Filmmaker | SeMeN SPeRmS SuPeR SiTe

Seventeen (1983) 80’s Teen High School Documentary

Seventeen 1983

This cinéma vérité documentary covers several months in the lives of a group of high school students in Muncie, Ind. The filmmaker focuses on Lynn, a white girl whose relationship with an African-American student has caused controversy. After a cross is burned on her lawn, Lynn responds with righteous anger rather than fear, standing up to her community’s bigotry. Meanwhile, Lynn’s peers face their own trials, including an unplanned pregnancy and alcohol abuse.

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Release date: February 1985 (USA)
Directors: Joel DeMott, Jeff Kreines
Film series: Middletown
Screenplay: Joel DeMott, Jeff Kreines
Awards: Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize – U.S. Documentary

‘In their final year at Muncie’s Southside High School, a group of seniors hurtles toward maturity with a combination of joy, despair, and an aggravated sense of urgency. They are also learning a great deal about life, both in and out of school, and not what school officials think they are teaching.’ -IMdB

File under Blast From The Past, SeMeN SPeRmS BLArRrG, SeMeN SPeRmS ViDeO CLuB

Perversion For Profit (1965) Vintage Anti Porn Propaganda

Perversion For Profit Censored Nudes

Perversion for Profit is a 1965 propaganda film financed by Charles Keating and narrated by news reporter George Putnam. A vehement diatribe against pornography, the film argues that sexually explicit materials corrupt young viewers and readers, leading to acts of violence and “perverted” attitudes regarding sex—including inclination toward homosexuality. Although Perversion for Profit is quite serious in its suggestion that pornography could erode the integrity of American culture, Peter L. Stein of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote in a 2003 review that it was “shrill and sometimes comical”.

Perversion For Profit

Today, Perversion for Profit is in the public domain, and due largely to its unintentional humor value, it has become popular on the Prelinger Archives website and on YouTube. As Peter L. Stein observes in an article for the San Francisco Chronicle, however, the film also has considerable historical significance, serving as a sort of time capsule of pornography from the era as well as an example of historical concerns regarding media influence:

…as the parade of girlie magazine covers, men’s physique pictorials and campy S&M leaflets continues, the film betrays a kind of prurience the filmmakers could hardly have intended. What results is a remarkable visual record of midcentury underground literature and sexual appetites, and a gloss on the values of the society that condemned them.

“Now, you might ask yourself ‘Why this sudden concern? Pornography and sex deviation have always been with mankind.’ This is true. But, now, consider another fact: never in the history of the world have the merchants of obscenity, the teachers of unnatural sex acts, had available to them the modern facilities for disseminating this filth. High-speed presses, rapid transportation, mass distribution: all have combined to put the vilest obscenity within reach of every man, woman, and child in the country.”—George Putnam, narrator.

Perversion For Profit
“This same type of rot and decay caused sixteen of the nineteen major civilizations to vanish from the Earth. Magnificent Egypt, classical Greece, imperial Rome, all crumbled away not because of the strength of the aggressor, but because of moral decay from within. But we are in a unique position to cure our own ills: our Constitution was written by men who put their trust in God and founded a government based in His laws. These laws are on our side. We have a constitutional guarantee of protection against obscenity. And, in this day especially, we must seek to deliver ourselves from this twisting, torturing evil. We must save our nation from decay and deliver our children from the horrors of perversion. We must make our land, ‘the land of the free’, a safe home. Oh, God, deliver us, Americans, from evil.”—George Putnam, narrator (closing words).

Perversion For Profit Censored Nudes
“This moral decay weakens our resistance to the onslaught of the communist masters of deceit.” —George Putnam, narrator.

File under Culture, History of Pornography, Horror, SeMeN SPeRmS BLArRrG, SeMeN SPeRmS ViDeO CLuB, Sex

REVOLUTION (1968) Hippie Documentary Haight Ashbury LSD 60’s San Francisco Scene

A documentary that explores the counterculture of San Francisco in the mid-1960’s

The sex is free. The pot is cheap. Everyone can afford the acid.

Revolution 1968
Peace, love and groovy, mind-altering drugs are the topics at hand in this San Francisco freak-out documentary. It’s a crude but heartfelt time capsule, released in the summer of ’68, just before the Haight Asbury scene turned into one big, unwashed bummer. And even if director Jack O’Connell (THE GREENWICH VILLAGE STORY, SWEDISH FLY GIRLS) may not have made a great movie, he was at the right time, at the right place, and (most important) with the right tripped-out attitude… Much of the movie is random footage of the hippie phenomenon, while a cute, blond, 20-year-old runaway named “Today Malone” provides a (slight) framework to this ragged mess. And a bigger bunch of long-haired, wide-eyed freaks I’ve never seen — crammed shoulder-to-shoulder, celebrating the summer solstice in the Golden Gate Park. God, the stench of patchouli must’ve been nauseating!

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Bands blast away, hippie chicks spin in circles, the lightshow begins, and it’s the same old acid haze we’ve come to know and love. Along the way, some interesting tidbits sneak in, including firsthand tales of getting busted, posted notes to runaway children, Ms. Malone unsuccessfully begging passers-by for spare change, a middle-aged nun describing how she’s similar to these “hippie girls,” and a typical hairball asked if he worries about chromosome damage from too much acid (when it’s, obviously, already too late). Of course, what movie about drugs is complete without a few suited “experts” (including San Francisco’s Director of Public Health and the thick-necked Chief of Police) warning about the evils of this new generation’s chemical dependence. But in the long run, this is a refreshingly pro-drug, pro-hippie pic that pushes the joys of LSD when Today doses on camera, and flies off on its mind-altering effects (actually, all they do is sit around a room, rolling their eyes and feeling a peach).

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The filmmakers have all the bases covered. They document the oddest niches of Hippiedom, which appeals to the curious. There are plenty of groovy visuals, in case you’re dosed. They even toss in some nude performance art to suck in the T&A crowd. It also features ragamuffin fashion at its worst (not as ratty as today’s Squatter Chic look, but close), plus music by Country Joe and The Fish, Quicksilver Messenger Service, and The Steve Miller Band… Nowadays, this nonsense is impossible to watch without laughing at these naive, burnt-out rebels, and it’s a reality check for folks who think the hippie subculture was exactly like PSYCH-OUT or THE TRIP. Unfortunately, real life was a lot less charismatic than reel life. And whenever one these wide-eyed innocents vows they’ll never conform to The System, I’ll give you odds that nowadays, they’re somewhere in suburbia, selling Amway products and falling asleep to AMERICA’S FUNNIEST HOME VIDEOS.

Shock Cinema

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File under Culture, Fashion, Music, SeMeN SPeRmS BLArRrG, SeMeN SPeRmS ViDeO CLuB, Sex

Mayor of the Sunset Strip (2003) Rodney Bingenheimer Hollywood Rock Scenester

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The Rodney Bingenheimer of today seems always to be smiling through a deep sadness. He is a small man who still has the youthful cuteness that must have won him friends in his early days. His hair is still combed in the same tousled mid-1970s rock star style, and his T-shirts are the real thing, not retro. He lives now in an inexpensive apartment jammed with records, tapes, discs, and countless autographed photos of his friends the stars. And, yes, they are still his friends; they have not forgotten him, and David Bowie, Cher, Debbie Harry, Courtney Love, Nancy Sinatra and Mick Jagger all appear in this film and seem genuinely fond of Rodney.

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Well they might. He introduced some of them — Bowie in particular — to American radio. He was known for finding new music and playing it first: The Ramones, the Sex Pistols, the Clash, Nirvana. Stations all over the country stole their playlists from Rodney. “Sonny and Cher were kinda like my mom and my dad,” he says wistfully at one point. He ran a little club for a while, featuring British glam rock, and the stars remember with a grin that it was so small the “VIP Area” consisted simply of a velvet rope separating a few chairs from the dance floor.

Rodney Bingenheimer English Disco

The story of how Bingenheimer entered into this world is apparently true, unlikely as it sounds. As a kid he was obsessed with stars, devoured the fan magazines, collected autographs. One day when he was a teenager, his mother dropped him off in front of Connie Stevens’ house and told him he was on his own. He didn’t see his mother for another five or six years. Connie wasn’t home.

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He migrated to the Sunset Strip, but instead of dying there or disappearing into drugs or crime, he simply ingratiated himself. People liked him. He hustled himself into a job as a gofer for Davy Jones of the Monkees (they looked a little alike), and then became a backstage caterer; a survivor of a Doors tour remembers a Toronto concert where Rodney had enormous platters of fresh shrimp backstage. But the Beatles were backstage visitors, and Rodney gave them the shrimp, so there were only a few left for the Doors, who had paid for them. Challenged by The Doors, Rodney shrugged and said, “Well, they’re the Beatles.”

Rodney Bingenheimer English Disco

Wherever Bingenheimer went in the music and club scene, his face was his passport. Robert Plant says, “Rodney got more girls than I do.” We hear a little of his radio show from the old days, and what comes across is not a vibrating personality or a great radio voice — it’s kind of tentative, really — but an almost painful sincerity. He loves the music he plays, and he introduces it to you like a lover he thinks is right for you. The road downhill was gradual, apparently. We get glimpses of Rodney today, repairing his mom’s old Nova with a pair of pliers, shuffling forlornly through souvenirs of his glory days. He seems very even, calm, sad but resigned, except for one moment the documentary camera is not supposed to witness, when he finds that another deejay, a person he sponsored and gave breaks to, is starting a show of new music — stealing Rodney’s gig. He explodes in anger. We’re glad he does. He has a lot to feel angry about.

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The film was directed by George Hickenlooper, who made the classic doc “Hearts Of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse” (1991), about the nightmare of Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now,” and the wonderful fiction film “The Man From Elysian Fields” (2001). Why did he make this film (apart from the possibility that someone named Hickenlooper might feel an affinity for someone named Bingenheimer)? Hickenlooper has been around fame at an early age. He was 26 when he released the doc about the Coppola meltdown. He cast Mick Jagger and James Coburn in “Elysian Fields.” He was aware of Rodney Bingenheimer when the name still opened doors. His film evokes what the Japanese call mono no aware, which refers to the impermanence of life and the bittersweet transience of things. There is a little Rodney Bingenheimer in everyone, but you know what? Most people aren’t as lucky as Rodney. – Roger Ebert

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File under Blast From The Past, Music, SeMeN SPeRmS ViDeO CLuB, Sex

The Police Tapes South Bronx Fort Apache 70’s & 80’s NYC High Crime Ghetto Wasteland

Fort Apache The Bronx

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NY Illustrated – Saturday Night At Fort Apache – March 4, 1973

‘Three types of people use the streets of the South Bronx after dark: Policemen, Criminals, and Potential Victims.’

One in this public affairs series devoted to issues that concern the greater New York area. This program profiles Police Precinct 41 in the South Bronx, nicknamed “Fort Apache” because of the frequency and severity of violent crimes committed in the surrounding area. Narrated by Norman Rose, the program begins with a clip of Sgt. Bill Taylor addressing officers of the precinct’s anti-crime unit. Later, accompanied by Rose, Taylor tracks down and arrests a suspected mugger. In interviews with officers stationed at and previously assigned to the precinct, the following topics are discussed: the high risk of incurring severe injury while on duty and the ability to cope with fear; the reluctance among members of the police force to be assigned to the 41st precinct; completing tenure at the precinct as a step toward promotion; the high incidence of illegal weapons possession among area residents; and the factors linking street crime with drugs and poverty. Also included is footage of a typical night at the Lincoln Hospital emergency room, where the number of people suffering from gunshot wounds and stabbings often exceeds the hospital’s nightly capacity. Among those interviewed are Deputy Inspector Matthew Neary and Officers James Finn, Bob Gardner, and Tony Imbimbo. Commercials deleted. (This series occasionally runs under the title “New Jersey Illustrated” or “Connecticut Illustrated”; series dates unverified.) – The Paley Center For Media

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South Bronx NYPD 70's NYC

Fort Apache Bronx New York City Police Patch NYPD

The Police Tapes (1977)

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The Police Tapes is a 1977 documentary about a police precinct in the South Bronx. The original ran ninety minutes and was produced for public television; a one-hour version later aired on ABC. It won two Emmy Awards, a Peabody Award, and a DuPont-Columbia University Award for Broadcast Journalism,and became an influence on later television and film dramas.

Filmmakers Alan Raymond and Susan Raymond spent three months in 1976 riding along with patrol officers in the 44thPrecinct of the South Bronx, which had the highest crime rate in New York City. They produced about 40 hours of videotape that they edited into a 90-minute documentary.

The result was what New York Times TV critic John J. O’Connor called a “startlingly graphic and convincing survey of urban crime, violence, brutality and cynical despair”. Cases followed include the discovery of a dead body on the street, the rescue of a mother trapped in her apartment by a mentally ill son, an attempt to negotiate with a woman armed with an improvised flail who refuses to stop threatening her neighbor, and the arrest of a 70-year-old woman accused of hitting her daughter in the face with an axe. There is some introductory narration at the beginning describing the neighborhood and the time the documentary was filmed, but some unifying commentary is provided by an interview with Bronx Borough Commander Anthony Bouza, who ascribes the crime rate in the 44th Precinct to poverty, describes the hardening effects of urban violence on idealistic police officers, and likens himself to the commander of an occupying army, saying “We are manufacturing criminals… we are manufacturing brutality”.

The production was financed by the New York State Council on the Arts and WNET and cost only $20,000, thanks to the use of Portapak tape equipment; it would have cost an estimated $90,000 if film had been used. Special Newvicon tubes in the video cameras allowed them to tape with only streetlights for illumination, making them less conspicuous to subjects who might otherwise have fled from or approached the cameras.

The Police Tapes was an important source for Fort Apache, The Bronx, a 1981 film with Paul Newman and Ed Asner. It influenced the deliberately ragged visual style of the 1980s television police drama Hill Street Blues, which used handheld cameras to provide a sense of realism and immediacy—particularly during the morning roll call in each episode, which was based on a similar scene in The Police Tapes. Robert Butler, who directed the first five episodes, urged the camera operators to avoid carefully composed shots and to move their cameras frequently, telling them “If you’re having trouble focusing, that’s great.” This mock-documentary style, in turn, influenced many other television dramas.

Another line of influence runs from The Police Tapes to the Fox Network reality TV series COPSCOPS, like its predecessor, closely follows police officers, suspects, and crime victims with handheld cameras. According to New York Times film critic Elvis Mitchell, the style of COPS then became part of the visual language of feature films, so that “the DNA of [the Raymonds’] original has found its way into the film mainstream.”

Fort Apache Protestor

Fort Apache the Bronx (1981) Paul NewmanFort Apache The Bronx 1981

File under Blast From The Past, Horror, New York City History, New York City Street Photography, NYC Nightlife, SeMeN SPeRmS BLArRrG, SeMeN SPeRmS ViDeO CLuB

Lefty: Memories of a Dead One in Brooklyn (1978) 70’s NYC Gang Documentary

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A German film crew for station NDR [Norddeutscher Rundfunk] picked the perfect time to visit New York City for their street gang documentary, LEFTY – ERINNERUNG AN EINEN TOTEN IN BROOKLYN, as the area sweltered through a brutal summer heatwave and the infamous 1977 blackout. For five weeks, director Max H. Rehbein and his crew actually lived in the basement of a Brooklyn house owned by the parents of ‘Brother Lou’ [Louie Morales], the leader of ‘The Sex Boys’ (named after the street they hung out on, Essex — after dropping the first two letters), filming many of that gang’s most private moments and digging even deeper than the aforementioned ABC special. Unfortunately, the print’s narration is in unsubtitled German, but their footage alone makes this an astonishing, 88-minute artifact…

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‘Lefty’ [Charles ‘Carlos’ Valentine] is the latest ‘Sex Boys’ casualty, first glimpsed in the Kings County morgue after being stabbed to death near Greenpoint’s McCarren Pool. Tempers within the gang are running hot, with Lou trying to keep his soldiers under control. The filmmakers follow them as they strut past razed buildings in their gang colors, leap subway turnstiles, convene a rooftop gang meeting, share brews and joints, perform some general vandalism, and celebrate Lefty’s truncated life with street fireworks.

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That’s intercut with Sgt. Frank Santangelo, from the 75th Precinct’s youth gang task force, as he patrols the neighborhood, attempts to ‘rap’ with gang members and ventures into one of their boarded-up-building clubhouses, in hopes of quelling tensions with ‘The Crazy Homicides’ from Coney Island. Sometimes helping their community (aiding neighbors during a late-night apartment fire), other times prepping for war (a meeting with ‘The Ghetto Brothers’ to purchase pistols) and often just having everyday interactions (Louie’s gravedigger day job, arguing with girlfriends, getting seriously-ugly tattoos), it’s an intimate, unfiltered peek into ‘The Sex Boys.’

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Without question, the most striking moments occur an hour in, because even a crime-ridden blackout doesn’t stop these crazy Germans from venturing into the war-zone-style streets with their cameras — filming Molotov-tossing kids, ransacked stores, looters fighting each other over an armful of clothes, and the overwhelmed police precinct…Rehbein adopts a fly-on-the-wall approach, with German narration and some bizarre synth soundtrack music added in post, and they must’ve been pounding back shots of Schnaps in the editing room when their tripped-out Halloween-party/haunted-house finale was conceived. From the shocking desolation of the South Bronx, to the bustling Coney Island boardwalk after dark, to Rikers Island — it’s all captured with an outsider’s inquisitive eyeand an almost TAXI DRIVER-esque amount of nighttime urban imagery. LEFTY is sprawling and unfocused, but also absolutely fascinating. – Shock Cinema

Sex Boys Graffiti

File under Blast From The Past, Culture, Music, New York City History, New York City Street Photography, Secret History, SeMeN SPeRmS BLArRrG, SeMeN SPeRmS ViDeO CLuB, Sex

Pixote (1981) Teens Gone Wrong Brazilian Delinquent Youth Underage Drugs Sex Crime

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Pixote: a Lei do Mais Fraco (Portuguese pronunciation: [piˈʃɔtʃi a ˈlej du ˈmajʃ ˈfɾaku], Pixote (small child): The Law of the Weakest) is a 1981 Brazilian drama film directed by Hector Babenco. The screenplay was written by Babenco and Jorge Durán, based on the book A infância dos mortos (The Childhood of the Dead Ones) by José Louzeiro.

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It is the chilling, documentary-like account of Brazil’s delinquent youth and how they are used by corrupt police and other crime organizations to commit crimes.

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The film features Fernando Ramos Da Silva (who was killed at the age of 19 by Brazilian police in São Paulo) as Pixote and Marília Pêra as Sueli.

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The plot revolves around Pixote, a young boy who is used as a child criminal in muggings and drug transport.

After a police round up of street children Pixote is sent to a juvenile reformatory (FEBEM). The prison is a hellish school where Pixote uses glue sniffing as a means of emotional escape from the constant threats of abuse and rape.

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It soon becomes clear that the young criminals are only pawns in the criminal, sadistic games of the prison guards and their commander.

When a boy dies of physical abuse by the guards, they frame the lover of the transgendered effeminate boy known as Lilica (Jorge Julião), for the murder. This lover then conveniently also dies, with some help from the guards.

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Soon after, Pixote, Lilica and her new lover Dito (Gilberto Moura) find an opportunity to flee from the prison. First they stay at the apartment of Cristal (Tony Tornado), a former lover of Lilica, but when tensions arise they go to Rio for a cocaine drug deal; there, however, they get duped by a showgirl.

Pixote

After some time bumming around the city, Pixote and his friends go to a club for another drug deal. While there, Pixote finds the showgirl that took their drugs and stabs her.

They become pimps for the prostitute Sueli who is definitely past her prime and is possibly ill from a botched abortion. The group conspires to rob her johns, but when Lilica’s lover Dito falls for Sueli, Lillica leaves. The robbery scheme fails when an American john fights back (because he apparently does not understand Portuguese) so they have to shoot him. In the ensuing fight, Pixote accidentally shoots and kills Dito as well.

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Pixote tries to gain comfort from Sueli, treating her as a mother figure, but she rejects him. He leaves and is seen walking down a railway line, gun in hand, away from the camera, his figure disappearing in the distance, out of the film’s view.

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Film critic Roger Ebert, who writes for the Chicago Sun-Times, considers the film a classic, and wrote, “Pixote stands alone in Babenco’s work, a rough, unblinking look at lives no human being should be required to lead. And the eyes of Fernando Ramos da Silva, his doomed young actor, regard us from the screen not in hurt, not in accusation, not in regret — but simply in acceptance of a desolate daily reality.”

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Critic Pauline Kael was impressed by its raw, documentary-like quality, and a certain poetic realism. She wrote, “Babenco’s imagery is realistic, but his point of view is shockingly lyrical. South American writers, such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez, seem to be in perfect, poetic control of madness, and Babenco has some of this gift, too. South American artists have to have it, in order to express the texture of everyday insanity.”

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The New York Times film critic, Vincent Canby, liked the neo-realist acting and direction of the drama, and wrote, “[Pixote], the third feature film by the Argentine-born Brazilian director Hector Babenco, is a finely made, uncompromisingly grim movie about the street boys of São Paulo, in particular about Pixote – which, according to the program, translates roughly as Peewee…The performances are almost too good to be true, but Mr. Da Silva and Miss Pera are splendid. Pixote is not for the weak of stomach. A lot of the details are tough to take, but it is neither exploitative nor pretentious. Mr. Babenco shows us rock-bottom, and because he is an artist, he makes us believe it as well all of the possibilities that have been lost.”

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Filmmakers Spike Lee and Harmony Korine have cited it as their favorite film.

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File under Cult Movies, Drunk Kids, Influences, It Only Gets Worse, SeMeN SPeRmS BLArRrG, SeMeN SPeRmS ViDeO CLuB, Sex

Mr. Freedom (1969) William Klein – Anti-Imperialist Satirical Farce

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Mr. Freedom is a 1969 film by the expatriate American photographer and filmmaker William Klein. Starring the popular French actor Delphine Seyrig, this anti-imperialist satirical farce has cameos by the well-known actors Donald Pleasence and Philippe Noiret, as well as the musician Serge Gainsbourg.

Mr. Freedom William Klein

Like his previous film, Who Are You, Polly Magoo?, and reminiscent of the feel of much of Zazie in the Metro, in which Klein is credited as artistic consultant, Mr. Freedom features absurd characters, comical costuming, and exaggeration. The title character’s uniform is an odd assemblage of discarded football gear, face paint, and hockey gloves. The United States Embassy is a department store run by skipping models in spandex, proffering right-wing mercenaries and “Freedom Kits” of high-tech weaponry. Freedom training sessions are Dantian visions of rape and sadism. Every scene aims for the absurd, reaching both for comedic effect and political statement.

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Filmed at the height of the Vietnam War and concurrently with the radical political upheaval of 1968 France, Mr. Freedom is a political farce, clearly sympathizing with national liberation and left wing movements. The title character, a stand-in for U.S. political and economic might, is a crude, cruel buffoon in the service of corporations. His rhetoric of freedom stands in cold relief to his actions, which are anything but democratic. The politics get a bit muddled with the characters of Mujick Man, Red China Man, and the FAF, but they would seem to be stand-ins for the Soviet Union, communist China, and the radical milieu of the 1968 uprisings, respectively. Mr. Freedom makes numerous left wing statements on the Cold War, and more specifically, the Vietnam War.

Mr. Freedom

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Mr Freedom

Mr Freedom

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File under Arts 'n Crafts, Blast From The Past, Cult Movies, Culture, Fashion, Influences, Music, Photography, SeMeN SPeRmS Approved, SeMeN SPeRmS BLArRrG, SeMeN SPeRmS ViDeO CLuB, Sex