Crisis: Behind a Presidential Commitment – Robert Drew (1963)

Crisis: Behind a Presidential Commitment is a 1963 cinéma vérité documentary film directed by Robert Drew. The film centers on the University of Alabama‘s “‘Stand in the Schoolhouse Door‘ integration crisis of June 1963. Drew and the other filmmakers, including D. A. Pennebaker and Richard Leacock, were given expanded access to key areas, including United States President John F. Kennedy‘s Oval Office and the homes of United States Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and Alabama Governor George Wallace. The film first aired on the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) as an installment of Close-Up! four months after the incident on October 28, 1963. … During a two-day period before and after the University of Alabama integration crisis, the film uses five camera crews to follow President John F. Kennedy, attorney general Robert F. Kennedy, Alabama governor George Wallace, deputy attorney general Nicholas Katzenbach and the students Vivian Malone and James Hood. As Wallace has promised to personally block the two black students from enrolling in the university, the Kennedy administration discusses the best way to react to it, without rousing the crowd or making Wallace a martyr for the segregationist cause. They come up with a plan to quickly federalize the Alabama National Guard and return later the same day, if Wallace indeed refuses to step out of the way despite the court order. The plan works; Wallace steps aside under orders from General Henry V. Graham, but is given the chance to save face and leave before the students enter the building. President Kennedy later gives a speech on equality on national television, and a third black student, Dave McGlathery, enrolls without incident. Although opinions on Crisis: Behind a Presidential Commitment were sharply divided after the October 1963 broadcast, it is now considered among the landmark films of cinéma vérité, or direct cinema. Peter von Bagh rated it ahead of Drew’s earlier work Primary, considering it the most touching and intimate portrait of the Kennedy brothers on film. Fred Kaplan, in a review of the film’s 2009 DVD release for The New York Times, wrote that ‘though we now know the story’s ending — the students were finally let in — the suspense is gripping.’ …”
NY Times: When the Kennedys Took on Wallace Over Integration
Filmstruck ($)
TCM: Crisis: Behind A Presidential Commitment (1963) — (Movie Clip)

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Graham Greene’s Saigon

A view from the Bùng Binh Sài Gòn traffic circle in 1955

“The Saigon locations used by British writer Graham Greene in his acclaimed anti-war novel The Quiet American have long been a favourite topic for travel writers. Here by request is a recap of the most significant landmarks. During the period March 1952 to June 1955, Graham Greene made four trips to Sài Gòn as a foreign correspondent. While based here, he wrote The Quiet American, a prophetic tale of a naïve young American’s misguided efforts to bring democracy to the Far East. While he was in Saigon, Greene’s life was focused almost exclusively on the privileged expat world of the city centre, and in particular on rue Catinat (modern Đồng Khởi street), still at that time the epitome of colonial chic. Greene is known to have taken a daily constitutional up this street, ‘to where the hideous pink cathedral blocked the way.’ The Notre Dame Cathedral end of Đồng Khởi street therefore makes a great starting point for a tour of some of the real-life places Greene used to flesh out The Quiet American. The large building opposite the Saigon Metropolitan Tower at 164 Đồng Khởi was once the Direction de la Police et de la Sûreté, workplace of Inspector Vigot, the French detective responsible for investigating the death of the title character, American agent Alden Pyle. Although it was set up in around 1917, the current building dates from 1933 when its facilities were expanded. It was known in Vietnamese as Bót Catinat (Catinat Police Station) and during the late colonial era it is said that many political prisoners were tortured in its basement cells. The plaque outside the main entrance commemorates the four weeks after the August Revolution when the Việt Minh flag flew over Bót Catinat. However, following the return of the French in late September 1945, Bót Catinat resumed its original function as the city’s colonial police headquarters. Passing it during his daily constitutional, Greene clearly took a disliking to the building, talking in The Quiet American of its ‘dreary walls’ which ‘seemed to smell of urine and injustice.’ …”
HISTORIC VIETNAM: Old Saigon Building of the Week – The Grand Hotel, 1930
Nostalgic Images of Daily Life in Old Saigon

During the first half of the 20th century, Saigon earned a reputation as the Paris of the East. With its wide, tree-lined boulevards and grand colonial buildings – not to mention a significantly smaller population – the southern hub was the talk of not only Vietnam but all of Southeast Asia.
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International Times

International Times (it or IT) is the name of various underground newspapers, with the original title founded in London in 1966. Editors included Hoppy, David Mairowitz, Roger Hutchinson, Peter Stansill, Barry Miles, Jim Haynes and playwright Tom McGrath. Jack Moore, avant-garde writer William Levy and Mick Farren, singer of The Deviants, also edited at various periods. … The paper’s logo is a black-and-white image of Theda Bara, vampish star of silent films. The founders’ intention had been to use an image of actress Clara Bow, 1920s It girl, but a picture of Theda Bara was used by accident and, once deployed, not changed. Paul McCartney donated to the paper as did Allen Ginsberg through his Committee on Poetry foundation. International Times was launched on 15 October 1966 at The Roundhouse at an ‘All Night Rave’ featuring Soft Machine and Pink Floyd. The event promised a ‘Pop/Op/Costume/Masque/Fantasy-Loon/Blowout/Drag Ball’ featuring ‘steel bands, strips, trips, happenings, movies’. The launch was described by Daevid Allen of Soft Machine as ‘one of the two most revolutionary events in the history of English alternative music and thinking. The IT event was important because it marked the first recognition of a rapidly spreading socio-cultural revolution that had its parallel in the States.’  From April 1967, and for some while later, the police raided the offices of International Times to try, it was alleged, to force the paper out of business. A benefit event labelled The 14 Hour Technicolor Dream took place at Alexandra Palace on 29 April 1967. Bands included Pink Floyd, The Pretty Things, The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, Soft Machine, The Move, and Sam Gopal Dream. Despite police harassment, the paper continued to grow, with financial help from Paul McCartney, a personal friend of editor Barry Miles. Published fortnightly, it became the leading British underground paper, its circulation peaking at around 40,000 copies in late 1968/early 1969, before another police raid, along with competition from newer publications such as Time Out led to declining sales and a financial crisis. …”
Guardian: How International Times sparked a publishing revolution
W – The Roundhouse
International Times Archive

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The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man – Marshall McLuhan (1962)

The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man is a 1962 book by Marshall McLuhan, in which the author analyzes the effects of mass media, especially the printing press, on European culture and human consciousness. It popularized the term global village, which refers to the idea that mass communication allows a village-like mindset to apply to the entire world; and Gutenberg Galaxy, which we may regard today to refer to the accumulated body of recorded works of human art and knowledge, especially books. McLuhan studies the emergence of what he calls Gutenberg Man, the subject produced by the change of consciousness wrought by the advent of the printed book. Apropos of his axiom, ‘The medium is the message,’ McLuhan argues that technologies are not simply inventions which people employ but are the means by which people are re-invented. The invention of movable type was the decisive moment in the change from a culture in which all the senses partook of a common interplay to a tyranny of the visual. He also argued that the development of the printing press led to the creation of nationalism, dualism, domination of rationalism, automatisation of scientific research, uniformation and standardisation of culture and alienation of individuals. Movable type, with its ability to reproduce texts accurately and swiftly, extended the drive toward homogeneity and repeatability already in evidence in the emergence of perspectival art and the exigencies of the single ‘point of view’. … The global village. In the early 1960s, McLuhan wrote that the visual, individualistic print culture would soon be brought to an end by what he called ‘electronic interdependence’: when electronic media would replace visual culture with aural/oral culture. In this new age, humankind will move from individualism and fragmentation to a collective identity, with a ‘tribal base.’ McLuhan’s coinage for this new social organization is the global village. The term is sometimes described as having negative connotations in The Gutenberg Galaxy, but McLuhan himself was interested in exploring effects, not making value judgments. …”
CBC: The Gutenberg Galaxy (Video)
[PDF] EPDF: The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man

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Brushstrokes series – Roy Lichtenstein (1965-66)

Brushstrokes (1965) was the first element of the Brushstrokes series.

Brushstrokes series is the name for a series of paintings produced in 1965–66 by Roy Lichtenstein. It also refers to derivative sculptural representations of these paintings that were first made in the 1980s. In the series, the theme is art as a subject, but rather than reproduce masterpieces as he had starting in 1962, Lichtenstein depicted the gestural expressions of the painting brushstroke itself. The works in this series are linked to those produced by artists who use the gestural painting style of abstract expressionism made famous by Jackson Pollock, but differ from them due to their mechanically produced appearance. The series is considered a satire or parody of gestural painting by both Lichtenstein and his critics. After 1966, Lichtenstein incorporated this series into later motifs and themes of his work. In the early 1960s, Lichtenstein reproduced masterpieces by Cézanne, Mondrian and Picasso before embarking on the Brushstroke series in 1965.[2] The Brushstrokes were contemporaneous with abstract painting that no longer emphasized the gestural aspect, with non-demonstrative modes carrying the day. Lichtenstein was identified with some such modes by critics and found himself linked to both Frank Stella and Kenneth Noland. Brushstrokes was the first element of the Brushstrokes series. Prior to producing his first Brushstroke work, Lichtenstein spun his upcoming work as a satire of Abstract Expressionism. He stated that he intended to draw drips of paint and depictions of brush strokes. Years after the series was completed, Lichtenstein claimed the source for the series was Renaissance artist Frans Hals, a painterly artist whose brushstrokes descended from hallowed examples of European art as an inspiration to abstract expressionism. According to the Lichtenstein Foundation’s website, he began creating Brushstroke painting in the autumn of 1965 and presented the Brushstroke series at Castelli’s gallery from November 20 through December 11. A 1967 painting entitles Brushstrokes was produced for the Pasadena Art Museum‘s 1967 Lichtenstein exhibition. Later he produced an eight-print Brushstroke Figures series using collage elements. …”
W – Brushstrokes
Brushstrokes 1965–71, Explosions 1963–68
Christie’s: Roy Lichtenstein’s Red and White Brushstrokes (Video)
Roy Lichtenstein’s Brushstrokes

The source for the entire Brushstrokes series was Charlton ComicsStrange Suspense Stories “The Painting” #72 (October 1964) by Dick Giordano.
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Understanding the Vietnam War Machine

NARMIC’s top 100 defense contractors list, which continued after the war. Here is a 1977 edition.

“Diana Roose was a longtime staffer with National Action/Research on the Military-Industrial Complex, or NARMIC, as it was commonly known. NARMIC was a group of power researchers that was affiliated with the American Friends Service Committee. It formed in 1969, at the height of the US war on Vietnam, and existed throughout the mid-1980s. NARMIC was dedicated to uncovering the defense profiteers behind the US war machine. They worked closely with the peace movement to resist militarism and published valuable reports and slideshows that helped activists better understand the power behind the military-industrial complex — and how to fight it. In October, I profiled NARMIC as part of an ongoing exploration into the role of power research in social movement history. I interviewed Diana Roose to learn more about NARMIC and its legacy. DS: Can you talk a little bit about your background and how you ended up getting involved with NARMIC? DR: I went to college from 1966 to 1970 at Swarthmore College, which is right outside of Philadelphia. There were very active antiwar groups there. I came from Ohio. I was a really small-town girl and knew nothing about this. But by the time I graduated I had been involved in some protest and doing some draft counseling, and I wanted to continue doing work that was of use to the antiwar movement. Most of my friends in school went to graduate school. I didn’t want to do that. My husband was in law school at the time in Philadelphia, so we moved to Philly. I started asking around, and one of my friends who had been a draft counselor said there was a group at the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) that was doing research on the war. I jumped at it, because research was my interest, and what I was good at. …”
Researchers Against the War Machine: The Story of NARMIC

NARMIC researchers meeting in the early 1970s. Diana Roose is first on the left.
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Off the Blacklist: The Films of Jan Němec

“Jan Němec’s first three features—made in a creative flurry between 1964 and 1967—are pared-down, taut, fatless movies. Taken together, they can be seen as a central source text for the Czech New Wave, of which Němec is one of the founding fathers. The films have, among other things, the same brand of slapdash anarchism as Věra Chytilová’s Daisies; the same clipped, elliptical approach to storytelling as František Vláčil’s The White Dove; and—at least in the case of Martyrs of Love—the same sensitivity to the pangs and pitfalls of first-blush romance as Jiří Menzel’s Closely Watched Trains. But where his New Wave colleagues (Vláčil and Chytilová in particular) tended to aspire to a kind of filmed poetry, in which each image feels as if it’s always wrestling out of its narrative context, Němec seems most at home making the cinematic equivalent of novellas. The longest of these features runs for 71 minutes. Two mostly forgo character names and spoken dialogue. All three take place in worlds that feel closed-off, decontextualized, and hyper-pressurized. In Němec’s cinema, abstract questions—What makes us free? What, if anything, serves as a stable basis for political authority? What makes us unfree: ourselves or others?—are borne concretely out in the movement of bodies: at some moments penned chafingly in, at others set in nervous, unstable motion.  …”
Film Comment
W – Jan Němec
NY Times: Jan Nemec, Czech Filmmaker Known for Works of ‘Dream Realism,’ Dies at 79
Independent of Reality: The Films of Jan Němec
Enfant Terrible of the Czech New Wave
Invitation to the Party: Jan Nemec’s 1966 Satire of Czech Communism
YouTube: Oratorio for Prague, A REPORT ON THE PARTY AND GUESTS, Diamonds of the Night (1964)

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