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  1. #1

    Default DetroitYES Mini-Film Festival: Two Detroit Films by German Director Dieter Marcello

    Since the Freep is having their film festival why not have our mini-version. What follows are two films by German director Dieter Marcello [and friend] shot in Detroit in 1988 and 1991. He is releasing them on Vimeo for pay but is making them available for free by word of mouth on the DetroitYES through Friday March 28. Enjoy.

    American Beauty, Ltd [Not to be confused with the later-made Hollywood film American Beauty] drew its name from the giant sign atop the former, now demolished, American Beauty Electric Iron Company factory on Woodward]. It is an immigrant-themed docu-feature film that moves back and forth in time. The opening shots from the open Detroit People Mover and many other Detroit scenes combined with archival footage are sure to thrill you. A number of Detroiters cameo in the film including Ken Cockerel with an eighties heavy cell phone, George N'Nambi, Joel Slivers and even me as an artist.

    American Beauty, Ltd.

    American Beauty, Ltd. was nominated for Best Film and Best Cinematography for the 1990 Deutsche Film Preiz, the German Academy Awards.

    It won the latter award and with the cash that came with it Marcello created the documentary Albert Kahn, Architect of Modern Times. Having been inspired by Kahn’s Detroit architecture and the fact that Kahn was German-born and an immigrant provided the inspiration. The little known fact that Kahn also built the industrial backbone of the USSR is highlighted with dramatic footage of the Kahn-designed steel city of Magnitogorsk to go along with the extensive Detroit coverage.

    Albert Kahn, Architect of Modern Times

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2009


    Thanks, Lowell. I'm about halfway through the Albert Kahn movie. Good stuff.

  3. #3


    Awesome Lowell. I love Kahn's work. Thanks for the links.

  4. #4


    Michigan Central devotees can visit the abandoned but still not deteriorated or vandalized depot starting at minute 30:54 of American Beauty, Ltd.

    Packard spelunkers might enjoy a drive through scene starting at minute 107:56. Also any thanks should really go to Marcello.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2009


    Quote Originally Posted by Lowell View Post
    . Also any thanks should really go to Marcello.
    Thanks to him also.

  6. #6


    My goodness!! I just watched American Beauty - what an amazing film! I haven't been here for a while, and what a delight that I return to a treat like this.

    Some thoughts:

    It opens with a bang of incorrectness - the Riots were in '67, not '68. But the film more than makes up for this error.

    It was amazing to see new film of Ken Cockrel, in the days when I knew him, and to hear him "spiel" on Albert Kahn - not economic theory. I skipped school to see him argue that case of James Johnson, referenced in this movie.

    The last time I took the train - to New York, in the late 70's - it looked like that inside the Train Station.

    We can see the beginnings of what we now call ruin porn structures, but in the context of their living use; and the Packard, even then long closed, was still navigable by car!

    George N'namdi, in black and white at the party - without his now signature pork-pie hat!

    Yes, I saw you too, Lowell - I kept thinking, I think I know that guy!

    Great sequences showing the origins of the Detroit area labor movement. During a commemoration of the Flint Sit-Down strike, many years ago, I was given the key to that city.

    The actress is gorgeous! I was confused a bit with the changes in era, but the story device was well done.

    The clips of old Detroit and the factory scenes were amazing. I do note that Blacks were virtually invisible in these scenes, despite the reality of black workers pouring into the city during all of those years, and working in the dirtiest, most dangerous industrial jobs. Although they are mentioned once or twice, this visual treatment (or lack thereof) contributes to the visual narratives that show only whites and immigrants as productive and industrious in Detroit. Ken Cockrel would surely have "nutted up" (as he used to say) about this.

    I thought the weaving of the working women into the story was wonderful.

    That being said, this is a very interesting and compelling film - remarkable in some aspects - and likely to resonate, I suppose, with Detroiters familiar with the scenes and people.

    I was reminded yet again, of the sheer power of Detroit - the industrial might, the commercial success, the architectural wonder; this film in its "true-fiction" way, really captures this.

    I wonder if the film-maker/s started with the images, and build the stories around them, or started with the stories and found images. Probably both.

    A few years ago, I met the other guy, with the long hair, Paul? at a party at a loft off of Michigan Ave. He told me that - for a long time - he had been working on a film project involving archival Detroit images. This must be it. Very cool. I'd gladly pay to see it again. Maybe it will play at the DIA, as well.

    This was a nice gift to this community. Hi again, and thanks so much for posting, Lowell. My thanks and kudos to the film-makers.

  7. #7


    Still time to watch, I see the link is still active. It's not a new film so I'm sure some of you have seen it. For those who haven't, it's worth you time.

  8. #8


    Well 2 very nostalgically interesting movies... great seeing you in one Lowell!!

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