Broadway by Light (1958), a film directed by William Klein

”I did this book on New York: black-and-white, grungy photographs. People said, “What a put-down–New York is not like that. New York is a million things, and you just see the seamy side.” So I thought I would do a film showing how seamy New York was, but intellectually, by doing a thing on electric-light signs. How beautiful they are, and what an obsessive, brainwashing message they carry. And everybody is so thankful for this super spectacle. Anyway, I think it’s the first Pop film.” – William Klein (source)

It’s been almost three years since we came to live next to Times Square – just off, still ”too close for comfort”. I’ve been crisscrossing Broadway every working day of the week, at least twice; sometimes during the weekends too. I have seen it by day and by night, sweating in the sizzling summer heat and glimmering after the rain, covered in snow and confetti, flooded with crowds and quasi-empty (yes, it does happen – rarely, but it does). But seeing it through Mr. Klein’s lens adds a whole new poetic dimension to the reality of Broadway, as we know it today.

It begins with these words:

”Les américaines ont inventé le jazz pour se consoler de la mort, la star pour se consoler de la femme.

Pour se consoler de la nuit, ils ont inventé Broadway…”

Click on the stills gallery for a larger view or, better yet, bedazzle yourself by watching this beautiful short film (only about 10′ long), here:

March 8th, 2018

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