The Angst of Corky St Clair

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Misunderstood… Corky dans le bain de bubbles

Pity poor, misunderstood, Corky St Clair, the genius, the doyen that is the off-off Broadway, musical theatre maverick in the making. His tears are but pearls of sadness, for he is a man of grand schemes, and big, proscenium arch- shaped dreams.

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No one ever seems to appreciate a man ahead of his time. Choreography, costume, Remains Of The Day lunch boxes … He sees it all, writ large, in flashing lights.

With his spirited, musical interpretations of his own town, the town of Blaine, Missouri (‘Red,White and Blaine’) esoteric clothes and fondness for shopping for pantsuits for Bonnie, the wife who’s always outta town, it’s as though nobody can see that his methods, while unorthodox, always get results. And how!

Christopher Guest, a criminally underrated writer and director, has crafted one of the best ever comic creations in camp, petty and highly vulnerable Mr St Clair. I love Nigel Tufnel, but Corky is next level. He has nuance. This film has pathos in its veins.

‘Waiting For Guffman’ (1996) is a watch-through-your-fingers treat, a mockumentary about a small town and the oddball, yet loveable, inhabitants. St Clair is Guest’s inner Sally Bowles bursting forth, in lively knitwear. So what if there are volcanic bursts of temper? The ‘bastard people’ don’t understand the creative ennui that occurs when a man can’t truly express himself.

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As his searingly passionate, gorgeously choreographed romantic routine (to his mind) with Parker Posey’s endearingly gauche Libby Mae says, ‘a penny for your thoughts’… Oh, that we could bottle that chemistry…

(Lorna Irvine)

Images: Sony Pictures Classics

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