Geriatric Crimesolvers + Black Pages launch party

July 16, 2015
  • "Geriatric Crimesolvers" curators interviewed by Franco Castilla

    Franco Castilla: Maybe we can start the interview with a bit of history on Film Club, 2001-2006 which hosted the first GERIATRIC CRIMESOLVERS?

    Gary Cannone: I was going through a divorce and had moved to a new apartment in Angeleno Heights in 2000, I started watching movies all day, Ozu, Bresson, Bunuel, Ruiz, Ackerman… (all the standard post WWII greats), I had no real education in film history or theory and had very little exposure. I started collecting Bunuel Lobby Cards, hung them up in my living room, and decided to start showing movies every other Sunday there. At first the crowds were small but soon attendance grew, I started using multiple monitors throughout the house from the same video feed. When I showed Fritz Lang’s “Fury” I remember separate applause coming from different locations (balcony, living room, dining room) when the jury in the movie was shown the film evidence exonerating Spencer Tracy’s character, a weird beautiful moment. I resisted projecting for a while because I loved the multiple monitor set up. As time went on I started playing around with the context in which the films were shown, one Super Bowl Sunday I tried to show the entirety of Fassbinder’s “Berlin Alexanderplatz” (which I think is about 16 hours) and had a six foot party sub for food, I think the most anybody lasted was ten hours. I had experimental musicians create live scores to Ozu silent films and Fritz Lang’s “Dr. Mabuse Der Spieler”,“ the latter at the Silverlake Film festival. I moved to Rome for a year and continued screenings there. When I came back from Rome me and my girlfriend crashed at Rebecca’s place for a while, this was 2004. I remember noticing that she had all these VHS tapes of Matlock, Murder She Wrote, Barnaby Jones, and similar older tv detectives that she had gotten from her sister. They were very conscious of this genre and had a name for it “Geriatric Crimesolvers.” I don’t recall how the program was exactly proposed, maybe Rebecca knows more specifics about this. C-Level, which was an alternative space in Chinatown, asked me to move Film Club there, I think this was the first screening at that space and it was projected.

    FC: Rebecca, how did Geriatric Crimesolvers come about? What was the proposal to Gary?

    Rebecca Morris: I think it either evolved from us joking around or an actual proposal from Gary with his C-Level invitation. I can imagine the invitation of a the first formal out-of-Gary’s-apt.-filmclub-event may have spurred the charming and ridiculous Geriatric Crimesolving programing. But it is important to say that this was all very much born out of a real enjoyment of these programs. Plus, these TV shows were not so easily available to watch beyond syndication then, the way they are today. The back story to the stack of VHS tapes Gary saw at my apt. was that my sister, Lydia, and I watched these shows together growing up and in the 1990s/ 2000s I had a TV for watching VHS tapes and later DVDs, but no cable to actually watch TV. So she devotedly taped them off of her TV for me and mailed them. And this process might have started bc of my wanting to see CHiPs again. This was a show Lydia and I were crazy about as kids and when I moved to LA in 1998 (in a caravan with Gary and other friends btw) I wanted to see it again for all the spots I might now recognize and know. As a side note, both of the episodes Gary and I selected for the screening at 356 Mission Rd are set in California. The Barnaby Jones character is an LA based private investigator and in the Murder She Wrote, Jessica a resident of Cabot Cove Maine, is visiting her niece in San Francisco.

    FC: Television has evolved quite a bit in the last 10 years. How was Geriatric Crimesolvers received when it was originally screened and how do you think it will be received today?

    GC: I think it was appreciated much more on a kitsch level at the time but there is much more and I hope this comes out at the next screening. Early Murder She Wrotes have these incredible casts that carry their own baggage of their past roles which sometimes blind one to their narratives; there is also the representation of age, Angela Lansbury is not de-sexualized, particularly in the early ones, there are romantic overtures towards her, she has a relationship early on (unfortunately he’s a murderer, but a very nice one). Buddy Ebsen is met with doubt often in Barnaby Jones because of his age but he doesn’t give a shit, he orders milk in bars, gets beat up, but uses his brains to solve the case. Both episodes we are showing show representations of bars/clubs from the 70s and 80s. A Los Angeles piano bar from the 70s and a San Francisco “burlesque” club from the eighties, the latter representation is comically restrained, but those restraints seem interesting to me. I guess when I watch TV from my youth I think about the history of these representations. I also think of the fact, in these instances, that a huge chunk of the audience for these shows were also people of the same age as Jones and Fletcher and what it might have meant to this audience, particularly Angela Lansbury’s role on both a gender and age level.

    FC: Rebecca you’ve got the last word.

    RM: I think Gary sums this answer up perfectly. I would only be repeating him!

  • Thursday July 16:

    6 PM:
    Launch party for BLACK PAGES

    with new issues by Lisa Ruyter, Kate Levant, Rebecca Morris, and Zin Taylor

    7 PM:
    Geriatric Crimesolvers curated by Gary Cannone and Rebecca Morris


    Murder She Wrote, Season 1, episode 2: “Birds of a Feather” (1984, 47 min)

    Barnaby Jones, Season 1, episode 9: “See Some Evil, Do Some Evil” (1973, 60 min)

    Tags: Black Pages, Gary Cannone, Rebecca Morris