Reaching back to the heroic age, the NYUFF presents two artifacts Alfred Leslie made in the aftermath of Pull My Daisy— the beats-at-home movie by Leslie, Robert Frank, and Jack Kerouac that helped jump-start the whole shebang. The Last Clean Shirt (1964) infuriated audiences by repeating three times, with subtle variations, the same long tracking shot (a woman speaking fake Swedish as she’s piloted in a convertible down Cooper Square and up Third Avenue). The negative of this film-object— which begs comparison with Andy Warhol and Michael Snow— was lost for years. It’s showing on March 12 at the Anthology with a fragment from the 8mm epic consumed by the fire that gutted Leslie’s studio in 1966. Birth of a Nation 1965, as Leslie has renamed it, is a tantalizing mélange of street scenes, Frank O’Hara subtitles, jazz, and art molls in their underwear, featuring Willem de Kooning grinning, Patrick Magee reading de Sade, and an orgy in disorienting close-up. At two hours it really might have changed history.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on March 9, 1999