Don’t Look Back

D.A. Pennebaker’s 1967 record of Bob Dylan’s 1965 English tour is a genuine blast from the past, evoking the 60s like few other documents; Dylan’s relentless heaping of scorn on the mainstream press, before the coercive tentacles of creative management made such things virtually impossible, is especially telling. But I’m entirely with Andrew Sarris when he writes, Don’t Look Back makes me want to fill in on Dylan’s recordings, but not Pennebaker’s movies; the raw cinema verite look bears fruit only when its subject does, and as with Truth or Dare (1991), the pretense of confidentiality is merely that. But the music is great, and the film would be memorable for its goofy, syncopated opening sequence alone (a quirky illustration of Subterranean Homesick Blues). With appearances by Joan Baez (Dylan’s steady at the time), Donovan, Allen Ginsberg, Dylan’s manager Albert Grossman, and Alan Price. 96 min. (JR)

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