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It Came From Kuchar: The $1,000 Punch Line

A few years and 2,500 miles apart, teenagers inspired by photos of Dad in uniform and From Here to Eternity undertake their separate 8mm war epics. Both are the works of prodigies weaned on double features, later loved or reviled for holding onto their childlike innocence. Little Stevie Spielberg shot 1961's Escape to Nowhere under the clear Arizona skies. The 1957 The Naked and the Nude is the earliest surviving title by two lanky, pimple-popping, MAD magazine–reading wiseacres, 15-year-old Bronx twins George and Mike Kuchar. Jennifer M. Kroot's bio-documentary opens up the careers that followed Naked. It's an accessible, professional job, with onscreen testimonials from John Waters, Guy Maddin and Buck Henry (who will host Friday and Saturday's shows at the Egyptian). George comes off as the outgoing one; Mike is more serious and obscure, though their twindom is obvious when Kroot cuts between them separately recounting the same anecdotes, almost verbatim. The brothers have been shooting for more than a half century since Naked, working in every home format but never in highfalutin' 35mm. Mike describes his Sins of the Fleshapoids (1965) thusly: "My most dearest dedication to commercial, American movies, or, to put it another way, it is a joke that cost me a thousand dollars." The brothers have remained unblemished amateurs. "They believe going after money is selling out in a way. No one can believe people used to think that way but, they did," Waters says of Mike and George in It Came from Kuchar. "They should be knighted."

IT CAME FROM KUCHAR | May 7-9 | American Cinematheque at the Egyptian Theatre | americancinematheque.org


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