Sunday, January 06, 2008

Movie: Skidoo (1968)

I watched it. All of it. From the truncated cartoon opening to the closing credits, which are sung. Yet another item I can cross off life’s to-do list.

The history of Otto Preminger’s unwieldy combination of head movie and counterculture farce, laid out nicely in this TCM piece, is more interesting than its plot. And that’s saying something. Jackie Gleason is a reformed mobster coerced by the country’s top kingpin “God,” (played by Groucho Marx in his final performance) to go into prison and whack his onetime best friend. He’s thrown into a cell with a draft dodger (Austin Pendleton, easily the best thing in the movie) who accidentally turns him onto LSD. Meanwhile, Gleason’s daughter and wife fall in with a band of hippies. Here, watch the trailer.

Some select highlights from the Chez K running commentary:

Me: I don’t know which thought is more disturbing, Carol Channing sleeping with Frankie Avalon or Frankie Avalon sleeping with Carol Channing.

Rosemarie: Please don’t talk to me.

And when the movie was over:

Rosemarie: Honestly? Twenty minutes in I was hoping the wind would knock the cable out so I wouldn’t have to watch the rest of it.

Me: You could have just walked away.

Rosemarie: No. I couldn’t. But I can still root for an act of God.

As bad as Skidoo is – and is it bad; I’ve seen episodes of The Monkees that make more sense and do a better job of explaining the ‘60s – it at least represents an honest attempt to come to terms with the times. Which is more than I can say for 1967’s The Love-Ins, which followed Skidoo on TCM. It stars James MacArthur as the least believable hippie in film history – he still has his Dan-o hair, for Christ’s sake – and Susan Oliver, the first actress to become famous for going green. At one point Oliver takes a massive dose of LSD – again with the acid! – and does a striptease during a protracted trip based on Alice in Wonderland.

Rosemarie: They spent too much money on this. The freakouts in Skidoo were better because they looked cheaper.

Let that be a lesson to prospective filmmakers out there.

Strike Stuff: The Golden Globes

The WGA makes it difficult for the awards show to go on. Note to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association: maybe the writers don’t want to help you out because you treat them so shabbily. Only one screenplay category, for adapted and original, with a mere five slots? No recognition of TV writing at all? And yet you split the lead acting categories into comedy and drama so you can pack the hall with A-listers, and nominate seven movies for best drama just ‘cause you feel like it? You’re lucky the Guild doesn’t picket you when there isn’t a strike.

TV: The Wire

The fifth and final season starts tonight on HBO. Slate digs up a suppressed closing scene. I think they should air it.

Miscellaneous: Links

The New York Times on free web-based videogames. This is how I’ve been killing time while riding out a cold.

It took two years, but my friend Tony Kay finally finishes the tale of his autograph hound trip to Los Angeles, complete with photo gallery.