Tuesday, March 24, 2009


"Pull My Daisy" (1959) is truly beat cinema. The film is based on the third act of a Jack Kerouac play, Beat Generation, and features an all-star lineup of 1950s hipsters, Allen Ginsberg, Peter Orlovsky, Gregory Corso, and artists Larry Rivers and Alice Neel. The film was directed by Robert Frank and Alfred Leslie. Kerouac narrates.

The Beats put their stock in spontaneity and distrusted post-inspiration tampering. They believed art and poetry should spring from the mind fully-formed like Athena from the head of Zeus. Sometimes this method delivered inspired work, and other times it produced a half-baked shambling mess. This falls somewhere between the two, but is worth a look.

The story originally came from Neil Cassady, and is supposedly based on an actual event though it sounds more like an episode of a situation comedy. A railway brakemen entertains a respectable bishop. The brakeman's weirdo friends come spilling in the door, ruining everything. You know the type--mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, never saying a commonplace thing. In other words, trouble. I keep expecting Fred and Ethel to drop by with a jug of wine and some bongos. Go, man, go!

quiet on the set: orlovsky, corso, and ginsberg

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