Jean Seberg: Still Breathless After All These Years

Never get mixed up with a newspaperman. That's what I tell all the girls.

Never get mixed up with a newspaperman. That’s what I tell all the girls.

The problem is, the men don’t stick around, including Walter (Stanley Baker), a British foreign correspondent who puts getting the story above all else.

vlcsnap-2012-05-22-20h36m32s128The arrival of Christina’s history professor father, played by Addison Powell, provides keen insight into Christina. Father and daughter attend an art happening/photo shoot that captures the period with great examples of the hairstyles and clothing [by Philippe Venet] of the era.

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She's the "smashingest" girl in Pris and that's the consensus of opinion, male and female alike.

She’s the smashingest girl in Paris and that’s the consensus of opinion, male and female alike.

You do not happen to be a male model, do you? I'm at Vogue.

You do not happen to be a male model, do you? I’m at Vogue.

In style and world-weary outlook, Professor James resembles Roger (John Slattery) on Mad Men. The Professor clearly loves his daughter but isn’t above telling her some hard truths. After spending some time alone studying her canvasses, he lets it be known that her art, though it showed early promise, will never be “good enough.” He urges her to come home. It’s a remarkable sequence with dialogue that justifies Irwin Shaw’s reputation as one of the best writers of the 1960s.

Maybe it's the life you lead.

Maybe it’s the life you lead.

Papa don't preach!

Papa don’t preach!

Christina soothes the sting of her father’s words by going sailing with Walter before he has to leave, yet again.

Be happy, Baby. Have fun. Go to all the parties.

Be happy, Baby. Have fun. Go to all the parties.

A goodbye scene at the airport is sad but not unexpected. It leads to months of soul-searching for Christina, secluded in her apartment

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When we last see Christina, she’s met a new man, Dr. John Haislip (John Leo Herlihy), who’s a “keeper,” in the best sense of the word. His practice is in San Francisco. Surprisingly for a doctor, he smokes, but so did nearly everyone else in 1963.

vlcsnap-2012-05-22-21h18m52s186He’s tall and thin with an aristocratic bearing like her father and in contrast to the ape-like Walter (Baker’s brutal demeanor limited the roles he could play) who shows up unexpectedly. Seberg and Baker effectively convey that they still have a visceral attraction. Dr. Haislip, however, senses he has the upper hand and magnanimously invites Walter to dine with them.

Christina must choose between her desire for a man who’s proved himself unreliable and another who can provide the security she finally realizes is of value. Could it be that father knows best?vlcsnap-2012-05-22-21h19m14s155-1

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