EUGENE WALTER

LAST OF THE BOHEMIANS   

 70:00(2008)                       Music:  Donald Stark

 

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     Eugene Walter: Last of the Bohemians  documents the life and career of a writer, poet, actor, artist and raconteur whose work celebrates the art of living and personifies the culture of the coastal South. Living in Paris and Rome, Walter (1921-1998) lent his unique personality and wide-ranging talent to a number of different endeavors, many of them at the heart of the postwar artistic renaissance in Europe -- winning numerous awards for his poetry and fiction, helping start the Paris Review, working with and acting in the films of Federico Fellini and other Italian directors, editing the polylingual literary magazine Botteghe Oscure and meeting and entertaining many of the most famous writers and cultural figures of his time.
          But Walter's return to his native Mobile in 1978 after almost three decades in New York and Europe was not the triumph he had hoped for. Many people disbelieved his stories of meeting and entertaining William Faulkner, Anais Nin, Judy Garland, Leontyne Price and Gore Vidal, among many, many others. Like Truman Capote -- who Eugene also claimed to know -- Walter was prone to embellish his stories, using his wit and charm to ingratiate himself with his audience. And Eugene needed his audience. He had come back from Europe dead broke. Once again he relied on the kindness of Mobilians. And in this city which was the birthplace of Mardi Gras, 'sweet lunacy's county seat', he called it, Eugene Walter once again found generosity and a cultural scene grateful for the infusion of energy he provided.
        
            The film has been made possible by a grant from the Alabama Humanities Foundation, a state program of the National Endowment for the Humanities, with additional support from the Sybil Smith Charitable Trust, A.S. Mitchell Foundation, M.W. Smith Foundation, Malbis Memorial Foundation and Ben May Foundation.