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The Beat Generation: An American Dream (1988)

Unrated | | Documentary, History | 30 April 1988 (USA)
An investigation of the Beat Generation.


Janet Forman


Janet Forman, Regina Weinrich (as Regina Weinreich)




Credited cast:
Steve Allen ... Himself - Host
David Amram David Amram ... Himself
Amiri Baraka Amiri Baraka ... Himself
Ray Bremser Ray Bremser ... Himself
William S. Burroughs ... Himself (as William Burroughs)
Carolyn Cassady Carolyn Cassady ... Herself
Neal Cassady Neal Cassady ... Himself (archive footage)
Clark Coolidge Clark Coolidge ... Himself
Gregory Corso Gregory Corso ... Himself
Robert Creeley Robert Creeley ... Himself
Diane Di Prima Diane Di Prima ... Herself (as Diane diPrima)
Larry Fagin Larry Fagin ... Himself
Lawrence Ferlinghetti Lawrence Ferlinghetti ... Himself
Allen Ginsberg ... Himself
Abbie Hoffman ... Himself


Using original film clips and interviews, this film illustrates the 1950s social movement termed the Beat Generation. Disillusioned with post-World War II America, Beat Generation writers and painters came together because they felt mainstream America was becoming out of touch with humanity and the individual. In their interviews, characters such as 'Allen Ginsberg', Neal Cassady, Jack Kerouac, and Gregory Corso express their disdain for a society that defines success and happiness in terms of superior technology, cars, and clothing. Those individuals discuss the false conventionality of society and the dangerous world of shock treatments and conformity in which they found themselves. Their goal is to redefine this world to reflect the endless possibilities that characterize America. Written by Anonymous

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Release Date:

30 April 1988 (USA) See more »

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An excellent introduction to a vital literary movement.
28 February 2001 | by CellguySee all my reviews

The documentary Beat Generation: An American Dream provides an excellent introduction to an extremely vital and influential 20th century literary movement. Most of the key players are featured either through interviews or archival footage. News reels, propaganda, and pop culture film footage from the 40s and 50s (rife with the superficiality peculiar to that era) provide stark contrast to the free spirited ideals set forth by the key Beat exponents.

Some of the most compelling moments of the film were the segments featuring the writers reading from their works. It doesn't get any better than Jack Kerouac expressively reading from _On The Road_ while Steve Allen effortlessly accompanies him on piano. Just as moving was the excerpt of Allan Ginsberg's furious reading of _Howl_ and his sad and poignant recollection of his beloved mother.

Of course there is no better way to learn about the Beat writers than to actually read their works. But, if it's a film introduction you want, this is the one to watch.

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