Sunday, September 7, 2008

"Streetcar" by Jasper Wood

Last weekend, when I posted photos from my visit to the Veterans Memorial Bridge and subway tour, I wrote that a mesmerizing film was playing there.

Images of streetcars rolling through Cleveland were interspersed with close-up shots of the passengers. Old ads, scenes of what I think is the West Side Market, and footage from inside the subway (the underground streetcar stop at Detroit and W. 25th) flew by, accompanied by spare music in an old acoustic blues style.

At the film's end, I was happily surprised to recognize the filmmaker's name: Jasper Wood, who helped organize a legal defense fund in 1967 for d.a.levy, the Cleveland Beat poet. Wood was a photographer, art gallery owner, publisher, jazz critic, and filmmaker who died in 2002.

Wood's film, "Streetcar," was shot in the early 1950s, just before the streetcars stopped running in Cleveland in 1954. It was not shown in Cleveland until 2007.

"This is not really a film about streetcars," Wood's son, Christopher Wood, a librarian in the Cleveland Public Library's downtown history department, said in a talk last year. "This is a personal film made by a person who lived city life."

The film is now online through YouTube. I've linked to it above. It's 15 minutes long and in two parts -- click the top box first.

If you liked it as much as I did, and are curious about the filmmaker, you can also watch his son's 2007 talk online: part 1 is here, part 2 here.

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