Today we begin a series of postings – Annotated Streaming Video, starting off at the top of our recommended video links list with the classic Robert Frank/Al Leslie 1959 production, Pull My Daisy.
“Milo is a railroad brakeman, his wife a painter. They have some poet friends who spend a good bit of time hanging out at their apartment. When Milo and his wife are visited by their bishop, they naturally would like their friends to be on their best behavior. But poets will be poets” (IMDB‘s plot synopsis)
“Pull my daisy/tip my cup/all my doors are open..”
Jack Kerouac’s extraordinary improvised monologue/sound-track, and the freshness and spontaneity of the acting (acting?), not to mention Frank’s/Leslie’s understated but deeply intelligent filmic “eye”, lift this film into a class of its own, the classic Beat film, and one of the acknowledged pioneering works of the so-called “New American Cinema”.
Leslie (and composer David Amram) explain the back-story in this fascinating three-part interview that features extended excerpts from the movie [2012 update – regrettably, this video is no longer available – the full – 30 minute – film, however may (still!) be viewed, in its entirety – here].
Amram doesn’t actually perform the title-song in the film (that distinction goes to Anita Ellis) but he did compose and arrange it (Allen and Kerouac were responsible for the lyrics). He can be seen performing it here, here, and, most recently, here (at his “80th Birthday Jam” at the Bowery Poetry Club in New York City).
John Cohen’s 2008 review of the Steidl reprint of the Grove Press book of the film is also essential reading – Is Pull My Daisy Holy? – “It is wonderful that Steidl has chosen to republish the Pull My Daisy book now”..”(This) little book..was the authentic statement, document and presentation, done at the time of the film..”