Episode 56: Cinema Ann Arbor, featuring Frank Uhle, BFA ’83/MILS ’92

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Listen in, Michigan — Episode 56 – Cinema Ann Arbor, featuring Frank Uhle, BFA ’83/MILS ’92, 

Deborah Holdship: Hi, I’m Deborah Holdship, editor of Michigan Today. In this episode of Listen in, Michigan, my guest is Frank Uhle, an alum, cultural historian, shy projectionist, and the author of a gorgeous new history of the film scene in Ann Arbor. “Cinema Ann Arbor” is a beautiful and jam-packed collaboration between Fifth Avenue Press—the Ann Arbor District Library’s publishing imprint—and the University of Michigan Press. It comes out in June.

Based on the town’s longstanding commitment to film, dating as far back as 1929, the book transcends Ann Arbor and U-M history to encompass the cultural impact of a burgeoning artform and its social, political, and economic impact on the past century. It’s almost like one of those expansive epics that starts with guys with handlebar mustaches driving model Ts and concludes with massive high-rises and rockets to Mars.

Any film lover or history buff will dig this book, but the members of Ann Arbor’s longstanding cinema guilds and film societies, and attendees of the Ann Arbor Film Festivals – both 16 and 8 mm – are going to lose their minds when they see this thing.

It’s coffee-table sized and is 344 pages long; JAMMED with the most amazing photos that will transport you through time. Ads, calendars, mugshots, flyers, receipts, notes, schedules …

Legendary professors Marvin Felheim, Joe Wehrer, and Robert Sklar all make appearances, as well as George Manupelli and his ONCE Group. And one can’t forget the beloved Hugh Cohen, who is still teaching film at 92.

So, Heritage writer Jim Tobin was in my office flipping through the book recently; he gasped when he came upon a printed schedule, so ubiquitous back in the day that literally every hipster had one hanging on their fridge. The memories came fast and furious as he scanned the titles. The print is tiny, the list is long, the films are diverse, and the screening rooms were all over campus and town. Even Jim, who grew up in suburban Detroit where movies were pretty accessible, said that on one of his first days on campus in the early 70s, he saw four pictures back to back.

Uhle interviewed some 80 people who created and experienced this vibrant segment of Ann Arbor culture, many of whom are household names today. Filmmakers Ken Burns, Michael Moore, and Lawrence Kasdan had their moments. So did award-winning editor Jay Cassidy and executive producer John Sloss. Director Todd Haynes won an award here as a young director.

I was drawn to the Warhol stuff, myself. I recognized the name Buster Simpson, a Seattle-based artist today, who photographed an early campus appearance by the Velvet Underground in 1966 when the film festival presented “Up-Tight with Andy Warhol and the Velvet Underground” after which professor Joe Wehrer and his family put most of them up. The band’s return to Ann Arbor a few years later would elicit a scathing review by then-student critic Lawrence Kasdan – the Big Chill guy – and when Cinema II rented Warhol’s Chelsea Girls in 1979, they also had to rent one of the actors, Ondine, who brought the film with him.

Basically, this book is about when Ann Arbor was really, really cool – not to mention the good, old analog days, when films were physical objects, stored in canisters that traveled from city to city via planes, trains, and automobiles. The patently offensive Birth of a Nation came to Ann Arbor numerous times, always followed by protest and drama. An experimental picture named Flaming Creatures resulted in the 1967 arrest of film professor Hu Cohen for “showing obscene films.” Back in the day, Ingmar Bergman could sell out a theater.

OK I’ve been talking long enough. Just know that the Art Cinema League, established in 1932 morphed into the Cinema Guild in 1950, spawning additional groups throughout the years – finally leading to the launch of U-M’s film program in the mid-1970s. Here’s Frank to explain it all …

Frank Uhle: People in Chicago claim 1932, but the Art Cinema League was started here in 1932 and they actually took on what had been started in 1929. This amazing woman named Amy Loomis was hired at the Michigan League. She’d been an undergrad, like a theater major, and graduated in 1922. And then the league opened in 1929. So she was hired and she was putting on, you know, student plays, and she’d have an occasional musician, but she had this notion to show movies.

DH: That’s so cool.

FU: Yeah, The Film Society, the Arts Cinema League, started in 1932. Their first show was “October 10, Days That Shook the World,” which was a glorification of the Russian Revolution in 1932. And they got a letter in The Daily the next day that was just like “You people are a bunch of commies,” and they had to go, you know, “Oh, no, we’re not, you know, we’re just showing movies.”

For a few years in the late 40s, mid 50s, you know, it just was like a popular entertainment and they would show good movies. They would get art films, but they would show recent hits from the — I guess you can’t call them multiplexes — it was the analog era. So you couldn’t flip 300 channels of cable or streaming channels or, you know, get Blu-Rays from the library. You literally had a schedule and it would say, you know, two months from now they’re showing Casablanca even. I mean even “Casablanca” or “Gone with the Wind” would be a rare opportunity to see up on a screen. And one of the things Ann Arbor had was this uniquely vibrant film culture. I mean, I actually found a letter written by the head booker for the midwest of one of the top film distributors and he said “Cinema Guild is the best film society in the nation. Exceeded only possibly by the Museum of Modern Art.” And this was in 1967.

The Film Festival, which some people call the 16 millimeter Film Festival, was kind of an art thing, you know, and these, you know, important film makers from around the country would send their latest work and some of the locals were making films, but 16 millimeter was a little expensive. But 8 millimeter was home movies. So the 8 millimeter Film Festival was like the little sister to the Film Festival. But for a while it kind of it, it took off. It was like really creative and interesting people. Todd Haynes won an award here. People that would later become. I mean, John Sloss from Cinema 2, my housemate, is a producer on the Velvet Underground movie that Todd Haynes just made.

DH: Oh wow

FILM CLIP from Velvets Doc: We have this chance to learn music and art and films altogether.

FU: But yeah, so the 8 millimeter provided a forum for that. And this Ann Arbor had the biggest and first 8 millimeter Film Festival in the country.

DH: I mean, it’s perfect for a university town, a film society.

FU: You know, students are always coming to campus and they’ve heard about, you know, “The rules of the game” or something. But how did they see it? The Art Cinema League, especially in the 50s and 60s, was performing that function.

DH: Yeah. How do you see it? And then to to be in a place where you could see it must have been a real kick, which is why it was so successful for so long, I guess.

FU: Right. And a lot of campuses and I did a lot of research for the book, had film societies. You know, this is just a bigger town. And there’s so many educated people here just in general. There was a lot more demand. So it just blossomed in the late 60s and into the 70s to where, you know, other film societies were starting and at the same time the media was changing. So there were a lot more people making documentaries. Counterculture was emerging and suddenly you have all this content that wasn’t accessible anywhere. And the film societies would be showing these obscure movies that maybe only played a handful of places in the country. And so Ann Arbor, again, we were very fortunate that we had these kind of visionary people that became these presenters.

You know, this guy Ed Webber who was here, he had already got studied English at Columbia. He came here to go to library school in the mid-50s as a grad student and he was, you know, a gay man and in the late in the 50s. And he was basically an anarchist. I can’t speak to that, but he was the curator of the Labadie Collection for years. And he was just famously like a
“didn’t give a blank” kind of guy. And so he was like “Hey, in in front of Charlton Heston movie, let’s show some Stan Brakhage movie where a bunch of weird stuff is happening nobody can understand,” and you know, the college students of the day would come out on a date Saturday night, and then there’d be this freaky movie for like 7 minutes. And he would be like, “yeah….” You know, he would expose him to some, like, freaky stuff.

But, you know, even in 1959, there’s a letter that was written by the, you know, student government council. Dear, Cinema Guild: We appreciate the fine movies you show, but please don’t show any more movies because the regents and all these other people got horrible letters and phone calls.” And then he saved his response, which was, you know, “I think college students can handle it. I don’t know what your problem is.”

So the people, the Cinema Guild, especially because of some of the people like Ed Weber, took on the function of being like an art house.

Would you mind listening to me for a little while? Only a moment. I just want to tell you that I have made a film for you. Perhaps just for you. I wrote a screenplay about four women who met for a few days in dramatic circumstances.

FU: You know, there was a lot of responsibility. And it was a team thing and you had to sell tickets and put the flyers up and make the flyers. So it really bonded you with those people. And then I was the print runner, so I had to make sure all the films got in and were sent to the proper projection booths and shipped them off. And sometimes someone was waiting for it three days later in New York at a film festival. And you know, one time I put it on a Greyhound bus instead of putting it on an airplane, you know, and it was like a crisis. And doing these things that are engaging with the public — almost like a business — it taught us a lot.

DH: So much. I loved that it wasn’t just going to see a movie. There was, it was an artistic experience. You know, there was a lot of education going on and like this Pat Aleszko…

FU: She was here during the crux of the thing in the late 60s. But yeah, she started as an undergrad being just kind of a square, as she herself admitted. But she starts showing up and The Once Group is happening with Joe Wehrer and they’re doing their extremely freaky theater and electronic music performances. And she goes to the Film Festival, which itself kind of was an offshoot of the Once Group. And after the first year, she decided the next year to make a freaky costume for every single night. And she showed up just on her own. She’s an art student. She just has like a wild costume. And that was as she said, that was the start of it. So every year, the nightly kickoff at the Film Festival, she would do these performances.

DH: Yeah, like, you gotta go check it out, see what she’s gonna do this year.

FU: I spoke with her early in the process and she would say, “Well, you know, you should talk to my friend Buster Simpson. Oh, you should talk to Joe Wehrer.” He’s a professor, retired. And these people just enlightened me. You know I interviewed another guy she knew, Eric Stoller, who’s now kind of a famous outdoor installation art artist. He does other pieces — he made these amazing things one of which Joe Wehrer performed in where he built a brick wall, brick by brick, and Joe was an architecture professor, but he’s also a performance artist, and he’s just sitting there eating chips and drinking beer and watching the TV set. But the bricks keep going until the TV set is covered up and he just staring at the bricks like he’s still watching the TV and you know, meaningful kind of things going on.

Then they brought “Chelsea Girls.” And George Manupelli, this visionary experimental filmmaker himself, said let’s get Warhol out here. You know, the Velvet Underground were completely unknown. They had, I think they actually had gone into a recording studio like the month before, but they had no records out. They were just Andy Warhol’s, you know, freak show. So they drive in this RV out here and they do this thing and it was just like it was sold out, you know, it blew everyone away. We had Ondine from “Chelsea Girls,” and we took him out to the Earle and you know, we, we blew all the profits. There were like a dozen of us sitting around this big table and just grilling him about the Velvet Underground.

DH: When else are you going to get to do that? And then Andy Warhol up in the projectionist booth…

FU: Yeah, no, that was again, one of the holy grails for me was somehow documenting that performance. And luckily, here’s Buster Simpson: “I’ve got these pictures. I was sitting in the front row.” You know, you can see like the movie on the screen and Nico standing there. So, I was just like, “Man, I I never thought those existed.”

DH: Was that the same show that Iggy showed up too? And then didn’t Iggy hook up with Nico because of that? Small world.

FU: There were so many connections. Like Iggy was in — his first band was called The Iguanas and then he was in this band called the Prime Movers. People started making films. And just weird experimental films. And they showed at the Film Festival a movie that the Prime Movers band had made and they played live. And so they were invited to the after party, which was like three nights later. And as it happens, James Osterberg, Iggy, was a friend of the Wehrer family and the party was at their house. Their kids went to high school together. So Iggy was there. And yeah, apparently Andy Warhol in his diary even recorded: “I met a nice young man,” you know, and yeah. And a couple years later, Iggy and Nico had some passionate encounter and apparently were living here in Ann Arbor for a while. And yeah, John Cale of the Velvet Underground was the producer of the first Stooges album, and that’s where they first encountered each other. So you know, all these connections.

DH: I mean, do you ever just wish we could just go back in time ? Ann Arbor was so much cooler back then.

FU: No comment. Yeah, no, it was pretty cool. I mean, the stuff that was going on was, you know, it’s just a difference in the culture. It’s like not to fault people because the world has changed with digital devices. But if you wanted to see a movie, I mean, these movies would sell out. There would be hundreds of people to see like an Ingmar Bergman movie.

INGMAR BERGMAN TRAILER AUDIO: It is called Whispers and Cries. If you ask me whether it is a good or a bad film, I don’t know. All I know is that it is a film dear to my heart.

DH: Now the students did have a little fun with some controversial films. So “Flaming Creatures” — deemed obscene? Pornographic? Rated X? What was the scoop?

FU: It was an experimental film and you know it had a lot of drag performers putting on makeup and dancing. There’s a there’s a sexual assault, which is been a very stylized way, but obviously wouldn’t pass muster today. It’s not that graphic, but the graphic aspects of it are close-ups of genitalia and things, but nothing that would have caused more than an R rating like three or four years later. I

DH: Interesting.

FU: Yeah. And so Hugh Cohen came here, by the way, he’s still teaching at 92.

DH: That’s amazing.

FU: He’s still teaching film – and very vibrantly, very, very energetically. He started a PhD in the late 50s and joined the Cinema Guild. So he was a member of Cinema Guild for pretty much 40 years and was a juror at the Film Festival the first year they had judges in 1964. And then in 1967 he was arrested by the Ann Arbor police for the movie
“Flaming Creatures,” which Ed Weber had suggested, because he was the one who was like, “Yeah, let’s show that movie…” But there’s three students, and Hugh was the faculty advisor at the time, and they were all arrested and fingerprinted mug shots. Apparently, most of the parents of the students were attorneys, so one of the students just took copped a  plea and they just dropped the charges.

DH: OK. It is interesting like these characters too, like you’ve mentioned Manupelli and then like Cohen and these different people who were here. Manupelli was a faculty member as well, right?

FU: Yeah. So he was hired at the art school, I think he was associate professor in 1962, OK? And he taught there for 10 years and then he left in 1972.

DH: And then, you know, something as subversive or as eclectic and groovy as a film society is going to attract people that are not of the mainstream all the time, so that’s a good place to keep your eyes peeled for radicals.

FU: Big players in my book were gay men who had to live closeted lives during the time they were involved in what was happening in the book. The University of Michigan is a big tent and there’s like, you know, the people that are really into the athletics and the people that are very career focused, but there’s lots of people that are not sure what they’re going to do when they get out, you know, like I was and the film societies in those days were kind of a magnet for people like that. And to the University’s credit, I will say even though they were kind of combative, they gave the U-M film societies a little bit more rope than some schools. Some schools just directly controlled the societies. I mean there’s some pretty wide eyed, wild eyed people in these film societies and I to this day I see them, and I’m like “wow, those people are crazy,” you know, but the University kind of let them have this niche. It was cool, you know?

And here’s the thing, those people have gone on to be some of the most prominent alumni.

TV AUDIO: And the Oscar goes to… “Green Book.” [Applause and cheers]

FU: Like my housemate is this guy named John Sloss. He’s now probably produced 60, or executive produced, 60 movies including like John Sayles movies, Richard Linklater movies – “Boyhood.” He was executive producer of “Green Book.” He was standing on the stage at the Oscars.

DH: Wow. I didn’t realize.

FU: Yeah, you know, and Errol Morris movies like “The Fog of War.” I mean, oh, hardcore serious art movies. And, you know, bridging over to popular. But he, he wasn’t even that interested in film until he just happened to join Cinema 2 because his dorm neighbor said, “oh, let’s check it out, the movies.”

DH: Right? And because of that one instance, look at all the art we have as a result of that experience.

FU: You know, like Larry Kasdan wrote a single article for The Daily, which is the review of the Velvet Underground playing at Hill Auditorium which was notoriously like booed off the stage practically because they over promoted it to like the mainstream kind of frat audience. They thought they were going to see some experimental movies and they saw, as Larry Kasdan I think put it, loud droning songs. These songs seemed to last forever, you know? And again, if you weren’t expecting that, yeah, you thought you were going to see something really wild and you heard like a 10-minute song about heroin or something. And people were, yeah, people are like, you know, whistling. Someone picked up a harmonica, was like playing in the in the seats and stuff. It’s crazy.

DH: I love all the different people that have come over the years too. It’s neat to see Frank Capra sitting there talking to students.

FU: We really tried to get people. They had this big Robert Altman festival. And I don’t think he’d done many of these things. And they had a class Diane Kirkpatrick was teaching and this guy Mike Gildo was in the group with her in her class. And they were like, “let’s get Robert Altman to come.” So they got this huge festival with Altman and Alan Rudolph and Joan Tewkesbury and couple film critics, Andrew Sarris, and Elliot Gould. It was a semester-long thing and they had like 10 movies and then Altman was speaking at Hill and it was this you know incredibly ambitious thing and it was in conjunction with the class and the film societies all pitched in and showed all the movies. But the thing is Robert Altman, I will also say, was an aficionado marijuana, and Ann Arbor had then this $5 fire that had been instituted and some of the film society people heard about it. And so this guy, Gerry Fialka, who’s real character in the film societies, he got a bunch of pot for Robert Altman. So Robert Altman is like backstage smoking pot with the film society people. And then he comes out and they were supposed to show a feature. But the film studio shut it down because the movie was playing at the Michigan Theater like two weeks later. So Altman’s like, “I got like 2 hours to fill and I just had a bunch of pot, and so go ahead with your questions.”

And this young guy’s asking this wacky question. But he can’t get out of his mouth. And finally, Altman’s like “are you asking a question? Or are you auditioning?” And then like the next day, the Free Press in Detroit runs an article: Robert Altman would like to find the young man who asked the baffling 5-minute question. If he does, he has a role in his next movie.

And, by God, he was cast in the movie with like Carol Burnett, Lilian Gish, Geraldine Chaplin, all these big stars. Amazing.

Guess who Robert Altman and 20th Century Fox had invited to a wedding? Carol Burnett, Mia Farrow, Geraldine Chaplains. As he Arnez junior. Vittorio Gassman, Dina Merrill. Lauren Hutton. Lillian Gish Howard Duff. A nervous nurse, A senile Bishop. A happy mother. A lost family. A fight. A fall. A reunion. An accident. A Stampede. Infidelity. Passion. Romance. All come together in a wedding to end all weddings. Rated PG.

FU: As with so many of these people, when I would interview them and say, “Do you have any pictures?” and he had these little Polaroid kind of shots and he’s like, “Here’s me with a lollipop on the set. Here’s me making a funny face with Geraldine Chaplin sitting next to me.” And Hugh Cohen was like, “I’ve got a scrapbook.” And it’s like literally like 6 inches high. It has his mug shot, which is in the book. It has the note that the office officer wrote, you know: “Confiscated one film, Flaming Creatures.” And so these illustrations became a huge added dimension of the book.

And you mentioned Frank Capra. The Daily ran this kind of blurry photo. And I saw the credit David Margolick. Turns out he’s actually a journalist who writes for the New York Times and other things. And he was like, “I think I might have my negatives still.” And he had all of the photos he had taken of Frank Capra in the class, So I was able to use a much better photo. And also he took a shot of the audience. So I have these in the book. There’s these two-page spreads of audience members. Most people like the Daily would never publish those. And you know, in the Jay Cassidy collection at the Bentley, there are some 4900 pictures that he had digitally scanned. And there’s all these pictures of Sam Fuller speaking on campus in 1970, including a great shot from behind. The audience was just enraptured over at the what’s called Lorch Hall now.

So I was able, through the Bentley, to find all these interesting connections that weren’t just about film, per se. The administrative files were so useful. And the Labadie Collection and the Special Collections’ Mavericks and Makers, the  papers of Robert Altman. I mean, I drew on all of those.

We had so much going on. If you look at the schedules, which I’ve reprinted a lot of them in the book, they’re just jammed with classic films. I mean, I was showing Hugh Cohen one the other day and he was like, that’s a hell of a good schedule. 55 years later, he’s like, wow, we really did do some amazing stuff.

DH: He is not kidding. U-M continues to cement its reputation as a leader in American film with its Mavericks and Makers archive, which holds the work of directors Orson Welles, Robert Altman, John Sayles and others. And the reason I was laughing so hard at Frank’s story about the kid who was cast in Altman’s film “The Wedding” is because I’ve known that guy, music critic Mark Deming, and that story since I was in college and working at the State News with him at MSU. So many threads come together here.

Check the links in the text to get the book. It is so fun.

OK, thanks for listening. I’ll see you at the movies. Until then, as always, go blue.

An epic drama

Frank Uhle's tattered Cinema II membership card, 79-80.

Author Uhle mined his personal archive to find this blast from his Cinema II past. (Image courtesy of University of Michigan Press/Fifth Avenue Press.)

The history of Ann Arbor’s film scene unspools like an epic historical drama, the kind that opens with men in Model Ts and women in cloche hats and ends in the uber-future with gleaming skyscrapers and self-driving cars. And of course, there’s the mod period in the middle — all hippies and rebels and rockers.

For now, film fans will have to settle for the book version of this colorful tale. This month Frank Uhle, BFA ’83/MILS ’92, delivers the coffee-table prize Cinema Ann Arbor (University of Michigan Press/Fifth Avenue Press, 2023). The book’s 334 pages are jam-packed with anecdotes and memories culled from more than 80 interviews with film industry alumni as well as the faculty, students, and local iconoclasts who pioneered this vibrant scene.

Legendary professors Marvin Felheim, Joe Wehrer, and Robert Sklar all make appearances, as well as George Manupelli and the ONCE Group. And one can’t forget the beloved Hugh Cohen, who is still teaching film at 92. (As the Cinema Guild’s faculty adviser, he was arrested in 1967 for screening the experimental film “Flaming Creatures.” The Ann Arbor police, who confiscated the picture, deemed it obscene.)

Professor Hugh Cohen mug shot. Black and white. Front and side view. 1967.

In 1967, Cinema Guild faculty adviser Hugh Cohen was arrested, along with the guild’s student leaders, for screening the film “Flaming Creatures.” (Image courtesy of University of Michigan Press/Fifth Avenue Press.)

Cohen’s personal scrapbook was just one treasure trove that Uhle discovered through his research and writing. He tracked down performance artist Pat Oleszko, familiar to patrons of the Ann Arbor film festivals in the late ’60s. He connected with Seattle-based artist Buster Simpson who photographed an early Velvet Underground performance at the 1966 film festival when Andy Warhol screened his “Up-Tight with Andy Warhol and the Velvet Underground.” And he corresponded with journalist David Margolick, former Michigan Daily photographer, who still had his negatives from 1973 when director Frank Capra spoke to Felheim’s class.

“I wound up with a much better photo than the one that ran in the Daily at the time,” Uhle says. “And Hugh Cohen was like, ‘I’ve got a scrapbook.’ And it’s six inches high. It has his mug shot, which is in the book. It has the note that the officer wrote, you know: ‘Confiscated one film, Flaming Creatures.’ These illustrations became a huge added dimension.”

Digging for treasure

Sample Cinema Guild schedule from 1967.

Cinema Guild schedules were extensive and creative. (Image courtesy of University of Michigan Press/Fifth Avenue Press.)

The author took advantage of several campus archives, from U-M’s Labadie Collection of anarchism to the Screen Arts Mavericks & Makers Archive, featuring Robert Altman and John Sayles. He mined The Michigan Daily digital archives and combed through the Bentley’s photo collections of Daily alumni and others who were on the scene.

The bounty of photos, ads, calendars, mugshots, flyers, receipts, notes, and schedules will transport one to an analog period when movies traveled in protective canisters from screening to screening on trains, planes, and automobiles. The Cinema Guild schedules, once taped on virtually every refrigerator in town, offer a vivid snapshot of the times. The list is long, the films are diverse, and the screening rooms and theaters were all over campus and town.

In short, our little college town got in on the action pretty early in the game — 1929 if you consider an events coordinator who liked to screen films at the newly opened Michigan League. But 1932 is the year students and faculty created the Art Cinema League, officially marking their territory on this new celluloid terrain.

By 1967, the Cinema Guild was a real player, Uhle says. “I actually found a letter written by the head booker for the midwest of one of the top film distributors and he said ‘Cinema Guild is the best film society in the nation. Exceeded only — possibly — by the Museum of Modern Art.'”

Any film lover or history buff — especially the members of Ann Arbor’s longstanding cinema guilds, film societies, and festivals — will delight in the trip through time.

Back to the future

Pat Oleszko as the Hippie Strippy. She's dressed in a see-through top with American flag fringe pants.

Pat Oleszko, aka the Hippie Strippy, became a fixture at the film festivals in the late ’60s. (Image (c) Pat Oleszko, (Image courtesy of University of Michigan Press/Fifth Avenue Press.)

Uhle, a projectionist since the 1980s, was a member of Cinema II while an undergrad. These days, he hosts a long-running radio show on U-M’s WCBN and writes about film, music, business, history, and culture for outlets like Pulp, Ugly Things, and more.

The extracurricular college education he got creating schedules, hanging flyers, and running prints beat sitting in class, he says.

“Engaging with the public — almost like a business — taught us a lot.

“I was the print runner, so I had to make sure all the films got in and were sent to the proper projection booths. Then I shipped them off. Sometimes someone was waiting for it three days later in New York at a film festival. One time I put a film on a Greyhound bus instead of putting it on an airplane, and it was, like, a crisis.”

When Cinema II negotiated to bring Andy Warhol’s “Chelsea Girls” to campus, they could only get the film if they booked the eccentric actor known as Ondine, a member of Warhol’s inner circle. He brought the reels with him and took them when he left.

Pink flyer promotes Andy Warhol's Chelsea Girls. Warhol looks through a tambourine.

When Cinema II invited Andy Warhol to screen “Chelsea Girls,” he sent the film with a special guest. (Image courtesy of University of Michigan Press/Fifth Avenue Press.)

“We took him out to the Earle and you know, we blew all the profits,” Uhle says. “There were like a dozen of us sitting around this big table just grilling him about the Velvet Underground.”

Though technology has changed the way we enjoy screened entertainment, Ann Arbor remains a cultural leader in film, with the Michigan Theater Foundation offering eclectic and diverse film experiences. U-M’s growing Mavericks & Makers archive is a testament to the deep roots the University enjoys among noted filmmakers.

Writing the book and compiling the visual assets gave Uhle a chance to reflect on the part he and fellow alumni played in supporting Ann Arbor’s film scene.

“We had so much going on,” he says. “If you look at the schedules I’ve reprinted in the book, they’re just jammed with classic films. I mean, I was showing Hugh Cohen one from 1968 the other day, and he was like, ‘That’s a hell of a good schedule.’ It’s 55 years later, and he’s like, ‘Wow, we really did do some amazing stuff.'”

… some episode notes

Here are some links related to the audio that may be of interest.

Fifth Avenue Press

University of Michigan Press

Cinema Ann Arbor website

The Once Group

Andy Warhol’s Chelsea Girls

Nico sings “Chelsea Girls” at the Chelsea Hotel

Ingmar Bergman 

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