Chafed Elbows

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Chafed Elbows is a 1966 film directed by Robert Downey, Sr.

A manic comic parody[1] made for $12,000,[2] Chafed Elbows was a commercial success[3] that raised the flag of the underground film scene and elevated the good cause of bad taste. Downey photographed most of the movie with a still 35mm camera and had the film processed at Walgreens drugstore. These pictures were animated alongside a few live-action scenes and almost all the dialogue was dubbed to rather hilarious effect. One scene was even shot in Anthology Film Archives’s upstairs theater back in the days when the building was still a defunct downtown courthouse.[4]

All 13 of the female roles were played by Elsie Downey, Robert Downey's wife,[5] and the lead male role by George Morgan.[6]


Hapless Walter Dinsmore undergoes his annual November breakdown at the 1954 World’s Fair, has a love affair with his mother,[2] recollects his hysterectomy operation, impersonates a cop, is sold as a piece of living art, goes to heaven, and becomes the singer in a rock band, but not necessarily in that order.


  1. ^ Tyler, Parker (1970). Underground film: a critical history. Grove Press. p. 49. 
  2. ^ a b Mahoney, Stephen (November 28, 1969). "Robert Downey Makes Vile Movies". Life. p. 66. 
  3. ^ Dixon, Wheeler W. (1997). The exploding eye: a re-visionary history of 1960s American experimental cinema. SUNY Press. p. 62. ISBN 978-0-7914-3566-3. 
  4. ^ Anthology Film Archives History
  5. ^ Gelmis, Joseph (1970). The film director as superstar. Doubleday. p. 33. OCLC 52379. 
  6. ^ Crowther, Bosley (January 5, 1967). "Underground Film Has Flashes of Humor". The New York Times. p. 30. 

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