Robert Downey Sr. was an American film director and film person, father of Robert Downey Jr. He is known for having written and directed underground films such as Chafed Elbows (1966), almost entirely consisting of film stills; Putney Swope (1969), a satire on the New York Madison Avenue advertising world; and Greaser’s Palace (1972), an acid Western based on the life of Jesus. The films are typical of 1960s counterculture.
Jim Haynes was a cultural entrepreneur and leading member of the American-British underground. He was the co-founder of the Traverse Theatre in Scotland and International Times countercultural newspaper. He was also involved in Suck magazine and the Wet Dream Festival.
He was a source of fascination for me in the 1990s when my interest in the underground was at its highest.
There is very good footage of him in Naughty!, the amusing film in which he, somewhere backstage during the Wet Dream Festival, says:
“I’m just interested in freedom, extreme libertarianism, the right for anyone to see, eat and do whatever they want.”
and in true “make love, not war” style:
“Biafra children starving, that’s pornography.”
It is often said that history repeats itself. I wonder if the 1960s will repeat themselves. When? And are the 1960s a repetition of some previous libertarian era? I believe it has some elements unique to itself that will not be easily repeated. For one thing, the world has been globalized which makes all the circumstances different.
In accordance with the 1960s mythology of which Jim Haynes is part, by way of illustration of the repressive tolerance and ‘selling out’ concepts, I show above the advertising clip Jim Haynes recorded for Nestlé in order to promote their After Eight mints.
Remaining survivors born in 1933 in my book are Tinto Brass, Yoko Ono and Liliana Cavani.
Jörg Schröder was a German writer and publisher.
He founded countercultural publishing house März Verlag in 1969 and published books such as Sexfront (1970), instrumental to the sexual revolution in Germany.
Peter Fonda was American actor.
Everyone knows Peter Fonda from the film Easy Rider (1969) a cult film which is so well-known that it is actually a mainstream film.
I saw the film somewhere in the 1990s but hardly remember anything about it. Given the choice — knowing what I know now — between watching Easy Rider and its predecessor The Wild Angels (1966) I’d watch the latter, being that it is as hilarious as it is historiographical (in the sense that Wild Angels tells us more about the sixties zeitgeist than Easy Rider, I refer specifically to the speech featuring “We wanna be free to ride our machines without being hassled by The Man!”)
But now Fonda is dead and despite the dictum “de mortuis nisi nihil bonum“, a few things need to be said before the praise can begin:
“[Peter Fonda] had nowhere near the talent of his father Henry Fonda or sister Jane Fonda, but he was popular with young audiences from the early sixties to early seventies because he was good-looking, knew how to ride a motorcycle, made “hip” pictures with drug-related themes, and, to hide his acting limitations, smartly played characters who were tight-lipped, unemotional, and often wore shades.” —Cult Movie Stars (1991) by Danny Peary
Now for the praise.
Upon the death of an actor or director, I check YouTube for films featuring the corpse in question. And so it happened that I stumbled upon The Hired Hand (1971). Never heard of it before. Started reading about it. Appeared to be a revisionist western. Interesting category. Started watching. Liked the music. The story is that of a man who is tired of drifting the Wild West and returns home to the wife and child he left seven years earlier. She accepts him, not as a husband, but as a hired hand.
That same Danny Peary who called Fonda not a good actor calls The Hired Hand a “feminist western”.
On two occasions Hannah (the abandoned wife) ruminates about her lust for sex. These dialogues are extremely interesting and the second scene, in which Oates touches the ankle of Bloom, is actually quite sexy.
The first conversation of her sex life is with returned husband (Fonda) who has heard rumors in town of her sexual escapades [47:00]:
“You hired men to sleep with,” says he.
“Sometimes I’d have him or he’d have me whatever suits you.”
And in a second scene she says to Arch Harris (Oates) [54:00]:
“You probably think I’m pretty hot … Well I am … don’t wannabe but I am … I don’t know how many nights I set on the porch … watching the shed … hoping whoever was in there would come out … hoping and terrified in case he did … wouldn’t really matter whether it was you or him tonight.”
Anyway, above is the complete film.
I loved it.
He is famous for writing “The Parts That Were Left Out of the Kennedy Book” (1967), “My Acid Trip with Groucho” (1981) and for designing/and/or/distributing the FUCK COMMUNISM! (1963) and Disneyland Memorial Orgy (1967) poster.
He was severely criticized by Robin Morgan in 1970 in “Goodbye to All That“:
“Goodbye to lovely “pro-Women’s Liberationist” Paul Krassner, with all his astonished anger that women have lost their sense of humor”on this issue” and don’t laugh any more at little funnies that degrade and hurt them: farewell to the memory of his “Instant Pussy” aerosol-can poster, to his column for the woman-hating men’s magazine Cavalier, to his dream of a Rape-In against legislators’ wives, to his Scapegoats and Realist Nuns and cute anecdotes about the little daughter he sees as often as any properly divorced Scarsdale middle-aged father; goodbye forever to the notion that a man is my brother who, like Paul, buys a prostitute for the night as a birthday gift for a male friend, or who, like Paul, reels off the names in alphabetical order of people in the women’s movement he has fucked, reels off names in the best locker-room tradition—as proof that he’s no sexist oppressor.”– “Goodbye to All That” (1970) by Robin Morgan
The entire issue where he is depicted with a spray can of “instant pussy” referred to, can be read here.
He was also known for his on-set conflicts. While filming Maidstone for example, Torn struck director and star Norman Mailer in the head with a hammer. With the camera rolling, Mailer bit Torn’s ear and they wrestled to the ground. The fight continued until it was broken up by cast and crew members. The fight is featured in the film.
Stanley Donen (1924 – 2019) was an American film director and choreographer best-known for Singin’ in the Rain (1952).
Dudley Moore plays a lonely young man whose unrequited love of his co-worker drives him to attempt suicide. Just then the devil (Peter Cook) appears and offers him seven wishes in exchange for his soul.
The film’s fun-loving association with the Swinging London of the 1960s is smart and well-executed.
“War is good business – invest your son”, a criticism of war.
“Milk in such containers may be unfit for human consumption”, a criticism of DDT.
A Roland Topor graphic on censorship used by Scanlan’s, criticism of Nixon.
A poster mentioning the “Chicago Seven trial, G. Harold Carswell, The Cattonsville 9, Jackson State, Invasion of Cambodia, Kent State, My Lai Massacre, Alaskan pipeline, ITT scandal, Watergate Caper, 20,000 Americans dead, ? Asians dead, 26,000,000 bombs, General Lavalle, Wheat Scandal, Unemployment.”
“Jesus was an only child”, criticism of anticonception. Correction: Jesus was apparently not an only child, he had brothers.