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Film Festival Interruptus

I feel like invoking that old joke, “Other than that, how did you enjoy the play, Mrs. Lincoln?” as I explain that while attending (and enjoying) the El Paso Classic Film Festival this past weekend, I had to undergo emergency surgery for a detached retina.

When I think of eyes I inevitably think of the immortal Ben Turpin, who made a career out of being cross-eyed. I hope not to follow in his footsteps.

There’s nothing worse than getting sick when you’re away from home. Given that, my Festival hosts Charles and Ann Horak couldn’t have been more helpful or caring. And luck was on my side: their assistant Danielle Price is related to a third-generation El Paso ophthalmologist, Dr. Steven Schuster, who opened his office to me on a Saturday, diagnosed my problem and contacted his colleague, retinal surgeon Dr. Jeremy Cuthbertson. That morning I participated in a seminar with my dear friend, esteemed film teacher and author Jeanine Basinger—

—and by late afternoon I was being prepped for emergency surgery. Since I can’t fly for two weeks my family and I had an unscheduled road trip home to Los Angeles over the next two days.

Now that I’m here, I have to keep my head tilted down for the rest of the week and cannot sleep on my back. So much for screenings or catching up with DVDs! But I don’t intend to fool around with the healing process; my eyesight is too important to me, and right now all I’m seeing out of my left eye is a blur.

Normally, I wouldn’t be burdening my readers with these personal woes, but after the El Paso newspaper carried a story about my surgery and my daughter posted the news on her Facebook page I started hearing from friends and strangers far and wide and figured this was the best way to fill everybody in.

I am grateful beyond words to my wife Alice and my daughter Jessie for their loving care. Tomorrow I’ll try to get back to business and tell you all about the El Paso Festival which was great fun—until a little incident got in the way.

31 comments

  1. rafael castro says:

    wishing you a happy recovery of many classics to see fin the future from one of your bigest fans from dominican republic for more than 35 years

  2. Brian says:

    Hope you get better soon, Leonard. We need more of those BOMB ratings!

  3. Jim Reinecke says:

    Leonard if there’s a keen pair of eyes that we need in this time of so much bilge being offered in place of good filmmaking, it would definitely be yours! You can instantly recognize the difference between good and bad filmmaking and have the voice to enlighten us as well. May those eyes see many, MANY more films and may you always have the honest, courageous voice to champion the praiseworthy and slash away at the wretched. Do take care, Sir, and a speedy recovery to you.

  4. Judy Carmichael says:

    Leonard!

    So glad this story has a happy ending. It’s been years since I’ve seen you and Alice, but I plan on performing in L.A. next February at Vitello’s and hope you’re in town so I can see you then. Maybe a reprise of our ET duet on Keepin’ Out of Mischief?

    Love to you both and a speedy recovery,

    Judy

  5. Chuck Warn says:

    Hi Leonard,
    What a madcap tale!
    Thanks for sharing it with us, your devoted fans and friends.
    All best for your speedy recovery,
    Chuck

  6. John L. Matthew says:

    Dear Leonard: These days eye surgery is a breeze! Now you’ll be able to catch up on your music
    CD listening, while you rest up those precious eyes so many of us out here depend on. I had a couple of cataracts fixed a few years back in my 80’s! So I know you’ll soon be feeling fine! Keep on being so lucky! Bless you & thanks for being our valued guide to all that is best in movies, books & music. Sincerely & thank you, John.

  7. John Nelson says:

    Leonard, understatement of the century: GET WELL SOON !! John

  8. Paula Sigman-Lowery says:

    Oh, my! Do take care of yourself. Howard, Annie and I are sending healing thoughts all the way from Bulgaria!

  9. Charles Bernstein says:

    Leonard- Your eyes are a big part of how we all see the world of cinema! Take good care, and have a speedy recovery. Best to you and Alice, -Charles

  10. belinda says:

    I am a new author,Will you please read my book ,”MY LITTLE SECRETS” author Belinda Davis,MY book is about the south and it make me think of the movie COLOR PURPLE, and I know it will make a great movie Belinda!

  11. Jim Hill says:

    So sorry to hear about your emergency surgery, Leonard. Everyone here at Jim Hill Media is wishing you the best and a speedy recovery.

  12. Bob McKinnon says:

    Dear Leonard

    Best wishes for a smooth and complete recovery to the finest film critic-historian-author in the business.

    Warm regards,

    Bob McKinnon

  13. Tim says:

    Speedy recovery to say the least….

  14. Ed Golick says:

    Retinal tears are no fun. I had four at once. Take care. You’ll be back to normal in no time.

  15. Norm says:

    All the Best for a speedy recovery.

  16. Tim Davis says:

    Geez, Leonard, give those peepers a rest! Get well soon!

  17. Kristine A. Cimmy says:

    Dear Leonard, I enjoy reading your informative website.
    Get well soon. Have a speedy recovery. Hello to your wife, Alice and
    daughter, Jessie. I enjoyed reading your informative books. I miss
    reading your Movie Crazy Newsletter, unfortunately, I had to drop a lot
    of magazine subscriptions. Maybe someday, again, I can renew my
    subscription. Best wishes. Kristine Cimmy

  18. alan aperlo says:

    I am with you .Hope you get better.alan aperlo

  19. Mark Kausler says:

    Rest and recuperate, Mr. Leonard. We owe you so much already for all the great books you have written and the films you have pre-tested for us with your tireless (until now) eyes. In our house we go to your Movie Guide about 5 times a day. I wish you a speedy recovery and a whole lot more great posts (and issues of Movie Crazy!) to come.

  20. Laurence Klavan says:

    Get well soon.

  21. Jay Rubin says:

    Leonard,

    I normally keep quiet about your wonderful email news, but now I have to tell you, GET WELL SOON. Your vision, eye and otherwise, is invaluable, irreplaceable, and too damn enjoyable to lose. Sincere wishes on your recovery. Give my best to the family. Jay

  22. Bob Merlis says:

    Leonard,
    Take care of yourself and wishing you a speedy recovery. We need your vision almost as much as you do.

  23. Carrie Rickey says:

    Heal swiftly, Leonard.

  24. Tony Caruana says:

    Wishing you a speedy recovery, Leonard.

  25. J.C. Vaughn says:

    Sorry to hear about your troubles, but glad you had it dealt with in such an expeditious manner! Rest up and get well soon!

  26. R Blake says:

    Heal well and quickly!

  27. Ralph Celentano says:

    May God bless you with a speedy recovery.

  28. Jeff Heise says:

    Take care of yourself, my friend. Another family friend had to undergo similar surgery for the same reason some years ago. One bit of advice: try not to cough if you can help it-a bit jarring to the head and to the healing process.

  29. Edythe Bronston says:

    How awful! Please take very good care of yourself and don’t rush the healing process. I’m sure you’ll be back in the saddle shortly….love your blog! Best, Edy Bronston

  30. Kay Noske says:

    Wow, Leonard, please do take care of those eyes! So glad that it was taken care of. My best as you recover.
    Warmly, Kay
    http://www.moviestarmakeover.blogspot.com

  31. Carlos Sandoval says:

    Hope you get better. The best of wishes from Culiacán, Sinaloa. México

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