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What Happened to Kerouac? (1986)

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(works "On the Road", "Visions of Cody", "Desolation Angels", "Mexico City Blues" and "Dr. Sax and others")
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Gregory Corso ...
Himself
Jan Kerouac ...
Herself
Herbert Huncke ...
Himself
Fran Landesman ...
Herself
...
Himself (archive footage)
Ed Sanders ...
Himself (archive footage)
...
Himself
Edie Kerouac Parker ...
Herself
...
Himself (as William Burroughs)
Michael McClure ...
Himself
John Clellon Holmes ...
Himself
Lawrence Ferlinghetti ...
Himself
Ann Charters ...
Herself
Gary Snyder ...
Himself
Neal Cassady ...
Himself (archive footage)
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An investigation of the king of the Beat Generation.


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Release Date:

16 April 1986 (USA)  »

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Did You Know?

Trivia

New York theatrical run 5/23/86; San Francisco 7/11/86. See more »

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References Port of Shadows (1938) See more »

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User Reviews

Essential Kerouac
7 March 2004 | by (USA) – See all my reviews

Anyone who's a fan of Kerouac, or who would like to know about him, will be thrilled to see so much great stuff packed into one film. Aside from the usual anecdotes by people who knew him (Burroughs, Ginsberg, Corso etc.), there are numerous scenes of him on TV guest shows and in all kinds of home movies. The stuff with him on the Steve Allen Show is particularly invaluable as he reads some of his work with Allen playing background jazz piano. If you've never heard Kerouac read his work before, he is amazing. He has a rhythm and a beat that is like that of a great jazz vocalist.

This film beautifully chronicles his life from his early years when he seemed frivolous and free-spirited, to the mid-late 1950s, when he was becoming more intense and serious. It also covers the mid-late 1960s, when he was bloated, burnt-out and indigent (you can't blame him for being a little indigent toward William F. Buckley though!). There's a lot of great speculation about his personality and the meaning of his writings by those who knew him. My favorite bits though were just incredible B/W scenes of San Francisco's deserted seedy dock areas seemingly shot in late afternoon, with a jazz trumpet background and Kerouac's voice reading his work. Which is to say, that this film is more than just a well-researched documentary about a writer. It captures his tone and essence visually and musically. Everything one can hope for in a documentary!


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