Steinman and Hammen On Theresa and Isabelle

Amherst Student

"Theresa and Isabelle", which opened last night at the Twin Cinemas, is a clumsily licentious skin-flick and a clumsily affected "art" film at the same time. Here, '72 and '69 discuss it in a transcribed interview…

Steinman) I'm very happy to be here tonight to dedicate this bridge.
Hammen) Good evening Jim.
Steinman) Good evening Chet.
Hammen) Jim, could you tell us what your favorite film was that you saw last Wednesday night at nine o'clock at the Twin Cinemas in Amherst?
Steinman) Well, of the many, I would have to say that "Theresa and Isabelle" is my favorite. I would have to say this first because—
Hammen) Can you place this film within the intellectual and moral climate of the times?
Steinman) Yes I can.
Hammen) Thank you.
Steinman) Well it's the least I could do for an old war buddy.
Hammen) Mr. Steinman, speaking as a noted heterosexual—
Steinman) Oh, did you notice my accent?
Hammen) How did you react to the explicit Lesbian sex scenes of this film?
Steinman) Well the first thing I noticed was a pounding thrashing tearing explosion in my
Hammen) But isn't that irrelevant?
Steinman) Don't mention it. This is a lovely bridge.
Hammen) What I'm trying to get at is the aesthetic importance of Lesbianism—
Steinman) Well, of course we're all trying to get at that, aren't we?
Hammen) For you, what is the aesthetic importance of Lesbianism?
Steinman) Well, I find that it's very important, especially in my work where you meet so many people every day in such close cramped quarters, always rushing, I find that I need all the protection I can get so I just dab a little of this on in the morning and I've got full protection for my whole working day and—
Hammen) In other words, you felt that "Theresa and Isabelle" made "The Fox" look like a milk-fed puppy…
Steinman) Yes, those would be my words exactly.
Hammen) Are you trying to say that this picture encourages breast feeding?
Steinman) Well , it doesn't overtly discourage it, does it? In many ways it evades the issue, certainly a dangerous tactic in this important election year.
Hammen) In short, would you take your fiancee to see this film?
Steinman) Yes I would, Walt, but I wouldn't buy a used car from it But that's the nature of the beast, isn't it?
Hammen) You're missing my point, Jim.
Steinman) No. I'm not, Walter.
Hammen) Yes you are.
Steinman) No I'm not!
Hammen) Yes you are!
Steinman) No I'm not! ! !
Hammen) MY POINT IS—
Steinman) Oh, I'm sorry, I missed that…
Hammen) Do you think that film education is appreciably advanced through colloquia like these?
Steinman) I would say that the seeds we sow here may think it queer to stop without a farm-house near though we may never see a poem as lovely as a tree—
Hammen) Why do you think the film was made in French?
Steinman) Well, color was just nor appropriate for this stark subject—
Hammen) Well, did you like the use of black and white?
Steinman) Yes, it's a lovely language don't you think?
Hammen) No I don't, but did you sense the maturation of Essy Persson's style from "I, A Woman" to this, her second big film.
Steinman) Yes, I did sense her maturation and I found it very distracting … it's a needless mannerism I wish she'd rid herself of—
Hammen) Would you say there is any specific type of person who might really react strongly against this film?
Steinman) Well, I think that blind people would be less than totally satisfied. The visual element is a big part of this movie. It's half it's appeal.
Hammen) What is its other half?
Steinman) Well it doesn't have any now, and that's a major fault, but I'll be watching to see how the film develops and grows as time and tears go by…
Hammen) But I kept my eyes closed the whole time and loved it.
Steinman) Yes, well that's typically buffoonish of you.
Hammen) But who are you to tell me how to watch a film?
Steinman) But you didn't watch it. You had your eyes closed.
Hammen) But it was a bad film. I had no desire to watch it.
Steinman) Yes, well you've got a point there. In fact, most handicapped people would dislike the film.
Hammen) But severely handicapped people played a large part in making it, didn't they?
Steinman) Yes, it would appear so.
Hammen) Would you comment on Truman Capote's statement in Playboy magazine that one of the male's greatest sexual fantasies is being in bed with two lesbians?
Steinman) Yes that is true. It is a fantasy second only to the desire to be in bed with two Truman Capotes
Hammen) And who has that fantasy?
Steinman) Truman Capote for one.
Hammen) Why do you think a man would want to be in bed with two Lesbians?
Steinman) Well, our political system offers no viable alternative. After the convention especially, where can the McCarthy people turn? Where can McCarthy turn? And what of Edgar Bergen?
Hammen) Do you think Lesbian activity is very common at girls' schools in the area?
Steinman) Well, it's a much more serious problem right here at Amherst. There's a great deal of cheap Lesbian activity going on here, but it's very hard to detect as it is often insidiously disguised as intramural sports.
Hammen) How can you tell a Lesbian?
Steinman) Well, it's best to break it to her slowly.
Hammen) Excuse me Jim.
Steinman) Yes Walter.
Hammen) Do you think this film could be made in America?
Steinman) Well, I think it would be ridiculous. I mean, it's already been made in France. Have you seen it by the way? It's called "Theresa and Isabell," Look for it at a theatre near you.
Hammen) Do you think the film would have been effective in English?
Steinman) The subtitles would have been repetitive then . . . that would be annoying certainly—
Hammen) Well, couldn't they have cut out the sound?
Steinman) Yes, but it would then be extremely difficult to hear the dialogue clearly
Hammen) Well, couldn't they have cut out the dialogue?
Steinman) Well, then the conversations would have been static—
Hammen) Well, don't you think it was static to begin with?
Steinman) Yes, but it got better as it went along.
Hammen) In fact, Mr. Steinman, didn't you object to the static quality of the film on more than one occasion?
Steinman) That is a typical smear tactic. I'm not going to answer that.
Hammen) Who directed the film?
Steinman) Radley Metzger.
Hammen) Who?
Steinman) What?
Hammen) Who produced it?
Steinman) Spiro Agnew.
Hammen) Who?
Steinman) What?
Hammen) Do you think the cast really got into the parts?
Steinman) Well, which parts are you referring to?
Hammen) Miss Persson's, for instance—
Steinman) Yes, at least half of the cast got into that one.
Hammen) Do you think they. got out again?
Steinman) I don't know. I wonder, Do you think we should contact their families? Do you think we should do something?
Hammen) I just don't know.
Steinman) It's so hard for intellectuals to act.
Hammen) Well, how would you sum this up?
Steinman) I would say that if you don't see another movie this year.
Hammen) Thank you.
Steinman) Even if you don't hear one.
Hammen) Thank you. It was good of you to come for us.
Steinman) What?
Hammen) It was good of you to come!
Steinman) Oh, I hadn't noticed. Where?
Hammen) What?
Steinman) Where!?
Hammen) Good night David.
Steinman) What!? Speak to me Walter … speak to me…
Hammen) Why?

Source: Amherst Student archives

Notes: The film's actually called Therese and Isabelle, but it's kind of fitting they got that wrong. Also, Amherst was an all-male college at the time, hence the joke about lesbians at Amherst. This next satirical article was printed in a spoof issue:

A Late Night Conversation: Yost Calls It ‘Garbage’

by , From Washington Post News Service
Amherst Student

A conversation between James R. Steinman '69 and Scott Hammen '72 was overheard in the STUDENT offices late last night which revealed a great deal about the arts situation at Amherst as it has been recently covered in the STUDENT.

Hammen: Well Stein, what do we write about this week?
Steinman: I don't know, Scott. I was figuring on something pompous, tasteless, and generally uninformed. It would certainly be guaranteed to offend all.
Hammen: I sort of wanted to review some awful movie that I could say was awful or some terrible play which I could say was brilliant.
Steinman: Yeah, well, I don't know. How about talking about cultural events going on around town.
Hammen: Are you crazy? Why would we want to do that.
Steinman: I guess you're right.
Hammen: I think we ought to do a review of the dope party at Amherst regional last week. People were shooting up, sniffing, tripping, getting stoned, and drinking Pepsi.
Steinman: They were really drinking Pepsi?
Hammen: I saw it with my own eyes.
Steinman: That might not be bad. You want to write it?
Hammen: Not particularly.
Steinman: Okay, I will.
Hammen: But Stein, you weren't there.
Steinman: So?
Hammen: Let's go to the movies, Stein. I want to review "Barbarella."
Steinman: Ok Scott, you go see it, and I'll review it for Thursday.

Source: Amherst Student archives