Running in from seemingly nowhere, Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones, Michael Nesmith & Peter Tork – better known collectively as The Monkees – disrupt a bridge opening ceremony. From where and why did they come to disrupt the proceedings? They were filming a series of vignettes in several different genres, including a wild west sequence, a desert war sequence, a Confederate war sequence, and a science fiction sequence. They disagree with much of what is happening around them, and try to figure out how to escape the oppression they feel – symbolized by a big black box in which they are seemingly imprisoned – by the forces around. That oppression is often shown in the form of “The Big Victor Mature”. Continue reading Bob Rafelson – Head (1968)
Jennie (Susan Strasberg) travels to San Francisco to locate her hippie brother Steve (Bruce Dern). She meets Stoney (Jack Nicholson) in a coffeehouse and he helps her look for Steve, who Stoney has seen in his various attempts to start a rock & roll band. Stoney and his pals transform the square girl into a swinging hippie chick, complete with a mod miniskirt. Along with their buddy Dave (Dean Stockwell), they search for Steve amidst the psychedelic splendor of the Haight-Ashbury hippie haunts. Dave is killed by a car when he wanders around in an STP-induced stupor. LSD, marijuana, and the good and the bad sides of hippie life are illustrated with non-judgmental accuracy. The soundtrack of the movie is a musical gem, complete with the international smash “Incense and Peppermints” by The Strawberry Alarm Clock. (The group reached the top of the charts with the song in October 1967.) Also on hand are the Seeds, although they don’t get to perform their best-known song, “Pushin’ to Hard.” (Seeds lead singer Sky Saxon would gain as much notoriety as an acid casualty as he would from his musical ability.) Also adding music are the Storybook and Cryque Boenzee. The latter group contained Rusty Young and George Grantham, who would join with former Buffalo Springfield members Richie Furay and Jim Messina from the legendary, long-lived country-rock band Poco. This time-capsulized gem was produced by Dick Clark, the world’s oldest teenager. (Allmovie) Continue reading Richard Rush – Psych-Out (1968)
Five hippies pitch their tent in the grounds of a young aristocrat’s estate. He befriends the group and accepts their offer to paint his house while he is away. To make money the group use the grounds to stage a pop festival.
Continue reading Stanley A. Long – Bread [+Extras] (1971)
The second Biblical epic to be turned into a musical by composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyricist Tim Rice, this box-office disappointment recounts the last week in the life of Jesus Christ in rock-opera format and from the surprising point of view of Christ’s betrayer, Judas Iscariot. Carl Anderson stars as Judas, who has begun to believe that Jesus (Ted Neeley) has sold out and started buying into the mythology that’s quickly springing up around him. Particularly disturbing to Judas is the relationship between Jesus and his friend Mary Magdalene (Yvonne Elliman), a prostitute. When Jesus throws a temper tantrum at the moneylenders in a temple, Judas determines to work with the Pharisees who want to put Jesus on trial as a false prophet. Following his success with the adaptation of Fiddler on the Roof (1971), director Norman Jewison experimented with a hippie-influenced sensibility on Jesus Christ Superstar (1973). Among such touches are depictions of the cast arriving via bus to mount the show, modern high-tech weaponry in the hands of the ancient Romans, and on-location filming in Israel.
Continue reading Norman Jewison – Jesus Christ Superstar (1973)
A musical extravaganza based loosely on the lives of 19th-century Romantic composers Franz Liszt and Richard Wagner. Far from being dreamy artistes, these music men are both wildly ambitious and hungry for acclaim — Liszt frolics with European royalty, while Wagner campaigns for the unification of Germany. Continue reading Ken Russell – Lisztomania (1975)
Bizarre sixties fable resembling Romeo and Juliette, but instead of Montagues and Capulets, there are two musical communities, one who like rock and roll and one who like ballads, who become reunited through the love between a couple who love across their grouping. It features little furry puppets called Gonks. Continue reading Robert Hartford-Davis – Gonks Go Beat (1965)
The Alphabet Murders is a 1965 British detective film based on the novel The A.B.C. Murders by Agatha Christie, starring Tony Randall as Hercule Poirot. The part of Poirot had originally been intended for Zero Mostel but the film was delayed because Agatha Christie objected to the script. The film varies significantly from the novel and emphasises comedy. Continue reading Frank Tashlin – The Girl Can’t Help It (1956)