More than 30 years ago, Martin Scorsese decided to spend an evening -- more than a day, really -- filming his friend Steven Prince as he told all kinds of strange and fascinating stories about his life. The result was the short documentary American Boy, which had no official release in 1978 but floated around "unofficially" for decades. Tommy Pallotta saw one of these bootleg copies when he was in college, and never forgot it. He and Richard Linklater included one of Prince's stories from American Boy in Waking Life. And more than 30 years after American Boy, Pallotta and Linklater spent a similar evening hearing more of Prince's tales, which are the backbone of Pallotta's documentary American Prince. Both films screened back-to-back at SXSW.
Steven Prince in American Prince has mellowed a lot -- he sits comfortably in a chair sipping cognac and genially relating stories about his years in Hollywood. You might remember him as the gun salesman in Taxi Driver, and he had a few other minor roles in films, as well as working on some other Scorsese films. As a result, he has some very colorful stories to share with the guests in the room as well as the film's audience. The setting of the documentary might remind you of Steven Tobolowsky's Birthday Party, which played SXSW in 2005, but more tightly focused, and without a lot of interaction from the other guests.