MOVIE REVIEW: CALIFORNIA TYPEWRITER

When I heard California Typewriter was a documentary, Tom Hanks and the late Sam Shepard (typewriter collectors) were involved, and the fact that I love writing and old typewriters, meant I couldn't see this film fast enough that looks into the history and current state of typewriters.

There are many of us who still love the tapping on the keys of an old typewriter. The Paley Museum in Beverly Hills had an exhibit of famous old Hollywood typewriters a couple of years ago and it did well.

This documentary directed by Doug Nichol and focuses on a small typewriter store still in business here in California in in Berkley. Herbert Permillion III and his family members, own and manage California Typewriter, the tiny company that have more customers today than they did 10 or 15 years ago with people repairing their typewriters or those who want to buy one that is available.

Tom Hanks loves typewriters himself (knew I always felt a connection with him beyond his love of mermaids) He loves typewriters so much he will give you one of his from his big collection if you express enough interest it appears. He says with a typewriter you can make a document that will last forever and if it’s a good idea, the idea will last forever too.”

When this film debuted at Telluride last year, (in theaters now) director Doug Nichol said he started to make a doc about a small, struggling typewriter repair shop but it turned into a rich film about what the demise of the typewriter means to changing civilization. Ah what a great conversation. I always say - life changed at the inception of the "smartphone" the same time the word typewriter was something millennials realized they had no idea what it meant or locked like and had to google the definition (on their smartphone.) Nichol found many who loved their typewriters and keep hoping that Smartphoneville would disappear with on the road to tomorrow. In the film, they talk about the history that will be lost when we no longer have access to typed presidential speeches and the editing notes that are still visible on the margins of the paper.

Interesting note: The world’s last typewriter manufacturing plant, in India, closed a few years ago.

 

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