Shirley Clarke


Director
Shirley Clarke

About

Also Known As
Shirley Brimberg
Birth Place
New York City, New York, USA
Born
October 02, 1919
Died
September 23, 1997
Cause of Death
Complications From A Stroke

Biography

A former dancer, choreographer and head of the National Dance Association, Shirley Clarke began making short films in 1953 with the seven-minute "Dance in the Sun." She then went on to make a series of short films about dance including "In Paris Parks" (1954) and "Bullfight" (1955). By the time she made "A Moment in Love" (1957), Clarke had begun to explore movement as a means of communi...

Family & Companions

Bert Clarke
Husband
Lithographer, book designer, publisher. Married in 1943; divorced.

Notes

"Personally, I am an out-of-the-system person and always have been, politically, emotionally ... It was a matter of pride not to be from Hollywood." --Shirley Clarke in 1978

"It was years before it dawned on me that if I had been a man I would have been Stanley Kubrick. He made two early films, then went to Hollywood and had his way, but I was some kind of threat. I didn't make myself acceptable and I had no intention of making their films." --Clarke in 1978

Biography

A former dancer, choreographer and head of the National Dance Association, Shirley Clarke began making short films in 1953 with the seven-minute "Dance in the Sun." She then went on to make a series of short films about dance including "In Paris Parks" (1954) and "Bullfight" (1955). By the time she made "A Moment in Love" (1957), Clarke had begun to explore movement as a means of communicating story. "Skyscraper" (1959) traced the construction of a building, used color and black-and-white shots and was made in collaboration with Willard Van Dyke and Irving Jacoby. The film, which Clarke characterized as "a musical comedy about the building of a skyscraper" won several festival prizes and earned a 1959 Oscar nomination for Best Live Action Short Subject. earned an Oscar nomination.

After developing a searing cinema verite style in her experimental shorts and documentaries, she graduated to features with "The Connection" (1960), based on Jack Gelber's play, about heroin junkies being filmed by a documentarian and "Portrait of Jason" (1967), an interview with a black male hustler. Clarke helmed the Oscar-winning documentary short "Robert Frost: A Lover's Quarrel With the World" (1963), which had been commissioned by President John F Kennedy. While alienating her from Hollywood, Clarke's provocative subject matter made her a major influence on American underground film culture. (With Jonas Mekas she co-founded New York's Filmmaker's Cooperative in 1962.) In Agnes Varda's "Lion's Love" (1969), she appropriately played 'Shirley Clarke', a character trying to interest a producer in a film project. While teaching at UCLA from 1975 to 1983, Clarke was completing what would be her last film, "Ornette: Made in America" (1985). Begun in 1968 and utilizing film and video, it was a documentary portrait of jazz musician Ornette Coleman and his son Denardo. Clarke died in 1997 after suffering a stroke.

Filmography

 

Director (Feature Film)

Ornette: Made in America (1985)
Director
Portrait of Jason (1967)
Director
The Cool World (1964)
Director
The Connection (1962)
Director
The Skyscraper (1959)
Director
Bridges-Go-Round (1959)
Director

Cast (Feature Film)

He Stands in a Desert Counting the Seconds of His Life (1986)
Herself
Lost, Lost, Lost (1975)
Diaries, Notes and Sketches (1969)
Lions Love (1969)
Galaxie (1966)

Writer (Feature Film)

The Cool World (1964)
Screenwriter

Producer (Feature Film)

Portrait of Jason (1967)
Producer
The Connection (1962)
Producer
The Skyscraper (1959)
Producer
Bridges-Go-Round (1959)
Producer

Editing (Feature Film)

Ornette: Made in America (1985)
Editor
The March on Paris 1914 (1977)
Editor
Portrait of Jason (1967)
Film Editor
The Cool World (1964)
Film Editor
The Connection (1962)
Film Editor
Bridges-Go-Round (1959)
Editor
The Skyscraper (1959)
Editor

Film Production - Main (Feature Film)

Bridges-Go-Round (1959)
Photography

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

Love Nest (1951)
June Haver's stand-in

Director (Short)

Tongues (1982)
Director
Savage/Love (1981)
Director
Four Journeys into Mystic Time: Trans (1978)
Director
Four Journeys into Mystic Time: One-Two-Three (1978)
Director
Four Journeys into Mystic Time: Mysterium (1978)
Director
Four Journeys into Mystic Time: Initiation (1978)
Director
24 Frames per Second (1977)
Director
Butterfly (1967)
Director
Robert Frost: A Lover's Quarrel with the World (1963)
Director
Bridges-Go-Round, Part 2 (1958)
Director
Loops (1958)
Director
Brussels Loops (1957)
Director
Moment in Love (1957)
Director
In Paris Parks (1954)
Director
Dance in the Sun (1953)
Director

Cast (Short)

Butterfly (1967)

Cinematography (Short)

Bridges-Go-Round, Part 2 (1958)
Cinematographer

Writer (Short)

Christopher and Me (1960)
Writer

Producer (Short)

Four Journeys into Mystic Time: Trans (1978)
Producer
Loops (1958)
Producer
Bridges-Go-Round, Part 2 (1958)
Producer
Moment in Love (1957)
Producer
In Paris Parks (1954)
Producer
Dance in the Sun (1953)
Producer

Editing (Short)

Loops (1958)
Editor
Moment in Love (1957)
Editor
In Paris Parks (1954)
Editor
Dance in the Sun (1953)
Editor

Film Production - Main (Short)

Loops (1958)
Photography
Moment in Love (1957)
Photography
In Paris Parks (1954)
Photography
Dance in the Sun (1953)
Photography

Life Events

1942

First work as choreographer performed at 92nd Street YMCAin New York City

1946

Became first president of the National Dance Association

1953

Filmmaking debut, "Dance in the Sun" (7 mins)

1960

Feature directing debut, "The Connection"

1962

Co-founded the "Filmmakers Cooperative" in New York, with Jonas Mekas

1963

Directed the Oscar-winning documentary, "Robert Frost: A Lover's Quarrel With the World"

1968

Began filming a documentary on jazz musician Ornette Coleman

1969

Played herself in Agnes Varda's "Lions Love"

1969

Began working exclusively with videotape

1973

T.P. Videospace Troupe toured USA offering workshops on working with video

1975

Moved to Los Angeles; became instructor of experimental TV at UCLA (named full professor 1980)

1980

Was the subject of a retrospective at the UCLA Film Archives

1985

Released "Ornette: Made in America", which she had begun in 1968

Videos

Movie Clip

Robert Frost: A Lover's Quarrel With The World (1963) - Courage Is The Virtue Shirley Clarke directs, in what is credited as “A Film By Robert Hughes and Charlotte Zwerin,” opening the TV documentary made for WGBH Boston, introducing the poet Robert Frost, released in the year he died, Robert Frost: A Lover’s Quarrel With The World, 1963.
Robert Frost: A Lover's Quarrel - Hell Is A Half-Filled Auditorium From an address by president John F. Kennedy about Robert Frost, to whom he next presents a Congressional Gold Medal, and coverage of Frost on tour “saying” his poems, as he liked to call it, in director Shirley Clarke’s Robert Frost: A Lover’s Quarrel With The World, 1963.
Connection, The (1962) - Who Killed Cock Robin? First of many performances which alone justify making the film, pianist Freddie Redd’s composition, with alto sax hero Jackie McLean, Mike Mattos and Larry Ritchie, bass and drums, William Redfield the filmmaker, Shirley Clarke actually directing, from Jack Gelber’s play and screenplay, in The Connection 1962.
Connection, The (1962) - I Don't Feel Like Getting Busted It’s now clear that Leach (Warren Finnerty) and his fellow heroin-addict guests are being directed by a barely-seen documentarian, musicians Mike Mattos, Freddie Redd, Jackie McLean and Larry Ritchie as themselves, Jerome Raphel as Sully, Garry Goodrow as Ernie, in Shirley Clarke’s The Connection, 1962.
Connection, The (1962) - In A Drug Addict's Apartment Challenging from the start, Shirley Clarke directs from Jack Gelber’s experimental play and screenplay, Roscoe Lee Browne the voice of cameraman character, Burden, the opening address to camera by Leach (Warren Finnerty) the de facto host of the junkies waiting to score, in The Connection, 1962.
Connection, The (1962) - Let's Not Get Hostile! The director character (William Redfield as Dunn) all-but giving up, addressing his cameraman JJ (unseen Roscoe Lee Browne), Warren Finnerty as host heroin-addict Leach, musician Jackie McLean as himself, and the documentary premise explained, in director Shirley Clarke’s The Connection, 1962.

Trailer

Family

Samuel Brimberg
Father
Elaine Dundy
Sister
Novelist, dramatist. Younger, survived her.
Betty Lorwin
Sister
Younger, survived her.
Wendy Clarke
Daughter
Video artist. Born c. 1948; survived her.

Companions

Bert Clarke
Husband
Lithographer, book designer, publisher. Married in 1943; divorced.

Bibliography

Notes

"Personally, I am an out-of-the-system person and always have been, politically, emotionally ... It was a matter of pride not to be from Hollywood." --Shirley Clarke in 1978

"It was years before it dawned on me that if I had been a man I would have been Stanley Kubrick. He made two early films, then went to Hollywood and had his way, but I was some kind of threat. I didn't make myself acceptable and I had no intention of making their films." --Clarke in 1978