"Some of the people who buy Crazy-Quilt through my website tell me they've been looking for the film for years," explains filmmaker John Korty. "They tell me they saw the movie somewhere in the '60s—and they've been looking for it ever since. They never forgot it."
And now those long-held memories can be recharged again, thanks to Korty, who's been selling his own DVDs of the film—often hand-labeled and signed—in increasing numbers.
"I sell several of them every week," Korty chuckles. "It's pretty amazing."
Not only is Crazy-Quilt a lost gem of independent cinema, its director's connection to the North Bay movie scene makes the gift of a Crazy-Quilt DVD a direct link to a firmly entrenched and celebrated snippet of North Bay film history.
In the early 1970s, eager to escape the destructive anti-creative influences of Hollywood, a band of moviemaking renegades—including Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas and Philip Kaufman—established a loose colony of filmmakers in the North Bay, filmmakers who would go on to challenge and change the way movies are conceived, filmed and distributed. What's often left out of the story is the reason Francis, George and Phillip chose the North Bay. The answer? John Korty was already here.
Well on his way to becoming one of the best directors of television movies (Go Ask Alice, The Road to Manzanar, The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pitman), Korty had been making independent films in Marin since 1966, working from a barn studio in Stinson Beach. That's where Korty made the quirky comedy Crazy-Quilt. It's a fable-like oddity about a pessimistic termite exterminator and a lovably spacey optimist, featuring narration by Burgess Meredith and a soundtrack by Peter Schickele (of P. D. Q. Bach fame). Made on a shoestring, the film proved that an artist could pursue his own vision without bowing to the compromises of the moviemaking mainstream.
Not that Korty hasn't dabbled in crowd-pleasing fare. For a different flavor of nostalgic flashback, Korty also directed the controversial made-for-TV Star Wars spin-off The Ewok Adventure.
"Frankly," recalls Korty, "when I was offered the film by George Lucas, I wasn't sure I was doing him a favor or he was doing me a favor. It was not the kind of film I'd have sought out on my own."
That said, Korty acknowledges that a lot more filmgoers have seen The Ewok Adventure than have ever caught Crazy-Quilt.
"In spite of its being not exactly an art movie," Korty says, "it has reached quite a few people."
For more information, see www.johnkorty.com.