Aside from netting screenplay duties on Hollywood efforts like “Savages” and James Cameron‘s “Avatar” sequels, Shane Salerno has traveled the world for the past nine years, intent on creating the most revealing documentary on one secretive icon: J.D. Salinger. Featuring never-before-seen “footage, photographs, and biographical information,” “Salinger” finally hits theatres next week, but first, it seems a major surprise regarding Salinger’s unpublished material will serve as an appetizer. (Note: the photo above is a recently uncovered snap of Salinger after the invasion of Normandy with a group of counterintelligence buddies dubbed The Four Musketeers.)
Both “Salinger” and its accompanying book of the same name written by Salerno and David Shields claim (via NY Times) that Salinger laid down demands for at least five new books to be released by his estate, starting as soon as 2015. These works range from stories revolving around the fictional Glass family of “Franny and Zooey” to a novella based on the reclusive author’s experiences in WWII. Salinger’s last published work was “Hapworth 16, 1924” in the June 19, 1965 edition of The New Yorker, and while those surrounding him said he continued to write, any plans of further publishing were simply guesswork until now.
The film and the book work together to provide a collage of perspectives on the author, focusing on the lingering effects of WWII, his literary fame, and revelations about his love interests—his first wife, possibly a Gestapo informant, or Jean Miller, a 14-year-old girl with whom he developed a brief relationship. The NY Times has already taken the Salerno/Shields book to task for its “sloppy scholarship,” criticizing the 698-page work for its often context-free narrative and “diminished authorial responsibility,” but while one would expect the film to take the same approach, no official word on the documentary has been released.
This fact is a deliberate move by The Weinstein Company, who is distributing the film. Crafty as ever, Harvey Weinstein and co. have drummed up interest around the film by forcing the select audiences seeing the film beforehand to sign Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs), saying they won’t reveal the doc’s secrets (via Business Insider). Taking a page out of their 1993 campaign for “The Crying Game,” TWC certainly coordinated the film and announcement of Salinger’s future works impeccably. We’ll see if Salerno’s years of research add up to compelling filmmaking when “Salinger” is released on September 6th, while his book hits shelves Sept. 3rd.