The Beats: An Existential Comedy

Directed by Philomene Long, 1980.

This is a quirky semi-documentary that captures very well the mood of a certain Late Beat Period moment sometime after Beat had turned into Beatnik but before Beatnik turned into Hippie. Groucho Marx interviews a scruffy looking Venice Beach poet on the "You Bet Your Life" TV show and asks "are you a beatnik?" (the poet says no, but we all know this means yes). There're also good poetic moments with Ferlinghetti reading a cute poem about a dog, Ginsberg lighting incense and chanting, and so forth.

$79.95 is a bit expensive for this (or any) video, but it's worth seeing. Check out Cinema Guild for more info.

Other Beat-related films

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by Levi Asher