Pull My Daisy
“First take best take,” to paraphrase Allen Ginsberg, was for years the ethos presumed to have governed the making of Robert Frank and Alfred Leslie’s classic Beat Generation film Pull My Daisy (1959)–until Leslie revealed in 1968 that its scenes had been as scripted and rehearsed as any Hollywood movie. Even Jack Kerouac’s famous voiceover narration, which careens wonderfully in and out of sync with the action, was actually composed in advance, performed four times and then mixed from three separate takes. But the film remains a supreme document of Beat Generation energy at its peak, with several of its key players starring: Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, Larry Rivers, Peter Orlovsky, David Amram, Richard Bellamy, Alice Neel, Sally Gross and Pablo Frank (Robert Frank’s then-infant son). Based on an incident in the life of Beat muse Neal Cassady and his wife Carolyn, Daisy tells the story of a railway brakeman whose painter wife has invited a respectable bishop over for dinner at their Bowery apartment. The brakeman’s “Beatnik” friends crash the occasion, and the playful provocations (“Is baseball holy?”) they put to the bishop (“Strange thoughts you young people have!”) baffle the clergyman’s propriety and expectation of a “civilized” evening. This book interweaves the script of Kerouac’s narration with film stills, and also includes a 1961 introduction by Jerry Tallmer.
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