Photo: Robert Foster

Actor Robert Forster - September 1969
Somewhere between San Francisco and Brisbane
© Robert Altman; all rights

In 1969 Mr. Forster came to my town to tout “Medium Cool.” He had an early return flight so writer and film critic Michael Goodwin and I hung further in there for the interview. There was room in the limo. And that’s where I captured the star’s portrait, in the back seat.
btw- this rare film wasn’t medium was well done. Not rare any more- it was newly minted into the Criterion Collection last year.

“Medium Cool is a 1969 American drama film written and directed by Haskell Wexler and starring Robert Forster, Peter Boyle, Peter Bonerz...

It takes place in Chicago in the summer of 1968. It was notable for Wexler's use of cinema vérité-style documentary filmmaking techniques, as well as for combining fictional and non-fictional content.

Shot at a time of great social and political counterculture upheaval in the United States, Wexler's film reflects the conflicted nature of a country divided by issues of race, gender, poverty, crime, and war.

In 2003, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being ‘culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant’.

The title comes from Marshall McLuhan's work in which he described TV as a "cool" medium. The "cooler" the medium, "the more someone has to uncover and engage in the media" in order to "fill in the blanks." The film questions the role and responsibilities of television and its newscasts.

The music in the film was assembled by guitarist Mike Bloomfield (Haskell Wexler's cousin). The film features contemporary music from the early Mothers of Invention albums by rock musician Frank Zappa, as well as the Love instrumental "Emotions" over the opening credits. Wexler has said the scene under the opening credits with the bike messenger delivering film to the television station was inspired by the film, Black Orpheus (1959).”