“You May Say I’m a Dreamer, But I’m Just Trying to Buy Sleeping Beauty”: Some Call it Loving

02/13/2013 4:00 AM |

Some Call it Loving (1973)
Directed by James B. Harris
February 13 at BAM, part of its A Pryor Engagement

“I bought a Sleeping Beauty! I thought you should know,” says the obscenely wealthy jazz musician to his complicit concubines. He’s just returned to his stone palace from a carnival freak show, where he purchased a used and abused beauty who has been slumbering for eight years. Yes, it’s that kind of movie—whatever that kind of movie is. It’s pervy as hell, yet somehow tender and absurd while roughly challenging the taboos that cult movies like this do. It’s genuinely sexy rather than simply transgressive. The kinky-game of a plot is realized with a dreamlike tone about literally mixing up dreams and visceral reality. In other words, it’s romantic.

The delicate skirting of tones succeeds in great part thanks to a lead performance by the epically schnozzed, future soft-core emperor Zalmon King (director of 9 1/2 Weeks and The Red Shoe Diaries) as the pensive, studly star. “What’s wrong with him? Is he a cop?” asks one of the circus assistants when King becomes obsessed with rescuing—or purchasing—the lovely lady in repose. “No,” the creepy, carny auctioneer answers very seriously. “I think this one’s a dreamer.”

Though screening in a Richard Pryor series at BAM, Pryor’s appearance as the wino-philosopher best friend is brief. Yet it also somehow gets closer to the surreal, subversive pathos of Pryor’s brilliant standup performances than his later, negligible, middle-brow comedies (The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings, for example) that are best avoided. Don’t miss the rare opportunity to see this print, though, with its blurred and bright carnival lights, odd framing, and disorienting shaky still shots.