It must feel like we are living in a dystopian movie where everyone is addicted to the narcotic of romantic comedy, psychotic actors and major movie stars. What The Age of Aquarius produced in 1970-1980 was an all-time hardcore hit franchise to watch, taking dramatic risks in moving stories about fathers and daughters from the Midwest to the baby boomers of the L.A. area. From the slick stylings of classic soft-porn films of the late 60s and 70s, up into the socially conscious political radical revolution that came into the spotlight with the stagy libertarianism of the great range and restless anguish of the Reagan era, we became fascinated by the hip, aggressive, emotionally complex characters raised by the shy bourgeoisie and arthouse-taste produced by German-American director Martin Rosen. Seeing both an effort to commune with the stars of the tony Upper West Side by adapting Rosen’s intense family drama Aim High into the studio Shakespeare, and seeing the offbeat dream, horror, jazz, and pop discos of Rosen as they pushed their quirky and at times post-modernist version of New York into their narrative, and finding a beautiful young Diana Rigg starring in the latter, whom the then 10-year-old Bobbie grew up admiring.
Cross-hairs: Robert Redford and Jane Fonda during the filming of Nixon.
“This was the original California I got to experience as an alien,” he said. “In the film there are no Dora awards, no fiscal cliffs, no air travel. We didn’t actually even have automobiles yet – the streets were all gravel paths – but we used to go out to the beach and ride our bikes every day.”
“I wanted to have the effects like I had in our television series Midnight Cowboy,” Rosen added. “I wanted the props to be creative enough to actually have people move around. I wrote the script as though shooting were starting tomorrow and how hard would that be? I wanted the actors to be able to look at this character and realize that I was going to be making my living by shooting my films for 14 years.”
Our Watching Classics: Robert Redford and Jack Palance as Charlie Woo and the Pleasure Island Band during the filming of A Nice Drink Of Sea Honey.
Need I say more?
Forty years later we are fortunate to have Robert Redford, the director, leading man, producer, writer, cinematographer, and an enabler of a dozen critical, experimental films of his own, still working in Hollywood and The David Gleason Theater at Museum of Modern Art. His ties to creativity are immeasurable, as is his passion for storytelling.
“You can’t imagine having the same vision you had when you were young,” Redford told the Independent in a recent interview. “I was lucky to have seen things that were different and imaginative that were very effective, because I don’t think there’s any way anyone can ever sustain that from age 14 on,” said the 78-year-old.
Blending his own material (the Oscar-winning Orman to the Oscar-nominated Pelican) and Rosen’s titles (All The President’s Men to Slipping Of The Dime to JFK to the Wild Wild West) with established and visionary Hollywood performers and filmmakers, Rosen engaged in his filmic gambles while introducing first-time star thesps to Hollywood.
Come for the ultimately justified Spike Lee money and prestige, stay for the fact that we all love it!
If you can remember anything from American Masters: Martin Rosen, look for some of the great producers of the postwar era, Charlton Heston and a mention of Dustin Hoffman and a touch of Clint Eastwood.
“Some of my stories deal with ‘real people,’ like students of mind who struggle with their growth on the path of their life,” Rosen said. “They discover that you can get there by virtue of your individuality. Not through an accident or genetic makeup, but by being capable of certain understanding and control over your own wants, goals, hopes, and desires.”