The untold true story of Pittsburgh native John Mitchell's Gaslight Cafe—founded in a converted coal cellar in Greenwich Village— that encouraged and protected an extraordinary family of musicians and writers who would become world-famous artistic and cultural icons.
If you’re one of the hundreds of millions of people worldwide who love the culture, music, Beat writing, and celebrities of the 1950s and 60s in Greenwich Village—where Pittsburgh-native John Mitchell protected and nurtured soon-to-be world-famous icons at his Gaslight Café in a converted coal cellar at 116 MacDougal Street—then the new feature film 116 MacDougal is a must-see.
Mitchell called The Gaslight’s nineteen- and-twenty-year-old performers his “Kids”--Bob Dylan, Noel Paul Stookey of Peter Paul & Mary, Tom Paxton, Dave Van Ronk, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Wavy Gravy (Hugh Romney), Len Chandler, and John Brent. In Mitchell’s grimy, dimly-lit, cramped place on unswept floors—where the menu consisted of bad coffee, stale pastry and no booze—the Kids performed for packed audiences each and every night.
The audience often included Andy Warhol, Marlene Dietrich and the always eccentric Salvador Dali, his wife, his mistress and his pet ocelot that had its
own chair at the table. Audience members snapped their fingers instead of applauding and it had something to do with the ceiling. Weeks later, fingersnapping became an international craze, symbolizing being “hip” and “cool.”
In the film, you’ll see young “Bobby” Dylan composing “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” and “Blowin’ In the Wind” in The Gaslight’s upstairs poker room that the police insisted was actually a drug den and Beatnik brothel! You’ll watch Peter, Paul ,& Mary oddly form the most famous singing trio in history! Hollywood and Pittsburgh film professionals come together to make their magic in a true, thrilling, sexy, untold, epic tale of John Mitchell and his “Kids”—extraordinary people and events that changed the world forever.
This film reminds and inspires us that we can survive and gain strength even in the most turbulent times. Instead of succumbing to the fears and hatred that swept across the 1950’s and 60’s—civil rights movements (race, gender, sexual preferences), the imminent threat of nuclear war, the growth of Russian power, police misconduct, the infiltration of organized crime, and rampant conspiracy theories—The Gaslight’s true story shows us, as we face many of the same in things today, that the music and the words of gifted, principled young people can be beacons for every step on each new cultural, counter-cultural and political journey. The story of The Gaslight reminds baby-boomers, college students, and hipsters alike of the crucial roles that others, like John Mitchell, can play in standing up for fledgling writers and musicians in their darkest hours, before becoming cultural and artistic icons. Today, it is a much-needed story of inspiration, not desperation—the story of one very special family of the powerless who pushed the envelope and changed themselves and the world. Forever.