New York in the Fifties

New York in the Fifties

Directed by Betsy Blankenbaker

If documentaries are one of the 4 cinematic food groups, New York in the Fifties is the high fiber bread of documentaries. While most of the country relaxed in the torpor of the postwar blandness boom, a small group of freethinking writers and alcoholics drifted to New York and formed a small community driven by jazz, booze, and the written word. Some of those folks are still with us, and have a claim to inventing the licentious fun of the Sixties. They perfected the three-martini lunch, and they show it. Live interviews, old kinescopes, and fuzzy home movies relive the memory of that by gone era.

If you could make it New York, you could make it anywhere. Ideas sold in New York eventually percolated through out the country, including civil rights, free love, and psychoanalysis. While the claims are undoubtedly valid, this film has the quality of attending you father’s college reunion. You might know a few of the names, none of the faces, and the war stories of the fun and women they had are a bit remote. After a decade of self-discovery, they old crowd drifted away to California to raise chakras and chinchillas. The fun dried up when the Beatles killed Kennedy, and it was just time to move on to rock and roll and hallucinogens. And that’s a different documentary.

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