This week on From The Vault we take a trip back to 1971 and listen to a conversation with the actor Dustin Hoffman. Before we get to the archival recording, though, we are proud to present a six-minute special edit of the 82-minute interview by Quoted Studios, a nonprofit dedicated to uncovering, preserving and reimagining the American interview, for their signature series Blank on Blank, which is produced in collaboration with PBS Digital Studios.
In 1971, when this conversation was recorded, Hoffman was receiving accolades for his work, including his 1967 breakthrough performance in Mike Nichols' The Graduate, John and Mary with Mia Farrow (1969), and his iconic role as "Ratso Rizzo" in Midnight Cowboy. His film Little Big Man was in theaters and he had already signed on to be the lead in Sam Peckinpah's current project Straw Dogs.
What we love about this recording is its informality. It isn't about selling a film... it's not part of a film press junket... but simple conversation about the craft and experience of acting. In addition to talking about the cinematic art form, being a Pacifica station, the conversation always includes the politics of times... which in 1971 included the Vietnam War, the Kent State killings, the youth movement in general and the role of social/political movements such as the Young Lords and The Black Panthers. Hoffman also comments on the Black Panther Party and Young Lords, who designed breakfast programs and education and health centers to help their community.
From the Vault is presented as part of the Pacifica Radio Archives Preservation and Access Project, funded in part by an award from the GRAMMY Foundation and the National Historical Publications and Records Commission at the National Archives and Records Administration, and past grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ford Foundation, and the American Archive funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, along with the generous support of Pacifica Radio Listeners. We also thank our partners and collaborators at the Pop-Up Archive, Amara, Other Minds Archives, George Blood Audio, and the California Audio Visual Preservation Project.