- Rated: R
- Run Time: 1 hours, 50 minutes
- Video: Color
- Released: May 21, 2013
- Originally Released: 1969
- Label: Criterion
- Encoding: Region 1 (USA & Canada)
- Note: Disc one:
- New, restored 4K digital film transfer, approved by director Haskell Wexler
- Two audio commentaries, one featuring Wexler, editorial consultant Paul Golding, and actor Marianna Hill, and the other featuring historian Paul Cronin
- Disc two:
- New interview with Wexler
- Extended excerpts from "Look Out Haskell, It's Real!," a documentary by Cronin about the making of Medium Cool, featuring interviews with Wexler; Golding; actors Verna Bloom, Peter Bonerz, and Robert Forster; Chicago historian Studs Terkel; and others
- Excerpts from Sooner or Later, Cronin's documentary about Harold Blankenship, who plays Harold in the film
- "Medium Cool" revisited, a new half-hour video by Wexler about the Occupy movement's protests against the 2012 NATO summit in Chicago
- A booklet featuring an essay by film critic and programmer Thomas Beard
- Special Edition
- Aspect Ratio: Widescreen - 1.85
- Subtitles - English
Performers, Cast and Crew:
Memorable Quotes and Dialog:
"Watch out Haskell, it's real."
- Director Haskell Wexler's assistant to Wexler after a tear gas canister is released
"Jesus! I love to shoot film!"
- John Cassellis (Robert Forster)
Premiere - 03/01/1995
"...By turns riotous, trippy, and downright lovely..." - Recommended
Entertainment Weekly - 05/05/1995
"...COOL emerges as an agonized search for truth..."
USA Today - 12/14/2001
"...A prophetic skewering of sound-bite journalism and one of the most left-wing movies ever backed by a major studio during its era..."
One of the landmarks of independent film, as well as one of the primary celluloid artifacts of the 1960s, MEDIUM COOL (based on Thomas Couffer's THE CONCRETE WILDERNESS) stars Robert Forster as John Cassellis, a television cameraman in Chicago. John is so proud of his detached professionalism that he and soundman Gus (Peter Bonerz) even go so far as to stop and film a car crash before calling an ambulance. However, after John films a protest by black activists about racism in the media, the film is seized by the FBI, and his resistance to handing over the footage gets him fired from his job at the television station. While idle, John becomes better acquainted with 13-year-old Harold (Harold Blankenship) and Harold's mother, Eileen Horton (Verna Bloom), a West Virginia native whose husband is in Vietnam. As the 1968 convention approaches, John picks up a freelance assignment and is thrust headlong into the anarchy of the Chicago streets and the convention floor. His prized detachment falls away as he watches Mayor Daley's cops clubbing unarmed protestors.
Shooting with handheld cameras, Wexler's unerring eye moves seamlessly between the actors and the unplanned events exploding in front of them. His pitiless dissection of the media's role in the shaping of reality spares no one. MEDIUM COOL remains one of the seminal films of the 1960s and 1970s.
A television cameraman working in the turbulent Chicago of the late 1960s becomes involved in the violent situations that he constantly views from behind the camera. Actual riot footage adds to the film's realism.
Essential Cinema |
Social Issues |
Theatrical Release |
- Theatrical release: August 27, 1969.
- Shooting locations: Chicago, Illinois; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Washington, DC; and Kentucky.
- Estimated budget: $800,000.
- Haskell Wexler sought to achieve the utmost possible realism by putting his actors into the heart of the historic 1968 Chicago convention.
- Some of Wexler's footage was subpoenaed by the government.
- The title MEDIUM COOL refers to Marshall McLuhan's description of television as a "cool" medium.
- Chicago-based blues artists Mike Bloomfield and Paul Butterfield, along with Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, provided music for the score.