“A Beautiful Fairy Tale” represents Richard Buller’s well-meant and diligent efforts to place film actress Lois Moran in her proper historical context for F. Scott Fitzgerald scholars. If you’re a Scott-and-Zelda buff, you’ve doubtless seen numerous footnotes on Lois Moran: about Scott’s enduring crush on her, about how she inspired him to create the character of Rosemary Hoyt in “Tender is the Night” and about how variations of her personalities appeared in several of his short stories published between 1927 and 1931.
Although Mr. Buller believes otherwise, you don’t need to know about Lois Moran to appreciate Fitzgerald’s work. In fact, the most striking thing about her is her strong, if idealized, resemblance to the young Zelda he fell in love with and sorely missed when the roaring twenties were over and she spent the rest of her life in and out of mental sanitariums. Unlike Zelda, Lois Moran was not in direct competition with Scott, the “beautiful fairy tale” remained misty and untested by harsh reality.
Lois Moran insists that she and Scott were friends, not lovers, but Mr. Buller believes otherwise and hunts for clues. They are all inconclusive, but it doesn’t stop him from trying. To dig up information about eighty-year old parties in which all of the participants were intoxicated at the time and none are in the land of the living seems like searching the oceans for mythical buried treasure from pirates who neglected to keep ship’s logs.
Lois Moran was a pretty girl who made dozens of films between 1924 and 1932 and later appeared opposite Preston Foster in the fifties television series “Waterfront.” It is not easy to find her films: I’ve only seen 1925’s “Stella Dallas” and 1929’s “Behind That Curtain” and neither is available on video. You can read about the girl she inspired in “Tender Is The Night,” but “A Beautiful Fairy Tale” will bring you no closer to understanding her or Fitzgerald or whatever confidences they shared a very long time ago. “A Beautiful Fairy Tale” is available at limelighteditions.com.
© 2005 - Monica Sullivan - Air Date: 6/1/05
A Beautiful Fairy Tale
Richard Buller - Limelight Editions