HWY: An American Pastoral

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HWY: An American Pastoral
Directed by Jim Morrison; Frank Lisciandro; Paul Ferrara; Babe Hill
Produced by Jim Morrison
Written by Jim Morrison
Starring Jim Morrison
Running time
52 minutes
Country United States
Language English

HWY: An American Pastoral is a film by Jim Morrison, Frank Lisciandro, Paul Ferrara, and Babe Hill and stars Morrison as a hitchhiker. It is a 50-minute experimental film in Direct Cinema style. It was shot during the spring and summer of 1969 in the Mojave Desert and in Los Angeles.

Storyline[edit]

The opening sequence shows the hitchhiker (Jim Morrison) coming out of a pond, and putting his clothes on over whatever he is already wearing. He proceeds to walk up the mountain from the pond. He starts walking down the highway and a voice-over of Morrison talks about his incident with dead Indians as a child. He is shown emerging from a car stuck in the sand. He successfully tries to pull a car over. The next sequence shows landscape and then turns to a clip of the hitchhiker looking for a book with the car parked outside a gas station (visible through the window). The hitchhiker is shown back on the highway together with two other people and a police officer. He gets into the car and drives off. He looks for directions on a map at night. The cars are shown driving into the sunset. Finally, the hitchhiker makes a phone call to American poet Michael McClure and explains with disimpassioned voice why the original driver was not with him for much of the journey. The hitchhiker killed him. The final shots show the hitchhiker at The Whiskey A Go Go on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles.

Screenplay, production and public screening[edit]

The original, barely structured HWY screenplay, published in 1990,[1] contained many differences to the actual 1969 film version. The film was based on Morrison's experiences as a hitchhiker during his student days. As a college student Morrison had regularly been commuting as a hitchhiker from Tallahassee 280 miles to meet his then girlfriend Mary Werbelow in Clearwater.[2][3][4] Morrison financed the low-budget film project through his company “HiWay Productions”. The production of HWY was supported by Morrison's friends Paul Ferrara, Frank Lisciandro and Babe Hill. The soundtrack was produced by composer Fred Myrow; with additional material from ethnic and world music recordings.

Parts of the movie were meant to be used for fundraising purposes in order to complete the whole project.[5] As soon as October 1969 the film story was outpaced, though, by the Tate-Labianca murders which were carried out by members of the Manson Family in Los Angeles and shattered the American public. Morrison showed HWY during his second stay in Paris in early 1971. The film was publicly shown only once in Vancouver in 1970 and again in Paris in 1993. An audio sequence from the film was published on The Doors' spoken word album An American Prayer in 1978.

It has been suggested that the inspiration for the Protagonist in the film, played by Morrison, with the script name 'Billy' was inspired by the very real Hitchhiker serial killer Billy Cook who murdered six people on a 22-day rampage between Missouri and California in 1950–51.

When You're Strange[edit]

In 2009, restored and re-mastered excerpts from "HWY" were featured in Tom DiCillos documentary When You're Strange. However, the complete film was not included in the Special Features on the "When You're Strange" DVD, and there have been no further announcements regarding a DVD release for the film. Bootleg copies of the film (with a visible timecode at the bottom of the screen) can be found on the internet.

Screenplay[edit]

  • Jim Morrison: The Hitchhiker (An American Pastoral). In: The American Night. The Writings of Jim Morrison. Viking, London 1990, p. 69–82.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Jim Morrison: The Hitchhiker (An American Pastoral). In: The American Night. The Writings of Jim Morrison. Viking, London 1990, p. 69–82.
  2. ^ "Doors: Mary Werbelow, Jim Morrison and the Doors". Sptimes.com. Retrieved 2013-04-23. 
  3. ^ "jim_morrison: Pamela Courson". Jim-morrison.livejournal.com. 2007-04-27. Retrieved 2013-04-23. 
  4. ^ Stephen Davis: Jim Morrison – Life, Death, Legend. Gotham, New York 2004. p. 35.
  5. ^ The American Night. The Writings of Jim Morrison. Viking, London 1990, p. 207.

External links[edit]