I ALWAYS SAID YES: THE MANY LIVES OF WAKEFIELD POOLE
(Final Release Cut, 2016, 98 mins)
Produced and directed by Jim Tushinski
I Always Said Yes: The Many Lives of Wakefield Poole tells the story of a sometimes overlooked gay liberation and independent film making pioneer. In late 1971, Wakefield Poole, a respected Broadway dancer and choreographer, had the audacity to put his real name above the title of his first film, a low-budget, hardcore gay erotic feature called Boys in the Sand. And to make sure everyone knew about it, Poole advertised the film in the New York Times, creating a sensation. In an era when anyone making, promoting, or appearing in what the US government considered "pornography" could be liable for prosecution and jail time, Poole was a remarkably open and honest gay film maker. He became internationally famous and his movies screened for years as examples that films could be artistic as well as sexually explicit.
Director/Producer Jim Tushinski continues the exploration of art and sexuality he began in That Man: Peter Berlin, but this time around, the main character is not a cool, untouchable icon. Poole was an outspoken and articulate artist in a turbulent, passionate time. He didn't think of himself as a pornographer. He was a filmmaker who used his dance and theater background to create beautiful, erotic art films that "challenged the mind." To many, though, Poole just made dirty movies.
Filled with gorgeous archival footage, excerpts from Poole's lushly photographed films, and entertaining and illuminating interviews with Poole's contemporaries and colleagues, I Always Said Yes is a story of artistic integrity and disappointment, self-destruction, reinvention, love, sex, fortitude, and a little musical comedy.
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PRAISE FOR I ALWAYS SAID YES
Wakefield Poole, acclaimed Broadway dancer turned legend for his groundbreaking, experimental early-'70s gay porn films, gets the reverential treatment he deserves in this incredibly well-reported, riveting documentary. Poole's life of personal and professional invention and reinvention is staggering in its own right (he hobnobbed with a who's who of Broadway icons), but his shrewd insights into the radical political and social significance of early gay porn prove him a formidable queer theorist and activist in his own right
The aging Poole proves a feisty and unabashedly emotional guide to his own creative highs and private lows, acknowledging the wayward nature of his career path without a trace of self-pity. This is cinema as archive—an impulse that remains essential even in the era where sophisticated documentary/fiction hybrids and self-reflective non-fiction practice gains much of the spotlight.
One of the best character studies I have ever seen... When you hear it deals with a subject like pornography, the mind tends to take the naughty route, dismissing the film as a fluff piece. But in the hands of director Jim Tushinski...Poole’s life is enriching and fascinating...
Excellent...I Always Said Yes is not only a tribute to a life fully lived, but a testament to a truly talented individual who remained true to his artistic side.