The Pied Piper of Tucson

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"The Pied Piper of Tucson"
On March 4th, 1966, Life Magazine published an article titled "The Pied Piper of Tucson" that captured the world's attention. The article written by Don Moser was based on a true story happened in Tucson, Arizona. Charles Schmid, the main character of the article, was a serial killer in Tucson who killed three teenage girls. Moser's article not only managed to turn a local crime story into an international news, it also inspired Joyce Carol Oates who often based her stories on news to write a story about the murders. About 20 years later, this short story was brought to the silver screen by Joyce Chopra. Smooth Talk is an adaption of Oates' short story, however, more details were added into the movie in order to give the audience a better idea of what the story was about. The descriptions of Charles Schmid and his victims from Don Moser's article influenced Joyce Carol Oates' short story. However, Joyce Chopra's adaption is more realistic because of the real life details that were added into the film. Oates based her Arnold Friend character on the descriptions of Charles Schmid's appearance, behavior, and actions from the article. Charles Schmid was a serial killer who killed three girls in Tucson, Arizona. He was 23 years old when he was arrested for murdering Gretchen and Wendy Fritz, and Alleen Rowe. He was described as a popular guy among the girls because of his "beautifully mean eyes and his interesting way of talking" (Moser 19). In "The Pied Piper of Tucson", Schmid "created his own face - his hair was dyed raven black, his skin was deep tan with pancake makeup, the lips were whitened, and he painted a mole on his cheek" (Moser 23). He "pursed his lips and let his eyelids droop in order to emulate Elvis Presley" (Moser 23). Similarly in "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been", Connie's first impression of Arnold Friend's face was that she thought "his jaw, chin, an cheeks were slightly darkened because he had not shaved for a day or two" (Oates 213). His "nose was long and hawklike as well" (Oates 213). On a closer look, she thought "his whole face was a mask - the face was tanned but not his throat" (Oates 216). Schmid was only five-foot-three tall in real life as stated in the article. In order to make himself look taller, he "stuffed three or four inches of rags and tin cans into the bottoms of his high-topped boots" (Moser 23). Likewise in the story, Arnold Friend was not tall and probably only an inch taller than Connie (Oates 212). All the stuffing in Arnold's boots made him uncomfortable and lost balance all the time when standing. For example, "he was standing in a strange way and leaning back against the car as if he was trying to balance himself" (Oates 212). When he tried to walk to the porch, he stumbled and almost fell. Charles Schmid and Arnold Friend shared the same taste in music. In the story, Bobby King's music was being played on the radio Ellie holding in Arnold Friend's car (Oates 212). Oates based her Connie character on the descriptions of Gretchen Fritz's and Alleen Rowe's appearance, behavior, and actions from the article. Connie's character was inspired by Gretchen Fritz while Alleen Rowe's murder inspired the climax of the story. In the article, Gretchen Fritz was 17 year old when she was killed by Charles Schmid. Her younger sister, Wendy, who was also killed by Charles, was believed to have a good relationship with Gretchen as the both of them went out for movie together on the evening they were murdered. Gretchen was a "pretty blonde girl with thin figure" (Moser 84). In the story, Connie was a 15 year pretty blonde girl with brown eyes. She had an older sister, June, whom however she did not get along well with. The fact that their mother and her sisters praised June constantly, it gives the idea of Connie might be jealous of her sister because of that. This is the reason why their relationship could be good at one moment and be bad at the next....
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