The Strange Life and Times of Arthur
producer / director Lorenzo
"FROM A DARKENED
ROOM" is a documentary feature-in-progress recounting the true
story of the notorious Boston eccentric and recluse
Arthur Crew Inman
(1895-1963) and of “THE INMAN DIARY” he created. A man driven by a
compulsive instinct to preserve and record time, Inman’s life’s work has
become one of the great literary curiosities of our age, a sprawling
memory piece of more than 17 million words. Seldom leaving his bed, he
obsessively chronicled his own bizarre lifestyle and the lives of over
1000 characters, all poured into the Diary’s 155 handwritten volumes.
black comedy of epic proportions, the Inman Diary, published by Harvard
University Press in 1985, is a tightly-wound biographical journey that
covers the entire 68 years of Inman’s life and a good deal of human
history in between. An oddly sympathetic creature despite his often harsh
and controversial views, Arthur Inman is a man at the end of his moral
rope. His early dreams of poetic immortality seem dubious at best.
Maintaining and maybe one day publishing the diary became his last hope
for some kind of dignity, indeed for his very survival.
addition to focusing on Inman’s extreme hypochondria and obsession with “this
record of my days and nights behind plate glass”, “FROM A DARKENED
ROOM” also chronicles one of the most unusual marriages on record.
stayed wedded to Arthur Inman for 40 years, truly the survival of the
fittest. She remains, despite much torment, loyal and occasionally loving
towards her distraught spouse. She even helps him procure young girls and
other paid "talkers & readers" from newspaper ads, (“…to amuse an
invalid author”), while carrying on her own 30-year affair with
Arthur's favorite osteopath DR. CYRUS RUMFORD PIKE, a first-class healer
and medical snake-in-the grass.
up in GARRISON HALL, the turn of the century Back Bay apartment hotel
still standing at 8 Garrison Street, where he rented multiple rooms from
1919 until his death by suicide in 1963, Arthur Inman chronicled the flow
of history through his fractured but highly intuitive lens. He was
particularly focused on the history of Boston and its political and
cultural life, covering these in great detail.
The ravages of
urban renewal, brought on by the construction of the
Prudential Center directly across the street, were a particular obsession
of Arthur’s, altering his beloved Back Bay forever and spawning his
memories of this great city, vividly recalled in his diary entries as a
world “before the dawning of the motor car era”, now all but
As Arthur’s waking
life clashed increasingly with his diary world, Inman’s "Diary of a
Nobody" became the only compass he possessed to navigate within this
twilight zone of his own making. Insulated from the real world by a
long-running sideshow of housekeepers and nurses and handymen who meet his
every need, he poured himself
completely into the intricately woven pages of his diary.
By December 5,
1963, Garrison Hall had become a fortress against the ravages of time and
urban renewal. Arthur was more terrified than ever of leaving his rooms,
related to life via television and the endless audio recordings of himself
and Evelyn and the daily goings on at Garrison Hall. By this time his
world had become a curious admixture of KRAPP’S LAST TAPE and ALL IN THE
FAMILY. Haunted by the threat of nuclear oblivion and by his own folly,
this compelling anti-hero sank ever deeper into the parallel universe of
his diary while modern life exploded around him.
Lorenzo DeStefano has
been fascinated by Arthur Inman and the great literary oddity he created
since first reading the published diary in the mid-eighties. Since that
time he has maintained a long correspondence with his mentor on the
project, diary editor DANIEL AARON, Professor Emeritus in American
Literature & History at Harvard. Having long held the exclusive dramatic
rights to the diary from Harvard University Press, DeStefano’s extensive
research and intimate knowledge of the INMAN DIARY as well as his
background as a playwright, screenwriter, film producer and director, puts
him in a unique position to explore this subject in both a fictionalized
and non-fiction context.
fact that Garrison Hall still exists adds a compelling visual element to
the documentary, making filming possible in Arthur's actual apartment
(#604), along with interviews of its current resident and other residents
of Garrison Hall about their infamous predecessor. A great many living
resources also exist with which to tell this story, foremost among them
the full cooperation of Professor Aaron as well as the living witnesses
involved in Arthur's particular madness / inspiration.
There are also a
great deal of visual, audio and text materials housed in the archives of
Harvard's Houghton Library that have served as research for Lorenzo
DeStefano’s celebrated play based on the Diary, “CAMERA OBSCURA”
and his feature film script “DARKENED ROOM” (www.darkenedroomfilm.com),
currently in development. These materials include the original diary
notebooks, a vast number of photographs, Daniel Aaron’s voluminous notes
and transcripts of interviews, as well as over 40 hours of homemade audio
recordings that Inman started making in 1950 and which eventually replaced
his written diary in importance. Extensive archival footage of Boston,
U.S., and World History will also be utilized, illuminating Arthur's role
as a self-appointed chronicler of the mid-20th century.
As a stand alone
feature documentary aimed at film festivals, theatrical release and
television broadcast, "FROM A DARKENED ROOM" is also
intended as an important companion piece for both the play and the
narrative feature projects, a chilling account of one of the most
obsessive humans ever to put pen to paper, and of the people who loved,
hated and supported him in his efforts to record every waking and dream
moment of his long, unquiet life.
DeStefano – Productions A-Propos