If you’re bummed about missing last week’s program of films by the Kuchar brothers (or if you were there and left hungry for more), then you’re in luck. This Saturday at 7 PM the Nightingale will present two more Kuchar films, George’s House of the White People and Unstrap Me! (both 1968). The entire program will be projected from 16-millimeter film.
Both movies were made in collaboration with Walter K. Gutman, a Wall Street market analyst who moonlighted as an art critic and underground filmmaker (he also published collections of his market reports, which developed a cult following for their eccentric humor—one of them has the somewhat Kucharesque title You Only Have to Get Rich Once). Gutman financed the works of other filmmakers before writing and directing some of his own in the 1970s. Not only did he produce White People and Unstrap Me!—he acted in both and supplied the story for the latter. Also appearing in both films is Gutman’s colleague George Segal, a painter and sculptor associated with the Pop Art movement (not to be confused with the actor of the same name). Remarkably Unstrap Me! was reviewed in the New York Times when it first screened. Though intended as a pan, any fan of Kuchar’s flamboyant naïf art would take it as a ringing endorsement:
Unstrap Me! . . . is concerned mainly with an aging, fairly lascivious man, grumpily played by Walter Gutman . . . Uncle Bojo, the callow, offscreen narrator says with fleetingly funny inflection, is separated from Aunt Stella and, as a free, questing soul, he is at once, off and running, first with a blonde in Provincetown, then with a brunette here and in New Jersey, and finally with a swinger at a motel near the winter home of the Ringling Brothers circus in Florida. There are, of course, a plethora of near-nude shots, fantasy dream sequences, in which Uncle Bojo is supplanted by younger men, and a minimum of informative or decorative scenes, showing George Segal, the sculptor, working in plaster, and the circus in action.