Total Pageviews

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Hollywood Joe

Few people know that humble Trenton, Ontario is famous for more than Al Purdy. The wonderful local history 'The Movie Years' by Peggy Dymond Leavey (1989) recounts the small town's flirtation with film between 1917 and 1934. The fast life of Hollywood stars with fur coats and big cars seems incongruous, but it happened. Briefly. The pinnacle was the filming of one of the well-known "Carry On" series of silent films. Then the 'talkies' and new film technology relegated the longest operating Canadian film studio to its small place in history.

In' Morning and Its Summer'(1983), Purdy mentions "the town idiot", whose dignity he discovers and shares in the moving poem Joe Barr (Wild Grape Wine, 1968). Joe pops up again in the memoir , a lovely little book which includes autobiography, history, personal photos and selected poems inspired by Al's growing-up in 1920's Trenton. Of Joe he writes:

"I have seen him when he wasn't aware of being watched, with an odd gentle look on his face, as if he were thinking of something he couldn't say, for which he couldn't find words. ..Of course he knew there was something wrong with him, but never found out why the world was such a cruel place. 

When they made a movie in Trenton in the 1920's, called Carry on Sergeant, Joe hung around doing odd jobs for the moviemakers."

No comments:

Post a Comment