After my recent trip to Robert E. Howard’s home in Cross Plains Texas, I was motivated to watch The Whole Wide World. This movie is based on One Who Walked Alone, a memoir by Novalyne
After my recent trip to Robert E. Howard’s home in Cross Plains Texas, I was motivated to watch The Whole Wide World. This movie is based on One Who Walked Alone, a memoir by Novalyne Price Ellis about her friendship with Robert E. Howard. Director Dan Ireland crafted a gem of a period piece, and it’s a shame the film isn’t more widely lauded. Today, I shine a Pulp Spotlight on this lost treasure.
Vincent D’Onofrio gives a perfect performance as Robert E. Howard. He brings him to life so well that you feel like you’re looking back through time. If you don’t believe me, just check out this fantastic scene where D’Onofrio (as Howard) describes Conan. Renee Zellweger gives an equally impressive performance as Novalyne Price Ellis. In many ways, she’s the straight protagonist to D’Onofrio’s more bombastic character. She also imbues Ellis with a perfect amount of pathos, and she doesn’t come off as dry or boring.
While watching The Whole Wide World, I was struck by how immature Howard was when it came to relationships with the opposite sex. The impression you get from the film is that Ellis is his first true romantic interest, and he makes all the same mistakes I made when I was in middle school. Howard doesn’t know when to keep his thoughts to himself, when to reign in his bravado, or when to just tell Ellis how he feels. The tragedy, of course, is that Howard committed suicide at age thirty, and he deprived himself of his own ability to grow and mature and find the right partner.
As a writer myself, I couldn’t help but empathize with Howard and Ellis throughout the film. Both characters are creative and trapped in a small town with few people who share their interests. Unlike now, neither had the internet to escape and meet likeminded folks. Growing up in my hometown was similar, and I could relate to the angst portrayed by both characters. I’d imagine most artists from small, blue-collar towns could as well.
If you haven’t watched The Whole Wide World yet, I highly recommend checking it out. I was able to find it for free by searching the streaming apps on my television. I’m sure you could do the same. While fans of Robert E. Howard will be the most interested in this movie, I think there is a broader appeal to this film that should entertain anyone interested in Pulp, writing, or artists.