Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle (1994)

Description[from Freebase]

Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle is a 1994 film scripted by writer/director Alan Rudolph and former Washington Star reporter Randy Sue Coburn. Directed by Rudolph, it starred Jennifer Jason Leigh as the writer Dorothy Parker and depicted the members of the Algonquin Round Table, a group of writers, actors and critics who met almost every weekday from 1919 to 1929, at Manhattan's Algonquin Hotel. The film was an Official Selection at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for the Palme d'Or. The film was a critical but not a commercial success. Peter Benchley, who played editor Frank Crowninshield, is the grandson of Robert Benchley, the humorist who once worked underneath Crowninshield. Actor Wallace Shawn is the son of William Shawn, the longtime editor of The New Yorker. Director Alan Rudolph was fascinated with the Algonquin Round Table as a child when he discovered Gluyas Williams' illustrations in a collection of Robert Benchley's essays. After making The Moderns, a film about American expatriates in 1920s Paris, Rudolph wanted to tackle a fact-based drama set in the same era.

Review

Alan Rudolph’s loving portrayal of Dorothy Parker (a spot-on yet frequently incomprehensible Jennifer Jason Leigh) is a film for historians and literary fans alike, with a cast featuring more art-house favorites than any other movie in recent memory (just look at the cast list!). The film drips into treacle with its treatment of the love triangle among Parker, her husband (Matthew Broderick), and Robert Benchley (Campbell Scott). It’s the primary focus of the movie but also its weakest link. The film is at its heights when the ensemble is in full force as Parker plies her wit around the Algonquin Round Table and various social affairs (all during the age of Prohibition). Leigh was snubbed on an Oscar nomination here despite a strong performance in a very weak year (Jessica Lange won for the tepid Blue Sky).

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