Kanopy Spotlight, Night Tide

by Tom Warner, Librarian, Best & Next Department

One of the perks of browsing through Kanopy, the Pratt’s free video streaming resource, is discovering how many “hidden gems” are in its collection. While other streaming services concentrate purely on popular, mainstream movies, Kanopy has something for everyone — even Cult and low-budget B-movie fans. Case in point, Curtis Harrington’s 1961 sleeper Night Tide

Night Tide was Harrington’s first feature-length film, shot in and around Venice Beach and the Santa Monica Pier, and was described by critic Andrew Male as “existing in a strange, fugal netherworld of its own — somewhere between queer independent American cinema, Val Lewton horror and the poetic dream cinema of Jean Cocteau.”  The influence of the thoughtful and moody Val Lewton-produced film chillers of the 1940s (Cat People, I Walked With a Zombie, Isle of the Dead) as well as Herk Harvey’s surreal Carnival of Souls (1962, also set at a carnival and available from Kanopy) in which you’re never sure whether what’s happening is real or imagined — is unmistakable.

Harrington’s film tells the story of a young sailor, Johnny Drake (played by a baby-faced Dennis Hopper in his first proper starring role), who falls in love with a carnival sideshow mermaid named Mora (played by Linda Lawson), who may or may not be the real thing. Mora certainly thinks she is and Johnny soon comes to believe that Mora might be a siren who draws men to a watery death during the full moon —- after all, her two previous boyfriends drowned, making her a literal femme fatale

Night Tide was ignored at the time of its release in 1961, paired on a double-bill with Roger Corman’s The Raven, and died a quick death, only becoming an acclaimed cult film with the rise of home video and DVD. By the way, the soundtrack music is by David Raskin, who scored the music for the classic film noir Laura (1944).

Marjorie Cameron

Of special interest to cult film fans is the appearance of Marjorie Cameron (pictured right) as an ominous sea-witch whose siren-call lures Mora back to the water. Cameron was an American artist, poet, actress, and occultist; she was a follower of “Thelema,” the religious movement established by English occultist Aleister Crowley, and was married to rocket pioneer and fellow Thelemite Jack Parsons. (Parsons was convinced she was his “Scarlet Woman,” the incarnation of what he had been searching for in his “sex magick” experiments.) Cameron also appeared in Harrington’s The Wormwood Star (1955) and Kenneth Anger’s The Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome (1956).

Though it has all the trappings of a low-budget horror film, Night Tide can also be seen as a doomed love story, its moody atmosphere reflecting the fear and anxiety of romantic obsession.

Kanopy also offers The Curtis Harrington Short Film Collection, which includes his early experimental films Fear of Seeking (1946), The Four Elements (1948), and The Fall of the House of Usher (1949).

Books to add to your Anti-Racism Reading List

Happy Juneteenth! In celebration of the holiday, we’re highlighting the richness of the Black Culture as well as spotlighting books that speak to the current racial climate.

Not sure what Juneteenth is? On June 19, 1865, the abolition of slavery was announced in Texas, marking the end of slavery in the United States. First known as Freedom Day, Juneteenth commemorates that critical date in history.

How to be an Antiracist
By Ibram X. Kendi 

Kendi weaves an electrifying combination of ethics, history, law, and science with his own personal story of awakening to antiracism. This is an essential work for anyone who wants to go beyond the awareness of racism to the next step: contributing to the formation of a just and equitable society.

Book | eBook | eAudio

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
By Michelle Alexander

Alexander provocatively argues that by targeting Black men and decimating communities of color, the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control, even as it formally adheres to the principle of color blindness.

Book | eBook | eAudio

Uprooting Racism: How White People Can Work for Racial Justice
By Paul Kivel

Learn about interpersonal, institutional, and cultural racism along with stories of resistance and white solidarity. It provides practical tools and advice on how white people can work as allies for racial justice, engaging the reader through questions, exercises, and suggestions for action.

Book | eBook

Have Black Lives Ever Mattered?
By Mumia Abu-Jamal

Mumia gives voice to the many people of color who have fallen to police bullets or racist abuse, and offers the post-Ferguson generation advice on how to address police abuse in the United States.

Book | eBook

They Can’t Kill Us All
By Wesley Lowery

Washington Post writer Wesley Lowery details his quest for justice in the deaths of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and Freddie Gray, offering both unparalleled insight into the reality of police violence in America and an intimate, moving portrait of those working to end it.


Getting Smart about Race
By Margaret L. Anderson

Hands Up, Don’t Shoot
By Jennifer E. Cobbina
Just Mercy
By Bryan Stevenson

Book | eBook
Making All Black Lives Matter
By Barbara Ransby

Book | eBook
Me and White Supremacy
By Layla F. Saad

Book | eBook
The Condemnation of Blackness
By Khalil Gibran Muhammad

The Racial Healing Handbook
By Anneliese Singh

White Fragility
By Robin Diangelo

Book | eBook

Looking for even more books on this subject? Check out the Pratt’s collection of Anti-Racist Reading for Adults.

Diverse Books for Young Adults

Take a look at these books from some of our favorite YA authors. They truly highlight just how diverse and complex our society is. Don’t forget you can reserve your copy through Sidewalk Service or download the eBook or eAudiobook.

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You
By Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds

Bestselling author Jason Reynolds remixes Dr. Ibram X. Kendi’s award-winning Stamped from the Beginning which tackles the history of racist ideas in America and inspires hope for the future.

Book | eBook

Black Enough: Stories of Young & Black in America
By Ibi Zoboi

Featuring some of the most acclaimed bestselling Black authors writing for teens today, Black Enough, is an essential collection of captivating stories about what it’s like to be young and Black in America.

Book | eBook | eAudio

A Phoenix First Must Burn
By Patrice Caldwell

Sixteen tales by bestselling and award-winning authors that explore the Black experience through fantasy, science fiction, and magic.  A Phoenix First Must Burn will take you on a journey from folktales retold to futuristic societies and everything in between

Book | eBook

Tyler Johnson Was Here
By Jay Coles

What starts as a night of harmless fun for twin brothers Tyler and Marvin turns into a tragic event when Tyler is shot and killed by a police officer. Don’t miss this powerful and moving portrait of youth and family that speaks to the serious issues of today—from gun control to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Read the Book

Genesis Begins Again
By Alicia D. Williams

This deeply sensitive and powerful debut novel tells the story of a thirteen-year-old who must overcome internalized racism and a verbally abusive family to finally learn to love herself.

Book | eBook

Anger is a Gift
By Mark Oshiro

Book | eBook
Dear Martin
By Nic Stone

Book | eBook
By Walter Dean Myers

Book | eBook
Long Way Down
By Jason Reynolds

Book | eBook

The Hate U Give
By Angie Thomas

Book | eBook
Monday’s Not Coming
By Tiffany D. Jackson

Book | eBook
By John Lewis

Book | eBook

Looking for even more diverse YA books? Check out the Pratt’s collection of Diverse Books for Young Adults.

Happy African American Music Appreciation Month!

From pop and rock, to soul and rap, African Americans have such a strong impact and influence on music. This June, we celebrate them during African American Appreciation Month! With Hoopla you can download up to 15 e-materials a month. Here’s a collection of some of the music industry’s latest and greatest performers. Go ahead and take a listen.