Podtalk: Director Michael Caplan of the Documentary ‘Algren’

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly versionE-mail page to friendE-mail page to friendPDF versionPDF version
No votes yet

CHICAGO – When Michael Caplan began his journey creating the film biography of legendary Chicago author Nelson Algren, he was a self-described “fan” but not much else. After spending several years with the man who wrote “The Man with the Golden Arm,” Michael Caplan has certainly got to know him well.

Caplan has produced a long overdue comprehensive documentary on writer Nelson Algren that gets into the weeds of his amazing life as an outlier and chronicler of the dispossessed. After graduating college during the Depression, Algren spent time as a drifter and collected the experiences – along with observations in his eventual Chicago ne’er-do-well west side neighborhood – that became his run of literary classics. This includes “The Neon Wilderness,” “The Man with the Golden Arm,” “A Walk on the Wild Side” and “Chicago: The City on the Make,” not to mention an infamous affair with French feminist author Simone De Beauvoir.

’Algren,’ Directed by Michael Caplan (inset)
Photo credit: First Run Features

Michael Caplan is an academic (as an Associate Professor of Documentary and Producing at Columbia College in Chicago) and award-winning independent film director and producer. He has produced multiple award-winning feature films, including “The Night Larry Kramer Kissed Me,” which traced the coming of age of a gay man in New York in the 1980s. THE NEW YORK TIMES reviewed it as “not just a performance but captured the spirit of a time.”

In Part One of a Podtalk with Patrick McDonald of HollywoodChicago.com, Michael Caplan talks all about Nelson in “Algren” …

In Part Two, the professor talks about documentary form in the tech age and the question he’d ask Nelson Algren if he were to appear before him …

For a 4.5/5 REVIEW of “Algren” by Patrick McDonald of HollywoodChicago.com, click ALGREN.

“Algren” is currently in select theaters and through Video on Demand, including Chicago’s Music Box Theatre Direct, click here. Directed by Michael Caplan. Not Rated

HollywoodChicago.com senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

Editor and Film Writer

© 2021 Patrick McDonald, HollywoodChicago.com

User Login

Free Giveaway Mailing


  • South Side

    CHICAGO – One the brightest comedies set in Chicago is “South Side,” created by Bashir Salahuddin and Diallo Riddle. The pair moved the show from Comedy Central to HBO Max, and Season Two dropped for streaming on November 11th, 2021, with the same free-wheeling and hilarious misadventures of Simon and Kareme.

  • Colin in Black & White

    CHICAGO – Patrick McDonald of HollywoodChicago.com appears on “The Morning Mess” with Dan Baker on WBGR-FM (Monroe, Wisconsin) on November 4th, 2021, reviewing the new miniseries “Colin in Black & White” – regarding the early years of ex-NFL QB Colin Kaepernick – currently streaming on Netflix.


HollywoodChicago.com on Twitter


HollywoodChicago.com Top Ten Discussions