7.3/10
3,541
55 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
2 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »

Photos

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Documentary about the Occupy movement's protest against the NATO summit in Chicago in 2012.

Director: Haskell Wexler
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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:

Dateline: Chicago August '68 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

The main character was originally called "John Cassavetes" and was in fact going to be played by actor-director John Cassavetes. When he withdrew from the film due to a scheduling conflict, the character's name was changed to "John Cassellis" and Robert Forster was cast in the role. 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

Gus: Hey, what's in the basket?
John Cassellis: Dinner.
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

Featured in Indie Sex: Censored (2007) See more »

Soundtracks

Happy Days Are Here Again
(uncredited)
Music by Milton Ager
Lyrics by Jack Yellen
Played during one of the scenes inside the Democratic National Convention
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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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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