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Interviewing Fritz Lang


Walking out of the Mike Wallace Show
Jonas Mekas Film-maker
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In 1964, after the... my arrest and jail, for screening Flaming Creatures and Genet's Un Chant d'Amour, and we had some publicity about it, Mike Wallace's secretary calls me she said Mike Wallace would like you to come to his studio and also, bring Jack Smith, he would like to have a, you know, a program with you. So, we come, and it's all set, and we... it's a live show. So... it's like Letterman today or something like that. So first he asks me some questions about what is underground film, there sort of, put it into context. So I take one minute and I tell him. Then he turns to Jack and would pay a lot of money if I could remember exactly what Mike Wallace said to, what the question was. But it was something to the fact... OK, Jack Smith, Mr Jack Smith, you made this obscene, film, you know film, this obscene film and Jack jumped on him, stood up and, and said, 'You stupid! You mongoloid! You mongoloid!' and he turns around and walks out. And I said to Mike Wallace and said, 'You know, my friend, I have to go with him'. So we both walk out, we walk out, on Mike Wallace who was, you know, the biggest, the biggest there was nobody bigger than Mike Wallace in '64, so, and that was it.

Then time passes, in 1991 it was, we had a big party at Anthology, organized with some of our friends. And there is, one of the table as I walk through it, I see it's Cronkite, Mike Wallace, all the big television people sitting there. So I come to Mike Wallace and I say, 'Mike Wallace, do you remember me?' He said, he... now he stands up, he said, 'How could I ever forget you! How could I ever forget you! Nobody ever walked out on my show, you were the only ones who ever walked out on my shows'. That was 30 years later, he still could not forget it.

Jonas Mekas (1922-2019), Lithuanian-born poet, philosopher and film-maker, set up film collectives, the Anthology Film Archive, published filmzines and made hundreds of films, all contributing to his title as 'the godfather of American avant-garde cinema'. He emigrated to America after escaping from a forced labour camp in Germany in 1945.

Listeners: Amy Taubin

Amy Taubin is a contributing editor for "Film Comment" magazine and "Sight and Sound" magazine. Her book, "Taxi Driver", was published in 2000 in the British Film Institute's Film Classics series. Her chapter on "America: The Modern Era" is part of "The Critics Choice" published by Billboard Press, 2001, and her critical essays are included in many anthologies, mostly recently in "Frank Films: The Film and Video Work of Robert Frank" published by Scalo.

She wrote for "The Village Voice" weekly from 1987 into 2001 both as a film and a television critic. She also wrote a column for the "Village Voice" titled "Art and Industry" which covered American independent filmmaking. Her first weekly film criticism job was at the "SoHo Weekly News". Her writing has also appeared in "Art Forum", the "New York Times", the "New York Daily News", the "LA Weekly", "Millennium Film Journal", "US Harpers Bazaar" and many other magazines. She is a member of the National Society of Film Critics and the New York Film Critics Online.

She started her professional life as an actress, appearing most notably on Broadway in "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie", and in avant-garde films, among them Michael Snow's "Wavelength", Andy Warhol's "Couch", and Jonas Mekas' "Diaries, Notebooks and Sketches".

Her own avant-garde film, "In the Bag" (1981) is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art and the Friends of Young Cinema Archives in Berlin.

She was the video and film curator of "The Kitchen" from 1983-1987.

She has a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.A. from N.Y.U. in cinema studies. She teaches at the School of Visual Arts in both the undergraduate and the MFA graduate programs, and lectures frequently at museums, media centers, and academic institutions. In 2003, she received the School of Visual Arts' art historian teaching award.

Tags: Flaming Creatures, Un Chant d'Amour, Anthology, Mike Wallace, Jack Smith, Walter Kronkite

Duration: 2 minutes, 55 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008