By Dennis Hartley
(Originally posted on Digby’s Hullabaloo on June 5, 2010)
Beautiful Darling: The Life and Times of Candy Darling is about “that” Candy Darling, famously name-dropped in Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side”. Who was “she”, exactly? Should we care? I went into James Rasin’s documentary with a little consternation. Yet another film about Andy Warhol’s Factory, and his orbiting freak show of sycophants, wannabes and “superstars” who were (mostly) famous just for being famous? As it turns out, Rasin’s film is not so much about the Factory, or really ultimately “about” Darling, who fascinated Warhol for the requisite “15 minutes”, before getting kicked to the curb. It’s a study in sadness.
It’s the sadness of a lonely childhood; of a boy growing up on Long Island (as Jimmy Slattery) who yearned to be a famous female movie star; no more, no less. She was featured in a few Warhol films and had the lead in a play tailored for her by Tennessee Williams-only to die of lymphoma in 1974, at age 29, virtually penniless. It’s the eternal sadness of her friend, Jeremiah Newton, still carrying a torch for a long-gone (platonic) relationship, as he dutifully arranges a belated burial for her ashes, 35 years on. It’s the sad, sad mood of Rasin’s film-as wistful and ephemeral as the androgynous and translucent Darling’s moment in the sun.