Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Ed Wood Wednesdays: The Ed Wood Summit Podcast #8 by Greg Dziawer

Greg delves further into The Frank Leahy Legend.

I'm not sure why I've recently become fascinated with The Frank Leahy Legend (1975). One of Ed Wood's final unproduced screenplays, to be sure, it has until now remained largely unseen and unread. Having recently obtained a copy, I'm blown away by how clearly Ed's voice screams through otherwise perfunctory and canned dramatics of this sports biopic. The very survival of the screenplay is astounding. Last week, W. Paul Apel and I performed an autopsy on this remarkable script.

This week, I turn my attention to the book on which the screenplay is based: Bernard J. Williams' unauthorized 1974 biography of Notre Dame coach Frank Leahy. I recently purchased a deluxe, slipcovered edition of The Frank Leahy Legend and was amazed by what I found. The book corresponds so closely to the script as to be a true source document. In this episode of The Ed Wood Summit Podcast, I delve into that source. Here are (mostly) some thoughts on the source of the screenplay.

Among the many topics discussed in this video is Frank Leahy's fondness for a poem called "Don't Quit," often attributed to John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892). Whittier was the American Quaker and abolitionist perhaps best known for penning the 1863 poem "Barbara Frietchie." ("Shoot if you must, this old gray head, but spare your country's flag.") Others say "Don't Quit" was written by British-born American poet Edgar A. Guest (1881-1959). Whoever wrote it, the poem brought inspiration to Frank Leahy.

(left) "Don't Quit"; (right) John Greenleaf Whittier.

As for The Frank Leahy Legend, I suspect there's lot more to come on this subject. And I'll be sure to share it with you right here.

NOTE: All episodes of The Ed Wood Summit Podcast are available here.