Now that J.D. Salinger has gone to that big Author’s Retreat in the sky, much has been made about whether his stories will ever be adapted for the movies. Not much mention has been made, however, of the fact that his son was a very busy actor at one point, and in fact played Captain America in a B-budget feature directed by straight-to-vid vet Albert Pyun. The pic costarred Ronny Cox, Ned Beatty, and Darren McGavin and, yes, Cap was played by Matt Salinger.
But what about his dad’s books? (You thought I forgot, didntcha?) The obits mention that Leonardo DiCaprio was interested in playing Holden Caulfield (hey, maybe Martin Scorsese can now buy it for him and they can make a fifth pic together). But the key name to be mentioned here is… Jerry Lewis. Jerry goes on in his autobiography, In Person (or was it The Total Filmmaker?) about how much he wanted to make The Catcher in the Rye into a movie starring himself as Holden. In the Joyce Maynard tell-all book about her affair with the notoriously press-shy author (you can say anything you want about Thomas Pynchon, but the guy has definitely been a far more productive and interesting hype-evader), Maynard quotes Salinger as having told her in the Seventies that “Jerry Lewis tried to years to get his hands on the part of Holden.” Jerry was 25 when the book came out, but he was most likely over 35 or (if the overtures to Salinger did continue until the Seventies) over 45 when he was trying to obtain the film rights to the book.
The mind fairly boggles about what a Catcher movie directed by and starring Jerry would have been like. I for one wouldn’t mind seeing him play Holden at 84. “You lousy, goddam phonyyyyyyy”….