(director/writer: Nicholas Ray; screenwriter: Tom Farrell/Susan Ray; cinematographer: Richie Bock; editor: Tom Farrell; music: Woody Guthrie; cast: Tom Farrell, Leslie Levinson, Richard Bock; Runtime: 90; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Nicholas and Susan Ray; Oscilloscope; 1976)
“Has a raw power that resonates long after viewing.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The last film by Nicholas Ray (“On Dangerous Ground”/”Knock on Any Door”/”Bitter Victory”) was an experimental low-budget student film shot by a student crew between the fall of 1971 and early 1973 at Harpur College, SUNY, at Binghamton, when Ray was a film professor. It was re-edited after Ray’s death in 1980 and didn’t get a DVD release until restored through the efforts of the director’s widow Susan in 2010-2011. The film was screened at Cannes in 1973. The messy, uncompleted and rarely seen film tried to change the way film was viewed as only linear, as it promoted multi-dimensionality shooting, a plot-less story line, allowing the frightening politics involving the build-up of the military-industrial complex to surface during the during the Vietnam War fiasco as the kid protesters saw it back then, and offered for the young students of the ‘We want to do our own thing’ post-1968 generation a chance to act out their real-life psychodramas and see themselves portrayed on the screen as who they thought they were.

Though unpolished and disjointed, and not a pic one might be drawn to at first, it has a raw power that resonates long after viewing and breathes new life into the medium. It’s an essential watch for fans of the feisty legendary cult director, whose career was stymied by Hollywood after his big-budget 55 Days in Peking (1963) tanked at the box office and he had to retreat to the sticks to film ten years later this radical student indie on the cheapest of equipment. It was viewed by him as a making of Guernica. The result, which might be a let down in certain respects, except it proves to be a provocative in the sense that the film-maker makes it an important and unsentimental personal statement about his life and leaves us an unvarnished record of college life at the time among students questioning adult society.

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