Written by / 6/05/2012 / No comments / , , , ,

CHARACTER STUDY: DEBORAH WINTERS AS ALICIA IN BLUE SUNSHINE

Deborah Winters with the late Zalman King in BLUE SUNSHINE
PROJECT: BLUE SUNSHINE PLOT: A random series of murders involving psychotic bald maniacs who have one thing in common: they took a particular brand of LSD called Blue Sunshine ten years prior. CHARACTER: Alicia Sweeney ACTRESS: Deborah Winters POSITION: Alicia Sweeney is the girlfriend of Jerry Zipkin, played by Zalman King. Alicia has short blond hair, dresses exquisitely and embodies style and class. Even in a cowboy hat and large red-tinted sunglasses, she’s got it. Jerry, on the other hand, is a regular guy who wears a tacky brown sweater with two male reindeer literally rubbing elbows.
Zalman King with Deborah Winters at a party
TRAITS: Alicia’s no stranger to booze. Perhaps a few belts makes Jerry’s awful sweaters seem like knightly robes. She’s also short-tempered.  In one scene, a frustrated Alicia kicks an escalator. INTRO: As the film begins (following an opening credit montage), Jerry’s at a cabin party with his close friends when the craziest of the bunch suddenly bursts into an imitation of Rodan. Not the artist, the monster.
Brion James in an early role
Alicia’s expressions serve as an example to her importance within the storyline. Like anyone would be, Alicia’s shocked as Tony (Brion James from BLADE RUNNER in an early role) begins squawking like the monstrous bird, play-attacking the party guests, but she’s smiling too – because Jerry is with her. She’s safe. These are Jerry's friends. They can’t be that crazy. Well… Not yet.  
Deborah Winters enjoying the party
A few minutes later, Jerry’s closest friend, Frannie Scott (Richard Crystal, brother of Billy) begins singing a Frank Sinatra tune and, during a playful scuffle, we realize he’s losing his hair in a grotesque manner. The wild-eyed Frannie runs out of the party – here’s where Alicia’s really concerned… But is she worried about herself? About Frannie? About the guests? No… Alicia is only concerned about Jerry.
Zalman King and Deborah Winters
GOAL: Alicia Sweeney serves as much more than the main character's girlfriend. After Jerry is accused of murdering a handful of people that Tony actually killed, Alicia meets Jerry wherever he needs her.

Writer/Director Jeff Lieberman points out on the DVD commentary how unrealistic it is that Alicia would know where Jerry would be, but in the age of payphones, he could have called her to meet him at these locations. And it’s not always easy…
Deborah Winters senses danger
URGENCY: Detective Clay (Charles Siebert, who appeared in TARANTLAS: THE DEADLY CARGO with Winters a year later) realizes Alicia is the one to keep his eye on: where she goes, Jerry will soon wind up.

And maybe he can trust her to do the “right” thing. To turn in her boyfriend before anyone else is murdered. But Alicia’s goal remains intact through their rushed and suspenseful hookups: protect her man from the man, and that’s that.
Ray Young and Deborah Winters
CLOSURE: Alicia Sweeney goes from girlfriend/connection to damsel-in-distress when a really large ex football player, who works for the politician who had years before sold LSD called BLUE SUNSHINE which is now, ten years later, causing people to lose their hair and their minds. Well that’s the plot, and now for the payoff: One that involves Alicia in an important scene and a staple to 1970's pop culture. 

Alicia had set up a “date” with Big Wayne Mulligan (COFFY's Ray Young) to learn more about Blue Sunshine and to clear Jerry’s name. She meets Wayne at a discothèque where he, after going berserk, chases Alicia across the dance floor where she hides inside the DJ’s glass booth.
Deborah Winters at a disco
Deborah Winters escapes the villain's attack
Since loud noises are the only thing that slows down these revved-up lunatics, Alicia turns up a disco record to an extremely high level.

This becomes a plot device for Alicia’s character to thwart the villain… and the director’s nod to, during the punk rock explosion of the mid seventies, the "disease" called Disco.   
Where Disco Lives Forever
Deborah Winters previous work, from a troubled teenager opposite Eli Wallach in THE PEOPLE NEXT DOOR to Gary Grime’s assertive girlfriend in CLASS OF ’44 to a pregnant teen helped by Walter Matthau in KOTCH, is an example of her incredible range and power on screen. And you may ask: What’s Deborah Winters doing in a low budget movie about bald lunatics?

Classing up the joint, perhaps. Giving the movie the kind of safety net provided by an ingĂ©nue who’s smart, strong-willed, and last but not least, beautiful.
Deborah Winters wearing her own clothes in BLUE SUNSHINE
When the interview on the DVD commentary asked director Lieberman how Deborah Winters got involved in the project, Jeff replied: “Because she’s a good actress.” An understatement.

MORE TRIVIA: Lieberman says one of Deborah’s stipulations was that she hired her own clothing stylist. Perhaps this is why Alicia’s clothing stands out from everyone else’s.
Deborah Winters with beer
Deborah Winters talks to the police
Deborah Winters as Alicia
Ray Young and Deborah Winters
Deborah Winters chased at a disco
Deborah Winters in BLUE SUNSHINE
Zalman King and Deborah Winters
archive review: THE PEOPLE NEXT DOOR year: 1970 cast: Eli Wallach, Deborah Winters rating: ***1/2
A psychedelic-era cult film about a suburban family with problems beneath the surface, headlined by rebellious teenager "Maxie," played by Deborah Winters who, when not freaking out on bad acid, scrutinizes her parent's shortcomings: like booze and hypocrisy. Eli Wallach is terrific as the drink-after-work patriarch, as are Stephen McHattie as the hippie son and wife Julie Harris, whose hard-nosed lecture to Maxie in a mental institution provides an explosive, and perhaps even effective, climax. 

But it's Deborah Winters alone, who, with a brooding reserve as intense as the drug-induced tirades, provides an underlying "vibe" throughout: where anything can happen... at any time.
With the late Julie Harris
The People Next Door (poster)
FROM "CLASS OF '44" WITH GARY GRIMES AND LISTEN TO MY PODCAST

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DEBORAH WINTERS CHANEY IS NOW A REAL ESTATE AGENT IN TEXAS FOR KELLER WILLIAMS REALTY. CLICK HERE FOR HER WEBSITE AND INFORMATION.
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