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July 28, 1960 - Image 3

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1960-07-28

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Charter Set
For Union
The University Non-Academic
Employees Union will receive a
charter from the American Fed-
eration of State, County and
Municipal Employees at 8 p.m. to-
night in Room 3 RS of the Un-
Herb McCreedy, director of In-
ternational AFL-CIO Region XI,
will officially present the char-
ter, which designates the Univer-
sity union as Local 1583, for non-
teaching employees. John P.
Caldwell, special assistant to
AFSCME International president
Arnold Zander, will be the prin-
cipal speaker.
Caldwell recently returned
from a successful campaign in
Puerto Rico. He will tell the
mass meeting about the union's
success in organizing public em-
ployees in Puerto Rica and in
sponsoring a program of building
for them 50,000 low rent houses.
All members of the local union,
other unionists in this area, Uni-
versity officials and members of
the board of Regents are invited.
Preceding the meeting, there
will be dinner for the unionand
University officials at 6 p.m. in
the Union. Master of ceremonies
at the dinner will be Robert Gros-
venor, director of the Michigan
State Employees Union.

Research Park Land
Annexation Suggested

The City Planning Commission
recommended to the City Council
Tuesday that it approve the an-
nexation of 386 acres of Pittsfield
township land, of which 209 acres
will be used as a research park.
The action was an important
step in the project, which in-
cludes four years of study by the
Chamber of Commerce, to attract
new industrial research organiza-
tions in to the city.
The City Council Monday night
tacitly approved this particular
action and indicated that final
approval would depend to a great
extent on the recommendations of
the Planning Commission. The

Council may consider the annex-
ation proposal for final action at
its meeting next Monday.
If the Council approves the
annexation, the Pittsfield Town-
ship Board must agree to release
the land before the city can take
it over. Samuel A. Morgan of the
township board said last Saturday
that it is likely the board will re-
lease the land. In a meeting of
the board last Friday the annex-
atiori petition was tabled for fur-
ther study.

To Present
A professional marionette show
will appear at 9 a.m. Sunday on
the University television series,
"Understanding Our World," on
Mr. and Mrs. Meredith Bixby,
veterans of 25 years in profes-
sional puppetry, will be inter-
view by Prof. Edward Stasheff of
the speech department.
The Bixbys will conduct one of.
the clinics at the 25th anniver-
sary convention of the Puppet-
eers of America Aug. 1-6, at the
Park Shelton Hotel in Detroit.



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FRIDAY, AUG. 19-8 P.M.
Fred Kaz Trio
Cannonball Adderley Quintet
Dinah Washington
Chico Hamilton Quintet
Dave Brubeck Quartet
Duke Ellington & Orch.
SAT., AUG. 20-8 P.M.
Oscar Peterson Trio
Nina Simone
Gene Krupa Quartet
Kai Winding Septet
Jackie Cain & Roy Kral
Louis Armstrong & All Stars
SUNDAY, AUG. 21-8 P.M.
Jack Teagarden Sextet
Horace Silver Quintet
Four Freshmen
Dizzy Gillespie Quintet
Dakota Staton

In his long struggle to achieve
the rights of American citizen-
ship, the Negro cannot have
been very happy with the role
played by the American film. As
a popular art, as a very much
mass culture phenomenon, the
film reflected only too sharply
the values of a dominant group
that always paid lip service to
democracy but never tried to
assess its own position and
which took for granted the ster-
eotypes that even a slender ac-
quaintance with Negro life
would have dispelled. The Ne-
gro, confined to an economip as
well as a social ghetto, had no
means to challenge the as-
sumptions of white "democra-
cy": the happy child, complete
with watermelon and banjo, the
only too loyal servant, the per-
son wise through religion (an
idiot-savant role quite com-
pletely), the genial menial, the
razor-wielding beast, and (sel-
dom stated, the lurking goblin
in this gallery), the sexual ath-

-Cinemla qild Ipeeeft4





Count Basie & Orch.


Executive Producer Ed.

Tickets on salec
Music Center-300 S.?
Box Seats $6.00.. . .
Section $4.75, $3.75
Please enclose self-ad
stamped envelope for m

- - ----- - - - - ------ -

Penny B
Sizes 7-1
Average 8
Tall 10-1

fashion . ., the
tterng shirtdress
soft touch.
rfuf selection of
ry Cottons You'll
off corner of S. Univ.
- pp. Campus Theatre
3fl1Parking at rear
of store

The first great American
film, and still one of the great-
Sarkesian est, The Birth of a Nation, per-
R, M.C. petuated most of these stereo-
types. It now has infrequent ex-
SU N DShibitions. in the North, where
the NAACP resists any public
LL showings (although not those
of film societies), but In the
at South it remains a staple of a
Thayer St. vanishing way of life; shortly
Reserved after the Faubus resuscitation
$275. Rof the Nullification Act, the film
, $2.75. was shown in Little Rock as an
dressed, example of what could be ex-
ail orders. pected if Negroes were admit-
ted to Central High School. It
is certainly worth pausing to
examine some of the definitions
of the Southern Creed. Gus is
a "renegade," because after
freedom came he left the plan-
tation. Eventually his sexual
aggressiveness, to put the thing
in its mildest terms, causes love-
ly Mae Marsh to leap off a rock
to her death. Simon Lynch is
a politically-minded mulatto;
his final demand for Senator
Cameron's Daughter (Cameron
is a barely disguised and libel-
ous depiction of Thaddeus Ste-
vens) makes the senator think
again about giving civil rights
to Negroes (that is what should
have happened to Stevens, Grif-
fith is saying) but Stevens him-
f j self, as we know from history,
was never presented with these
hysterical difficulties and is
j buried in an integrated ceme-
tery, the monument to a ca-
reer that was unaltering in its
dedication to real democracy.
He is, in this film, represented
as being swayed by his mulatto
housekeeper mistress, a savage
voodoo figure, who wants to ap-
ply the lash to the back of the
s'white south. This, however, is
not presented as a reasonable
reaction to the lashes that were
applied freely to negroes, but as
wickedness. And some brawny
negroes in the Reconstruction
period are shown shoving white
people off the sidewalks. The
hero of the film is the Ku Klux
Klan, which makes the South
safe for its peculiar definition
of democracy.

Robeson appeared in a com-
pletely servile role in Sanders
of the River; how he has re-
conciled this with his con-
science, no one has ever ex-
plained, he least of all. There
were occasional breakthroughs.,
Among them, can be mentioned
The Emperor Jones (also with
Robeson), which was, despite
its picture of the negro as a
tragic hero, the kind of film
which would enforce stereo-
types on an unthinking audi-
ence. Rather like this, though
in a different category, was the
original Imitation of Life of
1935, which had the merit of
considering "passing" as well
as the most harrowing funeral
scene on cinema. But even these
were small successes compared
to the implications of so good a
film as The Prisoner of Shark
Island, one of the earliest civil
liberties films, but one which,
nevertheless, could be said to
have anti-Negro suggestions.
Warner Brothers' They Won't
Forget, a, powerful anti-lynch-
ing film, made some amends,
Fritz Lang's Fury was better
still; yet both of these films had
"white" victims as the kind of
symbol with which the audi-
ence would sympathize. A hope
might be in the present era,
that something like the Dyer
Anti-Lynching Bill could be
passed, if enough white people
saw themselves as potential
lynch victims.
However, the big money mak-
er of the late 1930's and as a
moneymaker, it overshadows
any of the films we have men-
tioned, was Gone With The
Wind, Millions gloried in the
appealing story and absorbed
completely and emotionally, the
mythic elements of the Old
South. No social protest film
could have made a comparable
impact in a contrary sense on
.the American consciousness.
The second World War to
save democracy that we do not
practice blotted out, as wars
do, anything except affirmative
statements, about our society.
And after victory was finally
won, the movie-makers felt
that a war-weary nation craved
light entertainment. Problem
films were thought to be box-
office poison. It was not merely
the critical acclaim but a sur-
prising popular response to
Gentlemen's Agreement and
Crossfire, serious treatments of
anti-Semitism, that encouraged
the producers to think of turn-
ing to the theme of An Ameri-
can Dilemma. In 1949 three
films dealing with the hardships
and degradations imposed on
our negro citizens were released
almost simultaneously: Home
of the Brave, Pinky, and Lost
Boundaries. The first of these
and the boldest in its treatment
is Cinema Guild's final offering
of the summer season.
Home of the Brave is the
third film of Stanley Kramer,
who was just then coming to
attention as a producer who
stressed mature themes, and
who was called the "genius on
a low budget" because his ex-
pertly-made and directly ap-
pealing films cost less than half
as much as the usual Hollywood
opus. From little-known actors
he was able to elicit perform-
ances that convinced by their
sincerity and fitted perfectly
into the framework of the low-
keyed, unassuming photogra-

phy. This, the public felt, was
refreshingly real, and whether
they also felt flattered by ap-
peals to intelligence, Kramer's
success was unmistakable; and

undergoes a range of reactions
from utter rejection to untrust-
ing friendship and whose con-
flicts are heightened by the en-
forced intimacy of his group,'
is portrayed by James Edwards
in an outstandingly sensitive
performance. We must warn the
audience that crude words are
used crudely; dealing with this
subject, Kramer's is a brutal
For our shor subject we have
chosen a film that will strike
its viewers as one of the strang-
est films they have ever been
exposed to. Some members of
the audience will be incred-
ulous, others angry, some
amused; but almost all will be
puzzled. This was surely the re-
action to modern art in the
first decades of this century;
and instructive parallels can be
drawn between the feeling of
personal outrage suffered by the
patrons of the Armory Show in
1913 and the indignation voiced
by the homme moyen sensuel
who blunders into the showing
of an experimental film in 1960.
There is the added difficulty
that even the most advanced
art, like modern poetry, exists
merely in space and can be
isolated and studied in time
(and finally accepted), while the
experimental film, like modern
music, exists in time and can
be judged or discussed only by
a retroactive effort of the im-
agination. We can see very de-
cided differences in the current
public acceptance of modern art
and poetry, its (less than) in-
tolerance for modern music, and
its downright hostility to ex-
perimental films.
Though modern music is con-
sidered painful by the average
concert subscriber, he does no
more than grumble about it.
He listens to it in a cultural
setting that admits its impor-
tance (like modern art, modern
music won its academic battles
long ago). The experimental
film, on the other hand, is
something he is not constantly
exposed to; indeed, the experi-
mental film is an aesthetic pro-
test against the limitations of
the commercial theatre, just as
the documentary is a social
protest; and the two are banned
from movie houses for pre-
cisely the discordant notes that
they strike.
The experimental film is by
no means a recent arrival on
the scene, a handy accompani-
ment to the Beat Generation,
though the articles which now
appear in Playboy and Esquire
may stress these identifications.
Like most movements in the
modern arts, it had its genesis
in France and Germany. In
fact, one of the most seminal
films of the century, listed in
the 12 all-time best in the Brus-
sels International Film Poll, The
Cabinet of Doctor Caligari, of
1919, may be considered as the
first important experimental
film and still its best exemplar.
The French, however, stimulat-
ed by the criticism of Louis
Delluc, embarked on several
voyages to aesthetic Cythereas
that were of prime importance
in the development of this gen-
re. Since the camera mind, they
argued, is completely visual,
why should there not be a pure
art of the cinema that would
reject such extraneous devices
as narration, a holdover from
the theatre? Such triumphs as
Rene Clair's Entracte (1924)
gave substance to these views.

Germaine Dulac, Jean Epstein,
Marcel L'Herbier, Henri Cho-
mette, and May Ray not only
did pioneer work but at

have seen it to have been bet-
ter. It was banned in Paris, an
unusual distinction. EVe to-
day, 'Bunuel, who ranks vwith
Bergmann as a master film art-
ist, introduces into every film
makes some, surrealistic, some
he makes some surrealistic,
some dream element. Jean Coc-
teau, in his career of jack-of-
all-arts, was bound to turn to
the film; in his initial effort,
The Blood of a Poet, was a com-
pletely original work that re-
quires repeated iewings to ap-
preciate its content. When Coc-
teau's varied career is finally as-
sessed, his films may prove to
be the most significant part.
Like Bunuel, he found his me-
tier in the experimental film;
and all his subsequent output
bears something of this stamp.
In America, the experimental
film, like the documentary, had
slow beginnings; and since we
are basically socially oriented,
the documentary has had better
success here. (One wishes that
Tennessee Williams would dis-
cover an experimental film ori-
entation, for which his Camino
Real, in the. theatre, holds out
a promise). The first American
experimental films were quite
independent efforts, owing little
to the work in Germany and
France. Manhatta (Sheeler and
Strand, 1921) was an expres-
sionistic vew of New York; and
Fiaherty's 24 Dollar Island fol-
lowed in this vein (1925). It is
interesting to consider that
these pioneer film experiments
were both concerned with the
feeling of unreality that comes
from living in a big city. At
this point, 'the documentary
and the experimental film
shake hands,
Amateurs dominated the scene
of the American experimental
film from that decade to the
present. Among the wealthy
and cultivated devotees, who
could afford to buck the com-
mercial market, were Mr. and
Mrs. James Sibley Watson, in
the near-feudal community of
Rochester, N.Y. With. the col-
laboration of Melville Weber,
they made The Fall of the House
of Usher (shown by Cinema
Guild two seasons ago) and Lot
in Sodom (shown by Gothic,
Film Society last year. Both of
these owe more to German than
to French sources. They will be
revived with pleasure for people
who have seen all too much of
the current product.
Among the rather slender au-
dience that the experimental
film commands are those who
are willing to bek amused at
The New Yorker-type drawings
that have made UPA lose the
essenti'al humor of the cartoon
and draw out eight minutes in-
to a situation that would cap-
ture Mickie Mouse for the cor-
responding number of seconds,
are only too much with us. In
the experimental film, the works
of Norman MacLaren and his
epigones are the final kind of
surrender. Yes, they are dif-
ferent, they are clever. (though
the kind of cleverness that
evaporates like cocktail con-
versation); but what is their
content? The very fact that
they ┬░are distributed by the
National Board of Canada and
shown in elementary schools
here testifies to their raison
d'etre: trivial innocuousness.
The experimental film has a
more important function than
amusement: it should chal-
lenge. Markopoulos, Anger,

Prakhage, and Peterson, among
the American contingent, do
exactly this kind of thing. Their
films oppose many commonly



A dearly loved
comfortable, fla
... with anew
See our wonde
new Drip 'n Dr
Live In and Lov


If the first great American
film has such striking faults,
there have been few lesser films
disposed to correct them. (Grif-
fith himself felt hurt by the
criticisms against The Birth of
a Nation. Most of the money he
made in his first long film he
sank into Intolerance, which
carried a pacifistic and human
relations approach and flopped
dismally. In Hearts of the
World, he showed a dying white
soldier kissing his e rorn-m

Closed Saturday
at 1 P.M.





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