Before last night’s 10:30 pm screening of The Girl With The Needle I slipped into an 8:15 showing of Laurent Bouzereau‘s Faye, an engagingly straightforward life-and-career retrospective about the great Faye Dunaway.

It supplies everything about her career that you’d want to see, everything you’d expect. All the biographical anecdotes, all the required clips, full of respect and appreciation plus healthy servings of Dunaway letting it all hang out (or at least as much as she’s able to do within this format).

It reminded me first and foremost what a great majesterial actress she’s always been. Charisma, timing, energy, just the right amount of push and hesitancy…the whole package.

It barely gets into the strident Faye stories that we’ve all been hearing for decades, but Dunaway’s confession that she was bipolar and occasionally alcoholic helps to explain at least some of her extreme behavior.

The doc offers an amusing retelling of the Roman Polanski-hair-yanking-episode-during-the-shooting-of-Chinatown story, mostly courtesy of producer Hawk Koch.

Dunaway honestly recounts her mad two-year affair with a married Marcello Mastroianni (’68 to ’70). There’s often something reckless and illogical about heated extra-marital romances, and the Dunaway-Mastroianni thing was no exception.

Plus it includes a brief interview with Mommie Dearest director Frank Perry saying that 1981 audiences responding with hoot and howls was fine with him. (Hollywood Elsewhere has always loved this film.)

The doc shows many snaps of young Faye during her youth (she was born in January ’41), and I was surprised to discover that when Dunaway was a teenaged brunette she closely resembled young Barry Gibb of the BeeGees. This resemblance was out the widow, of course, once she turned blonde and glammy in the mid ’60s.

I had to duck out at 9:50 pm so I wound up missing the home stretch and wrap-up, but it’ll be on Max before long.