Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Coney Island anno 1952

This is a sweet surreal or possibly impressionistic look at Coney Island. Great footage from behind the scenes and from before the crowds of the amusement parks and beaches arrive to the heated girls shows packed with people at night.

Coney Island, USAThe Venice Film Festival Prize-winning documentary Coney Island, USA (1952), narrated by New York wit & journalist Henry Morgan, without totally trashing Coney Island is the first film to really get round to a bigger dose or reality than might be expected of a tourist film.

Throughout it retains an air of the macabre, weird dolls & mannequins, shouting barkers, eerie angles of whirling rides like the Virginia Wheel & the Cyclone, the screaming of frightened funseekers, hairy arms tearing tickets, the promise of being half-killed, humanity swarming like insects as Henry Morgan narrates with venomous irony, "You & I in the sun, you & I alone."
Shots are speeded up, blurry, distorted; the music rises in an industrialist beat shifting into happy carny sounds shifting into suspense notes. 
Verging into horror documentary, the attitude of grotesquery never quite warns you away from Coney Island, but is a lot more honest than any earlier film, showing everything except the outright prostitution & pickpocketing.

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