charles “rowdy reggie” jackson

Charles Jackson was an author that kinda got lost in the shuffle of 20th century alcoholic writers.

His life was tragic. Naturally.

Jackson appeared to have lived a mostly closeted life. He suffered from tuberculosis, losing a lung, which led to alcohol and substance abuse. He died of apparent suicide in 1968.

Blake Bailey wrote a biography of Jackson titles Farther and Wilder: The Lost Weekends and Literary Dreams of Charles Jackson. Unlike every other book I talk about here, I might actually read that one.

The Lost Weekend is Jackson’s most famous work. Billy Wilder adapted it into a film in 1945. While the book was successful upon its release, it is now largely forgotten in the American canon.

The second chapter of the The Lost Weekend is probably the most harrowing description of being an alcoholic ever written. And while I thought the book was fantastic as a whole, I actually found Jackson’s second novel The Fall of Valor to be much more engrossing.

And unfortunately it’s been totally forgotten.

The Fall of Valor is about a man vacationing with his wife in Nantucket who suddenly becomes obsessed with a recently married Marine captain on leave from World War II. The blatant homosexual overtones were ahead of their time upon its release in 1946, but the novel is powerful in its exploration on the dissolution of relationships and masculinity.

Jackson’s style can get a little long winded at times, which bogged down The Lost Weekend at certain points. But it pays off in second novel. Jackson was an astute observer of human nature. He’s seen the dark side and knows what people are thinking even when they aren’t aware of it themselves. All of this comes together in a heartbreaking conclusion for The Fall of Valor.

Anywho, no jokes. That’s all I got.

Bye ✋

lawrence! merry christmas 😀

Damn it! I wish someone hadn’t stolen my copy of Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence.

It’s my favorite holiday movie!

Seriously though, it’s probably my favorite POW film. The first time you watch it, it’s kinda underwhelming. Certainly not the kind of thing you’d expect from the director of In the Realm of the Senses.

But it’s actually one of the rare films that get better the more you watch it.

David Bowie plays a British soldier, Jack Celliers, who is taken captive by the Japanese during WWII. The camp commander, played by Japanese musician Ryuichi Sakamoto, becomes obsessed with him. Bowie and Sakamoto, not known for their acting, actually carry the film quite well.

Meanwhile, Tom Conti’s Col. Lawrence and Takeshi Kitano’s Sgt. Hara have a contentious yet mutually admirable relationship.

The emotional highlight of the film is when Lawrence and Celliers get locked up and scheduled for execution. The two confide in each other some of their regrets. We’re shown flashbacks of Celliers high class upbringing and his relationship with his younger brother. Lucky for them, it’s Christmas. Sgt. Hara gets drunk and grants the two of them a reprieve.

“Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence,” Hara says.

At the conclusion of the film, the shoe’s on the other foot. Hara is a POW yet Lawrence is unable to prevent his execution.

Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence is unusual for a war film in that rather than focusing on death and carnage, it explores human relationships, understanding, love, and regret.

I just wish whoever borrowed my copy would return it 😢

That would make my fuckin Christmas!