Volume 2, Issue 10: Ricky on TV
Plus a new episode of The Video Essay Podcast
Here’s a thought I had recently:
Each time I go into my Premiere file to create a new clip, I simply adjust the end of the previous day’s clip by +550 frames and create a new one. Naturally, I arrive at a somewhat randomly generated frame on which one clip will end and the next one will begin. Here is one recent example:
The above image marks the end of clip 325 and the beginning of clip 326. As I stared at Colorado (Ricky Nelson) in the stable window, I was reminded of something from Todd McCarthy’s essential biography, Howard Hawks: The Grey Fox of Hollywood.
McCarthy details Hawks’ time in Europe after Land of the Pharaohs flopped in 1955, and his subsequent return to the United States to eventually direct Rio Bravo in 1959. McCarthy writes:
One thing that surprised and impressed Hawks upon his return to the States was television. When he had left at the beginning of 1953, TV was mostly variety, comedy, and game shows supplemented by a measure of serious live drama. Now, prime time was dominated by filmed series, and it can’t have escaped Hawks’s attention that fully a third of them were Westerns, including the number-one show, Gunsmoke, starring his embarrassed “Thing,” James Arness. Lots of good actors, both veterans and young, good-looking kids, were now appearing on television, and Hawks watched a lot of it to bring himself up to date. In fact, Westerns seemed so commonplace and unexceptional in 1958 that Jack Warner yawned when Hawks told him he wanted to do a Western for his return to the screen.1
As McCarthy notes, the cast of Rio Bravo is full of television stars. In 1976, Angie Dickinson (who plays Feathers) roasted Dean Martin (who plays Dude) on Martins’s eponymous celebrity roast show by imagining the two of them on an episode of Dickinson’s show, Police Women. I attempted to recreate this fictional episode using clips from Hawks’ film in my recent videographic experiment, “Rio Bravo Roast.”
Of Rio Bravo’s relationship to television, McCarthy writes:
Although it is easy to overlook in retrospect, the cast of Rio Bravo was filled out with television performers to a remarkable degree; given the box-office calculation involved in the case of Ricky Nelson, this can only have been deliberate on Hawk’s part.2
Fans of Nelson and his family will know that they were stars of the sitcom, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet during this period. The show ran from 1952 - 1965.
As I stared at the aforementioned image of Nelson in Rio Bravo, framed in the window of the stable, I could think of only one thing: Hawks has returned Nelson to the medium from which we know him best. For a moment, Ricky Nelson is back on TV.
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Episode 28. Broey Deschanel
The most recent episode of The Video Essay Podcast features an interview with Maia, the YouTuber known as Broey Deschanel. The episode’s topics include Maia's introduction to video essays, her creative process, why YouTube is currently in a "magic moment" of virality, censorship and the YouTube algorithm, how and why to cite the work of other video essayists, why humor is funny, and much more. We also discuss Maia's video "The Liberal Escapism of Bridgerton" and BREADSWORD's 2017 video, "Treasure Planet - Disney's Biggest Mistake." More here.
News & Notes
Please send news and notes for future newsletters to firstname.lastname@example.org
An exciting conference from the Université de Paris, “The Video Essay: A Conference on the Forms and the Future of Videographic Criticism” will be held via Zoom on October 14 & 15. More here.
Charlie Shackleton’s new film, The Afterlight, exists as a single 35 mm print, “Further eroding every time it screens, the film is a living document of its life in circulation .” The film screens in London on October 15 & 17. More here. Update: Read Charlie’s recent essay on the film in The Guardian.
The Essay Library has put out a call for participants in another collaborative project. You may have seen their "Essay Library Anthologies" in the past, where video essayists from across the Internet came together to create sixty-second micro-essays inspired by the themes of beginnings and time. The theme for this third volume is “Death.” The deadline is October 27. Learn more here.The Essay Library is putting together another collaboration project, and the theme is... ☠️ DEATH ☠️ Celebrate spooky season in 60 seconds! This is a great opportunity for video essay rookies. More info here: reddit.com/r/videoessay/c… The Essay Library: videoessay.carrd.co
Video essayist and scholar Alan O’Leary will hold an online book launch event and discussion for his work, The Battle of Algiers, on November 5. Register here.
A video essay by Queline Meadows on Wolfwalkers will be included in an upcoming Blu-ray box set! Learn more here.
A trailer for Philip Brubaker’s upcoming essay film, How to Explain Your Mental Illness to Stanley Kubrick. Watch here.
“Thinking through the Video Essay” - a presentation by Catherine Grant at the TECMERIN video essay conference is now available online. Watch here.
Just got an email from a filmmaker with the first extensive review of of this & we are delighted! PULL QUOTE: "This is a prime example of a much needed fusion between the hermeneutics & the erotics of film criticism"!!! Get into the fusion, if you dare!
Catherine Grant’s slides from a recent public lecture on the epigraphic video essay are now available on her website. Access here.
A great new video by Ariel Avissar, “How to Make A Videographic Epigraph?” Watch here.
Don’t forget to watch the first installment of Cristina Álvarez López and Adrian Martin’s new “Multimedia Lectures on Film” series. The first lecture centers on Nicholas Ray’s They Live By Night. Read a Q&A with Cristina and Adrian here.
I’ve discovered many new films and readings through Tanya Goldman’s open access syllabus for a class on experimental documentary at Sarah Lawrence College. Read here.
Follow “A Girl's Eye-view: Girlhood on the Italian Screen since 1950”, a new project by Prof. Danielle Hipkins (University of Exeter) and Prof. Romana Andò (Sapienza Uni di Roma), on Twitter here, and on Facebook here.
Art & Trash is a source for video essays on underground, avant-garde, psychotronic and outsider media from Stephen Broomer. Subscribe to the new newsletter here.
And finally, Screenworks is currently accepting submissions for Volume 12.1. Here’s a video celebrating all of the submissions (including several video essays) that were published as part of Volume 11.1!
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Todd McCarthy, Howard Hawks: The Grey Fox of Hollywood (New York, Grover Press, 1997), 548.