Dennis Nyback (second from right) hangs out with Jack Stevenson (far left), who wrote about him, and his unusual career, in Land of a Thousand Balconies.
Tomorrow Portland film archivist Dennis Nyback packs up a few of his programs and goes to Seattle for a week’s run at the Grand Illusion Cinema. All film, no video!
Dennis Nyback’s Panorama of the 20th Century (Grand Illusion, June 11-17)
The Grand Illusion welcomes back Northwest archivist and historian Dennis Nyback and his eclectic collection of films for this weeklong series. Mr. Nyback, along with his encyclopedic knowledge and insouciant charm, will be your host, guiding you through his entertaining, offbeat version of the 20th century.
Terrorism Light and Dark
Friday June 11, 7pm
A revealing program of cartoons, short films and propaganda clips displaying America’s schizophrenic view of terrorism before 9/11. It includes the Cold War US Government film, What You Need to Know About Biological Warfare and Buster Keaton’s Cops.
Friday June 11, 9pm
Our president has been called a Technocrat. Huh? Technocracy was a social and political movement of the Jazz Age. Modern life had become too complicated for politicians to control—scientists should be in charge. It was laughed off the scene in the thirties. Since then, many Technocracy ideas have moved into the mainstream. One of their ideas was that energy should replace money as coin of the realm. Conserve energy to get rich! Our show goes back to the Zenith and Nadir of the movement: 1933. Titles include: Techno-Cracked, Techno-crazy, The Inventors, The Kid From Borneo, and more.
Battle of the Sexes
Saturday June12, 7pm
A look at the war between men and women in a program of short films and TV ads from 1934 to 1980. Of special interest to anyone who thinks there wasn’t a need for the feminist movement in the sixties.
The Open Road
Sunday June 13, 7pm
What is the myth and reality of America’s long love affair with the automobile? This program contains both and it’s only a ninety-minute ride at 36 feet per minute. The myth includes carefree vacations, the joy of hitchhiking, long haul trucker warriors of the road, carefree bikers on their hogs, leaving the driving to Greyhound and more. The reality includes being busted for drunk driving, becoming one of the tens of thousands a year who die in a horrible wreck, ending up a quadriplegic after a ride on a Harley, and road rage turning a mild mannered milquetoast into a vengeful maniac!
Hobo, You Can’t Ride That Train
Sunday June 13, 9pm
Mr. Nyback rode freight trains around the USA during his college years. This collection of hobo films looks at the reality and myth of hobos and train riding.
Industrial Design and Refrigerator Fetish
Monday June 14, 7pm
This show has been commissioned by the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in SF to kick off their Industrial Design show in July. You get it first. An inside look at the beauty of the creation of utilitarian devices. Included is a rhapsodic look at four refrigerators from 1955, silent men in the 1920’s polishing, and polishing, and polishing, some unknowable object, everything you’d ever want to know about the design and production of a pencil, and much more.
Food: Is it for You?
Monday June 14, 9pm
Short films about food. A hit a Mr. Nyback’s Pike Street Cinema in 1993. Even more timely now. Short films about food. Isn’t that of interest to everyone?
Hillbillies in Hollywood
Tuesday June 15, 7pm
Outsider music from the black and white era. Hillbillies, Cowboys, Hawaiian, and unclassifiable musical acts from J. Harold Murray in 1927 to Hank Williams Jr. in 1964. In between wonderful performers singing, dancing, and playing banjos, ukuleles, saws, spoons, harmonicas, washboards, hootenannies, and more. Whoop Di Do!
Behind the Scenes in Hollywood
Tuesday June 15, 9pm
More inside stuff. This time a look behind the camera in Hollywood! From the 1930’s to the 1970’s. Early examples of the first sound cameras, songwriters Mack Gordon and Harry Revel struggling to write a song Lyda Roberti, Daffy Duck trying to get Porky Pig to resign from making cartoons for Leon Schlesinger, secrets of James Bond’s Aston Martin automobile, and much more.
Kill a Commie for Christ
Wednesday June 16, 7pm
Rare government films from the cold war era. Mushroom Clouds! Radioactive Fallout! Dirty Godless Ruskies! America with God on its side! It’s all here. Could it happen again? You be the judge.
Primer on the Ku Klux Klan
Wednesday June 16, 9pm
Since the election of Barack Obama there has been a resurgence of enrollment in, and activity of, the Ku Klux Klan. This program features a jaw dropping CBS Special Report on the Klan from 1965. Back then the Klan was reacting to the landmark Voting Rights Act. The program starts with an Our Gang short from 1923, Lodge Night, in which the Little Rascals form their own club, the Cluck Cluck Clams.
I Know Why You’re Afraid
Thursday June 17, 7pm
A program of educational films that should never have been shown to impressionable children! Included are the darkly hilarious bus safety film, Death Zones (1975), an excerpt from the drivers ed shocker, Mechanized Death (1961) and many more macabre films that do much to explain our culture’s paranoia.
The Mormon Church Explains It All to You
Thursday June 17, 9pm
In the 1950’s the Mormon Church started making educational films. Seen by students throughout the country, they combined excellent film making skill with very unusual ideas. This is the cream of the crop of their prodigious output. A most entertaining program!