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Member Lists

Groundbreaking Indies From The 50s & 60s
List creator: ZenBones
Created on: July 10, 2004 - 10:34 PM PDT
Description: The imagination and depth of these original indies make the indie scene today seem like 'Hollywood lite'! The focus is on American indies since other countries were already 'independent'

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Medium Cool (Criterion) (1969)
  This looks at the callousness and cynicism of the media, which in return is reflected in our own lack of empathy for others. It was shot during the Chicago riots, and also covers poverty, race, and our role as either participants or observers in society.
Salesman (Criterion Collection) (1969)
Not Rated
  An amazing look at door-to-door bible salesmen in America. They have leads, but few ever pan out and despair and rejection gradually take their toll. What's best about this doc. is that the camera's only an observer: we must make our own interpretations.
Seconds (Criterion) (1966)
  A sad, middle-aged man unknowingly makes a Faustian-like agreement to start his adult life over with a completely new body and life image. The film is a cinematic masterpiece, similar to the more audacious Twilight Zones. Freaky and profound!
Salt of the Earth (1954)
  Why did the HUAC fear Hollywood liberals? Here's why! Made by talent that was blacklisted and actual mine workers in New Mexico, this film shows how Hollywood COULD have represented workers, women and minorities with honesty and dignity, but didn't.
The Savage Eye (1959)
Not Rated
  If Charles Bukowski was a suburban housewife (!), he would have written this stark, visual poem. It's a woman's POV of the grungy worlds of skid row, drunken New Year's Eve bashes, and bloody car wrecks, but it's strangely beautiful.
Head (Criterion) (1968)
  Bob Rafelson and Jack Nicholson masterminded this deconstruction of The Monkees' TV image, as well as of TV itself. It subversively took on political and social issues, which alienated their fans, but gained it an underground following.
Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Not Rated
  So independent, it almost didn't get released, but its long-term popularity is well-deserved. It's claustrophobic, intense, has lots of innovative details, is the first horror film to feature a black person in the lead, and to have a political subtext.
Carnival of Souls: Extended Director's Cut (Criterion Collection) (1962)
Not Rated
  Being trapped in Salt Lake City is scary enough, but here, a woman is being chased by white-faced ghouls as well! Despite its teeny budget, the film is really creepy with its use of a wind organ, eerie silences, and rickety ghost town-like amusement park.
Shock Corridor (Criterion Collection) (1963)
Not Rated
  I could list every film by Fuller because he always worked independently but I'll just pick my favorite. It's great 'noir', great thrills (journalist gradually morphed into insanity in a loony bin), great visual effects, and interesting comments on race.
The Shooting (1967)
Not Rated
  An existential Western that's relentlessly slow, depicting a small group of people gradually being (metaphorically) swallowed up into the landscape that surrounds them. This is one of those movies that seeps into your brain and stays there!
Easy Rider (Criterion) (1969)
  The success of this movie was because it was the first time most people saw rural America in such a diverse way. Also of course, because of the feeling of freedom it exuded (these were probably the last pioneers in America!). And of course, the music!
Night Tide (1961)
Not Rated
  You think "Easy Rider" is indie? Check out this early B/W Dennis Hopper flick with the man actually being sober and cleancut! He plays a sailor on leave who falls in love with a mermaid. Sounds silly, but it's very Bohemian and somewhat surreal.
The Plot Against Harry (1969)
  It's like early Woody Allen meets early John Cassavetes, in this intelligent 'dramady' about a Jewish ex-gangster trying to make good with his past and with God. A REAL gem!!
Gun Crazy (1949)
Not Rated
  It's a B picture shot "guerrilla style" (just drive up anywhere and shoot). The plot: Charlton Heston's worst nightmare: gun lovers get a taste for shooting live targets and go gun crazy. Unlike Natural Born Killers, this film shocks with cunning realism.
The Thief (1952)
  An 'experimental' Hollywood B film, Ray Milland is a scientist who gave secrets away to the Reds but now has second thoughts. The experiment? There's no dialogue in the film. Some folks just see gimmick, but the tension is credible and it all works for me
Dementia/Daughter of Horror (1955)
Not Rated
  Another movie without dialogue (with an unnerving vocal score): it's a trippy nightmare that has blatant symbolism dealing with incest, madness and murder, which of course in 1955 resulted in it barely being seen. Think: Freud, Dali, Cocteau, & Ed Wood.
Lord Love a Duck (1966)
Not Rated
  On the surface it's just a beach party movie, but this B/W satire has its own agenda of sabotaging the idiocy of that culture and the society of that time (drive-in church services anyone?). Similar to "The Loved One", but more energetic.
Incubus (1965)
Not Rated
  Want to make a surreal B/W horror film about a monstrous spirit but you want it to be different? Well, have the entire cast speak in Esperanto! Most of the cast doesn't do it well, but the cinematography by Conrad Hall is incredibly stunning!
Faces (1968)
  This is an uncomfortable but rewarding look at adults who lack the ability to communicate with one another since they're so out of touch with their own selves to begin with. A film like this could never be made today (they'd probably set it at Starbucks!)
Shadows (1959)
  Cassavetes' first indie feature has the beat feel of Kerouac, Neil Cassady etc. Guys that hung out on the streets of NY fueled by jazz, art, discussion, sex... One can feel Cassavetes straining, but the energy is authentic, and its a valuable time capsule
Bob Dylan: Don't Look Back (1967)
  The first 'rockumentary' follows what I consider a pretty boring tour of Dylan's (the man takes everything soo seriously!), but the feel of being on the scene is cool, and it features one of the first (and best) music videos, "Subterranean Homesick Blues"
Eclipse Series 33 - Up All Night with Robert Downey Sr. (Criterion) (Disc 2 of 2): Putney Swope / Two Tons of Turquoise to Taos Tonight (1969)
  This riotous (and righteous) film dived straight into the most sensitive issues regarding race and class in America. It doesn't work for me as well as a 20-minute scene in "Hi Mom!", but it is a fun time capsule that still hits a nerve for many folks
Chappaqua (1966)
Not Rated
  One of the first trippy movies to come out of the 60s appropriately spends much of its time in drug rehab. There's a reason people take drugs instead of watching movies about taking drugs. The latter is pretty boring! Good supporting cast though!
The Saragossa Manuscript (1965)
  Think Don Quixote meets the Canterbury Tales via Haight Ashbury street theater with maybe a little drug inducement going on. In other words, this is sadly dated. There are some great scenes in it, so if you've got three hours to spare, do see it.
Coming Apart (1969)
Not Rated
  I'm a big Rip Torn fan but this film tried so hard to be radical it ended up lacking depth. The camera is a hidden one, in the office of a psychiatrist who gets it one with his female patients. It's redundant and stagy, but it is an indie classic.

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