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In the fall of 1966, a micro-budget feature film made by an unknown 29 year-old living in Stinson Beach, California opened in New York with almost no advance publicity. Fortunately, it wasn’t needed. The reviews the next day were unanimous raves—from the New York Times, to Variety, to Newsweek, to Time magazine, to the New Yorker and the Washington Post.

THE CRAZY-QUILT

was based on a short story with a strange title, THE ILLUSIONLESS MAN AND THE VISIONARY MAID, written by a psychoanalyst, Dr. Allen Wheelis, known only in intellectual circles, and directed by John Korty, whose previous credit was for a short peace film, THE LANGUAGE OF FACES, about a Quaker vigil at the Pentagon.

This was three years before EASY RIDER and RAIN PEOPLE. In fact, Korty made two more low-budget films, FUNNYMAN and RIVERRUN, before the those releases, still operating out of an old barn in a beach town of 300 people.

His bare-bones studio was visited by Lucas and Coppola in 1969 and immediately inspired them to move north. As soon as they set up American Zoetrope, one of the corner offices was reserved for John Korty, who finally moved into San Francisco.

Now 45 years after its opening, THE CRAZY-QUILT is available in a full-feature DVD including interviews with Allen Wheelis, John Korty and Peter Schickele, who composed the original score. Photographed in 35mm black-and-white, it was narrated by Burgess Meredith and starred two unknown actors, Tom Rosqui and Ina Mela. The director’s cut is now 70 minutes long. The only deletions were mistakes and overly long pauses.

Over the years, a cult following has developed and still persists. Those who cannot remember the title, call it the “termite film” because of the main character’s occupation. Some of them remember it as a life-changing experience. Others say it is the story of their marriage. And more than a few just say it is hilarious. T
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