I originally wrote this post on May 21st, 2014.
It’s a bit of Boston Marathon history and a peek into the way things used to be. Here it is with a few edits, Enjoy!
Kerri Haskins of the Mystic Runners posted this Boston Marathon 1964 film on Facebook in May of 2014.
It’s a 26 minute documentary film produced by Robert Gardner and Joyce Chopra of the Film Study Center at Harvard University. It’s an amazing look at Boston in 1964 and how things were back then.
As I watched the film I could recognize buildings, intersections and the road. I also recognized the running spirit that lives in us today. These 400 runners are just like we are. Many of their comments and conversations are ones I have had or heard.
These 400 souls ran without high tech fabrics and shoes with a million dollars in research behind them. No gels or fancy beverages. No well researched training plans, trainers or coaches for the most part. It was just running in it’s purest un-adulterated form.
You will see crowds along the way, and the kids. No one was handing out bananas or orange slices. No high fives, and maybe they missed them but no girls at Wellesley.
It was a different age. I was born in 1964 and some of the cars in this film are distant memories for me. Boston was a different town back then. More industrial and less high tech, no such thing as VC and start ups run by 20-year olds. You won’t see a cell phone or tablet. I didn’t even see a walki-talki.
This piece was written by David Borden and is on the YouTube page
When Erich Segal died in April of 2010, I remembered a short film for which I had supplied the music. In 1965, as a graduate student at Harvard, I was the only composer in Leon Kirchner’s seminar who was interested in composing music for film. While putting the finishing touches to the score for FLATLAND, supervised by animator John Hubley, the inventor of Mr. Magoo, Bob Gardner, the Director of the Film Study Center at Harvard popped his head into the studio and asked if I could supply a short film score for his current documentary, MARATHON. I said sure. Since two of the performers I had for FLATLAND were excellent jazz musicians I decided to do a quick improvisatory soundtrack. Guitarist Stanley Silverman could play anything and percussionist Fred Buda was one of the best jazz drummers I ever heard. All that remained was for me to call my old friend bassist John Neves to complete the group while I played piano. I watched the rushes and made some notes for a head arrangement. We had the track recorded in less than an hour. Soon the film was broadcast on WGBH, Boston’s groundbreaking PBS TV Station. Then it disappeared until recently.
Robert Gardner, now in his eighties, has collected numerous awards as an anthropologist and filmmaker. He is currently engaged with a number of film, video and book projects with Studio 7 Arts, his company in Cambridge MA. His most memorable films include Dead Birds (1964), Rivers of Sand (1975), and Forest of Bliss (1986). The assistant director, Joyce Chopra went on to direct many films for general release and for TV. Her films include Smooth Talk (1985), The Last Cowboy [TV 2003] and Fire in Our Hearts (2012). Erich Segal went on to write Love Story, the screenplay for Yellow Submarine, as well as influential texts in classics, his chosen field. He was a professor at Yale and a visiting professor at several universities including Princeton and Oxford. He died of a heart attack following many years of suffering from Parkinson’s disease. Walter Hewlett, also a runner in this marathon, was an undergraduate at Harvard in 1964. A man of many noteworthy accomplishments, he has been chairman of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation since 1994. D. A. Pennebaker, also in his eighties, is the legendary cinematographer/documentarian of such films as Don’t Look Back (1967), Monterey Pop (1968) and The War Room (1993). Marathon and Don’t Look Back were completed in the same year (1965).
-David Borden, Ithaca, NY July, 2010