The Plastic Dome of Norma Jean

Presented by Don’t Knock the Rock and Women of Cinefamily!

Introduced by KJ Relth, Programming Assistant at the UCLA Film and Television Archive, and Maya Montañez Smukler, film historian and author of “Liberating Hollywood: Thirty Years of Women Directors.”

This rare 60s gem was famously impossible to see for decades – unavailable on VHS, DVD, bootleg DVD, torrent, or punk rock 16mm collectors print. Scour the internet, and all you’ll find is a weird ad for it on a double bill of THE HARDER THEY COME, and an obscure reference by Stephen Colbert on The Colbert Report.

“Written, directed, and self-financed by Juleen Compton, The Plastic Dome of Norma Jean is the story of a clairvoyant teenage girl, Norma Jean (Sharon Henesy), taken advantage of by a boy band, fashioned after The Beatles, determined to exploit the young woman’s powers as part of a hoax revival. Filmed in the Ozarks with a cast of young, unknown actors (a 25-year-old Sam Waterston co-stars in his first film appearance), the picture’s opening title sequence — the two young leads walking through a bucolic setting with Michel Legrand’s sentimental score — suggests a tender tale about a pair of young companions. However, the movie quickly takes an unusual turn when Norma Jean and her friend Vance (Robert Gentry) pick up an enormous plastic dome they’ve ordered. Stylistically accomplished, the movie is an impressive example of American independent feature filmmaking during the mid-1960s and an uncommon portrayal, for the time, of female agency. During the 1970s, Compton moved to Los Angeles in hopes of directing features in Hollywood. Frustrated with Hollywood’s sexist hiring practices, she returned to New York City during the 1990s to run a successful off-Broadway theater company.” –Maya Montañez Smukler

Dir. Juleen Compton, 1966, 35mm, 82 min.

35mm restored print courtesy of the UCLA Film & Television Archive.