Pull My Daisy
“Early morning in the universe.” So begins Robert Frank’s directorial debut, loosely based on a play by Jack Kerouac. It’s going to be a strange day in this cluttered loft on New York’s Lower East Side, home to railroad brakeman Milo and his wife, a painter. Their dinner guest, a bishop, has only just arrived when a bunch of beat poets turn up. In fact it is Allen Ginsberg and some friends, all of whom appear as themselves in this film. “Behave yourselves,” warns Milo – but what can you do when Beat poets are such a mischievous lot? They are soon bombarding the bishop with philosophical wisecracks and questions about the sanctity of baseball. Everything we hear actually comes from the mouth of Jack Kerouac himself – he improvised the voice-over to accompany the film, which was recorded without direct sound. Kerouac’s wry and ironic retelling blends with the bebop soundtrack, and once he gets going, he even treats us to some high-quality freewheeling beat poetry, relishing the word “cockroaches” like a linguistic connoisseur. The bishop’s mother seats herself at the organ and the poets join in with swinging jazz sounds. Confusion increasingly reigns supreme in this cult Beat Generation classic.
Robert Frank, Alfred Leslie
Walter Gutman for G-String Enterprises
Leon Prochnik, Robert Frank, Alfred Leslie