What a fascinating movie. Part documentary, part behind the scenes look at the somewhat murky world of Reality TV, and part lesson in life, Desperately Seeing Paul McCartney covers all of these bases and then some.

I am not sure that the outset Marc Cushman intended to make the movie the way that he did, it just evolved from the material available. One of the great things about being an ‘indie’ film maker is that you can set your own rules. Of course often times those rules are constrained by budget, and also by those controlling the purse strings. Marc Cushman is a guy that I admire greatly, but I am not sure that I would want to work for him.

So what is Desperately Seeking Paul McCartney all about?

In 1965 Ruth Anson was 18 years old and working as a teenage reporter for ABC-TV, one of her earliest interviews was with Paul McCartney and in the interview Paul jokingly asks Ruth to marry her.

This short piece of dialog has been in Ruth’s head for more than 40 years. At an open ‘pitch session’ she explains her idea to Marc Cushman. Lets find Paul and ask him if he remembers the event. A simple premise, and a plot line that has bags of potential.

Unfortunately almost as soon as the project starts, it begins to derail. I think it would be wrong to class Ruth as a stalker, but I certainly would class her as obsessed, while Marc on the other hand is a seasoned Reality TV producer. Reality TV is an odd beast, while it may be largely unscripted it can be manipulated, and Marc is a master of the art.

Using scenes that could have been straight out of a Jerry Springer show, Marc puts Ruth in increasingly uncomfortable situations. But Ruth is not the only victim, Marc plows his way through 3 Personal Assistants, and alienates several other of his contacts in the process.

Being a writer, I can understand Marc when he says “Entertainment is about conflict”, oh how right he is. I sometimes write news stories, some people are of the opinion that news should be unbiased, I disagree. News is about creating conflict.

I would love to interview both Marc Cushman and Ruth Anson. I will bet they both have an interesting slant on what happened. It could be argued that Marc did not play fair in making this film, but on the other hand it can equally be said that if you can’t stand the heat, keep out of the kitchen. Ruth Anson presents herself as a well educated and intelligent lady. While working for ABC she interviewed such people as Ronald Reagan and Bob Hope. and you can bet your bottom dollar ABC were not going to let any idiot on their dime to do that. After TV she became a college prof and is married to a surgeon. This is hardly the resume of a whacko. Maybe the one mistake Ruth made was not being more proactive in the production.

If I was a film maker, would I have made this film? Probably not, is my answer. Comedy comes in many flavors, this flavor left a rather bitter taste in my mouth. The humor comes at Ruth’s expense, and I am sure that Ruth, her family, and her friends, wish that they had not been involved with the project.

That said, I found this movie to be very thought provoking, and if you are looking for something a little different from the regular movie fare I recommend you try Desperately Seeking Paul McCartney.

You can get your copy from MVD.

Simon Barrett


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