Saturday, 23 January 2016

Nuts! review – a ridiculously enjoyable ode to old, weird America

hen Greil Marcus wrote about Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music in his book Invisible Republic, he coined the phrase “the old, weird America”. The 1930s dustbowl contained rich soil for nurturing strange characters. An entire strata of Americana exists, miles from the top-hat-and-tails stories peddled by Hollywood. Nuts! is a ridiculously enjoyable gem of a documentary about a great historical footnote, John Romulus Brinkley, a rags-to-riches-and-back-again huckster who peddled an impotence cure involving goat testicles and became one of the most ubiquitous broadcasters in the early days of radio. Mixing droll animation, stock footage and a restrained number of talking head interviews, the director Penny Lane’s biography has all the whimsy of a tall tale, until a late change in tone surprises with genuine emotion. Nuts! is really a kick.
Brinkley, so his self-financed hagiography tells us, was rejected by top medical schools because he couldn’t afford shoes, but worked his way into a physician’s office (diploma in hand from the shady Kansas City Eclectic Medical University) in the sleepy town of Milford, Kansas. (Don’t look for Milford now, it was flooded to -read more -

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