D.A. Pennebaker, Shirley Clarke and Albert Maysles captured the Khrushchev-era exhibition of American consumer goods that was held in Moscow in 1959, the Iron Curtain briefly lifted. On display was the handiwork of Charles Eames, Buckminster Fuller and many others. The Kitchen Debates between Nixon and his Soviet counterpart took place during this event.
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Posting the audio of Timothy Leary’s UCLA talk reminded me of D.A. Pennebaker’s 1964 short doc about the guru’s wedding to fashion model Nena von Schlebrügge at the Hitchcock House, which was attended by Diane Arbus, Charles Mingus, Monti Rock III and other luminaries. The marriage lasted slightly longer than the 12-minute film. The bride is a fascinating person in her own right, although she’s probably best known today as Uma Thurman’s mom.
Some old-school clips of Germaine Greer, a ferociously brilliant person who has said some truly dumb things. Included in the first video of 1971 media appearances is some of her eviscerating righteousness from the Hegedus-Pennebaker film Town Bloody Hall. The second video contains a cut of her hanging out in 1972 with that group of feminists, Led Zeppelin.
There’s a full version online of Jean-Luc Godard’s 1968/72 collaboration with D.A. Pennebaker and Richard Leacock. Filmed originally as 1 A.M. (as in “One American Movie”), it was planned as Godard’s understanding of U.S. culture during the Vietnam age. (Though perhaps “misunderstanding” would be the more accurate term.) The project went uncompleted, was shelved and later reedited by Pennebaker into 1 P.M. (as in “One Parallel Movie”). A fascinating failure, the film features Rip Torn, Jefferson Airplane, Eldridge Cleaver and Tom Hayden, among others. (Thanks Dangerous Minds.)
D.A. Pennebaker interviewed about his landmark 1966 Bob Dylan doc, Don’t Look Back, by the legendary music and culture journo Greil Marcus.
Technically, Don’t Look Back is not much above a home movie. Pennebaker uses available light and his sound pick-up equipment seems to be immersed in potato salad, which loses him a lot of dialogue. But Dylan emerges as a human being. He checks himself in the mirror a couple of times, puncturing forever the theory that he is groomed by a Waring blender. He loses his temper. He reads articles about Bob Dylan and giggles. Fans pursue him, a drunk incites him to violent cursing, friends relax him, a pre-concert wait creates tension. He is alone early on stage (the tour antedated the electric accompaniment he uses today), where his voice and soulful images have the power and the beauty to transfix an audience of thousands.•