I Saw A Film!

We meet our so-called “hippies” as they steal from immigrant businessmen and fall ridiculously in love with passing Sandy Duncans. The fellows, one played by Woody Allen stalwart Tony Roberts, work, sort of, at an idealistic independent newspaper which they also try peddling on the street with little success. Never mind as the film mostly circles around unpaid rent, pleasing a wordless lady landlord with outdoor activities and falling in love with Sandy Duncan. This is a Neil Simon play which means rapid delivery of convoluted joke lines and people running in and out of slammed doors much like an episode of The Monkees which this most resembles. Heck it’s even got a Davy Jones number for the theme song.

This is another of those films I absolutely adored as a small kiddo when I saw it on TV back when it was probably only four or five years old. Trying to parse what it was that spoke to me at that long ago age is kind of interesting. Sandy, is, of course, cute, though not really an acceptable sexual object. She’s more a spunky Judy Carne, Gidget / Flying Nun / Karen Valentine sort of branch of the Twiggy-verse. But clearly, this had appeal, even if Sandy got most of her cash playing a boy (Peter Pan) and selling Triskets. What appealed to me, I think, is the camaraderie of the artistic trench that the fellows inhabited. Though they spend much of the film at odds with one another because the kookier of the two, the one in love at first, spends much of the film making an absolutely impossible nuisance of himself (painting a cat red and actually delivering a live duck to a swimming pool- which causes far more mayhem than humanly possible). None of the mishaps make any sense and absolutely nothing the fellows appear to be interested in adds up to counter-culture (If we’re to take their apartment’s decor seriously, and I do, it’s pretty cool! Especially the huge mushroom poster).

These sorts of pop-culture, counter-culture comedies had much in common with Laugh-In and The Monkees in that they couldn’t quite be representative of the real world. No one smokes a joint, or wakes up hung-over. No one shakes a fist at a cop, or throws a dart at Nixon. And no one has sex, though, there is some implied with the landlady (saving money on rent, but she seems to only want the boys for her extreme sports excursions, jumping out of planes or water skiing). They’re allowed some cute and apparently forgivable grocery stealing and a mention of a military tour of duty, but the hi-jinx are all nonsense. There’s more counter-culture in the books and poetry of the Beats already two decades old.

When the Duncan character professes her affection for the Roberts character it has all the academic feel of a sauce recipe. It’s not only unacceptable as romance, its plainly like a five minute dating meet-up. These kids today! Sandy’s Amy arrives, meets two boneheaded broke dudes and chooses to profess love for the less kooky one. Meanwhile, bear in mind, she’s supposed to be engaged to some unseen swimmer. The fellows fight over Sandy, and by the end change roles so that they can maintain their dedication to the newspaper.

It’s a much less serious film than Butterflies Are Free, which also includes the adorable kooky neighbor routine in the form of Goldie Hawn, and I am convinced that I had this sweetness drilled into me and wound up dreaming about it, never realizing that it was a sit-com fantasy. I know that Walker Percy said that the south is full of gorgeous young women, as overlooked and taken for granted as sparrows, born to stone-faced Ma and redneck Pa, but my middle age is upon me and I think these sorts of movies spoiled my appetite for the real world efforts finding my sorts of sparrows would require. In the end, Sandy’s Amy makes her case for love and jingoism as though she were aiming it at some kind of real leftist from a Jean Luc Godard film or something. One looks about the room for a Black Panther. Roberts says he loves the country just not the people who can’t be bothered to want to fix or even admit what’s wrong. Well OK we do get a touch of depth there. It’s not all ducks tossed into swimming pools.

This is going to cost you a few bones on Prime in the USA, though I have no idea why they’d bother charging for this silliness. I just saw old Neil Simon on an awards show, the old guy is still kicking and clear-minded. Did he fill me with the fantastic that led me as astray as Ayn Rand would a decade later?

Now that would be a movie!

for some reason, they choose one of the least attractive images of Sandy for the poster.

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