Friday, July 15, 2005

Author, author—character?

[Here's a picture I took on Kaua'i.]

I just watched Stage Door (1937) on DVD, which I mostly enjoyed. Ginger Rogers briefly plays the ukulele for no particular reason, and when some other bit of business breaks in, she says, "You're interfering with my art!" I also like her description of the patently smarmy producer, played by Adolphe Menjou: "He makes you feel like you ought to run home and put on a tin overcoat."

The producer's name is..."Anthony Powell"! The character is not in the original Ferber/Kaufmann play.

Q: Do you think the name-choice was deliberate?
A: By 1937, the novelist Anthony Powell (b. 1905) had published most of his early comic work*—Afternoon Men, Venusberg, From a View to a Death (which for some reason I haven't read), and Agents and Patients, but his profile wasn't high in the U.S., and his name's appearance in the film is probably coincidence. Though if any Dizzyheads know otherwise, fill me in!

Which made me wonder (imagine me saying that in a Carrie Bradshaw voice): What other films (or plays or books) have characters who unintentionally share names with flesh-and-blood authors? (Close call: Protag of Marilynne Robinson's Gilead is "John Ames.") Postscript (7/16): I always do a double-take when I see a review (in, say, the LRB) by "Nicholas Jenkins" — a professor at Stanford who bears the name of Powell's Dance to the Music of Time narrator.

*Speaking of comic novels: I heartily recommend Amanda Filipacchi's Love Creeps.


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