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Beat Movie Guide

January 9th, 2013 · 30 Comments · Kerouac and The Beats, Movies

Beat Movie Guide

(dramatizations  —  not documentaries)

Last Updated:  Feb 19th, 2023

With not one, not two, but three movies based on Jack Kerouac books coming out this year (2013) it makes sense to make sense of the world of cinematic dramatizations based on Beat works.

Since real people are given different fictional names in every movie, for clarity I’ve stuck with the original names of the people the characters are based on.

The Most Factually Accurate / True-to-The-Work Beat Movies (in chronological order)
Pull My Daisy
Big Sur

Pull My Daisy — 1959 — the definitive and only authentic Beat dramatization.  A film of act 3 of Jack Kerouac’s “The Beat Generation” play/screenplay.  This 26-minute movie may be the single greatest Beat Generation creation ever made, in good part because of the collaboration:  Jack’s narration is perhaps the best audio he ever laid down;  it’s set to a jazzy world-beat score by David Amram;  and has the Beat badboys filmed in their prime by a visionary cameraman Robert Frank in an actual Greenwich Village artist’s apartment, typical of where the whole movement was born.  It’s based on a real event at the Cassady’s house in Los Gatos in the summer of 1955, which can be read about in detail in ch. 45 of Carolyn Cassady’s “Off The Road.”  Directed by Robert Frank & Alfred Leslie — starring Gregory Corso as Jack; Allen Ginsberg as himself;  Larry Rivers as railroad man Milo / Neal Cassady;  Delphine Seyrig as Carolyn;  portraitist Alice Neel as the bishop’s mother;  dance choreographer Sally Gross as the bishop’s sister.  Selected for preservation by the National Film Registry at the Library of Congress in 1996.  B&W, 26 mins.
* This once uber-rare film is now on the interwebs and you can experience the entire masterpiece here or here.
Here’s 5 minutes of silent street & bar footage likely shot by Robert Frank in June of 1959 using the same 16mm camera he’d just shot Pull My Daisy.

The Beat Generation — 1959 — rape-centric Hollywood exploitation B-movie that’s about as pro Beat as “Reefer Madness” is pot;  no connection to the Beats except the title and negative stereotypes — dir. by Charles Haas.  On the up-side it actually opens with a Louis Armstrong performance!  and he also shows up playing again in the middle, and has some dialog.  It has a crazy cast including Jackie Coogan (best known as The Kid in Charlie Chaplin’s “The Kid” and later Uncle Fester in “The Addams Family” TV show — and to give you an idea of the authenticity here — he’s also credited with being the beatnik “dialogue coach”!)  And speaking of Charlie Chaplin, it also features The Little Tramp’s first son Charles Chaplin Jr. in a bit part as the Lover Boy (the beatnik talking on the payphone trying to pick up a girl).  And speaking of famous actor’s children, it also has Robert Mitchum’s dead-ringer son James as the hip-talkin framed badguy;  and Bing Crosby’s niece Cathy Crosby completely out of place singing in a white formal evening gown in a beatnik club;  segue to Vampira as the female Beat poet with a live rat on her shoulder;  and most noticeably Mamie Van Doren (the stage name of the B-movie Marilyn Monroe who Jack actually described his first wife Edie as looking like in Vanity of Duluoz, and no relation to the esteemed poet/author/editor/ Columbia professor Mark Van Doren or his quiz show scandalized son Charles).  And she delivers the best line of the movie, purring — “Would you rather be dead with him, or alive with me?”  Besides the curious cast, in all its kitschiness and negative cliches it actually has some redeeming themes of sexism, domestic violence, and a subplot and discussions about abortion in the case of rape (which was still illegal everywhere at the time) — but of course it’s just a set-up for an on-screen Catholic sermon.  B&W, 94 mins.
Here’s the opening with Louis Armstrong playing & singing an anti-Beat Generation song.
Here’s the 11 mins of Mamie Van Doren’s scenes in nice HD.
Here’s the 4 mins featuring the beatnik club, including Vampira’s poetry reading, complete with a live rat on her shoulder.

The Subterraneans — 1960 — dir. by Ranald MacDougall — abysmal script but an impressive cast — gamely starring George Peppard as Leo/Jack; Leslie Caron (twice Oscar-nominated Best Leading Actress for Lili and The L-Shaped Room, and An American In Paris as “Mardou”;  Roddy McDowell as Yuri/Gregory (!);  Jim Hutton as Adam/Allen;  Arte Johnson as Gore Vidal (!)  and a musical appearance by Carmen McRae, the Andre Previn Trio!, plus Gerry Mulligan (with an acting role as well as sax playing), Art Pepper & Art Farmer!  Corny, vapid, painfully clichéd, white-washed, neutered, silly interpretation of Jack’s novel, with the Black girlfriend turned into a French girlfriend. (!?)  Kerouac’s wildest prose/story/novel is run through a Leave It To Beaver Hollywood conformity filter ending up a cartoon version of the original.  Upon re-viewing in 2022 I found the campy portrayal comically endearing — reminiscent of the portrayal of hippies on network TV shows just a few years later.  It’s simplistic and watered down and verging on camp, but it’s historically important in that it’s the only example of how Hollywood interpreted Jack in his lifetime (other than the Route 66 rip-off).  If it’s any consolation, he got $15,000 for the rights, which was enough to buy a nice house in Northport, the first he ever owned in his life.  Another minor positive — there’s some nice location shots of San Francisco captured in the fall of 1959.  Interesting little-known tidbit — the LA Times reported in Dec 1958 that Dean Martin was attached to play the Jack part!  Never released in any home video format ever.  Color, 89 mins.
Here’s the original trailer from 1960.
Here’s a scene with some of the jazz with Gerry Mulligan, Art Farmer & the gang.
And this is interesting — 10 minutes of shots from the movie set to Monk & others.

Beat Girl (aka Wild For Kicks) — 1960 — Britain’s entry in the cheap exploitation beatnik field;  no actual connection to the Beats except the title and base stereotyping — dir. by Edmond Greville — curious for its bit parts by a young Christopher Lee and Oliver Reed.  B&W, 79 mins.
Here’s the entire movie on YouTube.

The Beatniks — 1960 — another terrible beatniksploitation B movie perpetuating the media-contrived image of mean lowlife criminals.  It actually has a not bad score, and the story is solid — A Star Is Born gone wrong — but the dialog and every other aspect of filmmaking is absurdly atrocious.  As others observed — this is like if Ed Wood made a beatnik movie.  🙂  IMDb Ratings has this at an astounding 2.5!  I’ve never seen such a low number in my life!  B&W, 78 mins.
You can see the whole terrible movie here on YouTube.

Beany & Cecil — Wildman of Wildsville — 1961 — Since no film festival would be complete without some cartoon shorts — take a break from the serious and enjoy this satire of all things Beat — with none other than the immortal Lord Buckley voicing the lead beatnik, Go Man Van Gogh, and some crazy jazz, daddyo.  Color (animated), 6 mins.
You can watch the full clip here.

Route 66 — 1960–64 — one-hour B&W dramatic TV series airing Friday nights on CBS — obviously “inspired by” / ripped-off from Jack’s On The Road — two young men (an outgoing street-wise orphan and a bookish New England Ivy Leaguer who recently lost his father, hmmm), drive around the country having adventures while looking for the meaning of life (Hollywood is nothing if not original!)  It was shot almost entirely on location around North America — with 3/4 of the episodes written by show creator Sterling Silliphant (who’d later win a Best Screenplay Oscar for In The Heat Of The Night).  Starring George Maharis and Martin Milner (who narrowly beat out Robert Redford for the role).  Often compared to the original Twilight Zone, the intelligent adult scripts attracted a mile-long list of now-household-name guest stars — Martin Balsam, Joan Crawford, Boris Karloff, Buster Keaton, Cloris Leachman, Peter Lorre, Lee Marvin, Walter Matthau, Robert Redford, William Shatner, Martin Sheen, Rod Steiger, Rip Torn — to just scratch the surface.  They also employed local actors so the dialects were both authentic and different in every episode.  Also notable was Nelson Riddle’s music, including the instrumental theme song that actually became a Top 30 Billboard hit in the summer of 1962.  Show sponsor Chevrolet saw their product-placement Corvette sales double by the end of the first season!  B&W, 50 mins.
Here’s the entire 3rd episode — all filmed in New Orleans in 1960!  Unreal footage!
There’s tons of other entire full episodes on YouTube.

Saturday Night Live — 1977 — a TV oddity — John Belushi played Kerouac in one scene in the second season.  Dan Aykroyd as a cop brings Jack into Broderick Crawford’s Highway Patrol office.  That original show ran from 1955 to 1959, so writing the Beats into the sketch was both a nice ode and made sense.  B&W (to mirror Highway Patrol), 2 mins.

Heart Beat — 1980 — written & directed by John Byrum;  based on a part of Carolyn Cassady’s autobiography Off The Road;  Nick Nolte as Neal, Sissy Spacek as Carolyn, John Heard as Jack, Ray Sharkey as the Allen-like character, Ann Dusenberry as LuAnne;  also notable for four weird/cool cameos:  Jack’s daughter Jan is the smoking girl in a white dress sitting in the cafe/bar around 11 minutes into the movie in the scene that begins with Cassady/Nolte tipping out of his chair onto the floor;  John Larroquette in his first-ever film role playing an obnoxious TV talk show host interviewing Jack;  director David Lynch appears briefly as a painter;  and Steve Allen pokes his head in the TV studio makeup room when Jack’s in the chair.

Carolyn called this movie “Heart Break” because she hated the final product, but did like Sissy Spacek’s portrayal and as a person.  There’s loads of fictionalized liberty-taking and deviations from real events & Carolyn’s book, but it’s a pretty great capturing of the late ’40s/early ’50s era, and deserves praise for its casting, acting, editing, art direction, costumes, and Jack Nitzsche’s fantastically cool score.  One little detail they got bizarrely right, undoubtably because of Carolyn’s on-set consultation, they used the real names for the Cassady children, and had kids their ages appear throughout as the three children came into the real life storyline.

Nick Nolte really embraced playing Cassady, and even channeled him into the role he played immediately before this one in Who’ll Stop The Rain — which also starred Ray Sharkey, the Allen character here.

A mistake I’ve made my whole life was taking these Beat dramatizations too seriously — looking at them through a Beat historian’s eye — where they inevitably all come up short.  Upon re-viewing in 2022 I realized for the first time that this was crafted as a romantic comedy — in the classic Hollywood tradition.  The editing is often done to create comedic juxtapositions — like when Carolyn talks Neal into selling their car so they can move to a house in the suburbs — cut to forlorn Neal riding in the back of the moving truck.  Or the refrained cut of the suburban foil couple leaving the Cassady’s house after three successive visits.  Think of the scene of the Allen character being oblivious to everyone in a restaurant as he passionately yells out his poetry.  Or Jack & Neal happily, obliviously, planting marijuana in the front yard of their suburban house.  Or the scene where Jack nervously thinks he’s become Carolyn’s new husband, then Neal literally sweeps her off her feet into his arms and carries her to the bedroom.  Or Neal getting stoned when the straight suburban couple comes over and then goofing on them.  This film is unique among all other Beat dramatizations in that it has multiple intentionally funny scenes written into it — again, in the tradition of countless 1940s and ’50s romantic comedy classics — the very era this film is set in.  Color, 110 mins.

Special Note:  Jack’s only child Jan appears 11 minutes into the movie in the white-walled café/bar scene that begins with the Nolte/Cassady character tipping over out of his chair.  Jan is the girl in the white dress sitting along the wall on the right smoking, seen in 3 different shots over a 90-second stretch.  In her book “Trainsong” she wrote in chapter 22, “In September I was offered the job as an extra in Heart Beat, a movie about my father’s menage-a-trois with the Cassadys. … The Acropolis Cafe was just the place for a beat generation coffeehouse scene: a Greek restaurant in downtown L.A., unchanged since the thirties.  …  My job was to sit at a table where two guys were playing chess:  to follow their moves like a cat, to look mildly bored, … and to puff like mad on Camels to produce a thick, smoke-filled atmosphere.”  If you watch it on a screen larger than a phone/computer, you can see that the two men at the table with her are indeed playing chess — especially visible in the third and final shot of them, starting at 12:21.  Further, you can google photographs of the interior of the Acropolis Cafe in L.A. and see that it’s where this scene was shot.
You can see a great 11-minute interview with Nick Nolte talking about the film here, including about getting to know Carolyn, and getting to the essence of Neal.
For more details on the production check out this article from the American Film Institute.

Quantum Leap — 1990 —  a TV exception — the “Rebel Without a Clue” episode set in Big Sur in Sept. 1958, with Michael Bryan French playing Kerouac in one 2:15-long scene.  Also features series stars — the perennially Emmy-nominated Scott Bakula and Dean Stockwell.  A screening of this at the “Jack on Film” show at Lowell Celebrates Kerouac evoked a spontaneous round of applause.  Color, 2 mins.
You can watch the entire scene here.

Naked Lunch1991 —  screenwritten & directed by Canadian David Cronenberg (and shot entirely in Toronto);  Peter Weller as Burroughs;  Judy Davis as Joan Vollmer;  Nicholas Campbell as Jack (named Hank);  Michael Zelniker as Allen (named Martin; the actor played Red in Bird).  Like The Last Time I Committed Suicide, characters based on Jack & Allen are inserted into the story even though they don’t appear in the original text.  Plus Ian Holm and Roy Scheider as Burroughs’ recurring Dr. Benway character.  Howard Shore (Lord of The Rings, Hugo) does the cool jazzy music, with Ornette Coleman playing.  Cronenberg’s sister Denise does the costuming, as she does for many of his films.  Title card at the opening says “New York City – 1953.”  It’s not really an adaptation of the novel per se, but rather a surreal biopic of Burroughs’ life during the time it takes place in.  This was the first remotely popular Beat movie;  it swept the Canadian film awards taking home 7 Genies, including Best Picture, Director and Cinematography.  Color, 115 mins.
Here’s a 3 minute clip where Bill is walking through a Tangier market talking about writing and killing his wife.

The Last Time I Committed Suicide — 1997 —  written & directed by Stephen Kay;  Thomas Jane as Neal, Keanu Reeves in a Kerouac-like role (named Harry), Adrien Brody in a Ginsberg-like role, a great Claire Forlani as Joan Anderson, 24-year-old Gretchen Mol playing 16-year-old Cherry Mary, the great Marg Helgenberger (from Erin Brockovich) as Joan’s mother.  A really well made film based on the then-only-surviving part of Neal Cassady’s famous Joan Anderson/Cherry Mary letter to Jack (written Dec. 1950) about events around Christmas 1945 before Neal had met any of the other soon-to-be Beats.  It’s notable that this is the earliest Beat writing ever turned into cinema.  Carolyn Cassady & I agree this is the best Beat dramatization on film.  Interesting tidbits: Carolyn Cassady and George Walker both said this Thomas Jane portrayal was the closest to Neal they ever saw on screen;  the complete 16,000-word letter, a fragment of which this movie is based on, was lost in the mid-1950s — but was miraculously found intact in 2012 in an old box that had been stored since being rescued from the Sausalito publisher Golden Goose’s garbage when it folded in 1955.  The film’s got a bitchin soundtrack, both snappy original compositions by Tyler Bates, plus Bird, Dizz, Monk, Miles, Mingus, Ella & others.  It’s got shades of Michael Polish’s Big Sur (see below) with its heavy use of voiceovers of the original text (although with additions and edits) and the cinematic details thereof; and it’s like Walter Salles’s On The Road in that it expands upon the existing text using other Beat writings, except in Suicide’s case they also completely make stuff up like adding Jack-like and Allen-like characters to a story set before they ever met.  The acclaimed Bobby Bukowski (no relation) is the cinematographer.  Filmed in Ogden Utah filling in for old Denver at last.  The film builds to a brilliantly executed beautifully exploding-like-stars climax.  The whole last half hour is masterful filmmaking – cinematography, editing, acting, pacing, dynamics, score.  Color and B&W, 92 mins.
Here’s the official trailer.
Or here’s a cooler trailer.
Or here’s the coolest longest most musical & Beat trailer.
Here’s part of the masterpiece climactic sequence where Neal gets out of jail and goes for a run — featuring the swingin’ soundtrack by Tyler Bates who went on to score over 100 other movies & TV shows, including the John Wick films, Guardians of The Galaxy and a ton of others.
Here’s a nice 6-min interview with Keanu Reeves including why he made the movie, and what it was like doing it and ‘dancing’ with cinematographer Bukowski.
Or here’s an absolutely great 6-min interview with writer/director Stephen Kay and Thomas Jane.

Beat 2000 —  written & directed by Gary Walkow;  Kiefer Sutherland as Burroughs, Courtney Love as Joan Vollmer – those two being the focus of the movie; Ron Livingston as Ginsberg, Norman Reedus as Lucien, and Daniel Martinez as Kerouac (although he seems to be completely cut out of the re-cut hour-twenty home video version).  Shot entirely in Mexico.  A deservedly not-well-received-on-any-level dramatization of Burroughs, Lucien, Allen and Joan’s time in Mexico, including the William Tell killing.  Prioritizes Lucien and Joan’s brief affair which is a pretty insignificant and minuscule event to base a film around.  Basically an indie low-budget B movie with some respectable name actors, probably because of the subject matter.  This and Subterraneans are tied for the worst Beat dramatizations — but this doesn’t even have the 1960 Hollywood kitsch to it.  It tries to be serious, and fails painfully.  It’s a wonder to me how these things get made.  And you think of the months the actors and crew committed to it.  I wonder if they know when they’re making it that it’s a disaster and going nowhere?  Color;  93 mins in theaters;  80 mins in home video.
Here’s the trailer.
Here’s an even cooler trailer including lots of the jazzy original soundtrack.
Here’s a trailer narrated by the Allen character.
Here’s a 5-minute collage of various Lucien & Joan scenes.

Starving Hysterical Naked — 2003 — written & directed by Michael Bockman; Billy Zane as Jack (!).  It appears as though it has never been released, and maybe never even completed.  Set in 1957 on the cusp of On The Road being published, with Jack looking back at his life.  It includes Jack appearing (as “Nick Constantine”) on stage at the hungry i nightclub in North Beach.  Billy Zane’s characterization resembles Jack’s appearance in the 1950s more closely than any other on film.  Besides the on-stage appearance, the narrative story seems to be a very no-budget amateurish covering of largely the same ground as Kill Your Darlings (see below) — the Beat Gen birth at Columbia.
If anyone knows anything more about this movie, please let me know.
Color and B&W, 9 mins.
Here is the only known clip of it.

Beat Angel — 2004 —  director, editor and D.P. Randy Allred;  written by Bruce Boyle, Frank Tabbita, Randy Allred & Vincent Balestri;  Vincent Balestri as the Jack character, Frank Tabbita as the foil.  A quirky, clever, interesting, heart-felt, kind of surreal, sometimes funny, well done, low budget indie movie about Jack Kerouac coming back to life for a night in 1999, with a cool minimalist jazz score.  All shot in funky locations, including some neat footage of Desolation Peak and the lookout cabin.  The actor who plays Kerouac had been performing him live on stage in a one-man show since 1980.  His is the most spirited, joy-evoking, linguistically sharp portrayal of all the actors who take a crack at Jack.  The centerpiece performance at the poetry reading in the middle of the film was all shot in one take on the last roll of film they had.  (!)  Color, 98 mins.

The Great Sex Letter — 2006 — a visual dramatization set to a reading of Neal Cassady’s letter of March 1947 to Jack Kerouac that Jack dubbed “the great sex letter.”  Despite the film’s inaccuracies — like the person receiving it appears to be Allen not Jack — this low-budget 7-minute indie effort is notable for being the earliest Beat writing ever interpreted on film, followed closely by Neal’s “Joan Anderson/Cherry Mary” letter to Jack written in December 1950 and turned into the feature-length The Last Time I Committed Suicide (see above).  The film begins in silence, then the only audio you hear is the reading of Neal’s words set to music by Charles Mingus.  Color, 7 mins.
You can experience the complete short film here.

Neal Cassady — 2007 — written & directed by Noah Buschel;  Tate Donovan as Neal (who a lot of people including son John Cassady and myself think did a pretty good job), Amy Ryan as Carolyn, Glenn Fitzgerald as Kerouac, and Chris Bauer as Kesey.   The first 15 minutes, shot in B&W, are Jack & Neal looking for Neal Sr. pre On The Road being published — then the rest is post Neal’s arrest during the Prankster years (shot in color).  A well-intentioned low-budget ($1 million) film that fairly accurately portrays Jack as the born writer (forever taking notes) and Neal as somebody with aspirations but who gets on a merry-go-round he can’t get off of.  Features the only dramatization on film of the historic 1964 Prankster party in New York where Jack and Neal saw each other for the last time.  It would be easy to call it bad, and many do, but there’s lots of interesting little accurate details, and Donovan really has Neal’s mannerisms and speech pattern down.  B&W and color, 80 mins.
Here’s the trailer.

Luz Del Mundo — 2007 —  co-written & directed by Ty Roberts;  Austin Nichols as Neal (and the focus of the movie), Will Estes as Jack.  The dialog is in both English and Spanish, but there’s no captions.  Shot on locations in and around San Miguel de Allende.  It starts of Feb. 3rd, 1968, the day before Neal’s death, then flashes back to the summer of 1950 with Jack & Neal (and Frank Jeffries/Stan Shepard) on the road.  It’s mostly about Neal being pursued by the ghost of death.  Only released in Mexico as far as I know.  The title translates to “Light of The World,” which is kind of ironic since the movie is pretty dark.  Color, 31 mins.
You can watch the full movie on Vimeo here.

Howl — 2010 — written & directed by Rob Epstein & Jeffrey Friedman;  James Franco as Allen Ginsberg in a biopic about the publication and censorship trial of his most famous poem, with a transcendent performance by Franco.  The script is composed entirely from court transcripts, Allen interviews and the text of Howl.  Includes animation sequences by Eric Drooker interpreting the poem; a courtroom drama of the trial; and Franco’s uncanny Ginsberg reading and reflecting on the poem, the trial, and his life.  Todd Rotondi as Jack;  Jon Prescott as Neal.  Plus a slew’a cool cats in supporting roles — Jon Hamm & David Strathaim as the lawyers (!) Bob Balaban as the judge (!) plus Jeff Daniels, Treat Williams and Mary-Louise Parker as witnesses.  Really well edited and constructed.  A nice recreation of the Six Gallery reading refrains throughout.  They also reproduce in cinema many of the famous photos we know of Allen and Jack & company. (!)  I love this movie.  It’s both accurate AND in the Spirit of Allen.  Color, B&W and animation;  84 mins.
Here’s the great “Holy” riff — the Footnote to Howl.
Here’s the Allen character talking about how he writes.
Here’s the Allen character talking about commitment to writing.
Here’s the part where Allen meets Peter.
Here’s 4 different clips — Rockland, Allen talking, the trial.
Here’s a clip about Allen moving to SF and getting a straight job.
Here’s the first part of the animation sequences.  Here’s the 2nd.  Here’s the 3rd.  Here’s the 4th.  Here’s the 5th.  Here’s the 6th — Moloch.  Here’s the 7th— with you in Rockland.
And here’s a really cool thing — James Franco talking about how he got Allen’s voice down, and they made the movie and wrote the character.

On The Road — 2012 — film version of the iconic novel finally hit the big screen 65 years after the adventure, 61 years after the Scroll was written, 55 years after publication, 33 years after Coppola bought the rights, and 8 years after the director Walter Salles was approached;  over 60,000 miles covered in the filming;  ironically it took an international consortium to get this Great American Novel filmed — a Brazilian director, French producers, cinematographer & editor, British actors, Argentineans doing the art direction and score, a Puerto Rican screenwriter, and it was mostly filmed in Canada.  Directed by Walter Salles — starring Sam Riley as Jack;  Garrett Hedlund as Neal;  Kristen Stewart as LuAnne;  Kirsten Dunst as Carolyn;  Tom Sturridge as Allen;  Viggo Mortensen as Bill;  Amy Adams as Joan;  Danny Morgan as Al Hinkle, and Elisabeth Moss as Helen Hinkle.  Also includes surprise appearances by Steve Buscemi, Terrence Howard, and Coati Mundi as Slim Gaillard.  Notable for its use of the scroll version of On The Road rather than the ’57 version.  The cinematography, the editing, the musical score, the art direction, the location shooting, the actors’ camaraderie & improvising, Viggo’s Burroughs and Kristen’s LuAnne are all wonderful.  It’s its own work of art — based on an existing work of art.  Color, 126 mins. (revised North American version);  137 mins. (original European version)
Here’s a story of going to the U.K. premiere in London.
Here’s the tale of being at the North American premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival and meeting Walter Salles.
Here’s what it was like being at the New York premiere and afterparty.
Here’s the amazing Cannes press conference — absolute required viewing for anyone interested in this movie.
Here’s the cool trailer.
Here’s three minutes from early in the movie where Sal & Dean are talking about their missing fathers, into Dean parking cars.
Here’s the New Year’s Eve party dancing scene.
Here’s Marylou and Sal in the car.
Here’s Sal & Camille dancing together to Ella Fitzgerald in the roadhouse.
Here’s the six deleted scenes that are included on the French DVD as Extras.

Big Sur — 2013 — screenplay adaptation and directed by Michael Polish;  starring Jean-Marc Barr as Kerouac;  Josh Lucas as Neal;  Kate Bosworth as Billie (Jacky Gibson);  Patrick Fischler is great as Lew Welch;  Anthony Edwards as Ferlinghetti;  Radha Mitchell as Carolyn;  Balthazar Getty as McClure;  Henry Thomas as Philip Whalen;  and gorgeous Stana Katic as Lenore Kandel.  The second major Kerouac novel released as a movie in a year — and a 180 degree counterpoint vision to the youth and optimism of On The Road.  Setting aside Pull My Daisy, this is probably the most accurate portrayal of Jack and his writing on film.  Hauntingly shot on location in S.F. and Big Sur, including an evocative mystical cabin set.  Definitely the most artfully lensed and edited (visually composed) of any of the Kerouac films.  Roughly 85% of the dialogue is voiceover of Jack’s own Big Sur prose.  They use the real names for everybody, not the novel’s fictional ones.  Beautiful haunting minimalist electric guitar and grand piano score by the Dessner twin brothers from The National.  Color, 81 mins.
Here’s an atmospheric 3-minute trailer.
Here’s a more traditional 2-minute trailer.

Kill Your Darlings — 2013 — directed by first-timer John Krokidas;  incredible cast — Daniel Radcliffe as Allen Ginsberg;  Dane DeHaan as Lucien Carr;  Jack Huston (John’s grandson) as Jack Kerouac;  Ben Foster as William Burroughs;  Michael C. Hall as David Kammerer;  Kyra Sedgwick as Lucien’s mother;  Elizabeth Olson (the twins’ younger sister) as Edie Parker;  Jennifer Jason Leigh and David Cross as Ginsberg’s parents;  and John Cullum as the Columbia English teacher.  Allen Ginsberg’s coming of age story from entering Columbia through the David Kammerer killing, which was the subject of the early Kerouac/Burroughs co-authored novel And The Hippos Were Boiled In Their Tanks.  The film’s title comes from the William Faulkner line, “In writing, you must kill your darlings,” meaning you sometimes have to delete your favorite passage for the betterment of the story.  Sadly, the Kerouac character is very much minimized, gay themes are stressed, women are portrayed as shrews, and there’s tons of perplexing factual inaccuracies in a film that presents itself as “a true story.”  Color, 104 mins.
You can read my full detailed review from its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival here.
Here’s the official trailer.
Here’s all of Elizabeth Olson’s scenes as Edie Kerouac to show you how painfully bad the film’s portrayal of women in general is and of the key Beat Generation catalyst in particular.
Here’s the film’s portrayal of the Kammerer murder.
Here’s the awkward 3-minute bar scene with all the principals.

The Subterraneans — 2013 — directed, edited and screenplay adaptation by Simon Benelhady;  Oskar Brown as Leo/Jack, Taneshia Abt as Mardou/Arlene Lee.  German indie production — second attempted adaptation of the novel after the disastrous Hollywood version in 1960 (see above).  The full film doesn’t seem to have manifested.  B&W, 4 mins.
You can watch the full 4-minute sizzle reel/pitch tape here.


The Duluoz Legend sequence of films would be:

Kill Your Darlings  —  set in 1944   (released 2013)
The Last Time I Committed Suicide  —  set in 1945   (released 1997)
Heart Beat  —  set in 1946-66   (released 1980)
On The Road  —  set in 1947-49   (released 2013)
Beat  —  set in 1951   (released 2000)
The Subterraneans  —  set in 1953   (released 1960 and 2013)
Pull My Daisy  —  set in 1955  (released 1959)
Big Sur  —  set in 1960   (released 2013)


My book How The Beats Begat The Pranksters & Other Adventure Tales has the full On The Road premiere trilogy if you enjoy reading books.

You can also check out some original Brian movies about the On The Road premiere in London, and tributes to Carolyn Cassady and Al Hinkle here

For an explanation on the evolution of the words ‘Beat’ and ‘Beatnik’ go here.

For more from the Boulder Beat Book — check out Who All Was There.

For the time George Harrison saw Michael McClure’s The Beard and raved about it to Paul McCartney — check out The Beatles, The Beats & The Beard.

For a tribute to the late great Al Hinkle 1926 – 2018 — check out The Last Man Standing.

For my keynote essay from “The Rolling Stone Book of The Beats” on the decade that birthed the Beats — go here.

Or also from “The Rolling Stone Book of The Beats” — here’s my riff on The Power of The Collective.

For a vivid account of being at the historic “On The Road” scroll auction — check out The Scroll Auction.

For a story about the London “On The Road” premiere at Somerset House — check out this sex, drugs & jazz.

For a wild story of the world premiere of the new shorter final version of “On The Road” — check out this Meeting Walter Salles Adventure.

For a story about Henri Cru’s birthday — check out The Legend Turns 70.

For a poem to Carolyn Cassady on her birthday — check out the Carolyn Cassady Birthday Poem.

For an account of the historic Beat show at the Whitney Museum in New York — check out Wailin’ at the Whitney.

For another riff involving movies — check out this linked list of over 800 of the greatest films ever made.

For an inspiring description of being at a Beat jazz-&-poetry reading in Greenwich Village — check out Be The Invincible Spirit You Are.


by Brian Hassett  

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30 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Jami Cassady // Jan 10, 2013 at 7:22 AM

    Thanks for this, Brian!

  • 2 Jeri Stoeber // Jan 10, 2013 at 7:24 AM

    Brian. this is awesome!! I’ve been trying to get this kind of information — thanks so much!
    And speaking of beat…beatitude…beatific…I just watched “Pull My Daisy” for the first time…and I have to agree with everyone who feels that this movie says everything we need to know.

  • 3 Walter Raubicheck // Jan 10, 2013 at 9:25 AM

    Great job, Brian. I’m going to be able to use with with my class. They’ll love it. Thanks, again.

  • 4 Debbie Vazquez // Jan 11, 2013 at 11:34 AM

    It was so great to see you in NY for the OTR premiere!! I can’t wait to get “schooled” on all these other ones!! Big hugs, Big B!!!

  • 5 John Dorfner // Jan 11, 2013 at 1:57 PM

    I think you got them all. Thanks Brian.

  • 6 John Cassady // Jan 12, 2013 at 3:23 PM

    Even I didn’t know there were this many! How do you find this stuff??!!
    It was so weird to watch Route 66 on Friday nights and know it was supposed to be Neal and Uncle Jack. We got a kick out it, though.

  • 7 Bill Stevenson // Jan 12, 2013 at 8:18 PM

    Can’t wait to see On The Road!!! Hope it’s closer to Pull My Daisy than The Subeteraneans!

  • 8 Stacey Anderson // Jan 12, 2013 at 11:09 PM

    I wanna see On The Road with youuuuuuuuuu!!!

  • 9 Mary Lou Fain // Jan 13, 2013 at 10:16 AM

    I cant believe more people don’t like Heart Beat. I loved that movie. I didn’t know about a bunch of these … thanks for the winter watching list. 🙂

  • 10 JoAnne Dawson // Jan 13, 2013 at 4:31 PM

    Tate Donovan is the best Neal ever! Or at least so far. Heard good things about Garrett Hedland. Looking forward to seeing it.

  • 11 Alex Nantes // Jan 13, 2013 at 10:17 PM

    I can’t believe you did this! SO cool! Thanks!!!

  • 12 Megan Reese // Jan 16, 2013 at 10:03 PM

    Can’t wait to see On The Road! Thanks Mr. B!! <3

  • 13 Will Hodgson // Jan 17, 2013 at 2:22 PM

    “Brian gets things done!” You need to bring the collection down and we’ll have another Prankster Film Fest. It’s been too long.

  • 14 Ben Kleiman // Jan 18, 2013 at 9:32 PM

    I had no idea there were this many. I’m going to have to see how many they have on Netflix. Thanks.

  • 15 Nic Flanagan // Jan 20, 2013 at 10:47 AM

    I caught The Subeterreanans at one of those Beat film festivals — god was it awful!! So glad and I can’t believe there’s going to be THREE movies this year!
    Keep the Beat!

  • 16 Chris Welch // Jan 20, 2013 at 9:13 PM

    Thanks for turning us on to all this cool stuff!

  • 17 Alison Cullum // Jan 24, 2013 at 4:37 PM

    I can’t believe Johnny Depp is not a single one of those movies?!?! Not faaaaaair!!!!

  • 18 Kevin Swanland // Jan 27, 2013 at 7:31 PM

    I had no idea Jan was in Heart Beat! That’s amazing. Thanks for the tip! (gotta go see it again)

  • 19 Monty Herron // Jan 29, 2013 at 4:25 AM

    Excellent post. Thanks.

  • 20 Johan Soderlund // Feb 2, 2013 at 10:21 PM

    Thanks for this list and all the links.

  • 21 Brenda Iverson // Feb 10, 2013 at 11:27 AM

    I hope you can add “The Dharma Bums” to this list soon!!!
    Thanks for all the clips!!

  • 22 Reginald Griffith // Mar 13, 2013 at 8:56 PM

    I always thought it was strange Hollywood made Naked Lunch and even Howl before On The Road.
    Thank god they finally got around to it. Looking forward to finally seeing it next week.

  • 23 Phil Hopkins // May 7, 2013 at 10:23 AM

    I knew I could count on you! Way to go with this!!

  • 24 Mary Jo Sullivan-Hicks // Jul 27, 2013 at 10:55 AM

    Are you serious Brian? How do you have all these things so readily assembled?!

  • 25 Brian Humniski // Aug 2, 2013 at 11:16 AM

    I had to come back to the list again. Great reference. Your insight is uncanny. How did you know?

  • 26 Shizuko Yu // Aug 7, 2013 at 7:46 PM

    Whoa — exactly what I was looking for. Thanks.

  • 27 Ron Mc Gregor // Aug 29, 2013 at 5:23 PM

    Great work, Brian!

  • 28 Sean Keefe // Oct 1, 2014 at 9:03 PM

    Brian, that is a great resource. Thanks for doing it!

  • 29 Jane E. Walker // May 14, 2022 at 7:10 PM

    What an incredible piece of work, Brian! I am about to have my own private “Beat Fest !” Got the popcorn ready. Better have some wine, too. Thank you, thank you, thank you !!!

  • 30 Gubba Topham // Feb 20, 2023 at 12:06 PM

    Just watched the ‘Beany & Cecil’ cartoon clip. I’ll go back and cherry pick some other treasures, such as the full episode of ‘Route 66’ from New Orleans. Thanks, Brian.

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