Errol Morris is a celebrated director who has documented a wide range of subjects, from warfare in his Academy Award-winning film The Fog of War to your everyday eccentrics in Vernon, Florida.
In his newest film, Tabloid, he chases the truth in the tabloid story of Joyce McKinney. A former beauty queen follows her object of affection, a Mormon missionary, overseas and shakes things up with his alleged kidnapping and sexual assault. Joyce spins her version of the events of several decades and continents in the film, which is woven with interviews with tabloid reporters of the day, her alleged accomplices and contemporaries.
Errol talks to us bringing his subjects eye to eye with his audience using his patented Interrotron, seeking and preserving the truth of the first person narrative, and the work he feels he'll be remembered for (it's not what you think).
Tabloid is theaters now with limited release, and will roll out to more cities nationwide this summer.
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JESSE THORN: It's The Sound of Young America, I'm Jesse Thorn. My guest on the program is Errol Morris, who might just be America's most gifted and acclaimed documentarian. His movies include The Fog of War, which won him an Oscar, The Thin Blue Line, which may have saved a man's life, and Gates of Heaven, which, according to the terms of a bet, forced Werner Herzog to eat a shoe live on stage.
Morris's new film is called Tabloid. In part, it's an investigation of narrative; in part, it's an investigation of a curious character. That, of course, has been a theme of Morris's films going all the way back to his first two, Gates of Heaven and Vernon, Florida.
The movie is the story of a former beauty queen named Joyce McKinney who fell in love with a Mormon missionary and followed him on his mission to England, bringing along a pilot, a muscle-building body guard, and a man who can only reasonably be described as a best friend/bondage slave. When she found the object of her affection, she either convinced him to come with her, or kidnapped him, then, either convinced him to sleep with her, or raped him.
The case was a sensation beyond words in the English tabloid culture of the late 1970s. Here's a tabloid reporter named Peter Tory who covered the story at the time for the tabloids in the late 1970s. In this clip from the movie, he explains how Joyce McKinney's misadventures captured the English public's attention.
Errol Morris, welcome to The Sound of Young America.
ERROL MORRIS: Thanks for having me on.