Friday, December 04, 2009

The 25th Hour; Don Congdon

I saw Spike Lee's 25th Hour the day it opened. I was was jazzed for it because I'd read the novel in galley and thought it was brilliant. The novelist David Benioff also wrote the screenplay. I left the theater thinking this had to be one of the finest films I'd ever seen. Then I started reading the reviews. Most of the major ones trashed it. I couldn't believe it. Like Vince Keenan and many others I kept pushing the movie over the years. Slowly I saw appreciations starting to appear on the net. This year with Decade's Best lists appearing I see that it's in many top tens and top fives and even number ones in--as I recall--one or two. People like to chatter about how all the indie movies break rules and take chances. Spike Lee and Benioff throw most of the rules away and in so doing get performances from Edward Norton, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Rosario Dawson, Anna Paquin, Barry Pepper and Brian Cox you will never forget. If you've never seen it, now's the time when it's finally getting it's due.

--------------Don Congdon, Longtime Literary Agent for Ray Bradbury, Dies at 91

Ed here: I had four or five long conversations with Don Congdon over the years. I could never meet his prices for things I wanted to reprint but I always seemed to catch him in a talkative mood. He had a lot of great stories and was a generous man in sharing credit with others. A fine tough gentleman from the time when publishing was really publishing.

By WILLIAM GRIMES (from the New York Times today)

Don Congdon, a literary agent who spotted the talent of Ray Bradbury early in both their careers and whose long list of celebrated authors also included William Styron, Jack Finney, Evan S. Connell, William L. Shirer and David Sedaris, died on Monday at his home in Brooklyn Heights. He was 91.

The death was confirmed by his son, Michael.

Mr. Congdon, who started out as a messenger at a small New York agency, developed an enviable reputation as a skilled editor, tough negotiator and shrewd judge of talent. While still a young editor at Simon & Schuster, he tuned in to the early stories of Ray Bradbury, who became one of his first clients after he set up as a full-time literary agent in 1947.

In 1966 he caused a stir in the publishing world, and precipitated a celebrated lawsuit by Jacqueline Kennedy, when, after spirited bargaining, he sold Look magazine the serial rights to “The Death of a President,” William Manchester’s study of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, for more than $600,000.

for the rest go here:


Chad Eagleton said...

25th Hour was, indeed, a brilliant film. I'm always trying to tell people to watch it. Easily, one of the most under-appreciated films.

Peter L. Winkler said...

Sorry to piss on the parade, but I wasn't impressed or entertained by 25th Hour, particularly the ending, which I though was close to ridiculous.

Having seen Rosario Dawson in several films, I can only say that she's very sexy but a bad actress.

Gonzalo B said...

BTW, Benioff's short story collection is pretty good too. I haven't read his second novel (about the siege of Stalingrad, I think) but have heard good things.

Laurie Powers said...

I really liked 25th hour, though Ed Norton was mesmerizing as usual and Philip Seymour Hoffman was brilliant. Funny, the reviews I read at the time were very complimentary.

Laurie Powers said...

that should have said "*thought* Ed Norton was mesmerizing..."

Anonymous said...

Your previous post about the "25th Hour" finally got me to see it. Thank you for the recommendation. The film was everything you said it would be. It was a movie I'd always been aware of but was probably never going to actually watch. It's amazing that this movie received so much as a single negative review.