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Questions about Mickey One (Arthur Penn, 1966)

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Questions about Mickey One (Arthur Penn, 1966)

Old 12-04-07, 05:56 AM
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Questions about Mickey One (Arthur Penn, 1966)

The announcement of the special edition DVD of Bonnie and Clyde got me to thinking about the previous Penn/Beatty collaboration, Mickey One. I've read tantalizing bits and pieces about this story of a stand-up comic on the run from the mob for more than twenty years but have never come close to seeing it; apparently it has never been released on video in any format in the U.S. I'm not a cable subscriber so I don't know if it shows up on TMC or other channels.

Has anyone seen it, and can report on their impressions? Does anyone know why it has never shown up on U.S. VHS, laserdisc, or DVD? It was originally released by Columbia, but was it an independent production that's now owned by someone else? Other rights issues? If Sony now owns it, that doesn't bode well for any iminent DVD release, but if there was a time to do it, riding the coattails of Bonnie and Clyde would have been as good a time as any.
Old 12-04-07, 07:28 AM
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For what it's worth, I included it in my list of "most ahead of its time movies" here.

I saw this film in a Jesuit college cine-club in Montreal in the sixties a few years after it came out (1965) and the powers that be impressed on us how innovative the mix of film noir, surreal elements and mostly Zazie-esque effects was for the time. The moral of the story was very pessimistic ("You can't fight corruption") in a way that was reminiscent of a Kafka novel. It may also be argued that the film is about original sin, which would explain why the Jesuits insisted on it. This may have been shown at that time because the infamous Bonnie and Clyde (1967) had hit the theatres and Arthur Penn's name was everywhere and would soon be associated with the counterculture with his film Alice's Restaurant (1969).

Michey One was in sharp, stark black and white, had a jazzy score and quoted every important director ever born (Welles, Fellini, Hitchcock, Bergman, Kubrick, Polanski). It was a surprising film for the time, hailed as a victory of courageous, independent film-making by some but considered terminally boring by others. (I refer you to the IMDb comments on this film.) It was especially surprising that young director Penn had attracted so many popular and/or famous actors to his cast: Warren Beatty, Hurd Hatfield, Franchot Tone, Alexandra Stewart. It was like watching a daring, experimental European film with American actors. It was jarring in that sense.

Its cult status has grown in proportion with its unavailability. The films is still shown and the film element are OK, according to the latest reports. The soundtrack features the late Stan Getz, so there might be a few copyright problems there. It's probably not shown because Penn is still considered a Commie Pinko in some circles. Who knows? It certainly left a lasting impression on me.

The title sequence alone must have given the censors a heart attack - I know it made the Jesuits twitch:

<object width="425" height="355"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/QMmvZxmamtI&rel=1"></param><param name="wmode" value="transparent"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/QMmvZxmamtI&rel=1" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" wmode="transparent" width="425" height="355"></embed></object>

Amusing anecdote: François Truffaut was Beatty's first choice to direct Bonnie and Clyde. Truffaut dropped the project like a hot potato when offered to direct Farenheit 451, a much more mainstream and commercially-viable project. The producers then suggested Jean-Luc Godard but had him ousted when the man turned out to be an imbecile and Arthur Penn appeared a much saner choice by comparison.

Last edited by baracine; 12-04-07 at 04:23 PM.
Old 12-04-07, 08:05 AM
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I own the laserdisc so it has been previously released on home video.

I would love to upgrade, but Columbia has a very poor track record lately on their catalog titles being released on DVD.
Old 12-04-07, 08:10 AM
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I didn't know there was a laserdisc. It must be worth its weight in gold by now.

See: http://www.cqout.com/item.asp?id=2496075

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