A Scary Time

Part 1 —

And part 2 —

A movie so obscure it doesn’t appear on the IMDb, A SCARY TIME is “experimental filmmaker” Shirley Clarke’s project for UNICEF, made under the encouragement of Thorold Dickinson, and featuring Fraser Pennebaker, who as you might guess is the son of the shaggy D.A.

Commentary is by Robert Hughes.

Saw this two summers ago at the Edinburgh International Film Festival’s Clarke retrospective, and was rather impressed. (Sorry this rip isn’t better quality, not my doing.) It may be work for hire, but it has heart, and Clarke’s trademark lopsided way of doing things comes through — it’s a real independent. The strategy of shuttling between entertainment and worthy message (genuinely worthy, mind you) is common to a lot of charity stuff, and is usually done a lot less skillfully/intelligently than this, but I still kind of resent it. But probably just because I’ve seen it done badly so often. This piece is interesting, especially for the collage effect of the non-sync sound used.

4 Responses to “A Scary Time”

  1. Shirley Clarke is SORELY in need of revival/reconsideration.

    Hell — consideration period

    The Cool World is still a key American film, with The Connction and Portrait of Jason not far behind. There’s also her last feature, the exquisite and sadly little-seen Ornette: Made in America.

    Speaking personally, she was quite a lovely woman.

  2. The Film Festival retrospective was very very complete indeed, and showed an amazing range of talents. But sadly a lot of the prints are in the late stages of decay — pink Eastmancolor etc. Intervention is needed — it would be a quick, cheap job for the Scorsese foundation… And a DVD collecting all the shorts in correct ratios (unlike above) would be nice.

    Ornette: Made in America is available, at least.

  3. I haven’t seen any of her stuff and would desperately like to…So I certainly support the cause for the restoration and publication of all her work.

  4. Portrait of Jason, available from Second Sight, is the other one that’s almost easy to see. And well worth it. I don’t know how hard it would be to gather all the copyrights for a complete set of shorts, but I can’t imagine it would be expensive. Bridges-go-round is a magnificent thing, and the dance films are lovely, comparable to Maya Deren.

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