San Francisco: Fearon Publishers, 1957. First Edition. Octavo. (26 cm.) 77 pp. Full wheat-colored cloth. Text in black on front board and spine. Photo pictorial black and white dust jacket of San Francisco streets and streetcar. Dampstain to lower spine of jacket with light edgewear and minor chipping. Author signature on front free endpaper. Item #67
"A cable car is a big heart with people for blood." - Melvin Van Peebles
Renowned film director, Melvin Van Peebles, once worked as a cable car gripman in San Francisco. To navigate and manually maneuver a heavy cable car filled with passengers over and down steep hills through tight traffic in a city built before the automobile, requires great strength, agility and most of all, nerves of steel. With engaging text by Van Peebles and photography by Ruth Bernhard, "The Big Heart" makes mythic the daily job of the cable car gripman. At the time, "The Big Heart" was a departure for Bernhard, who was making a career for herself for her female focused nude photography. Here, Bernhard's candid black and white photos capture the sense of working class grace exemplified in Van Peebles' text. This photobook -- Van Peebles' first book -- contains the genesis of the realism and visual independence Van Peebles would eventually bring to cinema with "Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song" (1971). Signed as "Melvin Van" by one of the giants of American Independent Cinema and of Black Cinema, in particular.