Beniamino Placido on The Beat Generation (Italian tv – 1980)

Beniamino Placido in Italian (non-Italian speakers be forewarned) – a t.v. presentation from 1980 (from RAI, from Italian television). The first nine minutes sociological background may seem odd, dry – the benign scholarly Placido? (Norman Rockwell? Harry Truman? “God, Mom and Apple Pie”? (he inscribes this, somewhat surreally, on a blackboard that emerges, at the opportune moment, at his side) – but wait! – from approximately nine minutes in, it livens up.

Fernanda Pivano interviews Allen on first meeting Jack Kerouac. This is followed by priceless footage of Herbert Huncke traveling through a bombed-out ’70’s New York, followed by Billie Holiday singing plaintively over footage of seedy bar-culture. Sixteen (approximately) sixteen minutes in, Gregory Corso (again interviewed by Fernanda Pivano) speaks about the Bomb. Cosimo Cinieri is seen enacting Corso’s famous poem. Following more observations from Placido, this first segment concludes with another rare interviewee – Philip Lamantia

It continues here.

Part two takes up with Lamantia and more sociology (General MacArthur? Joseph McCarthy?) – more vintage New York footage ( in a police precinct) – Three-and-a-half minutes in (approximately three-and-a-half minutes in), Fernanda Pivano interviews Diane di Prima (followed by rousing footage of Diane reading from her Revolutionary Letters. Approximately six minutes in, Placido turns to “Howl” (linking it to be-bop and to action painting – this time he brandishes a saxophone as another of his surreal props!) – Allen’s voice is heard reading from an LP recording of the poem, before fusing into a somewhat over-the-top reading of the poem in Italian (by Cinieri?) (footage, at this point is, rather wonderfully, of the interior of the old East Village (St Marks Place) apartment of the poets Alice Notley and Ted Berrigan, plus footage of shopping malls (under the World Trade Center?) and subways) – Eleven minutes in, Fernanda Pivano returns, interviewing Allen about his literary heros (Allen cites several of them, Celine, William Carlos Williams, Burroughs, Blake, Whitman, Thomas Wolfe).

and the third and final segment of the program, (it breaks off, it’s not quite the conclusion), is here.

Placido begins by displaying the Sears-Roebuck catalog – cites Arthur Miller’s Death of A Salesman – Two-and-a-half minutes in, footage from “Pull My Daisy” (with Jack Kerouac voice-over) – Placido cites Herman Melville’s “Bartleby The Scrivener” – Six-and-a-half minutes in, Seymour Krim filmed talking about Melville and movement – road footage (against a reading from Fernanda Pivano’s Beat Hippie Yippie” – (Approximately) eight-and-a-half minutes in, Fernanda Pivano interviews Anne Waldman and Ted Berrigan – Placido climbs a ladder and tosses books from his library – Neal Cassady (a reading, in Italian, from Visions of Cody. (Approximately) twelve minutes in, Fernanda Pivano interviews Allen about Cassady – (At) thirteen-and-a-half minutes in, Allen gives a reading of his poem, “The Green Automobile” – morphs once again into (Cinieri’s?) overly theatrical Italian (footage is classic American road imagery) – (Approximately) seventeen minutes in, Fernanda Pivano interviews Gregory Corso, (followed by neon night scenes and a reading from On The Road, in Italian) – Placido again – Dwight Eisenhower (“I Like Ike”) – Felix Guattari and Gilles Deluze – Anti-Oedipus  (section read against imagery of cattle and cowboys on a cattle ranch) – Fernando Pivano continues interviewing Gregory Corso – film ends suddenly and abruptly (cut short).

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