Pull My Daisy (1959) is a short film that typifies the Beat Generation. Directed by Robert Frank and Alfred Leslie, Daisy was adapted by Jack Kerouac from the third act of his play, Beat Generation; Kerouac also provided improvised narration. It starred poets Allen Ginsberg, Peter Orlovsky and Gregory Corso, artists Larry Rivers (Milo) and Alice Neel (bishop's mother), musician David Amram, actors Richard Bellamy (Bishop) and Delphine Seyrig (Milo's wife), dancer Sally Gross (bishop's sister), and Pablo Frank, Robert Frank's then-young son.
Based on an incident in the life of Beat icon Neal Cassady and his wife, the painter Carolyn, the film tells the story of a railway brakeman whose wife invites a respectable bishop over for dinner. However, the brakeman's bohemian friends crash the party, with comic results.
Originally intended to be called The Beat Generation the title Pull My Daisy was taken from the poem of the same name written by Kerouac, Ginsberg and Cassady in the late 1940s. Part of the original poem was used as a lyric in David Amram's jazz composition that opens the film.
The Beat philosophy emphasized spontaneity, and the film conveyed the quality of having been thrown together or even improvised. Pull My Daisy was accordingly praised for years as an improvisational masterpiece, until Leslie revealed in a November 28, 1968 article in The Village Voice that the film was actually carefully planned, rehearsed, and directed by him and Frank, who shot the film on a professionally lit studio set.
Leslie and Frank discuss the film at length in Jack Sargeant's book Naked Lens: Beat Cinema. An illustrated transcript of the film's narration was also published in 1961 by Grove Press.
Pull My Daisy was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 1996, as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".
The impromptu narration juxtaposed with particular shots portray the Beat Generation in an autobiographical sense. The film editing process began with a picture lock and was a conservative, narrative story arc conceived by Jack Kerouac, directed by Alfred Leslie and shot by Robert Frank. The narration was then improvised by Kerouac resulting in a film that defines the Beat Generation, making a comment on a number of topics representative of conservative America, including protests against industrialization, education, anti-Semitism, sexuality, gender roles, religion and patriotism.
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