Neil Young’s hard to see ‘Muddy Track’ movie: ‘I don’t know what the f*ck it is’
04.18.2014
03:17 pm

Topics:
Movies
Music

Tags:
Neil Young
Crazy Horse


 
In 1987, Neil Young told an interviewer that Time Fades Away was “the worst record I ever made—but as a documentary of what was happening to me, it was a great record.”

Young has never shied away from documenting, warts and all, the high points of his career and some pretty low points as well.  When he toured Europe in 1987 with Crazy Horse, disaster was looming. “It was fuckin’ terrible,” to hear Shakey himself describe it. Ticket sales were shitty, band members were often in an alcoholic stupor and played poorly, there were riots and Young even had to deal with the ignominy of a radio interviewer who expressed surprise that Young wasn’t dead yet. Good times! At the end of the tour, Young publicly vowed never to work with Crazy Horse again.

Young, being Young, saw the cinematic possibilities of the chaos of the tour and the result is Muddy Track, a patchwork, out-of-focus Shakey-cam walk in the band’s shoes as they stumbled across Europe. No distributor would touch something like this with a ten ft. pole and so the film remained fairly mysterious until parts of it were seen in the Jim Jarmusch directed Year of the Horse in 1997.

Speaking about his films, Young told MOJO in 1995:

Muddy Track is really my favourite of all of them, though. It’s dark as hell God, it’s a heavy one! (laughs) But it’s funky.

Funky it is! Muddy Track is incoherent, sure, but it’s quite real and immediate in the best sense of Young’s work. Some of the footage is probably a bit too personal (a band meeting that devolves into a tense swearing match is uncomfortable to watch three decades after the fact) but it’s never boring.

Muddy Track is not a documentary,” Young has said “I don’t know what the fuck it is.” 
 

 
Thank you Vinícius!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Marks of a genius: Ray Harryhausen’s incredible creature drawings
04.18.2014
08:06 am

Topics:
Movies

Tags:
Ray Harryhausen

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If it wasn’t a monster movie, then it wasn’t worth watching. That was my narrow view of cinema when I was a kid. There was the usual suspects of werewolves, vampires, gelatinous blobs from outer space, and stitched-together cadavers, but nothing thrilled quite as much as seeing one of Ray Harryhausen’s animated creatures move across the screen. Whether it was those ghoulish skeletons in Jason and the Argonauts; the Ray Bradbury-inspired Rhedosaurus that tore up New York City in The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms; the leathery terradactyl that picked up Raquel Welch in One Million Years B.C.; or the octopus that brought down the Golden Gate Bridge; this was the kind of movie that made so many childhoods happy—mine included.

Harryhausen sketched out each of his ideas before turning them into models, and this is a small selection of his drawings for the films Jason and the Argonauts, The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad, the unmade War of the Worlds, Valley of the Gwangi, 20 Million Miles to earth, and One Million Years BC.
 
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More of Harryhausen’s incredible drawings after the jump…
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
The Unholy Grail of ‘Lost’ Films: Kenneth Anger’s ‘Lucifer Rising’ with Jimmy Page soundtrack
04.17.2014
08:05 am

Topics:
Movies
Music
Occult

Tags:
Kenneth Anger
Jimmy Page
Brian Butler


 
Tonight a lucky audience in downtown Los Angeles, seated in the opulent setting of the theatre at the Ace Hotel (once the original United Artists Theatre co-owned by Charlie Chaplin, D.W. Griffith, Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford) will be treated to a number of Kenneth Anger rarities that have been recently rediscovered and restored by Anger’s producer/manager/collaborator filmmaker Brian Butler. Among them are alternate versions of The Magick Lantern Cycle films and the mind-blowing, but ill-fated collaboration between Anger and Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page, both famously devotees of Aleister Crowley’s philosophy of Thelema.

The story of their falling out has long been a foundation of the Led Zeppelin mythos: Anger had been living in Page’s Tower House abode in London, editing Lucifer Rising on the same film equipment used on The Song Remains The Same. While Page was on tour with Led Zeppelin, his girlfriend suddenly kicked Anger out, not even allowing him to get his things. A few days later, the mercurial Magus of Cinema threw a hissy over not getting an additional five minutes of music he needed to complete Lucifer Rising when he wanted it, phoned the Swan Song office and “fired” Page—who was in America and apparently mystified by the whole exercise—from the project. Anger did his patented “curse” routine very publicly, going so far as accusing Page of being a mere “dabbler” in the occult and a rich, lazy junkie. Rock journalists at the time began to speculate if Anger’s curse had worked when a succession of tragic events ended Led Zeppelin’s reign as the world’s biggest rock group.

Pages’ Lucifer RIsing score is wonderfully perverse: a languid but steadily building Middle Eastern-sounding drone, festooned with chanting, tabla, screaming mellotron, a sonically shifting low frequency, foreboding ambiance and shimmering 12-string guitar work. It’s a mad, diabolical symphony of beautiful evil; a fascinating piece of unconventional aggressively avant garde music from one of the rock era’s most mysterious living legends. Married to Anger’s imagery, it’s an exquisite aesthetic and spiritual experience.

The world’s two most famous, most artistically high-level Thelemite magicians collaborated for several years and frustratingly, the fruits of that effort have been seen by very few people. And not for four decades at that.
 

 

Over email, I asked Brian Butler a few questions.

How or where did you locate this print?

Brian Butler: I got a call from a storage facility who told me that they had found an “aberated” print of Lucifer Rising. They asked if they should throw it away or if we wanted to keep it. This was a year ago. I was so busy that I didn’t think much of it and put it in storage. Gradually as I started to inventory Kenneth’s archive I found old press clippings and film programs. I found it interesting how meticulous he was in curating a unique experience for the audience. In 1966 he began screening his films as The Magick Lantern Cycle and designed a thirteen-page booklet with a different color for each page. He also recut Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome as the “Sacred Mushroom Edition” for this occasion. In the audience notes were included specific instructions on when to take LSD (still legal at the time) to time it for that film.

I started to notice how The Magick Lantern Cycle evolved in the early 1970s with different versions of Lucifer Rising. It’s seems he began including this in the program as he was shooting it—“Lucifer Rising Chapter One” was shown in 1970—and he experimented with various soundtracks including Pink Floyd’s Atom Heart Mother.

Eventually Jimmy Page came onboard in 1973. For someone of the stature that Jimmy Page had reached in 1973 it was quite radical to do an avant garde soundtrack strictly as an artistic endeavor, although Mick Jagger did the Moog soundtrack for Kenneth’s Invocation of My Demon Brother in 1969. They worked together for several years with at least two different versions being produced, one in 1974 and one in 1975.

Which one is this?

Brian Butler: After a lot of research, I found it to be the 1975 version—the most developed of four versions known to exist. It ends with “To be continued” and was obviously a work in progress.

In one interview I found, Jimmy Page refers to when he screened Lucifer Rising in his room hotel room on the sixth floor and seemed delighted that his haunting score terrified guests up on the twelfth floor. He also mentions making a special trip to a screening at the Museum of Modern Art in New York to be sure the music was synced up correctly. The Anger/Page version was exhibited to the public at least a few times, and also privately, for potential investors.
 

 
The Films of Kenneth Anger” will be introduced by the filmmaker and is a co-production of Kenneth Anger, Brian Butler and Cinespia. The former United Artists Theatre is one of the most opulent movie palaces ever built in America. For a while it was owned by freaky TV minister Dr. Gene Scott and basically closed to the public for more than two decades. The Ace Hotel has restored and preserved all the original decorations, murals and mirrored ceiling and Anger’s films will be projected on the theatre’s big screen beneath ornate columns, a soaring gold ceiling and walls in the style of a Spanish Gothic cathedral. (I was there once to see Dr. Gene Scott and even then it was pretty impressive. Restored it should be pretty incredible.)

More information here and tickets here. Apparently it’s nearly sold out, so if you snooze, you’ll lose, be warned.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
‘Bleak Movies,’ the coloring book version for kids
04.17.2014
08:01 am

Topics:
Art
Movies

Tags:
coloring book

Bleak Movies
 
The creator of these macabre and inappropriately jolly coloring book illustrations, Todd Spence, writes, “Most kids aren’t allowed to watch R rated films, especially the really dark and twisted ones with terribly bleak endings that stick with you for days and days, so I finally figured out a way to let children enjoy some of those bleak movies along with the rest of us.”

I love the idiotic tone of these drawings. Seven‘s John Doe can’t be all bad…. he brought the bunny rabbits!

It’s difficult not to notice the prominent “Vol. 1” on the cover. I hereby propose Texas Chainsaw Massacre for Vol. 2!
 
Bleak Movies
 
Bleak Movies
 
Bleak Movies
 
More after the jump…
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
‘Viking Angel’: Hollywood Babylonia

Actually Huizenga in
 
If God is in the Hills and the Devil is in the details, then where does that land the glitz of Hollywood? The glitter is there, sure, sparkly, pretty but often masking layers of blood, semen and tears. But isn’t that glamorous too? The grime and soot are as much a part of the picture as the pretty polish and all this and more are explored in post-pop musician/video artist extraordinaire Actually Huizenga’s most epic creation to date, Viking Angel.

Auditioning beautiful, unsure but ambitious aspiring starlets, Mr. Bailey (Louis Oberlander), a blue eyed, bearded Russ Tamblyn-charismatic agent, greets the latest girl. Blonde, lovely and dressed in a sexy approximation of virgin white, the actress (Actually) shows up in his office. A weird tableau of superimposition hell plays on a TV behind her, displaying the legs of basketball players, a neon cross with the words “Jesus Saves” and a future version of herself, naked, bloody and crawling.

The audition, involving lines like “ordinary morality is only for ordinary people,” goes so well that she gets the part and is promptly put through the casting couch process. The film shifts into music video mode with “Male Fantasy” coming on as a Lisa Frank color palette scheme kicks in. A photo of the dismembered body of Elizabeth Short, the infamous “Black Dahlia,” is seen in the background as Bailey soldiers on with his humping. 

Soon, she is being made up and prepped for her big scene, as a newscast comes on a nearby TV. Real newscasts should take a cue from Viking Angel. Animated bats, smoking on the set and dialogue like, “Whatever Ryan, why can’t you just be happy about it?” and “They should be really helping. Not throwing children in the closet with demons.” makes real life news even more mediocre and borderline unbearable. It’s a sick, sad world, with six escaped muscle-bound, sex-starved convicts running around raping and killing innocent families. The newscasters bring on Officer Short (Socrates Mitsios) to discuss the series of new unsolved murders with a matching MO. All of the victims, beautiful and struggling actresses, who have been quartered and drained of blood, Dahlia-style.
 
Socrates Mitsios in
 
As they cue to the weather, the actress gets tied up for her “scene,” as an occult procession starts to roll in, complete with topless women asserting themselves into a fleshy Jesus Christ pose and a ritual sacrifice. Realizing that this is not part of the script, she starts to freak and as the blade starts to pierce her skin, Officer Short arrives and manages to rescue her before the wound gets fatal. Simultaneously, an Insane Viking Warrior (Daniel Pierce) shows up, complete with crazed eyes, ripped six pack and chain mail loincloth, as well as a sexy version of the goddess Freya who looks identical to the actress.

The Officer manages to grab the actress and they crawl out of a hole in the ground, which is flanked by a grinning, dancing gentleman (Gerald) twirling a cardboard sign stating “Sacrifice Here.” They run away, while being unknowingly followed by the Viking Warrior, who lets out a scream of the ages before going on the chase. Down the rabbit hole they go, encountering an S&M bar with whipped businessmen and masturbating Santas, coitus interruptus thanks to vivisection via electric guitar, mass stabbings, watermelon being pierced by a high heel and an ethereal pope figure. 
 
This is all gonna end in blood.
 
Viking Angel is a fluid ride into a universe that intertwines the harsh realities of a violent, superficial world and the dreamy, love-lorn paganism of mythology. The music is a terrific mix of electro-sex-pop with metal undertones, thanks to some stellar guitar work courtesy of Gabriel Tanaka. With Huizenga’s background being music videos and the experimental film work of the SoftRock series, Viking Angel is a seamless blend of these twin formats. There is Huizenga’s brilliant editing style, working superimposition like a well-oiled-acid-laced-machine. The visual layering that is utilized here is like the world’s most stunning pastiche, with the tone of sensuality, bloodletting and the occult playing out like the art-child of Kenneth Anger.

Performance wise, Actually is pitch perfect both as the beautiful starlet who spends ¾ of the film caked in blood during her infernal journey, as well as the strong Freya-type doppelganger. As Mr. Bailey, Louis Oberlander is the epitome of blue-eyed Hollywood sleaze as he leads the sex & death show. Mitsios is charismatic as Officer Short and speaking of which, Gabriel Tanaka is equally striking as both the literally killer guitarist and the ghostly, androgynous Pope.
 
Glitter & Grue
 
The biggest challenge about Viking Angel has nothing to do with the film itself, but the multi-boundary pushing going on. Art crowds will get fussy about the blood and pop music. Horror fans could grouse about the art and pop music. Pop music fans will recoil from the grue and metal undertones, but you know what? That’s why this work is so wonderful and so needed. If your own boundaries are not pushed, then someone is not doing their job. Playing it safe is the last thing any artist should do, while playing it true to their work and vision is the absolute first thing they should do. Actually Huizenga is the real deal and has created a world that is striking, beautiful, nightmarish and complex with Viking Angel. Lucky for both fans and the curious, Huizenga has an upcoming multi-media tour highlighting both the film, the new tunes, as well as an additional performance by cult music wunderkind Ssion. Dates are not yet confirmed but will be posted on her website as soon as they are set.
 

Posted by Heather Drain | Discussion
Watch Lou Reed interview his 100-year-old Polish immigrant cousin in his short film, ‘Red Shirley’
04.16.2014
05:57 am

Topics:
Movies

Tags:
Lou Reed
Red Shirley


Lou Reed and his 100-year-old cousin, “Red” Shirley Novick
 
Lou Reed’s deeply personal directorial debut does not ease the audience into its heavy subject matter slowly. In the very first shot, we see his cousin Shirley Novick on her 100th birthday. She dedicates the film to her hometown in Poland, and the Jews that once resided there. She says she wants to talk about her family who died in the Holocaust, along with all the Jews of her town, and she thanks her cousin for the opportunity to tell her story. Off-camera you hear Lou’s unmistakable voice, “Is that the statement?” She nods and he gives a little applause.

What follows is the recounting of a truly fascinating life. During World War Two, Shirley’s town was under siege, and she remembers hiding in the Russian church as a child while Russian and German troops fought it out. At 19 she left Poland with two suitcases and settled in Montreal for six months. Finding it too “provincial,” she left for New York—Lou laughs a little at the idea of a 19- year-old-girl from the shtetl finding someplace “too provincial.” With the help of an uncle, Shirley found work in New York’s infamously exploitative garment industry—she was a real live factory girl. What followed was 47 years of ardent labor activism—she even joined the 1963 civil rights march on Washington. Despite her hand in fighting for a more just United States, she never became a legal citizen, on principle.

Despite the struggle and tragedy throughout her life, Red Shirley is ultimately a very warm film, and not without levity. At one point she recounts a shell hitting her family’s home that failed to detonate and how they just left it in the wall unable to remove it. Perhaps a little overwhelmed by the brutal conditions of Shirley’s early life, Lou just starts laughing, saying, “This is terrible.” He also replies with a lot of “You can’t be serious,” and “You’re joking,” and it seems not so much from actual disbelief, but from that incredulity one feels when they hear a very intense personal story. Lou is visibly tickled by her company, and witnessing their affectionate conversation is an intimate experience. The film is both technically and emotionally lovely.
 

 
Via Open Culture

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
‘The Beast With Five Fingers’: Vintage amateur ‘home movie’ version of the classic horror film, 1947
04.15.2014
08:07 am

Topics:
Amusing
Movies

Tags:
Horror Fiction
W. F. Harvey

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The amiable, Irish comedian Dave Allen had the top of his left forefinger missing. As part of his act, he would tell various amusing and often macabre tales as to how he came to lose it: his brother bit it off; it was dissolved by whisky; he cut it off to avoid conscription to the army; his father chopped it off with an ax. Of course, these stories were all untrue—Allen had lost the top of his finger when he was child playing with an old machine cog.

However, my favorite story that Allen told about his missing digit was the one he told on his hit TV show, in a darkened studio, with only a single light illuminating his face. Allen had been traveling by car across desolate moor in the north of England. A storm (thunder, lightning) had waylaid him en route to his destination, and he had to overnight at an old, rundown hotel, miles from anywhere.

Lightning had downed the power, and the hotel was lit by flickering candles. As he was shown to his room, his host asked the comedian if he believed in ghosts. Allen told him no, he was an atheist, thank God. The manager smiled, and replied that was all well and good, as sadly, the hotel rarely received any guests as the house was said to be haunted by an evil spirit.

Allen thought little more of the conversation, and prepared for bed. But as he slowly drifted off to sleep, he began to dream about an evil, brooding presence that lurked down in the basement. In his dream he could see the pitch black of the basement room, and in that darkness he saw something move, something slowly writhing towards him, a thick, oily darkness. Allen moved away, back up the stairs to his room. It followed.

The corridor was swallowed by damp, creeping shadows. The evil was moving nearer. Allen woke and found he was lying in bed. The room was silent. He felt the pin prick of sweat on his neck. He knew there something with him in the room, waiting.

Allen felt the evil move slowly up the bed covers. Its legs dimpling his flesh, dragging its body behind. As it crawled nearer, Allen knew he was going to die, would die, if he didn’t do something. The creature, heavier now, moved ever closer. One hard limb at a time, dragging its fleshy body nearer, nearer, until it would have him by the throat. That was when Allen struck. He grabbed the beast, and bit hard into what he thought was its neck and head. He tasted blood, felt pain. And then he screamed, spitting the top of his finger out of his mouth.

The idea of hands having an evil will of their own was first put to paper by author Maurice Renard in his novel Les Mains d’Orlac (The Hands of Orlac). This was later made into the German Expressionist film Orlac’s Hände starring Conrad Veidt, in 1924. A Hollywood version Mad Love, with Colin Clive and Peter Lorre, came along in 1935, and was remade again, this time as The Hands of Orlac with Mel Ferrer and Christopher Lee in 1962.

Les Mains d’Orlac tells the story of a concert pianist, who loses his hands in an accident, and receives the transplanted hands of a murderer. These new hands possess him and he becomes a killer. It’s good story and the nearly forgotten Renard wrote some highly original and influential tales, which are well worth checking out.

Another author who wrote about disembodied hands was W. F. Harvey, who is one of my favorite horror writers and wrote “The Beast With Five Fingers.” This classic tale deals with the life and death of Adrian Borlsover who “was exceedingly clever with his hands.” When Borlsover goes blind, he adapts by using his supple fingers to read Braille, and explore the world by touch alone. His fingers are so delicate that he can identify flowers by just the feel of their petals.

Towards the close of his life Adrian Borlsover was credited with powers of touch that seemed almost uncanny. It had been said that he could tell at once the colour of ribbon placed between his fingers.

When he dies, Adrian apparently bequeaths his nephew Eustice a strange gift—his severed hand.

This story inspired Curt Siodmak to write a jumbled screenplay that mixed elements of Renard’s Orlac with Harvey’s Beast, for the movie version The Beast With Five Fingers, which starred Peter Lorre (again). Harvey was a much better writer than Siodmak, and his tale is far superior to the film, and more memorable.

However, the disembodied hand didn’t stop with The Beast With Five Fingers, it would reappear most successfully in Doctor Terror’s House of Horrors, where artist Michael Gough’s severed hand claims gory vengeance on Christopher Lee’s jealous critic; and then in Oliver Stone’s B-movie The Hand, starring Michael Caine, which is definitely one to miss.

An interesting addition to this collection is Ed Foley’s Super-8 home movie version, which he made in 1947 when he was an eighteen-year-old high school student. Foley’s film owes more to Siodmak’s screenplay, but it is a well-made, impressive and delightful short film for a kid to have made, especially at that time. Check out his amateur special effects!
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
What a pact with the Devil (supposedly) looks like
04.09.2014
12:56 pm

Topics:
Amusing
Movies
Occult

Tags:
Satan
The Devils
Urbain Grandier

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Catholic priest Urbain Grandier was burned at the stake in 1634 for allegedly bewitching a convent full of nuns in the French town of Loudun. The accusation came about not because of what Grandier did, but rather because of what he didn’t do.

Grandier was a bit of a lad, a controversial churchman, who was known for having sexual relations with his female parishioners. He also questioned the validity of clerical celibacy and was often critical of the church and King Louis XIII. He was a bit of a “hip priest,” you might say with leanings towards the Left. However, all this was unimportant compared to the ire he inspired after ignoring the advances made to him by the horny Mother Superior, Sister Jeanne of the Angels, at the local Ursuline convent.

Sister Jeanne wanted Grandier for her own sexual gratification and hoped to snare the priest by offering him the position of spiritual director at the convent. When Grandier rejected Sister Jeanne’s advances, she planned his downfall. Sister Jeanne offered the position to Grandier’s rival and bitter enemy, Canon Mignon. Once appointed, Sister Jeanne and several other nuns accused Grandier of using Satan to send demons to seduce the convent.

After the nuns where brutally interrogated (described as being like “a rape in a public toilet”), Grandier was arrested, tortured and put on trial. However, he was acquitted.

On his release, Grandier made the mistake of attacking Cardinal Richelieu, who was King Louis XIII’s powerful First Minister. Richelieu ordered Grandier to be tried again, and although the nuns retracted or refused to give statements, new evidenced was “uncovered” and Grandier was again charged with witchcraft, tortured, and this time convicted and sentenced to death. It was a political decision, instigated by Richelieu to dispose of a troublesome and possibly dangerous priest.

During this second trial, the state prosecutor presented a document which was said to be proof of a pact between Grandier and the Devil.

The document was written sdrawkcab (backwards), sealed in blood, covered with various occult symbols, and signed by Grandier, a selection of demons, and Lucifer, himself:

We, the influential Lucifer, the young Satan, Beelzebub, Leviathan, Elimi, and Astaroth, together with others, have today accepted the covenant pact of Urbain Grandier, who is ours.

And him do we promise the love of women, the flower of virgins, the respect of monarchs, honors, lusts and powers.

He will go whoring three days long; the carousal will be dear to him.

He offers us once in the year a seal of blood, under the feet he will trample the holy things of the church and he will ask us many questions; with this pact he will live twenty years happy on the earth of men, and will later join us to sin against God.

Bound in hell, in the council of demons.

Lucifer
Beelzebub
Satan
Astaroth
Leviathan
Elimi

The seals placed the Devil, the master, and the demons, princes of the lord.

Baalberith, writer.

You’d think if you were selling your soul to the Devil, you might ask for a “Get Out of Jail” card. But alas, poor old Grandier didn’t have that option, and died at the stake. But at least now we know what the Catholic Church believe a pact with the Devil looks like
 
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You may know this story if you’ve seen Ken Russell’s film The Devils, with Oliver Reed as Grandier, and Vanessa Redgrave as Sister Jeanne; or read the book, upon which the film is based, The Devils of Loudun by Aldous Huxley. If not, here’s the film’s trailer to tempt your very soul.
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
The murderer whose reputation John Lennon worked to restore
04.09.2014
08:16 am

Topics:
Activism
Movies
Music

Tags:
Yoko Ono
John Lennon
James Hanratty

John Lennon and Yoko Ono
 
In 1969 John Lennon and Yoko Ono became very interested in a convicted murderer who had been hanged for a heinous crime seven years earlier. In Britain it was one of the most famous crimes and trials of the era.

What is not in doubt is that in 1961 an individual raped Valerie Storie and murdered Michael John Gregsten, who just a little while earlier had been occupying a car together on the A6 highway in the vicinity of Bedfordshire. Storie was paralyzed from the waist down, while Gregsten, having suffered two point-blank bullets to the head, had died instantly. It does not appear to have been a robbery gone wrong or anything like that, just brutality for brutality’s sake.

There was an initial suspect named Peter Alphon, whom the police held briefly before letting him go. Many people feel that he is the likely murderer. The eventual defendant, the man who would hang for the crime, was James Hanratty. A lot of the ins and outs of the evidence-gathering phase hinged on police lineups. The trial was said to have been the longest in British history for a single murder defendant. The evidence against Hanratty was somewhat circumstantial but also not all that weak either, as far as I can tell. The jury deliberated for an unusually long time and sought clarifications from the judge in the process. Eventually the jury yielded a verdict of guilty. Six weeks later, Hanratty was executed.

A lot of social norms were changing fast in Britain—in 1965 the death penalty was outlawed in Britain for the crime of murder. The excitement over the “A6” crimes never really died down during that era, it had captured the public’s imagination. There were several books exploring the idea of Hanratty’s innocence. Hanratty’s parents and brother appear to have campaigned tirelessly on behalf of his innocence, and they were exceptionally sympathetic.

In late 1969 Hanratty’s parents visited a wealthy friend in Ascot named John Cunningham, who promptly introduced them to his pal John Lennon who lived nearby. John and Yoko quickly seized the case as another opportunity for peculiar protest; they were very much in their “Bed-In” phase.
 
Lennon
John Lennon and Yoko Ono with the parents of James Hanratty
 
Together with Hanratty’s parents, John and Yoko announced their intention to make a film to back the campaign for an enquiry at an Apple press conference on December 10, 1969. Apple Films released a documentary with the title Did Britain murder Hanratty? This movie is universally referred to as “John Lennon’s movie” and yet it’s unclear how involved he was. His name isn’t on the movie, and it’s not listed in his credits on IMDb. Well, whatever sells, right? 

The single public screening of the 40-minute movie eventually took place in the crypt of St. Martin-in-the-Fields Church, London, on February 17, 1972.

The fight to outlaw capital punishment in Britain was a large topic of the day, even after it had happened; it was on the minds of a lot of people. Hanratty had a pretty serious criminal record before the A6 crimes, he had spent the bulk of the previous seven years in prison for burglary and auto theft. In 2002 DNA tests apparently confirmed Hanratty’s guilt, although Hanratty’s defenders question that result based on the use of a spoiled sample.

On John & Yoko’s “Live Jam” album (recorded December 15, 1969), which was released with Some Time in New York City, Yoko can be heard shouting “Britain, you killed Hanratty, you murderer!” and then chanting Hanratty’s name throughout the opening bars of “Don’t Worry Kyoko.”

“Don’t Worry Kyoko,” off of Live Jam/Some Time in New York City

 

 
via Beatles Video Of The Day
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
John Waters calls it ‘the worst taste thing I ever did,’ Divine in ‘The Diane Linkletter Story’
04.09.2014
07:44 am

Topics:
Drugs
Movies
Queer

Tags:
John Waters
Divine
Diane Linkletter


 
In my tireless quest to become a John Waters completest, I’ve been perusing his interviews and writings for lesser-known films. So imagine my thrill at finding his 1970 16mm short, The Diane Linkletter Story on the humble platform of YouTube! (Okay, don’t hate me because I didn’t even have to trek my ass down to a repertory cinema. I’m in my 20s. Do those even still exist?) For the uninitiated, Diane Linkletter was the daughter of Art Linkletter, a family-friendly media father-figure, and host of such wholesome television fodder as, Kids Say the Darndest Things!. Art was also a staunch conservative, and by the late sixties he was touring the country, giving lectures on the growing “Permissiveness in this Society.” But what really solidified his “brand” as the nation’s moralizing Republican dad was his “duet,” with Diane, “We Love You, Call Collect.” (If you’ve never heard it, click the link, and try not to puke.)

The spoken word recording is among the most insipid drivel I’ve ever heard, and I’ve heard “The Christmas Shoes.” Over a maudlin score, Art and Diane read aloud a fictionalized correspondence between father and daughter. The daughter has run off to join the counterculture, and the father gives loving advice while begging her to come home, or at least call. This wild child is breaking her dear dad’s heart, and the listener is meant to sympathize with the family, but ultimately blame the daughter and the decaying morals of our time. It’s quite the pearl-clutcher.

Tragically, in October of 1969,  just months after the release of “We Love You, Call Collect,” Diane Linkletter jumped from a sixth floor window to her death. Perhaps from grief, maybe he believed it or maybe even to do some damage control, Art Linkletter quickly told the press that Diane had only jumped under the influence of LSD. When Diane’s toxicology report came back clean, he still stuck to his story, with a second career as an anti-drug crusader. Art and his late daughter even won the 1970 Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Recording, and Art maintained that all proceeds from the record went “to combat problems arising from drug abuse,” whatever that means.

Starring Divine as Diane, and Waters regulars Mary Vivian Pearce and David Lochary as Ma and Pa Linkletter, The Diane Linkletter Story is a satirical interpretation of Diane’s final moments, similar to the style of drug moral panic films of the time. It even opens and ends with excerpts from “We Love You, Call Collect.” But that’s not the worst of it.

Waters actually made the movie the day Diane’s death made it in to the papers, and showed it before the funeral even happened.

I think the film is a gem, and it’s not like the surviving Linkletters were going to make their way up to Baltimore to see it. Waters has since praised the idea as an excellent exercise in creativity—instant movie-making from the headlines of today. And before you get too sensitive, he’s since found out what everyone with half a nose for Republican careerism had already suspected—that Linkletter always knew Diane’s death wasn’t drug-related, but in fact used his daughter’s suicide to push his anti-drug political agenda—so who’s in bad taste now?
 

 
Below, a cringe-worthy “showdown” takes place when douchey conservative TV host pits Art Linkletter (on phone) against Timothy Leary, the man he blamed for his daughter’s death:

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