Saturday, June 15, 2024

DA Pennebaker’s Seminal Concert Film “Monterey Pop” Joins the 750 Movies in the National Film Registry


This morning at 3am the Library of Congress announced the new additions to the National Film Registry. There are now about 750 films in the registry, including the ones announced this morning.

Legendary documentary filmmaker DA Pennebaker, 93 years young. already has one on the list– “Don’t Look Back,” his groundbreaking 1967 film about Bob Dylan. Pennebaker was the first doc worker to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award, back in 2013. He and his award winning filmmaker wife Chris Hegedus were nominated for an Oscar in 1994 for “The War Room,” which should also be in the film registry.

Today, his seminal 1968 film “Monterey Pop,” joins the National Film Registry. He shot it at the groundbreaking Monterey Pop Film Festival in 1967. It was the summer of love. The Festival introduced Janis Joplin and Otis Redding, among others, to the world. It was organized, as you can see in the film, by the Mamas and the Papas, Lou Adler, and Bill Graham. A young Clive Davis can be seen rocking out among the fans in his tennis sweater. This was before Woodstock. Everything changed.

Penny, who I was lucky to make “Only the Strong Survive” with in 2002, told me last night that “the crew of Monterey Pop should get the applause. The cameramen were all novices. I’d send them out in the morning with a roll of film and told them to just shoot.”

The cameramen were his allies, all famous now: Richard Leacock, Al Maysles, Nick Doob, Jim Desmond among them. I was lucky and blessed to have Nick and Jim help shoot “Only the Strong Survive” decades later.

Penny told me: “I didn’t know how to make a film with five or six people. I thought it was a personal thing, you did yourself. In the end, what a gift they were. You have to have the best people you can find help you.”

And who was his favorite performer? “Janis Joplin, because I got to know her so well,” he said. “If she were alive  I know she’d be writing and doing all kinds of things. But I loved Otis Redding, too” In truth, long friendships were formed by Penny with John and Michelle Phillips, Lou Adler, everyone who worked on the project.

I’ll update the other registry inductees when I wake up. Why the press release is coming at 3am eludes me.

Here’s the full list of the 2018 additions:

  • Bad Day at Black Rock (1955)
  • Broadcast News (1987)
  • Brokeback Mountain (2005)
  • Cinderella (1950)
  • Days of Wine and Roses (1962)
  • Dixon-Wanamaker Expedition to Crow Agency (1908)
  • Eve’s Bayou (1997)
  • The Girl Without a Soul (1917)
  • Hair Piece: A Film for Nappy-Headed People (1984)
  • Hearts and Minds (1974)
  • Hud (1963)
  • The Informer (1935)
  • Jurassic Park (1993)
  • The Lady From Shanghai (1947)
  • Leave Her to Heaven (1945)
  • Monterey Pop (1968)
  • My Fair Lady (1964)
  • The Navigator (1924)
  • On the Town (1949)
  • One-Eyed Jacks (1961)
  • Pickup on South Street (1953)
  • Rebecca (1940)
  • The Shining (1980)
  • Smoke Signals (1998)
  • Something Good – Negro Kiss (1898)
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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