The first screening will be introduced by Austin filmmaker Michael Tully. In 35mm.
After having made a succession of insurgent, foul, raucous, and truly unruly bare-budget underground films in the 1960s (Babo 73, Chafed Elbows, No More Excuses), Robert Downey Sr. broke out with his equally caustic 1968 Madison Avenue satire Putney Swope (1968). Four years later, Downey left New York City for New Mexico to shoot a Western with his biggest budget yet of one million dollars. Would working with a seven-figure budget in a classic genre tame Downey’s insurgent tendencies? Yeah, right! Greaser’s Palace is an allegory of dizzyingly zany proportions that must be seen to (maybe?) be understood.
Even after several viewings, the plot remains difficult to recount, so let’s instead simply introduce a few of our main characters: Seaweedhead Greaser (Albert Henderson), the town’s corrupt leader, who is having trouble going to the bathroom; his son Lamy (Michael Sullivan), who Greaser shoots dead for purely homophobic reasons; Jesse (Allan Arbus), a zoot-suited singer-dancer who parachutes down from the sky before resuscitating Lamy with his magic hands and who is headed to Jerusalem to connect with his agent Morris (and who might be Jesus?); and a woman (Elsie Downey), who is left to pick up the pieces after her husband and son are slaughtered on a journey. Throw Hervé Villechaize and Toni Basil in the mix, and you have the makings of a motion picture that has no earthly precedent. (Michael Tully)
“In the early 1970s, when revisionist Westerns were all the rage — think MCCABE & MRS. MILLER, or, especially, EL TOPO — GREASER’S PALACE stood out as a distinctive, rangy animal, one that in no way could be corralled into commercial territory.” – Peter Martin, Screen Anarchy
“The PUTNEY SWOPE of Westerns.” – Coen Brothers, Entertainment Weekly