Greg Sterlace says that Catcher in the Rye With Diamonds is his fifth movie, so I’ll take his word for it. I can only recall three others—Ross and Gwen, Failure, and Sweet Jesus—and I can’t go to imdb.com to look up the fifth title because Sterlace doesn’t have an imdb page.
That indicates a lack of ego that is awfully rare in the movie world, even more so when you consider that Sterlace otherwise spends his time singing in bands and hosting a public access TV show that has been on the air pretty much as long as there has been public access. Oh, and writing books—he has at least three for sale on Amazon.
Years in the making, Catcher in the Rye With Diamonds looks at the intersection between Mark David Chapman, who shot John Lennon to death in front of Manhattan’s Dakota apartment building in 1980, and the J. D. Salinger novel that Chapman claimed to have been obsessed with at the time.
“It’s about Chapman looking back now [from Wende Correctional facility in Western New York] at how he was feeling when he shot Lennon,” Sterlace says. “It’s a double period piece [1980 and 1951] in color and black and white. It’s a Christmas movie that I hope will be a holiday perennial for years to come.* We shot the footage at the Dakota exactly 34 years to the day of the murder. There is footage in the movie of the door man at the Dakota looking surprised that we were at the Dakota with our actor [John F. Kennedy] dressed as Chapman and holding a copy of Double Fantasy.”
John F. Kennedy? “Yes, that’s his real name. It fits in a weird way that he plays Mark David Chapman because both names are tied to assassination.”
The movie also features such familiar faces as Richard Lambert (who also appeared in Marshall and had the title role in Sterlace’s Sweet Jesus), Tony Billoni, and Gwen Kiersz. “She’s the only person in all my movies, Sterlace says.”
Shot in multiple locations including Buffalo, Manhattan, and Akron, Catcher in the Rye With Diamonds represents a step up in ambition for a Sterlace production. He especially credits the work of editor Lori Michaels and cinematographer Emil Novak.
But for all that, it’s a low-budget production. How low? “It was just a little money spent on going to NYC and Paula buying costumes for wardrobe. We’re planning on not recouping our production costs. We just want as many people as possible to see it.”
To that end, Catcher in the Rye with Diamonds will have its only planned screening at the North Park Theater next Saturday, July 28, at 11:30am. Admission is free, as is the after party at Revolution Gallery, where there will be a cash bar and music by Bad Ronald.
* I’m not sure whether he’s kidding about this.