Thom Andersen,
Film Essayist
Short Films

This program of short(er) films begins with two very early works from Andersen's career. Act Without Words is, indeed, Andersen's first extant work as a filmmaker, made as group project while he was a film student at the University of Southern California.  A spirited adaptation of Beckett's eponymous mimed play, efficiently compressed to the 300 foot (16mm) class requirement, Act Without Words boasts an uncredited Lester Young soundtrack that points towards Andersen's interest in American musical traditions. --- ------- is a structuralist film made in collaboration with biophysicist Malcolm Brodwick that fused a radical montage concept with a densely constructed soundtrack. Andersen wrote the following, "Vertically --- ------- is completely structured; horizontally it is completely random. A pastiche of cinematography, a parody of montage."

The two recent works are both inspired by, and in dialogue with, Los Angeles Plays Itself. Get Out of the Car is an archaeological city symphony that marries images of decaying billboards, vernacular signs and resonant historic sites across Los Angeles, "collected" by Andersen on 16mm in Walker Evans fashion, with a dynamic soundtrack of songs, sound and spoken word. With neither subtitles nor explanatory texts to "explain" its evocative sounds and images, Get Out of the Car richly conjures the kind of syncretic daydream experience of driving open-eyed, and radio tuned, through this city so overcrowded with garrulous and imaginative signage, a reverie state that the film's imperative title (taken from a song by Los Angeles legend Richard Berry) contradicts—for this film is also a work of radical history that seeks a way to evoke and describe the half-erased texture of Los Angeles' still largely unwritten local history, offering the bricolage soundtrack of local rhythm and blues and músicanorteño as legends of sorts to the micro-histories of the unmarked sites and uncanonized music forgotten and gathered associatively by Andersen.

The Tony Longo Trilogy is a deliberately minor and playful film that welds together three earlier shorts to erect a homage to the titular late character actor featured in many 90s action films, but most indelibly in David Lynch's Los Angeles masterpiece Mulholland Drive (2001).


  • Act Without Words

    Directed by Thom Andersen.
    US, 1964, 16mm, black & white, 5 min.
    Print source: University of South Carolina
  • --- ------- (AKA The Rock ‘n’ Roll Movie)

    Directed by Thom Andersen and Malcolm Brodwick.
    US, 1967, 16mm, color, 11 min.
    Print source: filmmaker
  • Get Out of the Car

    Directed by Thom Andersen.
    US, 2010, 16mm, color, 34 min.
    In English and Spanish.
    Print source: filmmaker
  • The Tony Longo Trilogy

    Directed by Thom Andersen.
    US, 2014, digital video, color, 14 min.
    Copy source: filmmaker

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Thom Andersen,
Film Essayist

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