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date: 05 December 2020

Abstract and Keywords

In 1960, cinema critic Jonas Mekas welcomed the advent of the New American Cinema, praising the wave of independent movies produced in late 1950s for their casual and fragmentary nature. The key feature of these productions, which was particularly remarkable in the case of two major features—Shadows by John Cassavetes and Pull My Daisy by Alfred Leslie and Robert Frank—was an anti-Hollywood style that relied on improvisatory practices affecting all structural levels: from the acting to the montage, from the photography to the soundtrack. The style of this “spontaneous cinema” was a pastiche of multiple improvisatory practices, borrowed from bebop, beat poetry, and Stanislavsky’s acting techniques, which defied traditional cinematographic narratives. A close analysis of Shadows and Pull My Daisy reveals the multiple forms of improvisation that shaped these movies’ “spontaneous poetics” and the ways in which they both managed to bring improvisation into film art.

Keywords: Pull My Daisy, Shadows, New American Cinema, improvisatory practices, bebop, Jack Kerouac, Robert Frank, Albert Leslie, John Cassavetes, Jonas Mekas

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