Magazine article The New Yorker

L.A. States of Mind

Magazine article The New Yorker

L.A. States of Mind

Article excerpt

Kent Mackenzie's independent film "The Exiles," which was completed in 1961, was revealed at the time of its long-delayed theatrical release last year to be one of the glories and wonders of the American cinema. The extra material in Milestone's two-disk set offers a welcome chance to put it into context.

The story distills one night in the lives of a group of young Native Americans living in Bunker Hill, a poor but picturesque Los Angeles neighborhood. Yvonne (Yvonne Williams) is pregnant and living with her husband, Homer (Homer Nish), a layabout and a gambler, who drops her off at a movie theatre and forgets her there while he goes off to carouse with friends. Tommy (Tommy Reynolds), a brazen playboy, picks up a woman at a bar and drinks himself into trouble. The action--which begins with Yvonne wandering through a vast food market--is captured in black-and-white images that are richly textured with the sights and nuances of daily life, all the while maintaining a poised, classical grandeur. (A shot of a woman in a convertible whose cigarette sparks in the night wind became an immediate icon.) As much an impressionistic gallery of urban landscapes as a set of intimate portraits, the film burrows deep into its characters' psyches through the use of first-person voice-overs by its trio of main characters. …

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