Jack Smith Shorts and Jack Smith as Seen by Ken Jacobs | Chicago Reader

Jack Smith Shorts and Jack Smith as Seen by Ken Jacobs

A two-hour program stretching from the 50s to the 70s, most of it films by Ken Jacobs featuring Jack Smith as a performer: in The Death of P'Town: Fragment of a Movie That Never Was (1961) Smith cavorts in a cemetery; in Saturday Afternoon Blood Sacrifice and Little Cobra Dance (both 1957) he cavorts in drag for kids and cops in Tribeca; in Little Stabs at Happiness (1962) he nibbles on a doll and a balloon, the latter while dressed as a harlequin; excerpts from Jacobs's unfinished magnum opus Star Spangled to Death (1962) feature more kids and some extended play with a Rockefeller-for-governor poster. Of the Jack Smith shorts, only one qualifies as a completed work—the lovely, three-minute color Scotch Tape (1959), a costumed frolic around a demolition site. The others—the silent, black-and-white Overstimulated (1963); the silent 70s fragment Hot Air Specialists; the tedious, silent, black-and-white mid-60s fragment Wino; and the sound and color Respectable Creatures (1966), featuring everything from banal touristic footage of Rio's Mardi Gras to scenes from an apparent Maria Montez remake—are at best suggestive fragments, none of them a patch on either Scotch Tape or Smith's magnificent Flaming Creatures. His finished work is too alive to belong in a museum, but unfortunately most of the other stuff doesn't look like it could belong anywhere else.

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