7.3/10
502
5 user 37 critic

Portrait of Jason (1967)

The highlights of a 12-hour interview with Aaron Payne, alias Jason Holliday, a former houseboy, would-be cabaret performer, and self-proclaimed hustler who, while drinking and smoking ... See full summary »

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Storyline

The highlights of a 12-hour interview with Aaron Payne, alias Jason Holliday, a former houseboy, would-be cabaret performer, and self-proclaimed hustler who, while drinking and smoking cigarettes and pot, giggles his way through stories and observations of what it was (and is) like to be black and gay in 1960s America. Written by <havan_ironoak@bigfoot.com> and <elfdorado@sbcglobal.net>

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29 September 1967 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Portret Jasona  »

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This film was previously thought to have been lost, until a 16 mm print of the film was discovered at the Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research in 2013 and has since been restored by the Academy Film Archive, Milestone Films and Modern Videofilm. See more »

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User Reviews

A film that about 98% of the public would probably hate...
20 November 2015 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

Shirley Clarke's film "Portrait of Jason" was recently shown on Turner Classic Movies and I think it's a good bet few of the viewers watched it to the end. Now I am not saying that's because it's a terrible film but it's really one that has super-limited appeal.

The film consists of a man who has re-christened himself 'Jason' talking to the camera at length. Occasionally, an unseen person asks him a question but otherwise, it's like you just wind up Jason and let him go! He's a black homosexual self-proclaimed 'hustler'-- which puts him in a VERY small minority back in the 1960s! Mostly he talks and talks about himself and is quite engaging in some ways...though after a while it comes off as a bit boring and you just want it to end.

For me, however, this was more interesting than to the average viewer. I used to be a psychotherapist and Jason reminds me of some of the hustlers I worked with--with his broad and colorful language, his attempt to seduce the viewer and his unwillingness to really talk about himself in anything more than a superficial manner. You don't hear his pain because he's talking so much and trying to entertain in an attempt NOT to talk about his pain. And, being black and gay in the 60s, he must have seen more than his share of pain. Sad, really to watch him laugh and try to entertain but doing no more--even when talking about things that should have been traumatic. And even when confronted by the unseen narrator towards the end of the documentary, he seemed scared to dig deeper. This portion is a bit painful to watch--and he then forces himself to start laughing. Perhaps that is the point of the film-- about what Jason does to avoid digging deep within himself.

I am not going to give this a numerical score--it defies anyone's ability to compare it to traditional films. My feeling is that it's more a social-psychological portrait for a tiny audience and an interesting experiment but no more. Perhaps if the film had been edited down some it might have had more appeal.


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