Cast & Crew: Biography of Keith David

21 03 2008

– He sang in a choir as a child.
– First TV appearance in “Roots: The Next Generations”

QUOTE: Within hours of graduating, he was rehearsing Joseph Papp’s Public Theater production of Coriolanus

Stange, Papp’s Public Theater appears again and again in the background of Stone-verse. First I’ve heard the name in the Tour of Inferno documentary, John McGinley mentions he was working in that theater as Platoon production started. Another involved actor was Eric Bogosian — they performed a stage version of Talk Radio before Stone made it into a film.

Take a Break: Assembled Thoughts About the Script

21 03 2008

Break online Wow! What a confusing piece of writing. Couldn’t find any kind of logical storyline, sometimes it reminds me of Child’s Night Dream (OS’s novel), but it’s much wilder. It felt Apocalypse Now-ish (especially the first scene of the early Apocalypse script), very The Doors-ish, maybe even a little NBK-ish. I had those flashes of familiar mood over and over again, some of it I even couldn’t define. The “story” is divided into three parts, and the middle part takes place in some not nearer described “woods”. We have a bunch of mercenaries, who get high on grass and music (Tracks of My Tears!) in a buddhist temple. Then, on a patrol, they meet a group of dionisian “nature-children” dancing in the forest. One of them joins the orgy, then it all gets out of control and ends with a bloody mess. The main character is photographing all the time, just like Stone while he was in Vietnam. We also have a direct quotation from Child’s Night Dream:

I was conceived by my father, born of my mother, suffered under both, was crucified for this (pointing at papers), died and soundly buried but the third day I rose again from Hell, and ascended unto Heaven where I sit on the right hand of God The Father Fiction, from whence I shall come to judge . . . all painters, all poets, all creators . . . you . . . amen

Soon we see some pretty known names: Lerner, Bunny, Francis (beautiful singing voice), Adams (from the script I think), King, Manny, Jeremiah “called Rhah”, Flash… King, “who is the biggest brother, very black, with big white cotton picker’s nails.” Stone casted a singer (Corey Glover) for the part of Francis. Was Francis singing in the first version of The Platoon?  Then, there is an Indian with the name Isaac, mysterious guy, a kind of shaman skilled in  taming and killing snakes.

Isaac, a moderately tall, slender, muscled Indian, with sharp attractive features, no beard whatever, his long black hair curling down over his forehead, could look like a little boy but he stands there away from the rest, sharpening his long glistening hunting knife. His chest is without hair and he wears a thin loose-fitting vest of black cloth hanging unbuttoned from his broad shoulders. (…)

On his bicep, ISAAC has a small graceful tatoo Born To Kill

Later, in the third part, there is someone looking like Isaac’s younger reincarnation, in the prison where the main character ends. They have something like a homo-erotic scene together. There is also sergeant Lee(!!)*, an excellent sniper, but actually a supporting character, almost an extra, he says no word in the whole story. The description leaves little space for speculations which Platoon character is based on him.

…carrying a map in his hand, a young sergeant. He is small with a heavily repaired face indicated by the seam of scar tissue running from his ear along his jaw to his chin.

There are little details jumping at you all over the place, beads, bandanas, bracelets, deers, girl-names game, Buddha figure, river, fat girl on a photo, Rhah’sbaaaaaaa (If you’re going to do it, do it right!), a snake slithering between legs, a scar under protagonist’s eye (we never know how it happened!) Rhah has a black skull and ivory white cross hang side by side around his neck.   In the description of a character named Flash I found:

“the two outside teeth have green rubies mounted on them, the inner two teeth have heart-shaped red diamonds mounted, so on the rare occasions that he smiles, his teeth glisten in red and green.”

Could it be a prototype of Manny?

Reading Break I had an impression of a time jump backwards, as if Break was what left after Platoon script got shredded in a mixer… What can I tell — it was one huge “what-the-hell?” experience. That night I went to bed long after midnight and laid awake stupidly grinning at the darknes. Now I REALLY want that early draft of “The Platoon”!

My impression is that in 1969 Stone tried to write Break as an abstract tale about his Vietnam experience and people he met, and then he came back to more accurate depicting of the real men. Isaac  turned into Elias, the almost-real person.

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