Reviewed by Guest Blogger One-Eyed Pete
Well, partner, whaddaya say we divide this ‘yere movie review into two parts?
In the first part I’ll tell ya’ why I reckon maybe you should saunter out and see Nuts!
In the next part, I’ll tell ya’ why I personally thought the film was swell.
What sorta fella are ya?
Are ya’ the sorta fella who likes stories that are weird but true?
Are ya’ the sorta fella who likes off-the-wall American characters?
Are ya’ the sorta fella who likes courtroom drama?
Are ya’ the sorta fella who likes surprise endings and “twists”?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then I reckon you might like Nuts!
I can speak on this subject with some authority ‘cause I saw this film earlier in the year. You see, every year the fellas down at The Full Frame – I know it sounds like a pool hall, but it ain’t — round up a hundred or so of the best darn documentaries they can find and put them on display. It’s like a big cattle auction. I make a point of goin’ out there for the round-up most years, and Nuts! was one of the best films I saw last time I was there.
And guess what? This film is comin’ to a theater near you. It was showin’ in Kansas City earlier — and Santa Fe and Dallas. It’ll be in Denver directly and in Austin a little later. It’ll also be in some pilgrim towns out east later this fall.
Now, let me tell ‘ya why I thought this film was a huckleberry above a persimmon. (Out east I guess you might say “a cut above.”) But before I do, I reckon I should fire off a warnin’ shot. If you don’t want me to spoil what yer frenchman calls the day-noo-mont, you might want to stop readin’ right about here.
Ya see, Nuts! is about this ‘yere fella name-a John Romulus Brinkley, who was what folks around here call a four-flusher. That is, he was a swindler. Brinkley was the sort of fella would let on he was holdin’ a straight flush when he had ten high, and he had the stones to bring it off. In fact, stones is what this ‘yere story is about. Stones or nuts. But I am gettin’ out ahead of myself.
Anyway, this ‘yere Brinkley came up with a cure – or what he said was a cure – for fellas whose manly parts wouldn’t brisk up no more, if ya’ follow my drift. And the cure – or s’posed cure — he come up with involved slippin’ a goat’s stone into the afflicted fella’s rucksack to sorta get his manly juices percolatin’ again.
Well, if you or I had that sorta problem, I reckon we’d be lookin’ around for a cure. And I reckon we’d be willin’ to pay more than dollar or two if we found one we thought might work. And if we ever saw a billy goat out in a field pirootin’ with a she-goat, we might think, “maybe there’s somethin’ that goat has that I could use.” And, to continue in this vein, if we shelled out for the good doctor’s “cure” and it didn’t do what we hoped it would do, well, I suppose we wouldn’t go around tellin’ folks it didn’t work like it was supposed to. Nah, I reckon that’s the sorta thing we might prefer to keep quiet about.
So Brinkley harvested a lot of goat testicles and stitched ‘em into a lot of fellers who had the “complaint,” and some said his cure worked and some didn’t say it didn’t, and before long he was flush, and after a while he pulled foot and moved down to Mexico. Bought himself a big ranch down there and even a radio station all his own, so he could play for the gallery and tell everybody what he had to say about life and politics and current affairs – which, as it turned out, was quite a lot.
Well, this went on for quite a while, till the boys in Washington got fed up with Brinkley and his radio station, and his opinions, so they up an’ dry gulched-him. They brought a suit at law and charged him with hornswagglin’ thousands of poor disappointed fellas who, lord knows, had enough to worry about already. And in the end, they convicted Brinkley and put him out o’ business. He ended up busted and despondent.
It’s a swell film, an’ what I particularly like about it is the way the director – name is Penny Lane — puts th’ elements together. See, at first, she sorta just tells ya’ the things that Brinkley said about himself – like how wonderful and powerful the cure was, and how delighted all his customers were, and how happy their wives were, too. (Pardon me, ladies, for mentioning this last detail.) In the first thirty or forty minutes of the film Lane doesn’t say a bad word about Dr. Brinkley, or his clinic, or the “cure.” And since everything is so positive, ya’ sorta start thinkin’ that maybe Brinkley was onto somethin’. You start believin’ in the miracle cure!
But then, in the second half of the film, Miss Lane turns the coach plum around. She lays out the other side of the story – all the ways in which Brinkley was a swindler. And then, you say, “Nuts!” ‘cause ya’ sorta feel like you’ve been swindled yerself. You fell for Brinkley, too – or at least ya’ came close enough to it that ya’ understand how all them other fellas with the discouragin’ condition coulda fallen for him. But, thank the good lord, for you it’s not nearly so much of a big deal as it was for the other fellas. You haven’t shelled out a grand for goats’ balls. You’ve just been taken in by a piece of clever storytellin’. And there’s a sort of pleasure that comes from bein’ taken in in that particular way.
I guess what I’m sayin’ is that this Penny Lane, whoever she might be, seems to have learned a trick or two from ol’ Dr. Brinkley. That Brinkley was a helluva salesman, but, take it from me, Penny Lane is no slouch either.