Film from the Beat Generation and Hollywood Babylon

“Pull My Daisy” (1959) is an adaptation of a poem by Jack Kerouac from his play “Beat Generation.” He also provided the narration that was improvised throughout the film. The narration was also juxtaposed with certain shots to make comments of issues in the United States at the time. It has many Beat filmmakers and artists such as Allen Ginsberg, Peter Orlovsky, Gregory Corso, Larry Rivers, Alice Neel, and other inspirational artists. The film tells the story of a railway brakeman whose wife invites a bishop over for dinner. The brakeman’s friends ,who are of the underground Beat generation, come over to their home and crash the party. They question the bishop on why certain things are holy and become disruptive. “Pull My Daisy” showed the Beat philosophy to the audience.

“Flaming Creatures” (1963) is an experimental film by Jack Smith. The film has a large amount of graphic sexuality that deemed to inappropriate to show in the original theaters, and was determined to be obscene in 1963. The film consists of transvestites, hermaphrodites, drag shows, a vampire, a drug orgy, and a rapist. It was a very strange film to watch and did not have a simple narrative, like many experimental films.

Juan Suarez states how Kenneth Anger’s Scorpio Rising “has been regarded as the most representative film of the 1960s American underground cinema” (pg. 115). The film is said to be “deeply ambiguous, since it both glamorizes the marginal group’s rebelliousness and seemingly condemns its self-destructive behavior” (pg. 115). The film can be a representation of the closeness of homosexuality and Nazism, particularly the high officials of the Nazi Party.

In “Major Mythopia”, Sitney states that ‘Dog Star Man’ and ‘The Art of Vision’ were made at the height of the mythopoetic phase of the American avant-garde and lyrical cinema. Sitney also states in “The Magus”, how Kenneth Anger as more than any other avant-garde filmmaker and that “In Anger’s films his image of himself, of the self, is as a Magus, never as a film-maker” (pg.133). Carolee Schneeman argues in “Kenneth Anger’s Scorpio Rising” that Scorpio Rising it is impossible to establish the physical actions of making the film because it is so complicated. Scott MacDonald also talks about Kenneth Anger’s film Firework as Queer cinema.

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