Free Show Tonite
Free Show Tonite documents a final performance by an authentic medicine show, one of the many types of traveling entertainments that were so much a part of 19th and 20th century America. In a small town in central North Carolina, a troupe of old-time med show performers congregate for one last show. They include master comedian Greasy Medlin, and musicians Roy Acuff, Pappy Sherrill, Snuffy Jenkins, Walking Mary McClain and Guitar Slim. The show is climaxed with an authentic “snake oil” pitch delivered by Doc Fred Bloodgood (his real name!) and the wildly successful sale of the medicine to the audience.
Woven into the performances of the show are oral histories and archival documentation of the med show era. Topics such as performance styles, race relations, small town life and American archetypes are examined. Free Show Tonite magically brings to life an earlier, more roughhewn era of American life and entertainment.
Free Show Tonite, winner of the Grand Prize at the National Educational Film Festival, was produced by Steve Zeitlin and Paul Wagner and co-produced with the Smithsonian Institution. For more information about folklorist Steve Zeitlin click here.
The film is available as streaming video here.
To purchase a DVD, click here.