In the wake of Billy Bob Thornton‘s psychotic interview on that Toronto radio show last week, it seems timely to note the 15th anniversary of the premiere of George Hickenlooper‘s Some Folks Call It A Sling Blade. There’s a complicated back-story about the short-to-feature transition, but the bottom line is that Thornton differed with Hickenlooper, grabbed the reins and directed the Sling Blade feature, which launched his career as a big-time hyphenate.
The short, too dark and softly focused for my taste, was uploaded to YouTube yesterday for the first time. The above clip is Part 1, of course. Here are part 2 and part 3. And here‘s a clip (the same scene at the beginning of the short) fromThronton’s feature-length version.
There’s a belief in some quarters that Thornton defrauded the Academy when he won the Oscar for Best Supporting Screenplay, having claimed it was based on his own play “Pearls Before Swine.” The play, I’m told, never actually existed, and was instead a one-man show in which the Karl character was one among many many characters. The reality is that the feature was based on the HIckenlooper’s short. I’ve understood that to be the case for years, and I don’t see how it’s disputable.
The cast of the short includes Molly Ringwald, Suzanne Cryer (who later became the ‘yadda, yadda’ girl on Seinfeld), the late J.T. Walsh (the only one recast in the feature), Ron Livingston (who later starred in Office Space) and Jefferson Mays.