The Los Angeles Times from Los Angeles, California on June 28, 1970 · Page 380
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The Los Angeles Times from Los Angeles, California · Page 380

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Los Angeles, California
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Sunday, June 28, 1970
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Page 380
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CALENDAR LOS ANGELES TIMES JUNE 28, 1970 Heller's Novel NCatch-22' Becomes a Big, Icy Movie BY CHARLES CHAMPLIN The screen is black and silent. The titles, cold and efficient, appear and pause and vanish. Far off, so faint it might be outside the theater, there is a dog's bark, the cry of a gull. Gradually, terribly gradually, the blackness- begins to find shape, bulky masses-'Sil-houetted by a grayer mass along the top. Still gradually, as if our eyes: were growing accustomed to the dark, we discern mountains and a dawn sky beyond and then shimmering glints of light on a bay. Unseen aircraft engines cough into life and start to rev up, shat tering the sunrise silence. Now' the titles are done and daylight is full and the camera commences a long and majestic sweep past a formation of B-25s taking off through billowing- dust and shimmering heatwaves; the camera circles the planes and espies the bomb-gutted skeleton of a two-stor3' building; moves in and watches three men in uniform talking on the upper floor of the building, the roar of the rising planes drowning their words. One of the men tosses away his Air Force insignia, strides out of the THE SATCHMO LEGEND GOES ON AND ON FOR LOUIS ARMSTRONG. Louis Armstrong: The Cat With Nine Lives Hits 70 BY LEONARD FEATHER A few weeks ago, at his first recording session in almost two years, Louis Armstrong sang a song called "This Black Cat Has Nine Lives." The lyrics spoke the truth. "You don't know how close we came to losing him," said Lucille Armstrong. "There were times last year when we thought he wasn't going to make it. But now, thank God, he looks better than he has in years.'' And so next Saturday, musicians from New Orleans to New Zealand will have two reasons to celebrate the Fourth of July: Independence Day, and the 70th birthday of the .New Orleans Waifs' Home alumnus who became the first globally authoritative jazz soloist. The tributes have sprung up spontaneously. In England, publication of "The Satchmo Saga" will commemorate the event in book form. Tuesday, at Los Angeles International Airport, Mayor Yorty will greet Louis and Lucille on their arrival and will officially designate Julv 4 as Louis Armstrong Day. Friday, the eve of his birthday, Armstrong and a few dozen of the idolators on whom he has been a lifelong influence will share the stage at Los An- Plrnsc Turn to Page 35 building; a worker in native dress lunges forward with a knife; the man in khaki staggers and falls and seems about to be buried in the biting, blinding dust churned up by the prop wash. Mike Nichols' screen telling of Joseph Heller's "Catch-22" so begins. And this account of a bizarre bomber squadron on a Mediterranean island in 1944 begins breathtakingly, with this long and stunningly cinematic frontispiece (which will eventually give the whole movie its symmetry), technically masterful and conceptually just about perfect, cool and arresting and thoughtful. The movie is never again quite so fine. "Catch-22" is awfully good, and also a disappointment: Chilly brilliant at its best but flawed at last" by its detachment and by its failure to catch fire or give off heat. Its fury is cold and intellectual and cannot reach us or involve us at gut level. We are witnesses, sometimes engrossed but sometimes frankly restive; we aren't sharers, seared by the heat and the passions. Please Turn to Page 20 Biennale Message: Protest Art Belongs in the Gallery BY HENRY J. SELDIS VENICE Unopened crates stand in the former U.S. consulate building here. They contain prints by major American artists who withdrew from the exhibition at the American Pavilion during the 33th Biennale. Pressured by the Emergency Cultural Government Committee of the New York Art Strike, these artists waited until three weeks before the Biennale's opening to deny the use of their art as "a cultural veneer to cover policies of ruthless aggression abroad and intolerable repression at home." As a result, part of the print workshop that was to be operated in the former U.S. consulate building next to Peggy Guggenheim's art palace on the Grand Canal was hastily installed in the American Pavilion at the Giardini. During the opening days its activities drew the attention of a great many visitors. Missing from the planned graphics exhibition are 24 invited artists including Roy Lichtenstein, Leonard Baskin, Robert Motherwell, Claes Oldenburg, Frank Stella and Andy Warhol. Remaining on the walls are the work of 22 artists including Josef Albers, Sam Francis, Jasper Johns, Mauricio Lasan-sky, Boris Margo, Conrad Marca-Relli, William Weege and Edward Ruscha. Perhaps the most meaningful protest an American artist can make is the very kind exemplified by Weege's portfolio "Peace Is Patriotic." There is near-unanimity of opinion in the American art community when it comes to condemning the Indochina war, domestic repression and racism. The vocal minority of the New York Art Strike has no exclusivity of sentiment here. In the context of a friendly international collaboration such as the Biennale now beginning to significantly reform itself the artist's best opportunity to demonstrate his dismay with American government policy is certainly the display of works created especially to express such protest, even in the most abstract or symbolic terms. The last-minute arm-twisting by the Emergency Cultural Government Committee did not sit well with those who Works such as this lithograph "Quantum" represent artist Goro Artresian at 35th Biennale being held in Venice. were either threatened or meant to be impressed by the fact that a number of "blue chip" artists had pledged their withdrawal from the Biennale. In the long run the dent made by the protesting artists is not really noticeable to the uninitiated Biennale visitor since the planned exhibition would have been far too crowded. The idea of having American and European artists and printers work side by side in the U.S.-sponsored graphics shop certainly fits in with Biennale reforms meant to focus attention on the artist's creative activity rather than on the commercial marketability of his work. It seems to be more successful in practice than seemed possible when the program was first proposed. Political protests or not, future Bien-nales should either see America mount a first-rate explorative artistic venture or keep its pavilion closed. The bureaucratic lack of imagination and Please Turn ! Page 52

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