Blonde Cobra / Flaming Creatures

Sat 7/15/2023 • 7:30PM PDT

Billy Wilder Theater

Admission is free. No advance reservations. Your seat will be assigned to you when you pick up your ticket at the box office. Seats are assigned on a first come, first served basis. The box office opens one hour before the event.

Blonde Cobra
U.S., 1963

After production collapsed on Jack Smith and filmmaker Bob Fleischner’s plans to make a “light monster-movie comedy,” Fleischner shared the resulting footage with Ken Jacobs (Little Stabs of Happiness), who added a bit of his own, recorded new music and a voiceover with Smith. As film historian Paul Arthur has describes it, Smith and Fleischner’s footage plays as a “burlesque rendering of [Robert] Siodmak’s Cobra Woman,” but in Jacobs’ anarchic reassembly Blonde Cobra “resists our every effort at connection or expectation, yet, implausibly draw[s] us into a lush world of dark liberties.”

16mm, color, 37 min. Director: Ken Jacobs. With: Ken Jacobs, Jack Smith.

Flaming Creatures
U.S., 1962

Over a blaring processional from the soundtrack of Arthur Lubin’s Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves (1944) and a parade of androgynous “creatures” slinking past the camera, we hear, whispered like an incantation, “Today, Ali Baba comes!” And so filmmaker and performance artist Jack Smith inaugurates his pleasure dome, a delirious, harrowing, spellbinding confluence of B-movies, drag queens, flaccid penises, nipples and miles and miles of shimmering fabric. As baroque as Josef von Sternberg, scrappier than a Poverty Row quickie, Flaming Creatures demolishes the lines between high and low, male and female, order and chaos. As film critic J. Hoberman observed: “Had Jack Smith produced nothing other than this amazing artifact, he would still rank among the great visionaries of American film.”

16mm, b&w, 43 min. Director: Jack Smith. Screenwriter: Jack Smith. With: Francis Francine, Sheila Bick, Joel Markman.

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