Pop History

Sammy Davis, Jr., Henry Kissinger, Shirley Chisholm, John Cage, Luis Tiant, and even Patty Hearst each are overshadowed when it comes to historical relevance in Miami by Crockett and Tubbs, those archetypal Miami Vice cops who branded our city as the sexiest, fastest, and most dangerously chic place to be rubbed out in.

The folks at the Florida Moving Image Archive are hip to this. They kick off their fourth annual Rewind/Fast Forward Film & Video Festival with a homemade documentary about the slick Eighties cop show and its impact in our community.

The film Vice Versa (screened Thursday, July 22) marks Miami Vice's 20th anniversary with a montage of clips from the show as well as local news footage of the Miami Vice phenomenon that grabbed the Magic City like a designer social disease.

A fresher-faced Michael Putney comments on Miami's glossy image conjured up by real events and a cocaine-hazed luster in the mass media. You'll see gruesome Vice-type reality in news coverage of multiple bodies found in posh Kendall Drive living rooms. You'll relive long-gone PM Magazine's frothy clip about the making of Miami Vice, before it became a primetime powerhouse.

Crockett and Tubbs were more than TV characters; you saw live versions of them roaming Coconut Grove coke dens and South Miami shopping centers. The footage serves as an homage to the nostalgic meeting point of pop culture and history.

The festival's roster of fourteen documentaries, most of which include clips from the Florida Moving Image Archive, approaches historical subjects, from the quirky to the political, with a witty nod to nostalgia.

For a detailed look at weird local history, check out Four More Years (screening Sunday, July 25), Chip Lord's work that depicts Richard Nixon's 1972 campaign and the Republican National Convention held in Miami Beach.

Weirder still is Jack Arnold's 1953 sci-fi film, It Came From Outer Space in 3-D (screening Friday, July 23). Arnold, creator of Creature From the Black Lagoon, manages to capture in his cult flick the xenophobic streak that ran through our society during the early years of the Cold War.

Weirdest of all is the stranger-than-fiction tale of newspaper heiress Patty Hearst. Director Robert Stone's Guerrilla: The Taking of Patty Hearst (Saturday, July 24) captures in great detail the angst and the fallout this sensational kidnapping had on the post-hippie-revolution America. Just hearing the tapes of "Tania" calling her family blood-sucking insects and vowing to fight for the liberation of all people in her upper-class monotone is worth the ticket.

The Patty Hearst saga, like Miami Vice, are adept markers that illustrate the thin line between fantasy and reality, often witnessed for real life in our steamy city. -- Juan Carlos Rodriguez