Howl (2010)

Director: Jeffrey Friedman, Rob Epstein
Writer: Jeffrey Friedman, Rob Epstein

Cast: James Franco (Allen Ginsberg), Aaron Tveit (Peter Orlovsky), Jon Hamm (Jake Ehrlich), David Strathairn (Ralph McIntosh), Alessandro Nivola (Luther Nichols), Mary-Louise Parker (Gail Potter), Bob Balaban (Judge Clayton W. Horn), Jeff Daniels (Professor David Kirk), Jon Prescott (Neal Cassady), Treat Williams (Mark Schorer), Todd Rotondi (Jack Kerouac), Andrew Rogers (Lawrence Ferlinghetti)

Genres: Biography, Drama
Released: September 14, 2010 (USA)
Running time: 85 minutes
MPAA: R – strong sexual content including language and images, and for some drug material

Allen Ginsberg — poet, counter-culture adventurer, and chronicler of the Beat Generation. In his famously confessional, leave-nothing-out style, Ginsberg recounts the road trips, love affairs, and search for personal liberation that led to the most timeless and electrifying work of his career: the poem “Howl.” Meanwhile, in a San Francisco courtroom, “Howl” is on trial. Prosecutor Ralph McIntosh sets out to prove that the book should be banned, while suave defense attorney Jake Ehrlich argues fervently for freedom of speech and creative expression. The proceedings veer from the comically absurd to the passionate as a host of unusual witnesses pit generation against generation and art against fear in front of conservative Judge Clayton Horn.




• In one particular animated scene, a character leaps from rooftop to rooftop, passing a billboard reading “Luckies are Toasted!” This was a marketing campaign of Lucky Strike brand cigarettes in the 1950s. It might also be a nod to co-star Jon Hamm who coins the phrase as Don Draper in the AMC show Mad Men.

• Principal photography of the film took place in New York City.

• As stated in the opening card: “Every word in this film was spoken by the actual people portrayed. In that sense, the film is like a documentary. In every other sense, it is different.”

• This was Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman’s first full length motion picture. The writer/director duo have previously been critically acclaimed for their work as documentarians.

• Aaron does not have any spoken lines in this role.


Allen Ginsberg: “Howl” for Carl Salomon. I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix, angel-headed hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night…

Ralph McIntosh: But what is “angel-headed hipsters”?

Jake Ehrlich: The battle of censorship will not be finally settled by your honor’s decision, but you will either add to liberal-educated thinking, or by your decision you will add fuel to the fire of ignorance. Let there be light. Let there be honesty. Let there be no running from non-existent destroyers of morals. Let there be honest understanding.

Allen Ginsberg: There’s no beat generation. It’s just a bunch of guys trying to get published.



Amazon · IMDb · Official Site · Photos

Read & Purchase
I Celebrate Myself: The Somewhat Private Life of Allen Ginsberg
The Letters of Allen Ginsberg
Howl on Trial: The Battle for Free Expression