Saturday, April 01, 2006

Downey Jr and the Deal

It’s a simple matter of cash I told him. Get the green and dead presidents into my field of vision and I’ll see what I can do. He was tentative at first about the deal.

Robert Downey Jr stood shaking in the shadows under the bypass over near the old Darkman factory. There were hints in the air of aromas that could only spawn from the cuticles of a Neeson. A Neeson hell bent on speaking in the tongue of American, but collapsing at one phonetical obstacle after another. Oh how I could have helped him back in the day. A passer-by mutters, “where exactly is Ballymena?” I shout an obscure slang term only a bunch of feudalist vagabonds would understand towards his person. That shut him up.

“But won’t people notice?” questions an anxious Downey Jr, teary eyed and scarred countenance. I tell him a yarn about the rotoscoped monotony of Gulliver’s Travels, and how not one individual became aware of the Gregory Peck reverberations in that verbalizing. I personally put it down to a lack of intelligence, motivation, priority, aural fortitude, and many other factors. My contemporaries accuse me of undue severity, but that’s why I’m number one in the business. Who else would dare pull off a feat like this? Genghis McMurphy down by pier 31? I think not. He wouldn’t know his Burroughs croak from his Mustaine rasp.

And don’t get me started on the Willem Dafoe creak, infamous in its difficulty to replicate. Old Mekong Philips once bet me his brand new Lexis that I couldn’t possibly succeed in the deed. It was a kid from downtown Canada, paid up well in advance, must have been part of that whole Plutonium pissdown back in ’72. Well anyway, that kid went on to star in Spiderman and The Reckoning (although they had to get the real Dafoe in for that bending over backward action in the latter), and I had myself a brand new Lexis, which I subsequently traded for a sitar. Good times.

Downey Jr was distractedly looking at the graffiti over his shoulder when I slapped him in the jowls and told him to pay attention. A viscous droplet of blood formed on his lip as he glanced at me bewilderingly. After a moment he nodded an affirmative, and went back to his car. I finished my cigarette and stooped under the low bridge to get a better view of the car, he was already walking back with a suitcase tucked under his arm.

Upon his return, he asked me in a whimpering, treble-heavy quiver, “how long will I have to wait?” I informed him of the appointments, reservations, engagements, all bursting out of my schedule currently. After a moment of rummage in the diary, I gave him a certain date, told him not to forget it, seized the suitcase, and walked off into the night. Like a right mysterious phantom. Except that I rounded a corner only to find that some kids had stolen the wheels off my Oldsmobile, and was forced to walk home on foot.

I was prepping my operating table, when an enthusiastic Downey Jr skipped his way onto the factory floor. It’s not the prettiest environment for throat surgery, grime decorates the walls, balls of sulphur cluster on the floor, a smoky residue of burnt human hair inhabits the atmosphere, but at least the rats tend to disperse when someone puts the light on. What can one do these days when it comes to illegal medical treatments? So I have to share my office space (well, ok, abandoned warehouse) with psychotic ex-clinicians and failed veterinarians, so what?

I sense a slight disgust emanating from Downey Jr’s eyelids as he surveys the surroundings. A quick word of reassurance and a second later he’s lying face up on the table getting injected with enough anaesthetic to tranquilise Jack Palance.

Adjacent situates a cubic shape concealed in an old sheet. It is here that I like to put the sources prior to procedure, covered because often the sight of the donor is enough to drive the patient crazy, and the last thing you want is some frenetic madman around your very expensive equipment. The sheet rolls off to reveal an inert, but conscious, Dustin Hoffman reclined against the edge.

These procedures rarely take longer than an hour, a professional like me can transpose Hoffman’s voice into the body of Downey Jr sometimes in the space of one Sun Ra song. And so it was done, as successful an op as any I had hitherto performed.

The outcome of this is no mighty revelation, no I wasn’t Downey Jr’s father, no he didn’t turn out to be Kevin Spacey, and no he wasn’t actually dead all along. Our Robert went on to make a successful career for himself in the motion movies, and was also a successful drug addict and convict. And yet no one was attentive to the fact that he was in possession of Dustin Hoffman’s voice. Well that’s Hollywood for you kids.


Blogger Miss Templeton said...

Quite enjoyable!

In my quest to get you to watch Casablanca maybe like a second time, here's a link to a great profile of Peter Lorre that showed up in the LRB review of an upcoming biography.

I have to believe that you already know Peter Lorre because the range of his career encompassed critically acclaimed Brechtian roles under the directions of the early greats of German stage and cinema to his later wisecracking sidekick parts in the fantastic series of "Vincent Price does Edgar Allen Poe" movies. (I do not share the LRB's distain for these mid-60s masterpieces.)

If you don't know Peter Lorre, try starting with Mad Love

11:01 am  
Blogger Aaron Fleming said...

I didn't realise there's a quest going on here. Unnecessary because I recognise it's a fine flick, don't think not remembering things infers that I think otherwise. If I were to rewatch it I'd probably forget those very same things ten minutes later.

And of course I know Lorre, mainly from his great turn in proto-Noir classic M. Although that does remind me that I haven't seen any of those Poe adaptations, I don't know if I really want to see schlocky B-movie versions of his masterful prose, how could The Pit and the Pendulum be turned into a film and maintain its greatness? Well that's my preconceptions anyway. I ought to see some, maybe I'll see what I can track down.

5:41 pm  
Blogger Miss Templeton said...

Sincere apologies for the peremptory tone! It was more a feeble excuse to plug the LRB article and to check to see that Peter Lorre's greatness still had discerning fans such as yourself.

The Poe/Price films can be hit or miss as I recall -- but always enjoyable for Vincent's presence. Another friend of mine managed a whole term paper out of an analysis of composer Les Baxter's masterful scores in such films as Master of the World (not Poe, true, but Verne), Tales of Terror, and the aforementioned Pit and the Pendulum. Masque of Red Death is one of the better ones, but no Les on the score there.

Strange how this same Hollywood crowd drifted from Poe and tales of terror to surfers and the beach. I feel a great cross-genre epic opportunity was overlooked sometime in '66 or '67. The Tell-Tale Corvette or something.

8:08 pm  

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