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Night Waltz: The Music of Paul Bowles

A valuable addition to growing body of Paul Bowles--related work, "Night Waltz" will entice extra-receptive auds and be lost on everybody else. Its dry, somewhat nostalgic quality is best suited to educational-tube venues, but beat-generation connections could spark interest.

A valuable addition to growing body of Paul Bowles–related work, “Night Waltz” will entice extra-receptive auds and be lost on everybody else. Its dry, somewhat nostalgic quality is best suited to educational-tube venues, but beat-generation connections could spark interest.

Many fans of the longtime Morocco-residing writer don’t realize that before “The Sheltering Sky” and his fame as author and expat, Bowles was a successful composer, deemed gifted by the East Coast establishment. Straightforward pic attempts to revive his work from the fertile era of the 1930s and ’40s by fusing recent recordings with images of New York, Paris and Tangier. Some footage is newly shot, some archival, but the effect, unfortunately, is sometimes pretty random — akin to watching TV with the sound off and a Poulenc CD in the background. Better are interviews with the ailing author, in which he talks about studying with Aaron Copland and blowing off an appointment with Prokofiev; he never stops drumming his fingers to rhythms in his head. Pic’s touching finish, with a solo lullaby from a young Arab, is worth sticking around for. “Waltz” was shot on 16mm and nicely transferred to 35mm.

Night Waltz: The Music of Paul Bowles


Production: An Owsley Browne Presents (San Francisco) production, with support from Telefilm Canada. Produced by Owsley Browne III. Co-producer, Robin Burke. Directed, written by Owsley Browne III. Camera (color/B&W, 16-to-35mm blowup) , David Golia, Gene Salvitore, Rudy Burkhardt, Nataniel Dorsky; editor, Dorsky; music, Paul Bowles. Reviewed on videocassette, Vancouver, Oct. 7, 1999. (In Vancouver Film Festival.) Running time: 76 MIN.

With: With: Paul Bowles, Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs.

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