American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
In 1975, Nelson Algren left Chicago, where he wrote "The Man with a Golden Arm" and "Chicago City on the Make," and to general astonishment moved to Paterson, N.J.
In this rare film from a Chicago house party in 1975, Studs grills him, "Why Paterson?"
The two old masters work together like a comedy team. This was an actual conversation, not any kind of appearance, although they're keenly aware of their audience. Algren takes wing when he describes the ideal route from Patterson to San Francisco.
I don't know who made this film. Such a record was rare in the age before video cameras. The conversation doesn't feel staged, but simply happening in somebody's living room. The two men logged countless hours together, Studs the eternal optimist, Nelson the congenital curmudgeon. The YouTube discovery came to me from Zac Thompson, by way of Studs' longtime WFMT pal Andrew Patner. When I viewed it, it had logged only 108 visits.
Studs was 63, and died in 2008. Nelson was 66, and died in 1981.'
[ 11:03p.m. 11/13: fyi, it's actually shot on video not film. if you want to see some similar quality video, a new technology at the time, check out william eggleston's black and white party films from the south called "stranded in canton". his color photography is a big influence on filmmakers like harry savides and sofia coppola.
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