Make it Active: “Action Poetique”
The Case that Will Not Die
It has now been 80 years since the execution of Sacco and Vanzetti tore the United States half apart — and caused a great deal more hullabaloo elsewhere around the globe — in mass demonstrations of hurt, outrage, and fury, bucking against the flanks and flailing clubs of the mounted police, a/k/a Cossacks.
…if the Communists jumped on the case, so did a great many other people who were not Communists at all, or very offbeat sorts of Communists — writers and artists and actors and singers and poets from Upton Sinclair to Dorothy Parker to Diego Rivera to Edna St. Vincent Millay to Woody Guthrie to hundreds of others, and none more effectively than the Ben Shahn whose woodcut Sacco and Vanzetti poster is sort of the cornerstone of Peter Miller’s film [Sacco and Vanzetti].
Of its very nature, the footage between the archival footage is a panoply of talking (or music-making) heads, from Howard Zinn to Studs Terkel to Anton Coppola to Arlo Guthrie — and many others — to Jeanette Murphy, daughter of the slain paymaster. “Do I think they killed my father?” she says on camera. “Well, somebody did.”