecracker

Article excerpt

One of the reasons I go to movies is to avoid America's bright young playwrights. Hearing them crank up their dialogue machines to produce something like the speech of us ordinary folks, only more, you know, poetic, is enough to send me crashing up the aisle, praying for the destruction of Yale, Juilliard and the entire city of Louisville. Recently, though, even the movies have provided no refuge. First there was Jacknife. Supposedly, the characters are drunk all the time because of the war in Vietnam, but it seems more likely they're drowning the sorrow of having to speak Stephen Metcalfe's dialogue. Now comes Miss Firecracker, the sort of film in which one character suddenly erupts in terrible, hacking spasms, and his interlocutor, with a straight face, says, "You still got that cough?"

Yet, for all the evidence that it began as a play, Miss Firecracker lets the time go by pleasantly enough, mostly because of its cast. Holly Hunter repeats her role from the original production of Beth Henley's The Miss Firecracker Contest as the waif who wants to be in Yazoo City's annual beauty pageant. Long known as the town tramp, she now thinks she can redeem her reputation by going to church regularly, taking an orphan to lunch or the movies once a week and competing for the title of Miss Firecracker during the Independence Day festivities. She's meant to be endearing - rather like Shirley Temple, grown slightly taller and with her hair dyed red - which ought to be the kiss of death. Through a force of will that equals the character's, though, Hunter makes the role more than habitable. No doubt her most memorable scene, the one that rightfully earned her such a high reputation on the New York stage, is her contribution to the talent competition of the Miss Firecracker pageant: a patriotic tap dance routine that is so earnest, so energetic, so inept, that you're almost ashamed to laugh at it. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.