Allen Ginsberg’s Top Ten Films – part 1

Back in the 1980’s (and, indeed, into the 1990’s – and beyond?) Kim’s Videos (on St Marks Place, later on Avenue A) was an essential part of Allen’s New York East Village neighborhood. As Allen’s upstairs neighbor, Richard Hell remarked (in a valedictory piece, in 2014, in the New York Times) – “The moment Kim’s opened, it supplanted everything else in the area. It was so much better curated”. Carefully arranged (via directors, via genres), mind-boggling comprehensive, it had…  well, everything!

Too expansive to keep up a regular (printed) catalog, there were one or two desultory attempts to map the terrain. On one occasion, Mr Kim, (or rather, his film-buff associates), hit upon the idea of asking local East Village luminaries to list their “ten favorite films”, to fill up the back of what was already a hefty (and impressive)  give-away volume. Among the luminaries they asked was Allen.

Here are his ten choices (we’ll break them up into two sets of five over this weekend). As you’ll see, it’s not really a definitive set of ten, more just some contemporaneous musings (Allen had obviously been thinking about the French cinema, four out of five of the first five). The first two are by Jean Cocteau

From 1930, Le Sang d’un Poète  (The Blood of the Poet).

Here’s the trailer:

Here’s the whole film – here

The second of Allen’s choices, Orphée, from 1950, is the second part of Cocteau’s Orpheus trilogy (the third, and concluding part, the Testament of Orpheus (Le Testament d’Orphée) was not chosen, but we’ve no reason to suspect that Allen held it in other than equal esteem)

The third of Allen’s French choices (from the same year as Le Sang d’un Poète
Julian Duvivier‘s  Pépé le Moko (starring Jean Gabin):

Et aussi (from 1945), Marcel Carné‘s classic Les Enfants du paradis (Children of Paradise)

The fifth and final (and only non-French film) in this set is a little closer-to-home, Ron Rice‘s classic “Beat” film (from 1960), The Flower Thief (starring Taylor Mead)

Here’s a spread on the film from Jonas Mekas’ Film Culture

Here’s an hommage to the unjustly forgotten Ron Rice

The remaining five movies will be listed tomorrow.

One comment

  1. Right, I agree, it was really great shop. I used to go there anytime I was in NY – not only had they all possible movies, they had excellent CD collection as well, many rarities from Europe, even Eastern Europe. It´s a pity the shop closed…
    josef r.

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