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 Posted:   Feb 16, 2009 - 10:33 AM   
 By:   Montana Dave   (Member)

I've not yet seen this documentary film about the British Writer Christopher Isherwood and the portrait painter Don Bachardy. They had a 30 year relationship that started in 1953 in Malibu and ended in 1986 with Isherwood's death. It does sound like a great romance though and considering the fact that Bachardy was 30 years younger than Isherwood - there's got to be some more than interesting drama here! The dvd comes out the 24th of February and there are interviews with actresses Liza Minnelli, Leslie Caron, Gloria Stuart (Titanic) and Director John Boorman.

 
 Posted:   Feb 16, 2009 - 7:28 PM   
 By:   DavidinBerkeley   (Member)

I look forward to seeing this. In a book about Auden they talk about Auden turning 25 or something and his life-partner-to-be had not left playgroup yet.

I met Bachardy once. I was borrowing a painting for an exhibit. He had to have been nearing 60 and he had the tiniest waistline I've EVER seen on a man.

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 16, 2009 - 7:56 PM   
 By:   Bond1965   (Member)

I saw this last year and met Don Bachardy afterward. He was kind enough to sign his book for me as well as the Isherwood collection that he wrote a forward on.

A totally sweet man and in great shape (as you'll see in the film) for his age.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. It's a beautiful film with a lot of great footage and interviews.

http://www.asphalt-stars.com/chris-and-don/home.html

James

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 17, 2009 - 1:49 AM   
 By:   manderley   (Member)

Nearly 35 years ago I had the honor of attending a very small dinner party of six people, of which Christopher and Don were one of the couples.

As I recall, it was a lovely evening, but in retrospect I wish I'd had the presence of mind to ask more questions and attempt to remember more about the evening's conversations. But I was young and callow then, and not as culturally sophisticated or as aware of the importance of the company as I should have been.

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 17, 2009 - 4:23 AM   
 By:   Tall Guy   (Member)

But I was young and callow then, and not as culturally sophisticated or as aware of the importance of the company as I should have been.


There you are - posting on FSM makes one culturally sophisticated.

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 19, 2009 - 6:53 PM   
 By:   John B. Archibald   (Member)

Bachardy did a stunning series of drawings of Isherwood as he lay dying, including his last moments and afterwards. The drawings were published at some point, and make for a moving progression.

As an artist myself, as well as a hospice nurse, I'm gratified someone was actually able to present the end of life process as it is, no frills, not as our culture continually romanticizes it.

Isherwood prompted Bachardy to train as an artist, and Bachardy has turned into one of the subtlest portraitists I've ever seen.

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 19, 2009 - 8:24 PM   
 By:   manderley   (Member)

.....There you are - posting on FSM makes one culturally sophisticated.....


Sure does! After reading FSM, I know who scored HALLOWEEN 25: HE'S BACK and to call Barbra Streisand, "La Streisand"!! Can't wait to find out what I'll learn tomorrow! smile

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 19, 2009 - 9:24 PM   
 By:   Bond1965   (Member)

Bachardy did a stunning series of drawings of Isherwood as he lay dying, including his last moments and afterwards. The drawings were published at some point, and make for a moving progression.

As an artist myself, as well as a hospice nurse, I'm gratified someone was actually able to present the end of life process as it is, no frills, not as our culture continually romanticizes it.

Isherwood prompted Bachardy to train as an artist, and Bachardy has turned into one of the subtlest portraitists I've ever seen.


This is all covered in the documentary.

James

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 20, 2009 - 9:34 AM   
 By:   Montana Dave   (Member)

Bachardy did a stunning series of drawings of Isherwood as he lay dying, including his last moments and afterwards. The drawings were published at some point, and make for a moving progression.

As an artist myself, as well as a hospice nurse, I'm gratified someone was actually able to present the end of life process as it is, no frills, not as our culture continually romanticizes it.

Isherwood prompted Bachardy to train as an artist, and Bachardy has turned into one of the subtlest portraitists I've ever seen.


This is all covered in the documentary.

James


Thanks James, I should be getting the documentary around Tuesday from Netflix. Manderley...that dinner you went to sounds as though it would make an excellent documentary by itself! Do you recall anything that was said by any of the parties there at the table?

 
 Posted:   Feb 20, 2009 - 9:36 AM   
 By:   drivingmissdaisy   (Member)

I'm going to need to pick this up, it looks super cool and to the guy who had dinner with them, wow, pretty damn cool! 30 years, thats incredible.

We just pre-ordered it from amazon YAAAA

 
 Posted:   Feb 21, 2009 - 2:28 PM   
 By:   Hadrian   (Member)

Terry Gross did a wonderful interview with Don on National Public Radio's FRESH AIR. You can listen to it here:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=92343122

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 24, 2009 - 8:13 AM   
 By:   Bond1965   (Member)

DVD Talk has a very positive review up which includes a description of the extras:

http://www.dvdtalk.com/reviews/36263/chris-don-a-love-story/

James

 
 Posted:   Jun 17, 2014 - 6:57 PM   
 By:   DavidinBerkeley   (Member)

I found this in the library.

It was quite interesting, especially all those old home movies. Who knew Christopher Isherwood wore short-shorts?? smile

 
 Posted:   Jun 19, 2014 - 4:10 AM   
 By:   Ron Hardcastle   (Member)




I don't think I've ever discussed the "Chris & Don" documentary here. It was in 1975, almost two years after I moved to Westwood, that I would chat with two older fellows at the small Bruce Conner Gym two short blocks from the rustic cottage where I lived, and I only knew them as Chris and Don, and Don, clearly the younger of the two, kept pestering me to let him draw me (he was probably 39, but was in great physical condition, although 39 seemed soooooooo old to me at the tme). Someone else I knew at the gym whispered to me that I had been talking to Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy, and one day I reluctantly relented and biked to their lovely house on Adelaide, which seemed to hang quite precariously over the cliff facing Malibu. Don had a large and airy studio, still under construction, which took up one level of their house, and when drawing people would start with their eyes and it always felt like he spent at least an hour boring relentlessly into my eyes (which, years later, he would laughingly deny), and I would end up looking in his drawing like I was close to tears, a look that I would see reflected similarly in the pencil drawings he did of many of his subjects, some of them very famous. I would often see Chris (I don't think we ever called him Christopher) and Don sitting near the water's edge at Will Rogers State Park, just a few blocks from their house, and Chris was always charming with a never-ending stream of fascinating anecdotes. One night they invited me to a lecture that Chris was doing at UCLA, and it was such a delight seeing him embraced by a large hall full of students and faculty (and I have a couple of very amusing anecdotes that Chris told us that night).

I mention in my FSM profile the many letters I've had printed in the Los Angeles Times, and one of them was written because of the controversy caused by Don's official portrait of California Gov. Jerry Brown (back during Brown's first tenure in that position). I wrote that the painting was alive with color, which couldn't be properly reproduced in drab newspaper grays, and, defending him as an artist, concluded with, as I recall, "Art doesn't have to be a mirror to be art, doesn't have to be a mirror to mirror" -- I'll have to find a copy of that little letter and include it here.

As for "Chris & Don," I learned about it when Don sent me some ad strips about it just before it was released, and I loved it when I saw it. Incidentally, a few years ago I arranged to take my friend Ron Ginsburg over to the house to meet Don, and ended up having to drag him out of there -- Ron was thoroughly enchanted by Don's stories and didn't want to leave, although we had planned to go to the beach that day. The only pictures of me with Don were taken by my friend that day, although I have some old Super 8 movies I took of him in his studio, sitting next to a large drawing he had just done of me. Need to have some of those home movies transferred to digital.

I once asked Don if he would mind if I included at least one of his drawings of me in the memoir I was trying to write and he gave me his blessing, even offering to put it together for me, and I still intend to include at least one of them -- but probably NOT the nude!

As for Chris' short shorts, I think that the night at UCLA was one of the rare times I ever saw him wearing long pants -- and I've avoided long pants myself during my own retirement!

Incidentally, long before I met Don and Chris I read "A Single Man" and instantly recognized its Santa Monica Canyon and beach setting, since I had been a frequent State Beach habitué, and, years later, when I went to their house on the cliff above the beach, realized that that was where Chris wrote that book and that we had probably crossed paths many times before we finally met in 1975.

Follow-Up. Here's that letter to The Times, and I didn't get the final line I tried to quote quite right:

BROWN PORTRAIT

Artist Don Bachardy's bold painting of former Gov. Jerry Brown seems to be the center of a maelstrom of controversy. Like all of Bachardy's paintings, it simply cannot be truly appreciated when seen in drab newspaper grays. It is awash and alive with color. Anyone who saw Bachardy's remarkable show last fall in Barnsdall Park will realize why the newspaper reproduction doesn't do it justice.

Many people who do not understand any art that goes beyond attempts at exact reproduction feel that expressionistic artists paint that way because they don't have the skills to do otherwise. That is an unfortunate misconception, especially in Bachardy's case, because those familiar with his detailed pencil drawings know the artist to be an astute craftsman. While his pencil drawings capture the physical person, his bold paintings often capture the spirit and the very essence of the individual. Anyone who has sat for him, as I have on more than one occasion, knows that he can be exact and honest to the point of offense. Often his subject will wince in pain -- and recognition!

Art certainly can mirror life, but it must not be a mirror to be art, must not be a mirror to mirror.


Ronald D. Hardcastle
Los Angeles



It's hard for me to believe that a month ago Don turned 80!

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 19, 2014 - 10:08 AM   
 By:   Montana Dave   (Member)


Ron Hardcastle - Now THAT'S A STORY!

 
 Posted:   Jun 19, 2014 - 2:10 PM   
 By:   Ron Hardcastle   (Member)

Dave:

Yeah, I got carried away! Part of me wanted to go back and clean it up, maybe insert the letter to The Times earlier and delete the part where I misquoted it. But it was the wee hours and I'd been up all night.

One of the many treasures I have -- somewhere!!! -- on VHS is the night Chris was on the Dick Cavett Show, and I felt at the time that it was as if he were chatting with one of us. That charming and casual man WAS Christopher Isherwood. And, without any attempt to do so, Don has always sounded very much like him. Years ago someone was ridiculing Richard Chamberlain for taking on a British accent when speaking as himself, but I well remember a month I spent in London in 1969. I had flown into Gatwick and taken the train to Victoria Station. Once there I called a fellow who worked in our London office, and just minutes into our conversation was startled because, without realizing it and certainly without trying, I had begun to mimic his accent.

I'm delighted you brought up this documentary and hope that it spurs others to watch it.

 
 Posted:   Jun 19, 2014 - 2:20 PM   
 By:   DavidinBerkeley   (Member)

Great story.

Make sure you promote your book here, Ron!

 
 Posted:   Jun 19, 2014 - 2:24 PM   
 By:   Ron Hardcastle   (Member)

Ahhhhh, Dave and David, David and Dave. Love ya.

 
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