Anthology Film Archives


August 1 – August 2

The narrative of “The Sixties” is a complicated affair populated by myriad heroic, doomed, and mythic characters. Among the most mercurial was actor, director, and writer Tom Baker (1940-82). A member of Lee Strasberg’s Theatre and Film Institute, Baker’s place in the underground history of the world was assured after being cast as the lead actor in Andy Warhol’s I, A MAN (1967) where, alongside would-be Warhol assassin Valerie Solanas, he cast the Platonic screen image of the sharp-featured, fast-talking, Irish hustler. Contracted to Universal Studios, Baker initially tried his luck in Hollywood, where he soon embarked on an affair with Pamela Courson, then-girlfriend (and future wife) of Doors lead singer Jim Morrison. Not one to hold a grudge, Morrison saw a kindred spirit in Baker and the two became fast friends (and notorious drinking buddies), their relationship immortalized years later by Oliver Stone in his bio-pic THE DOORS (1991), with Michael Madsen portraying Baker.

Returning to New York in early 1967, Baker appeared alongside George Plimpton in Norman Mailer’s second feature BEYOND THE LAW (1968), and, for the next ten years, juggled multiple addictions while making semi-regular appearances on television and in exploitation films like HALLUCINATION GENERATION (1967) and ANGELS DIE HARD (1970). His most curious endeavor, however, was BONGO WOLF’S REVENGE (1970), a ‘lost’ featurette he produced and directed set against the demimonde of the Sunset Strip and starring, among others, guitarist Michael Bloomfield, singer-songwriter Jim Ford, and Bongo Wolf himself. Baker would go on to write scripts, including an unproduced screenplay with Chet Baker, and became, for a period in the 1970s and early 1980s, one of the East Village’s most charismatic residents.

Baker was a friend and mentor to many, and Anthology Film Archives is pleased to pay tribute to him with a trio of screenings, which will include the recently re-discovered BONGO WOLF’S REVENGE and a unique, 35mm print of Mailer’s BEYOND THE LAW.  –Michael Chaiken

Presented in collaboration with the Post-Literate Press. Special thanks to Michael Chaiken, Jeffrey Jampol, Eric Liknaitzky, Frank Lisciandro, Michael Mailer, James Marshall, Legs McNeil, Frazer Pennebaker, and the British Film Institute.

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