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Fifty Wonderful Years

Optic Nerve

1973 00:25:59 United StatesEnglishB&WMono


Fifty Wonderful Years provides a behind-the-scenes look at the 1973 Miss California Pageant. In the early '70s beauty pageants across the country came under fire from feminists who targeted them as spectacles that exploited women. Avoiding an overtly pejorative position, Fifty Wonderful Years lets the pageant organizers and contestants hang themselves. This video was one of the first documentaries shot on 1/2" open reel equipment to be broadcast on television. KQED, San Francisco "image-buffed" (rescanned it off of a monitor) the tape to maximize its signal stability.

This title is only available on Surveying the First Decade: Volume 2.

About Optic Nerve

Optic Nerve, a San Francisco collective, embraced portable video in 1972 and produced Psychological Bullrider (1973), a documentary on rodeo cowboys, and Fifty Wonderful Years (1973), a behind-the-scenes look at the Miss California Beauty Pageant. These early works established Optic Nerve’s aesthetic: free-style narrative, little or no voice-over, and a strong commitment to personal contact. Founding members included Lynn Adler, Jules Backus, Mya Shone, Sherry Rabinowitz, Bill Bradbury, John Rogers, and Jim Mayer.