“After life’s fitful fever he sleeps well. … Nothing can touch him further.”

— William Shakespeare

They keep trying and almost never get it right. The only one I can remember that scored 100 was Kenneth Branagh’s “My Week With Marilyn,” and I’m glad Joe Dimaggio didn’t live to see that.

So now we are here to view James Franco’s deadly slow “Sal,” about the late Sal Mineo. This small attempt only covers the last 24 hours of Sal’s life. We can be grateful it’s not “My Week With Sal.”

“Sal” covers the hours with long, slow drives through Hollywood, listening to Peggy Lee sing “Where Flamingos Fly.”

There are stretches of Sal chatting with a friend here, a friend there, and longer, even slower, chunks of time watching the actor Val Lauren, who probably wasn’t born when Sal was a star, move around his apartment, making dreadfully long telephone calls, taking showers, getting “vitamin” shots.

Only one conversation lets us get an insight to the actor’s painful past life. Someone from New York calls and wants more money to give his mother. Sal refuses and makes the caller promise not to give his mom another cent.

“She’s got money. I’ve given her plenty. My family has drained my life out.”

We can imagine that life; we don’t see a second of it. That life is accurately drawn in his many biographies for anyone who is interested to see.

A small disclosure: I knew Sal. He was a “street friend” in Beverly Hills and Hollywood when I was a young actor. We met from time to time and had chats, a cup of coffee, a cigarette and gossip. We had worked many of the same television shows and knew the same people. We were not close. I lived in another world, even though our homes were close.

Sal’s close friends were people who lived in the shadows. Some genuinely cared for him, such as James Dean, Natalie Wood and Nicholas Ray, another brilliant and rumored to be a deeply troubled man, who directed them all in “Rebel Without a Cause.”

There were others who only came out after dark, “fan vampires” who drew on his dark side. It’s all a matter of record. Those who are still alive know the truth, but they are few.

But even in the short time I knew Sal, it was enough to know that the actor portraying him in James Franco’s new film about Sal, misses the mark of the troubled boy who only looked like a man.

Val Lauren is a ruggedly handsome young actor of some talent who only did what was given him to do and he does it well, but it’s not Sal. The Sal I knew was a sweet, gentle man who did what he had to do to survive, and that gave him the appearance of a tough guy.

Audiences remember the movie star Sal Mineo, if they recall him at all, from either his co-starring role as Plato with James Dean and Natalie Wood in “Rebel Without a Cause,” or as Dov Landau in “Exodus,” with Paul Newman. Few recall that he had a tiny part as Angel in “Giant” with Liz Taylor, who befriended him. As he grew older, his voice deepened. Actor Lauren got that eerily right.

To be fair, James Franco’s film is not meant to be the true story of Sal’s life. It’s just the last 24 hours of that life, and probably Franco, a smart film maker, did his homework and got it mostly right based on interviews.

Also, there was probably a lot of input from actor Kier Dullea. Dullea was in those last hours, preparing, with Sal, a two-man play “P.S. Your Cat Is Dead,” about a bisexual burglar, at a small theater in Hollywood. It was from a late-night rehearsal that Sal returned home to his West Hollywood apartment to be brutally stabbed in the parking garage.

Director Franco gives all the gory details filled with news broadcasts of the time. The murderer wasn’t found for more than two years. It, too, is all there online for the curious to pick through.

To repeat: This is not the story of the little boy from the Bronx who got lucky on Broadway and in Hollywood. It’s the story of a good actor, a fading star with a lot of bad habits that were taking him down on the fast escalator to the bottom. Hollywood is full of them. It could have been a fascinating film if done properly on a bigger budget and more time. Reportedly, it was shot for pocket change and on an eight-day shooting schedule. I say again, they almost never get it right; and sadly, “Sal” didn’t either.

Goodnight, Sal. They can’t touch you now.

J.P. Devine is a former stage and screen actor.

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