Reflections

SXSW 2000 Film Festival and Conference

Original Diner Guys

Dir/Prod: Barry Levinson; DP: Wayne Ewing, Bob Dorsey, Boots Shelton, Ed: Neil Kirk, Wayne Ewing; Cast: Larry Becker, Ed Childress, Edward "Jake" Jacobson, Barry Levinson, Stewart Reichlyn.

35mm, 75 min., 1999 (RP)

If you thought the buddies-for-life friendships of the five guys in Barry Levinson's 1982 film Diner were too good to be true, think again. In this affectionate documentary, the director turns his camera on the old pals of his who inspired the characters in that breakthrough work, revealing that the number of guys who hung out at that diner in Baltimore in the Fifties was really closer to 40 and that 30, 35, 40 years out of high school, most are still in touch, still close, and still as devoted to each other as they were then. Levinson captures a series of reunions of the "original Diner guys" from 1990 to 1997 -- a sports camp weekend, a 50th birthday party, a wedding, and a memorial roast -- wherein we can see these aging friends revisit their glory days, discuss marriage and mortality, and even try to analyze the circumstances that enabled them to forge these enduring bonds. Throughout, in their horseplay, in their incessant heckling of each other, in their spoken tributes and unspoken ones, evident in their eyes as memories are shared, we can see their youth and the abiding brotherhood they share shine through. Levinson leaves us touched by their uncommon camaraderie -- touched and maybe a little envious.

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