IT DON'T PAY TO BE AN HONEST CITIZENT: Trailer for the 78 minute 1984 movie about crime and not punishment by Jacob Burckhardt. With Reed Bye, Vincent D'Onofrio, Julia Hoban, John Nesci, Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, David Brisbin, Mary Tepper, Bill Rice, Rackstraw Downes, Arthur Sanzari, Gary Marano, Robert Serra.....
"It Don't Pay to be an Honest Citizen" is based on a true story - the mugging of the filmmaker in Red Hook in 1978. "There were few people in the movie who were 'professional' actors," according to Burckhardt. "William (Burroughs) and Allen (Ginsburg) weren't trained at all, but had incredible presence....A lot of the small roles were guys I knew from around the neighborhood or friends who I thought looked good in the part."
"The ferocious greasy spoon counterman is Rackstraw Downes, a well known painter," notes Burckhardt. Downes is currently the focus of three art exhibitions in the tri-state area, including the Parrish's current exhibition Rackstraw Downes: Onsite Paintings, 1972-2008. One professional actor, then unknown, was Vincent D'Onofrio, a bartender in the neighborhood at the time. D'Onofrio didn't get the lead because "he was too big and tough looking - but he was a good actor so I asked him to play one of the muggers."
Burckhardt has been called "a second generation observer of New York life." His father Rudy Burckhardt was a filmmaker and photographer who took as his subject New York City and his New York School artist friends. When asked if he was influenced by his father, Jacob said, "I would say my filmmaking style was influenced by his filmmaking style. Work fast, don't let your collaborators get bored. All you need to make a movie is a camera and some film. There's a lot of inspiration in what's happening in the streets around you."
"It Don't Pay to be an Honest Citizen" captures the Red Hook community in transition, after containerization had brought an end to the longshoreman culture and weakened local gangs like the Gallos, but before gentrification took over. Filmed along the waterfront, it showcases now defunct bars and luncheonettes, familiar landmarks, and vanished buildings. One scene was shot inside an abandoned church once famous as a Gallo hangout but since destroyed.
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