The Devils was one of the most controversial films ever made, considered to be blasphemous, indecent and downright demonic — but top Toronto film critic and author Richard Crouse wasn’t put off. In Raising Hell: Ken Russell and the Unmaking of The Devils (ECW Press), Richard writes about a film so notorious that people have been talking about it for forty years.
Raising Hell examines this unique film in all its horrible glory via new interviews with cast and crew, including an exclusive interview with late director Ken Russell.
Today we welcome Richard to Open Book as part of our Proust Questionnaire series. In his answers to the Proust Questionnaire, Richard tells Open Book about sock lust, a flower with an appetite and the best meal to be had in Toronto.
The Proust Questionnaire was not invented by Marcel Proust, but it was a much loved game by the French author and many of his contemporaries. The idea behind the questionnaire is that the answers are supposed to reveal the respondent’s “true” nature.
What is your dream of happiness?
Writing a perfect sentence… and having someone there to read it.
What is your idea of misery?
Being thrown in jail for something I didn’t do, or spending time at a cottage.
Where would you like to live?
Exactly where I live right now.
What qualities do you admire most in a man?
What qualities do you admire most in a woman?
See above… and dark curly hair.
What is your chief characteristic?
What is your principal fault?
What is your greatest extravagance?
My (uncontrollable) lust for buying Paul Smith socks.
What faults in others are you most tolerant of?
Drunkeness and ego.
What do you value most about your friends?
See above… actually, loyalty, humour and patience.
What characteristic do you dislike most in others?
What characteristic do you dislike most in yourself?
My intolerance for incompetence.
What is your favourite virtue?
What is your favourite occupation?
What would you like to be?
Keith Richards’s guitar pick.
What is your favourite colour?
Anything that isn’t taupe.
What is your favourite flower?
Audrey, the man-eating plant from Little Shop of Horrors.
What is your favourite bird?
Lyrebird, an Australian bird that can mimic any sound in the world.
What historical figure do you admire the most?
John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich. Thanks for the BLT’s!
What character in history do you most dislike?
Jay M. Arena, creator of the Child-Proof Cap.
Who are your favourite prose authors?
Hunter S. Thompson, Truman Capote and Richard Matheson.
Who are your favourite poets?
Ogden Nash, George Carlin and Edgar Allen Poe.
Who are your favourite heroes in fiction?
George Bailey, Ferris Bueller and Ziggy Stardust.
Who are your heroes in real life?
The people who read my books and watch my shows.
Who is your favourite painter?
Who is your favourite musician?
In cascading order… David Bowie, Elvis Costello, Tom Waits.
What is your favourite food?
The Piquant Shrimp at Southern Accent on Markham Street in Toronto.
What is your favourite drink?
Most anything in a pint glass… but especially Guinness.
What are your favourite names?
Andrea, Max, Jack and 国.
What is it you most dislike?
What natural talent would you most like to possess?
The innate ability to know how many chili flakes is too many.
How do you want to die?
While watching The Godfather… Part 62, which will star an actor who hasn’t even been born yet.
What is your current state of mind?
What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
Convincing my publisher to let me write a book about The Devils, a decades old movie not many people have seen.
What is your motto?
With a nod to Dr. Thompson: Buy the ticket, take the ride.