7.3/10
3,436
53 user 73 critic

Medium Cool (1969)

A TV news reporter finds himself becoming personally involved in the violence that erupts around the 1968 Democratic National Convention.

Director:

Haskell Wexler

Writer:

Haskell Wexler

On Disc

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2 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Robert Forster ... John Cassellis
Verna Bloom ... Eileen
Peter Bonerz ... Gus
Marianna Hill ... Ruth
Harold Blankenship Harold Blankenship ... Harold
Charles Geary Charles Geary ... Harold's Father
Sid McCoy Sid McCoy ... Frank Baker
Christine Bergstrom Christine Bergstrom ... Dede
William Sickingen William Sickingen ... News Director
Robert McAndrew ... Pennybaker
Marrian Walters ... Social Worker
Beverly Younger Beverly Younger ... Rich Lady
Edward Croke Edward Croke ... Plain-clothesman
Doug Kimball Doug Kimball ... Newscaster
Peter Boyle ... Gun Clinic Manager
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Storyline

John Cassellis is the toughest TV-news reporter around. His area of interest is reporting about violence in the ghetto and racial tensions. But he discovers that his network helps the FBI by letting it look at his tapes to find suspects. When he protests, he is fired and goes to the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Illinois. Written by Mattias Thuresson

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Beyond the age of innocence... into the age of awareness See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

6 February 1970 (Australia) See more »

Also Known As:

The Concrete Wilderness See more »

Filming Locations:

Illinois, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$800,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

H & J See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

As noted elsewhere on this page and on the soundtracks page, the music of Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention was used in the nightclub scene and in the score for a couple other scenes. The individual songs were not credited. However, the band's name does appear in the end credits as "Incidental music by Mothers Of Invention." See more »

Goofs

When Eileen enters the L looks for Harold, she is wearing a white hair band, but when they show her sitting on the L, the hair band is missing. See more »

Quotes

John Cassellis: Better call an ambulance.
See more »

Crazy Credits

In keeping with the film's documentary style, the cast is not listed during the opening credits, only in the ending credits. See more »

Alternate Versions

Due to copyright disputes, all video releases feature some different songs on the soundtrack from the theatrical version. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Refinements in Love (1971) See more »

Soundtracks

Mom and Dad
(uncredited)
Written by Frank Zappa
Performed by Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention
Played when Eileen is first wandering in the park looking for Harold
See more »

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User Reviews

 
MEDIUM COOL (Haskell Wexler, 1969) ***1/2
23 August 2006 | by Bunuel1976See all my reviews

A brilliant film and a seminal one - a product by a major Hollywood studio handled in cinema-verite' style; besides, the various issues it raises - social, political and media-related - have scarcely been treated with such directness and power. The lack of star names in the cast (Peter Boyle, who appears briefly, was not yet established and, even if he had debuted in John Huston's REFLECTIONS IN A GOLDEN EYE [1967], lead Robert Forster's role was originally intended for John Cassavetes) certainly helps sell its inherent documentary feel.

Though, understandably, most meaningful to people who witnessed these turbulent times first-hand, and Americans in particular, despite its specific time-setting - Chicago 1968 (partly shot at the actual Democrats convention site, the film proved prophetic because the script involved riots breaking out...which is what actually happened!) - many of its concerns are still very much with us!! Fascinating therefore if slightly overlong - the subplot involving Verna Bloom and Harold Blankenship feels a bit like padding at first (and was actually what remained of a proposed film, with animal interest, about a poor country boy's adjustment to city life!)...but, ultimately, its point is made during the film's latter stages when Bloom goes to look for her missing son - creating an indelible image of a perplexed figure (incongruously dressed in a bright yellow outfit) getting embroiled in all the commotion hitting the streets at that same moment. This, however, results in a goof involving the unexplained presence very early on of Bloom (already wearing the yellow dress but whose introduction proper in the film takes place quite a bit later!) at a cocktail party for members of the press - a sequence intended to immediately precede the riots but which was then pushed forward during editing, so as to deal straight off with the film's major theme of media responsibility! The tragic yet ironic ending - presented as matter-of-factly as any of the news items covered by dispassionate TV cameraman Forster - is very effective.

This is certainly renowned cinematographer Wexler's most significant directorial effort; his camera-work (some of it hand-held) is simply incredible, as is Paul Golding's editing (which must have been quite a headache and, in fact, he mentions in the Audio Commentary that several scenes remained on the cutting-room floor; pity they weren't available for inclusion on the Paramount DVD - nor, apparently, were the rights to the 2001 documentary about the film, LOOK OUT HASKELL, IT'S REAL: THE MAKING OF 'MEDIUM COOL'!). Also essential to the unique texture of the film is the fantastic soundtrack (mostly by Mike Bloomfield but also featuring songs by Frank Zappa, among others).


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