Movies Till Dawn: The Saturday Morning Strange – “Who’s Crazy?” (1966)

A bus breaks down in a snowy stretch of Belgium, and its passengers – a group of mental hospital inmates – run free, eventually reaching a farmhouse where they cast off their uniforms and engage in free-wheeling approximations of society, both the existing one and a more magical environment of their own creation. A film project featuring members of the avant-garde Living Theatre troupe, “Who’s Crazy?” provides a rough template for the group’s exuberant, organic style of performance (though co-founder Julian Beck, who was serving a prison term in America for tax evasion at the time of filming, reportedly thought it paled by comparison to their work on stage), which viewers will either find trying or fascinating, depending on their appreciation for ’60s-era counterculture theater. More intriguing is the dense but exhilarating score by saxophonist Ornette Coleman, which he composed and recorded with his 1962 trio (drummer Charles Moffett and bassist David Izenzon) during a screening of the film; their efforts are partnered with tracks featuring guitarist Ramon Ybarra and Marianne Faithfull’s melancholy take on Coleman’s “Sadness.” Devotees of the late jazz pioneer will want to seek out “Who’s Crazy” to finally marry image to the much-bootlegged soundtrack, while those who savor the unusual and experimental in film will appreciate this opportunity to see one of the more difficult to find entries in that subgenre (considered lost for decades, the sole surviving print, from which this Blu-ray is taken, was found in the garage of the director, Thomas White). Kino’s presentation includes a 1966 episode of the British arts-minded TV series “Tempo International,” which interviews and records Coleman and his trio as they work through the soundtrack, and a puckish interview with White at Lincoln Center from this year.

About Paul Gaita

Paul Gaita lives in Sherman Oaks, California with his lovely wife and daughter. He has written for The Los Angeles Times, LA Weekly, Variety and The Fix, among many other publications, and was a home video reviewer for Amazon.com from 1998 to 2014. He has interviewed countless entertainment figures from both the A and Z lists, but his favorites remain Elmore Leonard, Ray Bradbury and George Newall, who created both Schoolhouse Rock and the Hai Karate aftershave commercials. He once shared a Thanksgiving dinner with celebrity astrologer Joyce Jillson, and regrettably, still owes the late character actor Charles Napier a dollar.
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