Today is marks a pivotal day in Los Angeles history. On August 9, 1969, Charles Manson’s followers murdered Sharon Tate and four others in her home at 10050 Cielo Drive. It would be two months (and two more murders) before Manson and his Family were arrested, leaving the city in a long-lasting state of unease.
“The events that transpired at these places have left an indelible scar on Los Angeles’s psyche,” writes Steve Oney, in our 2009 oral history of the Manson murders. “The murders, so bizarre, so arbitrary, could have happened only here.”
Manson’s killings signaled the the end of the hippie dream of the ’60s. That the peace-centric counterculture could be so corrupted imbued the ensuing decade with a sense of paranoia (keenly felt in Thomas Pyncheon’s 70’s-set Inherent Vice). Even with Manson behind bars, fear of the Family was drawn out at least until the ’80s, and the Manson Family’s legacy has firmly imprinted on pop culture.
Manson’s story has been told at length. Prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi’s legendary book Helter Skelter details his own account of the trial, and Karina Longworth spends nine hours in the thick of Manson-themed Hollywood lore in her podcast You Must Remember This. It’s Robert Hendrickson’s rarely seen 1973 documentary Manson, though—pieced together from footage of the Family commissioned by Manson himself and assembled in the aftermath of the killings—that most directly showcases Mason’s manipulation of his followers and exhibits the resultant dread that gripped the city. In 2013, for the first time in decades, it was shown publicly by the Cinefamily.
Tonight, New Beverly Cinema is presenting two screenings of the film, followed by discussion with Hendrickson in person (“schedule permitting”). Tickets for the 7:30 show are already sold out, but 120 tickets for the 10:15 show will be available at the door.