Tyrannus Nix?

About This Item

A KQED film by Irving Saraf (1932-2012) and Bill Yahraus from 1970 featuring scenes of American poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti reading his political diatribe Tyrannus Nix? against America's 37th President Richard Milhous Nixon. Includes many impressionistic images of Ferlinghetti and Nixon. Opens with the lines: "Tyrannus Nix? Nixon. Nixon. Bush-league President. This is a populist hymn to you and yours. And I begin with your face, which is the face of the rise and fall of America. And I come back to your face, for our history is noble and tragic, like the mask of a tyrant." We'd like to thank Irving Saraf's second wife Allie Light for donating a positive 16mm film print of Tyrannus Nix? to the TV Archive in June 2019. Opening graphic designed by Carrie Hawks.

Bill Yahraus advised that Tyrannus Nix? was made for the show San Francisco Mix, a segment show run by Bob Zagone during the 1960s and early 1970s. Yahraus went onto explain how: "Some segments were created by the NET West Coast Documentary Unit, run by Richard Moore.  Irving and I were two members of that seven person team.  This piece is one of those segments.  I was doing a lot of experimental post production at the time on feature programs like Go Ride the Music and Assemblage.  So, once the reading of the poem was shot it was turned over to me.  Since this was a “down and dirty” piece, I did the “effects” work mostly by hand with [a] single frame projector projecting on a piece of smoked glass and rephotographed with a Bolex camera…a rig built I myself."

Note that Allie Light also passed us a silent, positive "master" 16mm film reel which was probably the original source from which the images on the synched optical print were obtained. The picture quality on this master reel is considerably better than the optical print, so we will try to edit salvageable images from the master reel into this web screener where possible, to improve the viewing experience.

16mm b&w positive optical sound film
Digital Format
mp4 file
special interest
Copyright Holder

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business relocation perth a development of a very American and special genre which the author characterizes not as poetry but as 'political-satirical tirade' on the subject of President Nixon."

“I raise my middle finger to you”. Lawrence Ferlinghetti savages President Nixon in TYRANNOSAURUS NIX? (1970) a wonderful San Francisco period short that’s newly online. I wish we’d had this for his 100th birthday party. We’re going to need a BRONTOSAURUS BORIS in the UK soon but I don’t know of anyone capable of writing it like this. Look and learn Armitage, Duffy, Zephaniah and the wannabe co. Brilliant. 

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