Monday, April 6, 2009

Casting Call For Film Version of Edward Gorey's "The Loathesome Couple."

Edward Gorey was a brilliant writer/illustrator. He died in early 2000, which is probably just as well because the post-9/11 insanity of the Bush-Cheney Reign of Horror would likely have killed him anyway. People who watch "Mystery" on PBS have seen his pen and ink drawings which are used at the beginning of each "Mystery" program.

One of his books was named The Loathesome Couple. It is hysterical. It is pen and ink, kind of cartoon, almost children's book-style, loosely based on an English couple who had kidnapped and murdered young children, eventually were caught, and sent to an insane asylum.

Isn't it time we brought those characters to film? Isn't there someone out there ready to take on this project?

Here's an excerpt from an article in Salon in February of 2000, talking about the initial efforts of Gorey to get The Loathesome Couple published:

"Consider the reaction of Robert Gottlieb -- then at Simon & Schuster and later the editor of the New Yorker -- when Gorey's agent presented him with The Loathsome Couple, a tale based on the story of a British couple who murdered several children, only to be caught when they dropped photographs depicting their handiwork on a crowded bus. (The book's frontispiece declares, 'This book may prove to be its author's most unpleasant ever.') Gottlieb rejected the book on the grounds that it wasn't funny. An astonished Gorey replied, Well, Bob, it wasn't supposed to be funny; what a peculiar reaction.'"

"But, of course, 'The Loathsome Couple' is hysterically funny. You will be forgiven for finding the juxtaposition of child murders with helpless laughter outrageously blasphemous. The humor in this story comes from the sheer blandness of it all. Mona and Harold, the hapless villains, move from their dismal childhoods to dismal adulthoods of petty crime, to an unsuccessful union (they 'fumble with each other in a cold woodshed' after a crime film, and when they attempt to make love, their 'strenuous and prolonged efforts came to nothing') to embarking on their 'life's work' -- luring small children to their deaths in a rented 'remote and undesirable villa.' To celebrate their first kill, Harold and Mona dine on 'cornflakes and treacle, turnip sandwiches and artificial grape soda.'"

I know who comes to my mind when I try to put these cartoon characters into human form: Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh. Not that they would kill children. Well, they do love war, and children are killed in wars. But mostly I mean the loathesome part. And wouldn't they be the perfect couple? It's like each has been wandering the world looking for Mr. Right or Mrs. Right for their entire lives, yet they passed as near-strangers at many a Cpac event. Only fate has kept them apart.

I mean think about it for a minute. They're both "available" rather late in life. He's certainly tried, tried, and tried again God knows, but I think he's a three-time loser in the marriage department. And nobody really knows about Ann's hooking-up story, although there are nasty rumors about her Adams Apple -- which probably is just a part of her spine which juts out in front because of her special "diet." What is it about those Republican women? Do the men withhold food as a form of punishment?

Here are a few choice lines from the book:

"Harold Snedleigh was found beating a sick small animal to death with a rock when he was five years old. That year Mona Gritch was born to a pair of drunkards. ... As a child Mona already had thick ankles and thin hair."

In the book, the couple eventually gets caught, found insane, sent to an insane asylum where "Mona failed to such an extent that for most of her life she did nothing but lick spots on the walls."

Newt and Sarah? "Dr" Laura and Senator Boner? Joe the Plumber and Bush's Stepford press lady? Who is the most loathesome couple of all?

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