In 1976 I moved from our destitution no-running-water/no-electricity/chopped-wood for heating cabin outside of Kalispell, Montana, and went to Leucadia, Southern California. I’d de-toxed from filmmaking, so I imagined, and like any good junkie, having gone clean, thought maybe I could just try a little more, no harm done. Despite a real rear-ender accident on Laurel Canyon (the young girl was busy looking at her music cassettes when she whacked into me) that left me with a life-time injury, I managed to make Angel City.
1976, 16mm color/snd, 76 minutes
Produced, written, directed, photographed and edited by Jon Jost.
With Bob Glaudini, Winifred Golden, Roger Ruffin, Kathleen Kramer, Mark Brown
Edinburgh Festival, 1977, Berlin 1978, Sydney, Toronto, L’Age d’Or (Brussels)
Florence, 1979, and others
Collections of FdK, BFI, Portuguese Film Archive, Australian Film Institute
Broadcast by UK’s Channel Four, 1981
A detective fiction mixed with an essay-documentary about Los Angeles, Hollywood and the film industry, Angel City is a satiric comedy with serious intentions. Lead character, Frank Goya (Glaudini) is hired by conglomerate media mogul, Pierce del Rue, (Roger Ruffin) to investigate death of his young wife (Winifred Golden). Goya traverses Hollywood and finds it is del Rue who did it and is using him as a cover.
“Rarely has the city been used to such effect as in Angel City, a 1976 film made by the 34 year old experimental filmmaker Jon Jost. Jost works light-years away from the movie mainstream but he clearly knows the Hollywood standards which he mocks so mercilessly in this brightly funny and extremely inventive film made for a phenomenal $6000.”
Martha DuBose, Sydney Morning Herald
“Jost’s outsider is Frank Goya, a guy with a red shirt, a far-fucking-out-in-the-morning-man delivery, and a fist full of Polaroid snapshots. Ever-cool Goya peers into the camera, announces that he’s a motel-haunting divorce-dick and from then on Angel City is kabuki Raymond Chandler. Hired by the chairman of the world’s largest multi-national conglomerate to investigate the death of his wife (a former Plaything centerfold who only “came after you hit her”), Goya drives around LA, interviews a bartender, is seduced by the chairman’s mistress, solves the case, and gets beat up for his bother.”
Jim Hoberman, Village Voice
“A really joyous endeavor, a blithe attempt to trash on some of our most revered institutions. As such it combines the best and sometimes the worst of Godardian political analysis, bourgeois detective stories, Sixties mind-fuck, and an homage to Hollywood. It’s weird, smart-ass, and totally irreverent. It’s also one of the best $6,000 investments I can possibly think of, and is proof positive that some of our most exciting cinema is being put together by the people in the streets, not in the Bel Air mansions where the Hollywood honchos live. That God for Jon Jost and his ilk, because they’re keeping the art of cinema alive and well.”
“As for Jon Jost’s Angel City, it’s a sodden, stupid film by a person who has ideas but has never bothered to structure them in terms of time and space. Which is what a film is, a structured statement in time and space. Film space…. I loathed the film.”
Amy Taubin, Soho News