Cover Me Babe
1970 Sondra Locke
The story of Cover Me Babe revolves around the "auteur theory" and the concept of cinema-verite. Both are much-discussed topics among today's film- oriented youth.
Cinema-Verite is a theory of documentary film making. It refers specifically to a documentary type film shot outside the studio, without actors, sets or a script. They are short stories written by the camera in the purest cinema language; they are completely visual.
Cover Me Babe is about such a film.
Tony Hall (ROBERT FORSTER) is a graduate film student in a major university and is the protagonist of Cover Me Babe He holds that the only true cinematic experience is one lifted from reality, filmed with real people, with or without their knowledge. It is also his opinion that the televised (and subsequently re-televised on tape) murder of Lee Harvey Oswald is the most dramatic experience in the history of mankind.
Thus, it is that throughout the film Tony Hall engages in what director Noel Black calls a "bastardized cinema-verite."
With the aid
of his fellow students, cinematographer Ted Baxter (SAN WATERSTON), sound man (MICHAEL PAYNE) and grip (CARNEN ARGENZIANO), Tony Hall travels the city of Los Angeles filming and interviewing. He creates dramatic involvements with his friends and teacher. By suggestions and lies he writes the script of the lives of the lovely Melisse (SONDRA LOCKE), his ex-girlfriend Sybil (SUSANNE BENTON), his professor Will Ames (ROBERT S. FIELDS), the homosexual student, Ronnie (FLOYD MUTRUX), and student actor Jerry (KEN KERCHEVAL).
Cover Me Babe begins with a film within a film. It is Tony Hall's newest work, a surrealistic comedy filmed on the desert.
Tony Hall's apartment is on the second floor of the Seabright Apartments, a three-story building housing hippies, college students, runaways and other young people. The building has quite a reputation with Santa Monica police department for its attraction to young people caught up in the drug scene.
The building faces Muscle Beach, where Tony Hall finds and films a drowning boy. It is a natural location, with its large and inexpensive apartments, for a college student who needs the room to set up his library, editing room and offers a living room large enough to project his films for a small audience of friends.
Cover Me Babe follows the making of Tony Hall's "bastardized cinema-verite film and his relationships with Melisse, Sybil and Will Ames. When we meet them, the girls love him, and will at least respect him. However, when Tony refuses to present Will Ames with a script and presents his theory of filming reality, Will becomes increasingly concerned.
Will then obtains a reel of Tony's film featuring a prostitute and realizes that Tony's distorted mind has involved the girls and the two male students, Ronnie and Jerry, in a bizarre mixture of reality.