Welcome to WeeklyWilson.com, where author/film critic Connie (Corcoran) Wilson avoids totally losing her marbles in semi-retirement by writing about film (see the Chicago Film Festival reviews and SXSW), politics and books----her own books and those of other people. You'll also find her diverging frequently to share humorous (or not-so-humorous) anecdotes and concerns. Try it! You'll like it!

Tag: Jeremy Allen-White

“The Iron Claw” Revisits Pro Wrestling’s Von Erich Family

Since  (Scott) Beck & (Bryan) Woods selected “The Iron Claw” to open their new Davenport (Iowa) theater, and it is doing well at the box office, while Jeremy Allen White is really gaining steam as a leading man, I went to see “The Iron Claw” here in Texas. Texas is definitely Von Erich territory, site of the Dallas Sportatorium where much of the wrestling matches of yesteryear took place. (“Please note: There will be spoilers.)

“The Iron Claw” recounts the mostly “true story of the inseparable Von Erich brothers, who made history in the intensely competitive world of professional wrestling in the early 1980s. Through tragedy and triumph, under the shadow of their domineering father and coach, the brothers seek larger-than-life immortality on the biggest stage in sports.” “The Iron Claw” is the mostly true story of a wrestling family whose real surname was Adkinsson. Their stage name in the wrestling world was Von Erich. Jack Barton Adkisson wrestled under the name Fritz Von Erich and then encouraged his sons, Kerry, Kevin, David and Michael, to follow him into the ring. (*Son Chris also wrestled, but less successfully than his brothers, and is not depicted in this film, for reasons that don’t seem to make sense.)


Written and directed by Sean Durkin (“Martha Marcy May Marlene” and TV’s “Dead Ringers”), “The Iron Claw” stars Zac Efron (“High School Musical 3:  Senior Year”); Jeremy Allen White, who first came to my attention as the character Lip (Philip) in the television series “Shameless;” and Maura Tierney of “The Affair.”  Holt McAllany (“Mindhunter,” “Fight Club”) was the standout for me, and when you check out his credits, that is not surprising. Lily James as Pam, Kevin’s wife, is also very good, and Bill Mercer as Michael J. Harney is also good in his part.

However, I came to see Jeremy Allen White, and for more than an hour, I thought I’d walked into the wrong movie.

Jeremy Allen White is hot, right now, as the star of the television series “The Bear.” He walked off with the Golden Globe and the Critics Choice awards in the past week. You really get the feeling that Jeremy is slated for great things dramatically. This film, unfortunately, doesn’t give him that much to do. He doesn’t have the physicality of Zac Efron, but, considering the lengths to which Zac Efron went, maybe that is a good thing. Jeremy admitted on the late night talk shows that he was a novice to the wrestling world. (He gave much credit to Chavo Guerrero, who both instructed the non-wrestlers in the cast and portrayed the character The Iron Sheikh.)

The two other brothers we see portrayed onscreen are David Von Erich (Harris Dickinson of “Beach Rats”) and Michael Von Erich (Stanley Simons, “Angelfish”).


According to Wikipedia, Fritz and wife Doris had six sons: Jack Barton Jr. (September 21, 1952 – March 7, 1959), Kevin (born May 15, 1957), David (July 22, 1958 – February 10, 1984), Kerry (February 3, 1960 – February 18, 1993), Mike (March 2, 1964 – April 12, 1987) and Chris (September 30, 1969 – September 12, 1991). Of Adkisson’s six sons, Kevin was the only one still living by the time Adkisson died in 1997.

The couple later separated and Doris divorced her husband on July 21, 1992 after 42 years of marriage.” The movie didn’t make any mention of the exact manner in which the couple’s first child, Jack Jr., died, but Wikipedia says that it was an accidental electrocution and drowning when the child was just 7 years old. The movie also did not mention the youngest child, Chris, and the couple’s divorce after 42 years of marriage was also glossed over. (Adkisson died of lung and brain cancer just 5 years after the divorce.)


Kevin Von Erich, the only surviving Von Erich brother.

The movie references the fact that the family is cursed.

As the plot unfolds, it seems to be more a case of the overbearing father’s parenting techniques than of a curse.  Kevin’s wife, Pamela says there is a belief in good or bad luck and then there is the belief that we make our own luck. It seems that the constant emphasis on being the best and being strong and winning drove three of his sons to kill themselves. The script repeatedly articulates this thought:“If we were the toughest,  the strongest, the most successful, nothing could ever hurt us.” That turns out to be bad advice, and the underlying message seems to be that men should be allowed to have a vulnerable, sensitive side.

There were some things in the film that were murky. For instance, did Daddy Fritz embezzle money, either from his hard-working sons or from the promoters who underwrote his wrestling emporium? Why did writer/director Sean Durkin decide to leave the youngest son, Chris—who also committed suicide at 21—out of the movie? Yes, I read that he thought 3 sons who killed themselves was just one too many, but Chris, the baby, had the most cause, as he didn’t have the physical gifts of his older brothers and was struggling to fit in. That would seem to have been a good plot point, as the four brothers who were better known were generally gifted athletes. In fact, Kerry (Jeremy Allen White) is only shown joining the family business after Jimmy Carter took the U.S. out of the 1982 Olympics and, therefore, destroyed Kerry’s hopes of going to the Olympics as a discus competitor.

For that matter, why didn’t he give Doris, portrayed by seasoned veteran Maura Tierney (“The Affair”) more dramatic eulogy scenes at any of the funerals for her sons? Maura Tierney could have hit that ball out of the park. Instead, she has a very pedestrian part that could have been so much more. Opportunity lost.

Was son Kerry’s motorcycle accident no more than that? The way it is portrayed in the film, it looks like that might also have been a suicidal gesture. And brother David’s (Harris Dickinson) insistence that he is “okay” when he is vomiting blood also seemed self-destructive and suicidal. (He dies in Japan from a ruptured intestine.)

I was surprised that Jeremy Allen White didn’t appear in the film until roughly an hour into the 2 hour 12 minute movie. Jeremy Allen White is white-hot right now, coming off his Golden Globe, Critics Choice and Emmy wins for his lead role in “The Bear.”

The actor who impressed me the most was not any of those who got top billing, but Holt McCallany who played the boys’ father. He was awesome. While everyone was impressed by how ripped Zac Efron appeared as Kevin Von Erich, at only 5’ 8” he looked too animalistic for my tastes. The other actors portraying the Von Erich brothers appeared more “normal” in appearance.

I also thought the “meeting in heaven” was odd. It’s nice to have a happy ending, but the failure to portray one dead brother (Chris) at all just made it seem weird, to me.

I was never much of a pro wrestling fan, but I enjoyed the film. Also a small shout-out to Aaron Dean Eisenberg, who portrayed Ric Flair with—-well, flair. He was a hoot.

“The Bear:” Not Riveting Television

We just watched the premiere of the new series “The Bear.”

The series is set in Chicago and seems almost like a spin-off from the lead’s former role as Lipp (Philip) on “Shameless.” Jeremy Allen-White portrays the lead chef in this story, which is described in the synopsis this way: “A young chef from the fine dining world returns to Chicago to run his family’s sandwich shop.”

First, the good things about the series: 1) The acting (2) The Chicago setting, especially the exterior shots often used in “Shameless” (3) the cast.

Second, the bad things about the series: 1) the scripts by Alex O’Keefe and Christopher Storer, (who also directed) (2) the opportunities for conflict in this restaurant setting (3) the basic interest in a show that is heavy on cooking lingo where at least half the scenes take place within a gritty Chicago corner cafe.

Jeremy Allen-White is as impressive as he was in “Shameless.” He’s good, and I’m sure he will continue to be good.  It is  difficult to remember that he is not “Lipp” (Philip) Gallagher any longer, but is now Carmen “Carmy” Berzatto. For one thing, the latter name conjures up images of an Italian family. Jeremy, with his piercing blue mesmerizing eyes, looks about as Italian as I do (which is not very Italian). Let’s just say that he made a better Gallagher than he does a Berzatto. Carmy was Michael’s brother, but Richie was his best friend, if I understood the family dynamic properly (it was not totally clear).

Co-star for the series is Ebon Moss-Bachrach. He is apparently Carmy’s cousin, Richie or perhaps just the dead Michael’s best friend. Unclear, like many other things. Richie is used to doing things “the old way” in the restaurant. Carmy wants to improve things. Change is good for Carmy and Sydney, but bad for Richie. Carmy and Richie spend most of the first episode screaming at one another over changes in the menu, how they prepare food and other topics that were about as riveting  as whether or not Kim Kardashian and Kanye West reconcile. [In other words: not interested in either of those things, and certainly the decision as to whether or not to scrub spaghetti from the menu is not High Drama in my world.]

Mediator in the family friction is a new hire, Ayo Edebiri as Sydney, the sous chef. She seems way too good for this corner eatery. Part of the manufactured conflict is apparently going to center on Liza Colon-Zayas as Tina, who resents Sydney’s new-found influence and attempts to undermine her at many turns. Somehow, watching a bunch of stewed onions fall on the floor does not qualify as high drama. The visit from the Health Inspector, who gives them a grade of “C” is also not our idea of excitement, but the feeling that this entire endeavor is sort of doomed by debt and other every-day ills  made me think about how stressful it is to fill up my gas tank these days. All of the financial shortcomings that Carmy faces do not make for very good escapist fare. In fact, his inability to pay for the foodstuffs necessary to keep the restaurant going was depressingly true to life. Right now, escapism from the realities of inflation and high food prices is on my menu; watching a restaurant go under because of the inflationary pressure we all feel is not.

What is wrong with the scripts?

The language is very “chill” and “trendy.” My husband and I were confused on at least 3 occasions by various terms used, including the use of the word “fire” over and over (to mean good, we think). There were 2 other terms or phrases that we failed to completely understand. We had to figure out the meaning from context (never a good sign.) This did not add to our enjoyment of the plot. It’s as though O’Keefe and Storer want to use the latest slang to show how cool they are. Regular folk like me out here in viewer-land are not as “up” on  junior high/highschool/college slang, so, for us, it just left us feeling lost. We felt like we had not been given the secret password or shown the club handshake, but we ended up not caring.

We also failed to see the point in all the “Yes, Chef” terminology. I actually taught many, many culinary arts students. One of them used to bring me tomato bisque soup in my English class, which I appreciated. Somehow, I don’t see all of this “Yes, Chef” and “We need to organize in battalions” stuff as being Real World. Perhaps I am wrong. [I will ask my favorite student Austin Johns if this rings true  next time I see him]. I still get taken on tours of various restaurant kitchens in this area by my former students, one of whom, taking me through the kitchen at Bass Street Landing, when I expressed surprise that he remembered me at all, said, “I always remember anyone who made a difference in my life.”

Liza Colón-Zayas and Jeremy Allen White in The Bear (2022)
Jeremy Allen-White

There were some murky seeds planted that may yield drama and conflict in the future, but I don’t know if we’ll be watching long enough to find out.

What seeds ?: Why, exactly, did Michael, the brother of Carmy and previous chef at the cafe, commit suicide? Was the envelope on the floor Michael’s suicide note? Who is “Nico?” What is going to happen regarding the $300,000 in loans that veteran actor Oliver Platt, who makes a quick stop in the restaurant( but is not even credited on the cast list) is owed.  Are we going to see Oliver Platt again? I would tune in again to see Oliver Platt, but when he isn’t even listed on the cast credits, I’m not sure I’ll be back. Why do we care about the

I  appreciate that this was a noble effort. I’m sorry that I’m apparently too backward to become excited about the revelation that Carmy took off mid-day to go to an Al-Anon meeting. I don’t know why Carmy seems to have no life beyond the restaurant. I find the character of “Sugar” under-written and underwhelming.

Moving along, “The Old Man” is getting really exciting. It’s some of the best TV of the year. It makes cooking a hot beef sandwich seem even more mundane, by comparison.





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