Pull My Daisy: The Beatnik Generation In Film
by: Xena Blair
October 17, 2012
Remember the photo book The Americans, by Robert Frank? Well I do. I remember looking at projections of Robert Frank’s emotionally dystopic photos in History of Photography. It was my first semester of college and my professor with the skinny gray ponytail, flannel thermos and a gusto for gelatin silver prints would show us Trolley-New Orleans, 1955 before sending us back into the darkroom to process film for hours on end. Robert Frank’s images, a stark and honest portrayal of the American sociopolitical landscape would continue to haunt me for years to come. Frank took all his expertise from his formative years as a photographer and applied the same aesthetic into capturing and directing Pull My Daisy with Alfred Leslie.
Pull My Daisy is a short film about a bunch of bohemians that decide to crash a party their friend, a railway brakeman, is throwing for a bishop. It’s loosely based on an incident that happened to beatnik legend Neal Cassady. Much of the plot, okay almost all of it is confusing at best. Where it lacks in content, it makes up in history. This is a puzzle piece in the expansive history of the Beat generation. Frank turns the medium of film into a venue where we get to see some the of the literary greats tinker and sort through early philosophies and ideas. Ginsberg and Kerouac were still young and figuring things out. There in lies the magic and hope. But mostly magic.
This is beat. Anything goes. Kerouac addresses anti- semitism, Buddhism, sexuality and several other ideas that were considered off limits during the 1950′s. A cascade of images, dark and light juxtaposed against each other to the narration of Jack Kerouac’s voice which is rhythmic and often times soothing. Watch Pull My Daisy. Also, check out Cocksucker Blues, a documentary about the Rolling Stones also by Robert Frank.