A Movie (1958): Bruce Cooner’s Experimental Film

Artist Bruce Conner directed A Movie, an influential 12-minute experimental collage film.  The work combines found footage taken from various sources such as newsreels, soft-core pornography, and B movies, set to a score of Ottorino Respighi’s Pines of Rome.

A Movie opens with its longest shot, an extended credit with Bruce Conner’s name. After the credits, the countdown leader is interrupted by a shot of an undressed woman removing her stockings. Once the countdown completes, an intertitle falsely announces “The End” of the film.

The film then moves into a montage of cavalry, tanks, race cars, and a charging elephant. Another false ending precedes footage of zeppelins and tightrope walkers.

In one sequence, a man in a submarine looks through a periscope to see a woman posing in a bikini, leading to the launch of a torpedo and a mushroom cloud.

Images of water sporting accidents and racing mishaps follow. As the musical score swells, violent scenes, aerial bombings, the Hindenburg disaster, and firing squads.

The film closes with a scuba diver exploring a shipwreck.

A landmark work in American experimental cinema, A Movie was rediscovered by a new generation of indie filmmakers as an early example of found footage.

Critical Status

A Movie was inducted into the National Film Registry in 1994.