Q & As with Susan Delson
Photo Gallery
Filmography

 

St. Louis Blues added to National Film Registry. Murphy's 1929 film, featuring blues great Bessie Smith's only screen appearance, was one of 25 titles recently chosen for preservation by the Library of Congress in 2006.

Murphy Way. Days after the book came out, the Malibu town council voted to name a local road after Murphy. Coincidence? The L. A. Times has the story.

Geoffrey's of Malibu. Since the 1980s, Geoffrey's has occupied what was originally the restaurant at Holiday House, Murphy's exclusive Malibu hideaway. Check out the menu and be sure to take the virtual tour—the view from the terrace is as glorious as ever.

Mapping of a Decade: Los Angeles During the 1930s. A two-part article by Margarita Nieto, offering a detailed look at the art scene in L.A. during this decade. A brief mention of the three murals painted there by Mexican artist David Alfaro Siqueiros in 1932—including the one done in Murphy's backyard. From ArtScene, December 1999.

A Survey of Surviving Buildings of the Krotona Colony in Hollywood. What's left of the Theosophist paradise that Murphy called home for a short time in the late 1910s? This scholarly survey by Alfred Willis offers a virtual tour of the remaining structures, which these days look surprisingly like the rest of L.A. Includes photos and illustrations. From Architronic, The Electronic Journal of Architecture, Vol. 8. No. 1, January 1999.

The Dream of Color Music, and Machines That Made It Possible. An essay on visual music by the late William Moritz, whose research and writings on Murphy were so important to Dudley Murphy, Hollywood Wild Card. Includes a description of Thomas Wilfred's clavilux, the color-music organ that left a lasting impression on Murphy when he encountered it in the early 1920s. From Animation World magazine, issue 2.1, April 1997.

A Lifetime in Animation: The Glamorous Dr. William Moritz. An affectionate tribute to Moritz and his work by longtime associate Cindy Keefer. From Animation World magazine, June 24, 2003.

George Antheil: Composer, Pianist, Inventor. Everything you'll ever want to know about Ballet mécanique composer Antheil, assembled by musicologist and pianist Guy Livingston.

Antheil. All about Ballet mécanique, Antheil, and composer Paul D. Lehrman's re-creation and adaptation of the original score. Includes information on Lehrman's recent performances of Ballet mécanique. Click on ‘Listen to History' for excerpts from an audio interview with Antheil, and a eulogy for him delivered in 1959 by, of all people, radio humorist Jean Shepherd.

Preserving African-American Cinema: The Case of The Emperor Jones (1933). By Jennie Saxena et al. The crew responsible for the 2002 Library of Congress restoration of The Emperor Jones describes the detective work that went into finding and assembling all that lost footage and sound track. From The Moving Image Volume 3, Number 1, Spring 2003.

Exquisite Corpse: Surrealism and the Black Dahlia Murder. Few crimes have had more books written (or more films made) about them than the Black Dahlia Murder, committed in Los Angeles in 1947. But this one comes with a startling thesis, which outlines a relationship between the murder and Surrealist art—most notably through Man Ray, Murphy's erstwhile collaborator, who spent the 1940s in Southern California. Murphy and his fourth wife play a peripheral role in the grisly story. Warning: the crime scene photos are not for the faint of heart (or stomach).

 

Portals, Databases, Distributors, Exhibitors, etc.

Anthology Film Archives. Home to the earliest surviving version of Ballet mécanique (available on “Unseen Cinema,” below), Anthology is an East Coast bastion of experimental and avant-garde cinema, led by veteran filmmaker Jonas Mekas.

Allmovie.com. Detailed information on thousands of movies, with concise, intelligent synopses and dozens of short essays. Links to DVD retailers.

Center for Visual Music. The website for this L.A. organization has an extensive online library of articles about experimental film, animation, color organs, 1960s light shows, and more. Links to artist websites, too. DVM also curates and tours film programs and series.

Facets Multimedia. A pioneer in the movies-by-mail biz, Facets also runs its own video label. For Chicagoans, it's a hub of film activity on the city's North Side.

GreenCine.com. Based in San Francisco, GreenCine calls itself an “independently owned and operated film addict's film site since July, 2002. Our philosophy is simple: Movies Matter.” More than 80,000 titles to rent, download, and buy, plus articles, interviews, and the latest on film festivals around the country.

Internet Movie Database (imdb.com). Ratcheting up from its DIY beginnings, IMDb has grown into what it calls “Earth's biggest movie database.”

Kino International (kino.com). Kino's home video catalogue is a gem—but if it's Murphy you're searching for, you'll want The Best of Jazz and Blues (Hollywood Rhythm Volume 1), a compilation that includes both St. Louis Blues and Black and Tan (listed here as Black and Tan Fantasy).

Museum of Modern Art. Okay, they still think Fernand Léger directed Ballet mécanique by himself. Even so, they're an indispensable nexus of film scholarship and exhibition, with an eminently useful film study center, 16mm rental library, and wide-ranging screening programs.

University of Minnesota Press. Publisher of Dudley Murphy, Hollywood Wild Card and many other worthy tomes. Search by subject to bring up 33 different fields of interest—including Film and Media Studies—and let the browsing begin.

Unseen Cinema. For anyone interested in early cinema—specifically, early American avant-garde cinema—this 7-disc set is a must-have. Or at least a must-see. And it includes 3 of Murphy's early films: Soul of the Cypress, Danse Macabre, and Ballet mécanique. (Full disclosure: I contributed a few of the notes on the discs. But I bought the set anyway.) Added website attraction: Quick-Time Murphy movies.

Zeitgeist Films. No, they don't carry any of Murphy's films, but they do carry one of mine: Cause and Effect (1988), an 11-minute experiment in cross-breeding Eisensteinian juxtaposition with Bresson's concept of the model. It is, I think, a comedy. Manohla Dargis called it “a quirky crowd-pleaser.” It probably is.