Shot on 16 mm for the shoestring sum of forty thousand dollars, Susan Seidelman’s 1982 debut feature, Smithereens, is a remarkably unvarnished time-capsule view of downtown New York City in all its grungy glory. The film’s heroine, a narcissistic young woman named Wren (Susan Berman), leaves behind her native New Jersey to chase rock-and-roll fame, sneaking into shows at the Peppermint Lounge, papering the city with flyers featuring her face, and trying to pal around with the leading lights of the fading underground (including a musician played by punk icon Richard Hell). In this clip from a supplement on our new edition of Smithereens, Seidelman and Berman recall what it was like shooting on location, without permits, in neighborhoods such as the East Village and SoHo, and how the empty lots and crumbling buildings of a city that had just come out of a bankruptcy crisis became key to the film’s scrappy texture.
Wim Wenders Looks Back on the Digital Future He Predicted
From search engines to all-engrossing handheld devices, the technologies that the German director conjured for his 1991 opus Until the End of the World are now common features of contemporary life.
John Bailey Breaks Down a Tour de Force of Gothic Lighting
The veteran cinematographer takes a close look at the highly stylized and atmospheric lighting in one of the most pivotal scenes in pre-Code classic The Story of Temple Drake.
All About Mankiewicz
One of the most celebrated Hollywood writer-directors of his time, Joseph L. Mankiewicz offers a window into the way he sees his characters in this illuminating clip from an archival interview.
Charisma to Burn: Béatrice Dalle’s Incandescent Debut in Betty Blue
The young French actor didn’t require much direction for her first screen role. As the film’s director and cinematographer recall, she quickly proved herself to be a born star.