Monday, 9 March 2009

NO, NOW, NEVER: RADICAL NEW YORK CINEMA

1 April 2008

POUND (dir. Robert Downey Sr, 1970), 96 min.

"When life goes to the dogs, where do the dogs go?" POUND is a legendary and legendarily-unseen countercultural classic in which eighteen mutts (plus a penguin), all of them played by human actors, wait in a New York dog pound hoping to be adopted, while outside the city is being terrorised by the Honky Killer. The assorted greyhounds, Dachshunds and puppies (one of them played by Antonio Fargas, Huggy Bear on Starsky and Hutch) banter, philosophise and sniff each others' backsides. Adapted from his off-off Broadway existential drama, Downey Sr's follow-up to the celebrated 'Putney Swope' also doubles as profane satire and surprisingly moving liberation holler.

Never issued on video or DVD, 'Pound' has been MIA almost from the moment it was released. It has been suggested that studio executives, appalled upon discovering that they weren't getting the canine version of 'Fritz The Cat' they had anticipated and bankrolled, tried to destroy all the prints. The film had a brief commercial life when it was paired up with Fellini's 'Satyricon' for an X-rated double bill. Not even a cameo by 5-year old Robert Downey Jr. (said to have been introduced to weed on the set) who pipes up "Got any hair on your balls?" could save it. The Colloquium for Unpopular Culture is delighted to present a very rare screening of this long-lost slice of post-68 wigginess.

The film will be presented by Una Chaudhuri, Professor of English Literature at NYU, author of 'No Man's Stage: A Semiotic Study of Jean Genet's Major Plays', and a specialist in performance theory and animal studies.

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