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David Learner - the stage & TV Marvin reviews HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY!

Hey folks, Harry here... kinda had to let this go out on the site. Enjoy...

Hi guys  

Here's a few words for your website.  If you've had an email from Annabel you'll know I played Marvin on 2 national tours and the Rainbow Theatre in 1980 plus the telly version and then finally at the opening of the Drum Theatre, Plymouth in 1982.  

Best of luck .. the movie's fantastic.  I'm lost for words.  

In early 1980 Robin Thornber, reviewing the national tour of Hitch Hiker in The Guardian said that Marvin was the most compassionate character on stage because he was the most human.  There was something of Marvin in all of us.  He was right, as he was right about so many things.  I guess that’s what makes a good theatre critic, the ability to polish this mirror we hold up to reality and say, “Do you have any idea what you look like?”  

I’m rambling already and I haven’t even started.  I want to say that everything that’s spun off before to orbit round Hitch Hiker – the radio version, the stage shows, the telly, the “making of” video, the towels, the computer game, the fans, the zylbatburgers, the gargleblasters – everything has been a tribute to this extraordinary myth called Douglas.  How wrong I was.  

I seriously believe that the movie has got pretty damn close to what Douglas had in mind.  I’m sorry.  I seriously believe that nothing now will come closer to what Douglas had in mind.  We don’t know of course what he did have in mind, but at least he was sort of there in the last few moments, wasn’t he?  What’s your favourite Disney movie?  Mine’s “The Jungle Book.”  Why?  Because you can see Disney’s hand: it was the last movie he was involved with, on a personal level.  In the Hitchhiker movie (somehow the name got elided) you can hear Douglas’ voice.  And it’s that voice that makes me want to sob and be angry and shout at him for not being there.  

The final arresting image is of Douglas, and in a miracle of timing the words “for Douglas” appear on the screen.  They will haunt me.  He haunts me now, even as I write this article.  His presence leaks through the film like water out of an unstopped tap.  Resistance is useless.  He offered so much, so many phrases, shrugs and idols that we take for granted.  None of it would have been there without the fantasies of a man who liked eating.  

So on what levels does the movie work?  Level 42 … see what I mean … the Kumars at No 42 … it’s all him.  None of it would be there without him.  

It starts with the yellow bulldozer, well a heck of a lot of them actually.  Oh I don’t want to tell the story again.  How long did I tour it?  How many times did I trudge on stage and say “I think you ought to know I’m feeling very depressed?” I lost count.  How did I get to do the telly version?  Because Douglas wanted me to.  Why does this movie work?  That’s why you’re reading this, I suppose.  

The movie works because watching the movie is like looking at Douglas.  You’re seeing essence of Douglas.  Perhaps instead of thinking about the Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in that campsite in Innsbruck he should have turned over and gone to sleep.  If he’d never put pen to paper the brilliance would have stayed in his mind and all those spin offs would never have happened.  

And we’d still have Douglas.  


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