Monday, March 11, 2013

Story of a '60s Radical

Another of our cheapo junk store DVDs - watched it the other night. The title had attracted me, and, with Cissy Spacek and Henry Winkler starring, how bad could it be? It turned out to be quite good, for a 1975 TV movie. It afforded a look at the USA during the 1960s and early 70s through the eyes of the lead character, Katy/Katherine. A little Google action threw up the fact that this TV film has been alternatively titled, and was known originally as Katherine - that title wouldn't have attracted this buyer nearly as much!

The story is factually based on the experiences of Diana Oughton, a girl from an old-established, very well-heeled, well-connected Michigan family. She was a stereotypical upper-class conservative-leaning university student in the beginning, turning sharp left in her loyalties after experiences teaching abroad. Back in the USA she eventually became part of The Weathermen, a violent revolutionary group. She was dead by age 28 after blowing herself up while constructing a bomb. That was the real character - more on her at Wikipedia and a good essay from 1970 at UPI Stories.

Interestingly (to me), Diana Oughton's birthdate was 26 January 1942. (Astrodatabank entry.) She was a far, far more extreme Aquarius Sun than yours truly (27 January different year, but close). She had three personal planets and ascendant in Aquarius, and three in Gemini: very Airy power-house of an intellect. She could've done, and been, just about anything she wished. It was a sad waste, but the times were wild and unpredictable, and she fit right in, sad to say.

A sidelight: I noticed on a couple of websites ( one here) indications that Diana Oughton was the girl friend of Bill Ayers who had connection to the writing of one of Barack Obama's books of memoirs (ghost-written some would have it). There is speculation that Diana was a large part of a composite of female characters described, in the book Dreams From My Father, as Obama's "New York girl friend".

The film, made for TV, strayed only slightly from the facts - mainly in the exact way the leading character died. It was rather odd in format, but it worked. There were frequent flashbacks and occasional faux interviews. Acting was good - I failed to recognise Henry Winkler, even though I'd seen his name on the DVD cover. I'm not sure whether his character, who fled to Canada to avoid being drafted to Vietnam, was meant to relate to anyone in real life.

We enjoyed the film. I'm always fascinated to discover what went on in the USA in the 1960s. Across the Universe, a favourite of mine, afforded a view of events, but from the perspective of an English lad, during a similar time span in the USA (with the added attraction of Beatles' music). I was in England, mostly unaware of dramatic, often tragic, turns of events in the USA. I had no TV, didn't read the newspapers much, and was going through dramas of my own, first from a bad marriage, then from jobs which entailed moving around the country every six months or so. It's only recently that I've fully caught up! Events in the US during that amazing period were more dramatic than many works of fiction from the same decade.

If a passing reader should happen upon a copy of The Radical or Katherine as it's titled in some cases, I can confirm that it'd be well worth a dollar, or even two.


mike said...

The 1960s and 70s were fascinating times here in the USA for me to have lived through. It was all everyday stuff at the time, but I often recall events, to which, some make me cringe, some make me laugh, and some make me wonder how I'm still alive to remember this stuff!

The most harrowing for me was during the racially charged era of the mid to late 1960s. I lived in Kansas City, MO, in 1968, and experienced local riots...random shoot-outs on the roads I took to work...arson in my neighborhood, random assaults, a murder across the street from my apartment. It was spooky.

Then there was the never-ending background of sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll. The political, Vietnam war demonstrations, the war draft, and the draft-dodgers that usually became college students for the deferment. Organic food, sustainable communes, and hippies. Ah, those were the days!

I'm taking a blog-o-sphere sabbatical, Twilight. Cashing-in my frequent commenter miles. Boo hoo, sob, reality beckons! I'm typically very busy spring through fall here in the deep South and it's well into spring. So, I'll catch you toward fall, Twilight. Cheers!

Twilight said...

mike ~~ Thanks for your memories of the era!

Oh dear! I shall miss your words of wisdom, but do understand that real life calls. Thank you for your loyal support over past months - it has been much appreciated, Mike.

Have a good, successful and happy spring and summer 2013!

I'll look out for you in the fall - if I haven't by then thrown in the towel myself. :-)

libramoon said...

The Electric
Kool-Aid Acid Test

Twilight said...

libramoon ~~ Hi! Thanks for the link!
Great book cover! Even the chapter titles sound wild and woolly. :-)
I'll try a few pages, to see how I get on - I suspect I'm not going to be on that wavelength now - but maybe I'd have tuned into it in the 60s if I'd been this side of the pond then.

Anonymous said...

I saw this move on TV and realized what a great actress Sissy Spacek was and is.I liked the portrayls of her parents; Jane Wyatt, I believe played her mother but don't remember the actor who played the father. You may want to see Sissy in two films rarely mentioned in artcles about her career. "Badlands" is a film based on a true story about a girl who goes cross country on a killing spree with her boyfriend in the Mid-West in the 50s. Sissys' character doesn't do any killing but she is convicted along with her partner in crime. A very young and engaging Martin Sheen plays the boyfriend. The other is "Heartbeat" about Jack Kerouac and his friend Neal Cassady (Nick Nolte) and the girl they both love and share. It is also the fifties but in San Francisco. "Missing" is more well known,another true story about a young American who goes missing in Allendes' Chile and his wife(Sissy)and father, Jack Lemmon tried to find him and/or the truth about his disapperance. The scenes between Sissy and Jack show what superb actors they are and how they played off one another.

One word about Diana, Bill Ayers and their "literary and personal links". If the truth ever comes out about this frauds' past, the American people will be shocked and sadden that they chose to believe in him. I don't believe his birth data so any chart of his is conjecture. If it is true or should we learn the truth, either chart is probably heavy on the Neptune and/or 12th house aspects.

Twilight said...

Anonymous ~~ Hi! the father was played by Art Carney. Yes, the acting was very good, all round.

Sissy Spacek should get more acclaim - she's so versatile. First time I saw her was in Coalminer's Daughter" - with a young Tommy Lee Jones in ginger wig!

Thanks for the recommendations, I'll seek out tapes or DVDs of those movies. :-)

I know how you feel about the "fraud" - yes, waves of Neptune surround him always - I've always had that feeling about him, but used to hope it might be Neptune "in a good way". It wasn't!