“Must Read After My Death” is a first-rate documentary that examines the difficult progress of an “open marriage” between “Charley” who went on business trips far from home and often met women who were “good dancers” and Allis, a self-described “nonconformist” whose open-minded ideas about marriage came along just in time for the 1960s.
Charley and Allis’s “bohemian” lifestyle have a trying effect on their four children who seem to have more than the usual problems of adjusting and accepting their place in this world and small wonder for that. The overwhelming tension within their household brought about by Charley’s drinking and his obsessiveness about tidy housekeeping during the children’s formative days have apparently simmered for years, haunting them into adulthood and beyond, into middle age.
None of the three remaining children of Charley and Allis are quoted as adults and it appears that they have no reason to dwell on events of the past. They are all enjoying successful marriages after first-time failures.
The record of this family was made possible by the foresight of Allis, who employed the use of 8mm film, the Dictaphone, the telephone and reel-to-reel tape — recording devices that were available in those days. Allis apparently felt that her family was worth the efforts on land and sea for those of us who have been privileged to see the result
One can imagine the excitement of Morgan Dews who apparently stumbled upon all of this material at some point after his grandmother, Allis, passed away.
He may have felt, for a moment at least, that it was he who had died and had trotted off to heaven.
Most of the material that Allis stashed away was in a large envelope, crudely labeled with a “marksalot” to read “Must Read After my Death,” and we are all the richer for it.
“Must Read After My Death” has not been rated by the Motion Picture Assn. of America but is obviously intended for mature audiences and runs for one hour and 16 minutes.
?JEFF KLEMZAK is a film fan and resides in La Crescenta.