This is a favorite film of mine. It's animated in the same style as other Bakshi films like 'Fritz the Cat' and 'Heavy Traffic.' The film/media establishment doesn't know exactly what to think of Bakshi, but I love his work. 'Fritz the Cat' was brilliant but extremely offensive. I prefer this much more politically correct work, which spans the lives of four generations of Jewish-American musicians.
It starts with a gentle-souled vaudevillian, whose silent piano-playing son dies during Second World War. This morose character leaves behind a rebellious son who hears an Allen Ginsberg-like figure reading 'Howl' in a bar. His goody-two-shoes friend runs scared, but he is smitten and takes off on an 'On The Road'-style trip to San Francisco, where he falls in with a Jefferson-Airplane-like Haight-Ashbury band. Their scene falls apart, leaving him with nothing. He wanders to New York and meets the son he sired (though they don't know this) during a night in Kansas as he was crossing the country. This boy goes on to be a punk star.
What I like best about the movie is the truthfulness and sadness of everything that happens to these people. Bakshi is a talented and underrated filmmaker, and he did another work with more Official Beat Content: the short live action TV film 'This Ain't Bebop' starring Harvey Keitel.
Other Beat-related films
by Levi Asher