On film critic Glenn Kenny’s filmblog this morning is a link to a clip from the old Dick Cavett show in which the non-professional actor stars of the then current Antonini film Zabriskie Point are, well, attempted to be interviewed by not just Cavett, but by fellow guests Mel Brooks and Rex Reed as well.
Antonini is, of course, the old Italian director who, long before Seinfeld, made films that appeared to be about nothing (most famously, Blow Up, which I think most folks these days know from seeing the poster, posted to the right, in college dorm rooms and post-college apartments).
The only Antonini film I’ve seen is Blow Up, and truth be told I need to see it again. The most that I can tell happened are these things: Jane Birkin (muse of Serge Gainsbourg, mother of Charlotte Gainsbourg) was (from what I’ve read) the first to show full frontal nudity in an english language, non-blue film; and in a non-sequitur of a scene in a swinging London night club, a Yardbirds live performance climaxes with Jeff Beck tossing his guitar into the audience, and the audience tearing it apart. Or did Jeff tear it apart first? Like I said, I need to see it again.
Not to blather on too long, since the point of this post is the Dick Cavett clip, but at the time of the release of Zabriskie Point – just released on DVD last week – it was apparently the apex of Antonini’s international fame. The couple interviewed actually do NOT endorse the film, and Reed asks a question about Antonini’s supposed comment about actors deserving to be treated as cattle (which Kenny points out is actually a quote Hitchcock made).
Anyhow the clip is interesting on many levels, not the least of which is being from the age before PR mavens and star handlers tightly choreographed almost all guest appearances, forcing us to these days only be able to count on Mike Tyson, Joaquin Phoenix, and Crispin Glover for those awkward, unpredictable (and usually the best) talk show appearances: