THE BEAT GENERATION
THE BEAT PAD was a big, rambling house at Malibu that belonged to Stan Belmont. The Pad was wild, it was far-out. A beautiful girl with tight pants and no bra chanted weird poetry, while a real gone musician beat out rhythms on a bass without strings. Couples tangled everywhere in a shameless debauch. The whole place reeked of weed. It was way up there--
CONELRAD is fascinated with the Beat phenomenon because it is inextricably linked with the Cold War. The very term “Beatnik” coined by San Francisco columnist Herb Caen in an April 2, 1958 San Francisco Chronicle column conveys the overlap (Beat + SputNIK = Beatnik). The exploitation—or Beatsploitation—of the generation or fad or whatever you want to label it is in many cases so creative that it achieves its own art form.
Over the years there have been far too many examples of Beatsploitation to catalog here, though another favorite of ours is the July 1959 edition of Playboy featuring the ““Beat Playmate,” Yvette Vickers. Alfred Hitchcock as a goateed, beret-wearing Beatnik is hard to resist mentioning, too.
Albert Zugsmith and his screenwriter enablers produced two landmark Beatsploitation film works: HIGH SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL (1958) and THE BEAT GENERATION (1959). Both films spawned paperback tie-ins and both are based on the screenplays for the respective films. The review of the novelization of HIGH SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL can be read here.
As a tie-in The Beat Generation does an adequate job of capturing the storyline of the movie: Los Angeles cops are after a serial rapist dubbed the Aspirin Kid because aspirin is left at the scene of his crimes. Stan Belmont (aka Stan Hess), a psychopathic beatnik is the culprit and he hangs out at the local coffee shop with a strange assortment of bohemians. He wants to make the wife of one of the cops on his trail his next victim. It is a fairly pedestrian suspense plot. Subtract the beat window dressing and this novel would hardly be worth mentioning today. It would be just one of the hundreds of mid-century sleaze noirs.
But because it has lines like this: “You’ve got to go, everybody’s got to go, go, go! We can’t stand still and wait for the next mushroom cloud, dig me?” or “This world, which is so real, with all its sunsets and Milky Ways—is nothing…!” it rises to a whole new level.
The book also presents—though slightly altered—one of the stranger scenes in the film. In the movie, Vampira (Maila Nurmi) recites a beat poem from a crumpled piece of paper while a rat hangs on her shoulder. In the novelization, the girl, sans vermin, recites the following poem up until the phrase “since you forced us into this world.” The movie offers more of the verses and we present them here:
Upon a certain birthday, dear parents, we do not thank you
We could go on with this book review, but we’ve got to catch the next gravy train of rebellion.
THE BEAT GENERATION
By Albert Zugsmith
Based on a screenplay by Richard Matheson and Lewis Meltzer
Copyright 1959; Published by Bantam Books / New York
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CATEGORY: Pulp Fiction
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