Cool Hand Luke – Stuart Rosenberg (1967)

Cool Hand Luke is a 1967 American prison drama film directed by Stuart Rosenberg, starring Paul Newman and featuring George Kennedy in an Oscar-winning performance. Newman stars in the title role as Luke, a prisoner in a Florida prison camp who refuses to submit to the system. The film, set in the early 1950s, is based on Donn Pearce‘s 1965 novel of the same name. Pearce sold the story to Warner Bros., who then hired him to write the script. Due to Pearce’s lack of film experience, the studio added Frank Pierson to rework the screenplay. Newman’s biographer Marie Edelman Borden states that the ‘tough, honest’ script drew together threads from earlier movies, especially Hombre, Newman’s earlier film of 1967. The film has been cited by Roger Ebert as an anti-establishment film which was shot during the time of emerging popular opposition to the Vietnam War. Newman’s character, Lucas Jackson, is described (by the notorious ‘Captain’ upon his arrival at the prison), as a ‘free spirit’, whose personal record (read out loud because of its unusual details) indicates a man who started well in the US Army—receiving medals for bravery in ‘the war’—rose to the rank of Sergeant, yet was discharged as a ‘buck’ Private. Luke doesn’t question his physical incarceration, and initially has no thought of escape. But his spirit is not, like that of his fellow inmates, imprisoned. This free thinking is, from the outset, noticed by the institution, its functionaries (the guards), and especially its leaders. Their response is a mixture of both fear and loathing. So they retaliate against Luke through ‘physical punishment, psychological cruelty, hopelessness and equal parts of sadism and masochism.’ His influence on his prison mates and the torture that he endures is compared to that of Jesus, and Christian symbolism is used throughout the film, culminating in a photograph superimposed over crossroads at the end of the film in comparison to the crucifixion. Filming took place within California’s San Joaquin River Delta region; the set, imitating a prison farm in the Deep South, was based on photographs and measurements made by a crew sent to Road Prison in Gainesville, Florida by the filmmakers. Upon its release, Cool Hand Luke received favorable reviews and became a box-office success. The film cemented Newman’s status as one of the era’s top box-office actors, while the film was described as the ‘touchstone of an era.’ …”
15 Hardboiled Facts About Cool Hand Luke (Video)
Roger Ebert
YouTube: Cool Hand Luke – Trailer, Car Wash scene

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Teaching As a Subversive Activity – Neil Postman, Charles Weingartner (1969)

“It’s 1969. The war in Vietnam is raging. The anti-war movement has reached a fever pitch. Militant leftists are bombing draft offices and ROTC buildings. The nation appears to be coming apart at the seams. Against this backdrop emerges a provocative little book titled Teaching as a Subversive Activity, by Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner, two unknown education professors at Queens College in New York. Billed as ‘a no-holds- barred assault on outdated teaching methods,’ the book features a clichéd red apple on the cover—except that this apple is a bomb and the stem is a lit fuse. The message is clear: Before our schools can be saved, they must first be destroyed. ‘What is it that students do in the classroom?’ the authors ask. ‘Well, mostly, they sit and listen to the teacher. Mostly, they are required to believe authorities, or at least pretend to such belief when they take tests. Mostly, they are required to remember. They are almost never required to make observations, formulate definitions, or perform any intellectual operations that go beyond repeating what someone else says is true….It is practically unheard of for students to play any role in determining what problems are worth studying or what procedures of inquiry ought to be used.’ Schools, they urge, must teach young people to think critically about society, politics, and culture. To that end, they propose doing away with grades, tests, textbooks, courses, and full-time administrators. Teachers must abandon their traditional roles as authority figures and become more like consultants or coaches. No more ‘content.’ No more ‘subjects.’ No more ‘irrelevant’ classes. Instead, learning must become a process, not a product. Teachers should teach by asking questions—not questions to which they already know the answers, but questions that will get kids to think for themselves. Postman and Weingartner offer these examples: ‘What bothers you most about adults? Why?’ ‘How can ‘good’ be distinguished from ‘evil’?’ ‘What are the dumbest and most dangerous ideas that are ‘popular’ today? Why do you think so? Where did these ideas come from?’ And so on. …”
Education Week
W – Inquiry education
NY Times (May 11, 1969)
[PDF] V. What’s Worth Knowing?

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Garbage Fires for Freedom: When Puerto Rican Activists Took Over New York’s Streets

“Hiram Maristany laughs when I call to ask him about the famous Garbage Offensive. ‘Like so many things with the Young Lords, you got to go backward to go forward,’ he says as the sounds of East Harlem rise around him: kids yelling, the cackling bochinche of old ladies, the heavy sighs and squealing brakes of the M103 bus. Mr. Maristany is talking about the summer of 1969, when he was a teenager taking photos of his friends and neighbors, black-and-white images that captured joy amid the challenges of life in Spanish Harlem, and would one day, many years later, grace the walls of the Smithsonian. His pictures of proud, angry, exuberant young Puerto Ricans taking over Third Avenue as flames rose from a barricade made of trash became emblematic of a global outcry from young people who were finding a voice for their rage as the ’60s drew to a close. I saw the photos decades later, and for me and so many others working in the nonprofit world in the early 2000s, those images spoke of a movement that refused to ask permission or wait for grant money, one truly invested in its own freedom. Like Fred Hampton, the Black Panthers leader who would be killed by the police later that year at age 21, Mr. Maristany and his fellow activists were young. He taught a photo workshop on 117th Street, and at 18 he was considered one of the elders in his cohort. Inspired by the civil rights movement and the Black Panthers, the youth of East Harlem were starting to think of themselves in terms of revolutionary political movements. ‘It was a real awakening to find someone was standing up, because we were getting our asses kicked,’ Mr. Maristany tells me. ‘We became very aware that we were colonized.’ But it was another radical group of Puerto Ricans who finally gave them a sense of how to organize themselves. In Chicago, a former street gang called the Young Lords had recast itself in the mold of the Panthers, with tactics both militant and community-based. The Lords set up a dental clinic and a day care center; their outlook was both global and local. They demanded independence for Puerto Rico and an end to the Vietnam War, and fought for equity in resource allocation, demonstrating at urban renewal meetings. When they heard of what the Lords were up to in Chicago, Mr. Maristany and a few others got in the car, drove to the Midwest, secured permission to start a New York chapter and turned immediately back around to begin organizing. …”
NY Times

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Crosscurrents – Danny Kalb & Stefan Grossman (1969)

“Originally released in 1969, Crosscurrents is the meeting of two very different guitarists collaborating on the blues and other folk forms. This is deep American white music played with character, innocence, and instrumental acumen. Danny Kalb was one of the co-founders of the Blues Project and a brilliant if underacknowledged guitarist. Stefan Grossman is, of course, one of the best-known acoustic guitarists in the world. This fleeting collaboration is inspired, ego-less, and gritty. Grossman wrote the lion’s share of the set though Kalb, with his electric guitar and psychedelic effects, is an equal foil (though acoustically, Kalb is a monster as well). The evidence is everywhere, but oddly enough it is best expressed on Brownie McGhee‘s ‘Louise Louise,’ and the traditional blues ‘Death Letter Blues,’ most closely associated with Son House. Kalb‘s singing is looser, less forced, and deeper in the groove. His willingness to let the solos glide and shimmer back forth with a solid rhythm section — Art Koenig and Joe Hunt — pushing them deeper. ‘Death Letter Blues,’ with killer harmonica by Don Brooks, juxtaposes the electric and acoustic guitars in stunning fashion. Kalb wails and wallers and his arrangement of the tune is original and reverent at the same time. This is a welcome reissue on compact disc. The music here sounds dated, but in the best possible way: we don’t have music like this being made anymore. It’s raw, yet full of integrity, ambition, curiosity, originality, and abandon, with a healthy regard for excellence in performance.”
allmusic (Audio)
W – Danny Kalb, W – Stefan Grossman
Spotify, amazon
YouTube: Devil Round The Moon, Harvest Of Your Days, Death Letter Blues, Singing Songs Unsung, Eagles On The Half, Requiem For Patrick Kilroy, Danish Drone, Crow Black Squall

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A Small Town in Germany – John le Carre (1968)

“The time is seven o’clock on one of those sultry Bonn evenings. The highway dissecting the government district is already lifeless. The residents are at home, watering the geraniums and waiting for daylight to fade so they can drop the shutters. In a tent in front of the British embassy, a jazz band strikes up ‘It’s a long way to Tipperary’, a couple of removal trucks rumble past and the selected guests queue for autographs, clutching yellowed volumes of A Small Town in Germany. The author, John le Carre, has come back like a prodigal son, to his ‘literary kindergarten’, to make a bitter-sweet farewell. The embassy where he had worked in the early Sixties and hatched his sinister plots is closing, as is the rest of Bonn. Politicians, civil servants, diplomats, spies and their retinue of lobbyists and scribblers are heading for the big town on the River Spree. Soon there will be nothing to remind Bonners of their unexpected golden age other than a string of empty concrete buildings along the ‘diplomats’ race track’, and Le Carre`s famous book. The latter, depicting Bonn as a town forever shrouded in mist and steaming with intrigue, is regarded by the natives as something of a mixed blessing. Le Carre apologises for any offence caused, and tries to make amends by treating his audience to anecdotes from the time when he was still earning an honest living in Her Majesty’s Service. There was the story of the kiss, for instance. Much geopolitical significance was ascribed to the manner in which the pursed lip of Konrad Adenauer, the former German chancellor, made contact with the flushed cheek of Charles de Gaulle. And did Britain fail to get into what began as the Common Market at the first attempt because of Harold Macmillan’s excessive fondness for kirsch? Ask the author of The Spy Who Came in from the Cold – a book written in Bonn – who had the honour of hauling the prime minister out of his crucial meeting on that memorable night. Perhaps he will talk now as the cupboards in Bonn are finally cleared. There are so many secrets. During the Cold War, every intelligence service of the world was crammed into this busy town, all operating in a climate of peaceful coexistence. The Romeos of the East German Stasi, cruising for female employees of Western embassies, plied their trade side by side with the agents of the free world. …”
Independent – European Times: Bonn – A small town in Germany shrinks to its proper size
W – A Small Town in Germany
NY Times: What Became Of Harting? (1968)

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Motor City Comics #1 – April, 1969

“In the spring of 1969 Crumb produced Motor City Comics #1, which introduces Lenore Goldberg, one of his strongest female characters to date. While she displays some of Crumb’s favorite physical attributes, such as muscular thighs and cheesecake cleavage, Goldberg is the most earnest feminist he had yet created. After opening with the absurd ‘The Inimitable Boingy Baxter,’ which is about an everyday guy escaping a pregnant mistress, the cops and a Chinese dentist by bouncing away in his spring-loaded shoes, Crumb delivers the nine-page ‘Lenore Goldberg and Her Girl Commandos.’  Lenore Goldberg is the leader of a group of young women who storm a meeting of liberal intellectuals to ‘clear the air of all this bullshit about femininity!’ Goldberg declares that ‘men and women must get together as equals, but for this to happen the whole society must change radically.’ She never explains exactly how society must change; instead, Goldberg and her ‘girl commandos’ ridicule the sexually repressed intellectuals by pretending to flirt with and seduce them, but it’s all just a game and they exit the meeting after humbling their enemy. When Goldberg and the commandos are pursued by police as they flee the meeting, one of them is caught and brutally punished, but this only strengthens their resolve to expand their membership and push the feminist revolution to the next level. Of course, in Crumb’s eyes, the revolution does not prevent Goldberg from going home to have oral sex with her boyfriend and give him a blow job. Motor City Comics #1 is the second title published by Rip Off Press (Radical America Komics was the first), and though it has plenty of weak spots, the strength of the Lenore Goldberg story makes it a must-read for fans of the Crumb and the underground.”
Comix Joint
Third Mind Books
amazon: Motor City Comics #1, Motor City Comics No. 2

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Fahrenheit 451 – François Truffaut (1966)

Fahrenheit 451 is a 1966 British dystopian drama film directed by François Truffaut and starring Oskar Werner, Julie Christie, and Cyril Cusack. Based on the 1953 novel of the same name by Ray Bradbury, the film takes place in a controlled society in an oppressive future in which the government sends out firemen to destroy all literature to prevent revolution and thinking. This was Truffaut’s first colour film as well as his only English-language film. At the 1966 Venice Film Festival, Fahrenheit 451 was nominated for the Golden LionIn the future, a totalitarian government employs a force known as Firemen to seek out and destroy all literature. They have the power to search anyone, anywhere, at any time, and burn any books they find. One of the firemen, Guy Montag, meets one of his neighbours, Clarisse, a young schoolteacher who may be fired due to her unorthodox views. The two have a discussion about his job, where she asks if he ever reads the books he burns. Curious, he begins to hide books in his house and read them, starting with Charles Dickens‘s David Copperfield. This leads to conflict with his wife, Linda, who is more concerned with being popular enough to be a member of The Family, an interactive television programme that refers to its viewers as ‘cousins’. At the house of an illegal book collector, the fire captain talks with Montag at length about how books make people unhappy and make them want to think they are better than others, which is considered anti-social. … Truffaut kept a detailed diary during the production and later published in both French and English (in Cahiers du Cinema in English). In this diary, he called Fahrenheit 451 his ‘saddest and most difficult’ film making experience, mainly because of intense conflicts between Werner and himself.  The film was Universal Pictures‘ first European production. Julie Christie was originally cast as just Linda Montag, not both Linda and Clarisse. The part of Clarisse was offered to Jean Seberg and Jane Fonda. … The film had a mixed critical reception upon release. Time magazine called the film a ‘weirdly gay little picture that assails with both horror and humor all forms of tyranny over the mind of man’; it ‘strongly supports the widely held suspicion that Julie Christie cannot actually act. Though she plays two women of diametrically divergent dispositions, they seem in her portrayal to differ only in their hairdos.’ …”
New Republic – TNR Film Classics: ‘Fahrenheit 451’ (1966)
Fahrenheit 451 (Video)
MoMA: Francois Truffaut’s Fahrenheit 451
YouTube: Fahrenheit 451, Fahrenheit 451 1, Fahrenheit 451 – Trailer

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