Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle
Jennifer Jason Leigh offers an acclaimed performance as humorist Dorothy Parker, who together with such 1920s luminaries as Robert Benchley, Alexander Woollcott and George S. Kaufman, was a charter member of the legendary Algonquin Round Table. The story is related in flashback form, as Mrs. Parker, in Hollywood to cowrite the 1937 feature A Star is Born with her second husband Alan Campbell (Peter Gallagher), recalls her glory days as an Algonquinite. A great deal of attention is afforded Parker's vituperative bon mots, her alcoholism, her self-destructiveness, her suicide attempts, and her affairs with such literary contemporaries as Charles MacArthur (an uncharacteristically unsympathetic Matthew Broderick) and Robert E. Sherwood (Nick Cassavetes). The one person Parker truly seems to care about is humorist Robert Benchley (Campbell Scott), who prefers to keep their friendship platonic. Director Alan Rudolph attempts to convey the ambience of the 1920s by having dozens of that decade's luminaries appear in fleeting cameos, from Will Rogers (Keith Carradine) to Harpo Marx. Also featured in Mrs. Parker are Tom McGowan as the waspish Alexander Woollcott and Andrew McCarthy as Dorothy's near-invisible first husband, Eddie Parker.