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STATE AND MAIN

About The Production

Part screwball comedy, part showbiz satire, David Mamet's State and Main is the story of a big- budget film production that wreaks moral havoc in a quaint New England town. Sending up Holly wood and Main Street USA with equal glee, the film is brought to life by a richly talented ensemble cast that encompasses marquee names, art-house favorites and respected film and theatre veterans. Cleverly plotted, shrewdly observed and filled with the hilarious, rapid-fire dialogue that is Mamet's trademark, State and Main is a comedy executed with consummate flair.

As symbolized by two streets in the middle of picturesque Waterford, Vermont, State and Main, in the words of writer/director David Mamet, is about "the intersection of two cultures: rural America and show business. In Robert Evans' book, The Kid Stays in the Picture, he said everyone has two kinds of business: their own business and show business. I thought it was a great perception."

With the arrival of The Old Mill crew, show business becomes Waterford's business. The diner starts pumping out exotic sandwiches, the locals start reading Variety and everyone is preparing to audition for parts as extras. The town's one hotel scrambles to make expensive structural renovations to accommodate the incoming celebrities, while the mayor's residence undergoes an emergency make-over to render it suitably impressive and historically authentic.

Observes Charles Durning, who plays Waterford mayor George Bailey, "The town comes to a screeching halt because of this movie. It disrupts the lives of everyone in the place, from the lowest to the highest."

Not all the disruptions are unpleasant. Rebecca Pidgeon plays Ann Black, the local bookstore owner who falls in love with writer Joe White, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman. The actress de scribes State and Main as being "very much in the style of a Preston Sturges screwball comedy. A Hollywood film company comes to a cozy New England town and we watch their merry mutual corruption." 

With its antic pacing, egalitarian view of human corruptibility and tender love story, State and Main fits into the tradition of Preston Sturges films like The Great McGinty, Hail the Conquering Hero and Sullivan's Travels. Mamet is an admirer of Sturges' ensemble approach to comedy, which yielded a unique gallery of oddballs, cranks and crooks. "Preston Sturges is a great influence on me," he remarks. "Billy Macy once said when I was thinking about making a movie about the nature of the universe, ‘You stupid son of a gun, look at Preston Sturges - people want to laugh.' So, this is our Preston Sturges - not an homage, but more an attempt at reproducing the same style, that American gang comedy style."

State and Main's Hollywood gang is headed up by director Walt Price, played by William H. Macy. As he contends with the myriad complications that beset his production, Walt displays an adaptability that might make a chameleon jealous. Explains Macy, "Walt has one objective, and that is to get the shot in the can and it doesn't matter what it takes. There are times when everything is going wrong and people want to curse at him, but it doesn't matter. Walt just smiles at them to get the shot and will kill them later."

Of course, Walt can leave the killing to his producing partner, Marty Rosen, played by David Paymer. Paymer's Marty Rossen is a lawyer highly skilled in the art of strong-arming. "Marty and Walt are a team. They've worked together a while; they're almost like a married couple," Paymer believes. "The way t

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