l to r: Lucien Carr, Jack Kerouac, Alan Ginsberg, William Burroughs in 1944
Now this is a hell of a story:
Lucien Carr was a student at Columbia when he met Allen Ginsberg, also a student. He introduced Ginsberg to his friend’s boyfriend, Jack Kerouac, then a 22-year old sailor. He then introduced those two to an older friend of his: William Burroughs. Lucien Carr brought the Beat poets together.
But that’s not his story. His story is darker. At the edge of this group was David Kammerer, a guy Carr had known since they were 14. Kammerer was in love with Carr, and he was more than a little creepy about it. Carr played with Kammerer’s head, which was slowly starting to come apart – at one point they found Kammerer trying to hang Kerouac’s cat.
When Kerouac and Carr decided to ship out with the Merchant Marines so they could go to France, Kammerer freaked out. He and Carr had a moment in Riverside Park and Carr ended up stabbing him to death, then going to his Beat friends to help him out of the situation.
That’s just the overview, but what a movie this could make. The film version of it is called Kill Your Darlings, and it’s beginning to get a cast together. The great Chris Evans will be playing Kerouac, while Jessie Eisenberg – who will soon be seen in the terrific Adventureland – will be playing young Ginsberg. Ben Whishaw, who I loved in Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, will play Carr. I’m really interested in seeing who they get for Burroughs.
A newbie named John Krokidas, who wrote it with his Yale roommate Austin Bunn, will direct Kill Your Darlings.
Interestingly, there’s another Beat poet movie in the works: James Franco will play Ginsberg in Howl, a biopic that will mostly focus on the poet’s obscenity trial a decade after the murder of Kammerer.