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Candy
&
Skidoo
(both 1968)
 

Candy: Director: Christian Marquand    
Cast:
Ewa Aulin, Richard Burton, Marlon Brando


Skidoo: Director: Otto Preminger    
Cast:
Jackie Gleason, Carol Channing, Frankie Avalon


Note: My friend (and loyal reader) Michael Sullivan offered to write a double review of two specific movies that I've been trying to find for years, but have failed to locate so far. Considering the content, and unavailability, of these particular movies, I felt it was even more important than usual to allow a guest review. My sincere thanks to him for going to all this trouble to inform the public about these extraordinary celluloid visions!
 

By Michael Sullivan

The 60's will always be the Golden Age of movies for me, because it was the only time movie executives were willing to take a chance with odd or bizarre subjects. Many personal favorites were made in the 60's. The over-the-top Bond parody Casino Royale, the strange stream of consciousness Head, the jaw-dropping anti-American Mister Freedom, and these two gems. Candy and Skidoo are similar to each other they both covered "in" 60's topics (The sexual revolution, LSD, Hippies), and they both had celebrities making complete jackasses out of themselves.

First up is Candy, which was based on the Terry Southern novel of the same name. The novel was about a young girls sexual awakening and all the screwed-up characters she meets: a doctor who encourages masturbation, a gynecologist who examines Candy publicly, a hunchbacked thief who likes to rub up against police officers, and many more deviates The novel was way ahead of it's time and still remains shocking today because it pulled no punches. However the movie did. Everything that made the book controversial was removed from the movie. But who cares, when you have Richard Burton frantically licking booze off of a limo floor. (Not since Danny Aiello played an Italian has an actor had to stretch so much to play an alcoholic.) Essentially, the film is about Candy's increasingly bizarre sexual experiences, which begins with Candy being taken advantage by McPhisto (Richard Burton), a pretentious poet with a constant wind machine being blown on him. He spills booze all over himself, so Candy takes him home to dry off, but this begets another situation, where Candy has sex with the Mexican gardener (Ringo Starr), and Burton screws a lookalike doll of Candy. This is interrupted by Candy's father (John Astin) and his "uptight" friends.

Because of the shame Candy's brought to the family, her father, along with Uncle Jack (Astin again) and her Aunt, decide to move away. During the escape from town, our heroes are harassed by the gardener's sister,  who then knocks out Candy's dad. Our heroes somehow make it on a war plane with a gung-ho Walter Matheau, who never lands the plane because war can happen at any time. This ends when a wildly overacting Matheau tries to rape Candy.

After this, Marquand decides to throw any semblance of reality out the window. There's a party in a hospital room hosted by grisly surgeon James Coburn, a sex scene in a piano with the hunchbacked thief (who is later seen crawling around on the walls like Spider-Man), locked in an overflowing bathroom with a Felliniesque director, and of course an over-the-top Brando as a guru who lives on a truck. The final twist is a little on the sick side, and I won't reveal it (In the book the situation was more accidental.) After that, we get a magnificent cosmic non-ending which finds Candy wandering among all the big name stars, who are now decked out in some pretty ugly sub-Renaissance-faire type costumes.

The movie aside, let's talk about the star of our film, Ewa Aulin, a former Miss Teen Sweden who after this mess made the incomprehensible Death Laid an Egg (a film about a murderer in an egg factory) with Gina Lollibrigida. After that, nothing. To say that Candy killed her career before it even started is giving her too much credit as an actress. Aulin is quite possibly the blankest looking actresses ever. She doesn't change her expression even once. But it doesn't matter because her co-stars overact so wildly, you think they were all trying out for the role of the Joker on Batman.

Speaking of Batman, our next film was directed by Mr. Freeze himself, and also starred the Joker (Cesar Romero), the Penguin (Burgess Meredith), and the Riddler( Frank Gorshin) As I stated earlier, Skidoo is a bit of a sequel to Candy. Why? Well, what is a sequel's job but to outdo the original. This film does just that, and then some. Hell, Gleason's daughter in the film looks amazingly similar to Aulin.

Well, Hunter S. Thompson's drug-fueled nightmare begins with a lame obvious satire of advertising, which is worked into a lame comedy sequence of Gleason and Channing engaged in a remote control battle. This finally ends when Gleason's batteries die, and Gleason's daughter coming home with a hippie (John Phillip Law). We are then graced by a "funny" (funny in the sense that it isn't) my-daughter-isn't-dating-a-hippie scene. Suddenly Cesar Romero and the multi-talented Frankie Avalon show up to tell Gleason that he has to go into prison to kill Mickey Rooney. Gleason resists, but eventually folds.

Meanwhile, after a city council tries to kick the peaceful pumpkin smoking (?) hippies out of town, Channing invites them all to stay at her house. Cut to Gleason, who's in prison trying to rub out Mickey Rooney. Fellow inmate Austin Pendleton slips Gleason some LSD (on an envelope), and this is where the film becomes a true classic. We see Groucho Marx's head on a bouncing nail, Rooney dancing inside an eye, eyes staring at Gleason through a bunk bed, and a shrunken Austin Pendleton inside a glowing pink pyramid. This leads Gleason to the conclusion that killing's wrong.

If that wasn't enough, we are then unlucky enough to see footage of Channing seducing Avalon. IT GOES ON GETTING MORE AND MORE GROTESQUE, AND FINALLY SHE STRIPS!!! AAAAAAAAAGHHHHH!!!!! Whose bright idea was that, anyway?

Let's go back to prison now where all the inmates are dosed, and we're treated to less eye-searing visuals - such as Gorshin sprouting wings and flying away, and the "Garbage Can Song", featuring midgets in garbage cans dancing around. While all this is happening, Gleason escapes prison with a crudely made balloon to rescue his daughter from the evil cue card-reading God (Groucho Marx). But Carol Channing gains the upper hand while wearing a Napoleon like outfit complete with a mini-skirt (Enjoy the tantalizing shots of her withered legs.) While an army of hippies join her in singing the title tune, "Skidoo". This scares God, and the movie ends with Groucho on a raft toking up with John Phillip Law. But it still isn't over, because Harry Nilsson sings the end credits. Which includes the catchy refrain, "Your seat's on fire."

What can I say about these two films? Despite the overwhelming disaster factor, they're still a lot more entertaining than bad films nowadays. So do yourself a favor, grab your friends or your family, and let them all enjoy these wonderful films.

Check for availability of "Candy" on Amazon (VHS)
Check for availability of "Candy" on Amazon (DVD)
Check for availability of "Candy" on Amazon (DVD Special Edition)
Check for availability of original Terry Southern novel "Candy" on Amazon
Check for availability of "Skidoo" on Amazon (DVD)
Check for availability of the soundtrack for "Skidoo" on Amazon (CD)

See also: Didn't You Hear, Pushing Up Daisies, Sonny Boy

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