Saturday, August 21, 2010

After having seen Leo diCaprio's latest fillum at the weekend I had a look on IMDB out of idle curiosity to see what his next film is going to be. My jaw hit the deck.

He is due to star in an upcoming biopic of FBI boss J. Edgar Hoover, scripted by Lance Black who won an Oscar for MILK and the film is to be directed by one Clint Eastwood. One can assume that scripted by Black the film will address the rumours of Hoover being a closet gayer and transvestite. I am sure Leo will be up to the challenge... no, what shocked me was that Eastwood should be handling this material.

The reason I am worried by this is due to whether or not Jean Seberg will be included.

In 1968 Eastwood and Seberg started filming the screen musical PAINT YOUR WAGON and during the extended location shoot they started a love affair. Eastwood gave Jean enough encouragement for her to tell then-husband Romain Gary that she wanted a divorce only for Eastwood to fly back to Hollywood and end the relationship - one of his several extra-marital affairs, one of which had already produced an illegitimate daughter.

At the same time Jean became passionate about the plight of inner-city black children and started giving financial support to various groups including the Black Panthers. This came to the attention of the right-wing J. Edgar Hoover who immediately started a wire-tap surveillance on her as well as planting stories to discredit her in the public eye. Jean realised she was being followed and repeatedly tried to alert people she was being spied on.

When it was announced that Jean was pregnant in 1970, one such fake story was printed in the Joyce Haber gossip column in May of that year in the LA Times. A "Guess Who Don't Sue" type piece gave enough clues to the fact that Miss A was Seberg and finished with the scoop that the father was a prominent Black Panther leader.

Jean and her now-reunited husband did their best to quash the press sniffing about but in early August Jean was hospitalised with a suspected overdose of sleeping pills. In late August the final blow came when Newsweek printed the story as a news piece in which she was actually named. Jean Two days after it was printed Jean went into labour and the baby girl died two days later.

Jean returned to America to bury her child in her hometown of Marshalltown, Iowa, making sure that the open coffin was viewed in the funeral home so the world could see she had given birth to a white baby. What was known only to Romain Gary however was that the child had been fathered by a Mexican dissident who Jean had briefly seen during their estrangement.

Although she continued to work in European films, Jean's mental health declined under the weight of the guilt over the sleeping pill overdose while pregnant and the ongoing paranoia of being spied upon with the allied addictions of alcohol and drugs. Every year she attempted suicide on the date of her daughter's birth.

In August 1979, nine years almost to the day after her daughter died, Jean was found dead from a massive overdose of barbiturates and alcohol in the back seat of her car near her apartment in Paris. She had been missing for eleven days. The coroner returned a verdict of probable suicide although there has always been conjecture as to possible foul play.I have never understood the high regard afforded Eastwood by the critics - the sexual politics in his films invariably stink - and now he is taking on this film biography of a man who had direct influence of the fate of a woman he purportedly had feelings for but who he in his own way used.

One hopes that the 80 year old Eastwood will still have time to show some sympathy to the memory of Jean Seberg.

1 comment:

Owen said...

You tell 'im!