A major evolution of artistic, literary, and cinematic exploration took place during the 20th century with the beat movement. The beats confessed their profound dissatisfaction with contemporary American society and embraced new ideologies for living.
Their wayward views were readily dismissed by mass media and what emerged was a stereotypical presentation of beatniks to the general public. These generalizations often characterized beats as troublemakers, deviant, and criminals.
Exploitation films then arose and capitalized on these stereotypes. These absurd and outlandish B-movies are classics in their own realm as they haphazardly attempt to reveal the lives of beatniks.
Charles F. Haas’ The Beat Generation is one of these films. In this film noir piece, a detective chases a psychopathic rapist, also known as “The Aspirin Kid,” whose next assault will be on the detective’s wife. With a beatnik coffeehouse setting, the film features great stars of the ’50s including legendary musician Louis Armstrong. The Beat Generation also features poetic dialogue, an exciting soundtrack, and dynamic characters.
Overall, The Beat Generation reveals the overwhelming influence of the beat movement on shaping popular culture. Any fans of film noir, period pieces, the beat movement and exploitation films will find this piece extraordinarily appealing.
This film is part of the 10th Annual Philadelphia Festival of World Cinema with help by Secret Cinema, a repertory cinema which seeks to introduce audiences to a collective film experience.
The Beat Generation. Saturday, April 28. 11 p.m. Ritz at the Bourse (above 4th and Chestnut Street). $7.50. Call 215-735-7887 for more info.