Aug 2, 2021
Skidoo (1968): the lost recap (part 3 of 14)
Previously on Skidoo: Tony Banks’s relaxing evening of threatening to beat up his daughter’s hippie boyfriend came to an end with an unexpected visit from two of his old mobster pals. They turned out to actually be the two messengers of God, bringing him orders to carry out a hit, or “kiss” his old buddy George “Blue Chips” Packard. Tony refused, and they asked a little more forcefully, which in their case meant putting a bullet in the head of Tony’s, let’s say “friend”, Harry. Farewell, Arnold Stang, we hardly knew ye. And what little we knew, we didn’t like.
Cut to the next day, where a guy who looks like the hippie version of Gene Shalit plays guitar on the sidewalk. Meanwhile, a standard-issue free love couple are on a mattress next to him, making out. We pull back to find the mattress is in a metered parking space. Oh, those wacky hippies, what trouble will they get themselves into this time?
Parked all up and down the street are buses and vans painted with hippie slogans and symbols, and random hippies mill about, and there’s even a teepee set up on the lawn of a building that we’ll later learn is City Hall. Stash and Darlene pull up in his beat-up Rolls and head into a painted bus, while we hear a group sing-along of “Ten Little Indians”. Sing-alongs of children’s songs? It’s amazing how the hippies in this movie make being a “square” seem like a hell of a lot more fun.
On the bus, Darlene and Stash pass through a curtain and meet up with a group of hippies, which include a pair of women who are topless except for body paint, and an infant that’s probably named “Feather” or “Moonbeam” or “Dragonfly” who’s getting bounced on someone’s knee, and there’s also a pregnant woman in a top hat in here. It’s a very groovy scene.
A sitar is heard as Stash introduces Darlene to all his friends on the bus. This includes a long-haired shirtless guy named “Geronimo” who looks like Matthew Modine starring in The Anthony Kiedis Story. When Geronimo gets introduced to Darlene, he immediately takes the opportunity to kiss her. It’s free love, man! Can you dig it? Geronimo introduces the rest of the group as “various assorted beautiful people”. Stash then tells Darlene to take her clothes off. Wait, what now? Well, that certainly roused me from my stupor.
She’s hesitant at first, but Stash insists. “The human body’s a beautiful thing!” So Darlene strips down to her underwear, and let me just say this actress is far too hot to be the daughter of Carol Channing and anybody. Tony should really be suspicious about who the mother is. Alexandra Hay, who plays Darlene, never did much beyond bit roles in movies and TV shows before dying at the young age of 46, though she did star in a film called 1,000 Convicts and a Woman (Story of a Nympho), playing the nympho, I assume, which I think is now on my “to see” list.
With this half-nakedness accomplished, it’s back to the “Ten Little Indians” sing-along as Darlene begins to get her body painted, while Stash kisses one of the topless girls.
Meanwhile, the free love couple in the parking spot are getting hassled by some cops. Parking Spot Guy just ignores them and asks Parking Spot Girl, “Hey, are you a boy or a girl?” She says she’s a girl, which he says is “good! ‘Cuz I’m a boy!” The cops want them to move along, but the guy simply says, “You know, man, nowadays you can’t tell the boys from the girls!” Yeah, keep it up, wiseass. It’ll be hard to tell you from a girl after the cops break your balls with a nightstick.
The cops keep hassling them, so Hippie Gene Shalit points to the meter and says, “Look, man, we’re paid up, we got 45 minutes left!” Well, it’s all perfectly legitimate, then. The cop informs them that a parking spot “ain’t for sleeping” and starts to drag them away. And so ends the tale of Parking Spot Free Love Couple, never to be seen again. And they were adding so much to the movie, too.
Back in the Partridge Family Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test Bus o’ Love, Darlene continues to get her body painted. More sitar is heard on the soundtrack, and a woman with a guitar plays the old Irish traditional “Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye”. For those not familiar with the song, it’s basically the phrases “drums and guns” and “guns and drums” repeated eighty thousand times each.
And this shot in particular is just bizarre, and it goes on and on. All we see is Stash staring at Darlene as she gets painted, while everyone else just sits around. It’s literally a two-minute shot of absolutely nothing happening. And every now and then, the sound of a tabla drum is randomly dubbed in. Hey, why not? It’s hard to fathom how a legendary director like Preminger could be responsible for a film that’s put together this haphazardly.
Meanwhile, still in this static shot, Geronimo puffs from a joint that he’s holding with a, um, joint holder, which he then passes over to the guy painting Darlene. She turns around, now fully painted, and he hands her the joint. Just as she’s toking it up, the cops burst into the bus.
Darlene attempts to hide the joint down by her leg. The cops ask who’s in charge, and Stash says, “Nobody, man! ‘In charge of’ means authority, and authority means power. You know what they say about power.” All the various assorted beautiful people say in unison, “Power corrupts!” Stash says, “Amen!” Please let there be another pistol-whipping in store for this clown.
He then tells one of the cops he loves him and tries to kiss him. The cop turns away and one of the topless women kisses him, prompting him to yell out, “Contempt of the law. Make a note of that, Perkins!” Yes, Perkins, make a note of that. And then file it in their permanent records!
Then the cop spots the joint in Darlene’s hand and arrests them all. Unfortunately, this doesn’t stop the folk songs, because the woman with the guitar continues warbling about guns and drums and drums and guns as they’re all marched out of the bus.
Cut to an old woman using her cane to point at a yellow poster featuring what looks like Donovan’s ugly younger brother. Above it in huge black and red letters are the words “Beautify America – Get a Haircut”. She addresses several ladies whom she refers to as the “Special Committee”, telling them that this poster has a “definite place in our beautiful, beloved township of Santa Del Mar”.
They’re in the City Hall, where there are portraits on the wall of George Washington and then-Governor Ronald Reagan. Among the gathered women is Flo herself, and they’re continuing the gag of her wearing outrageous, brightly-colored outfits. This time, she’s wearing a yellow dress with feathered yellow sleeves and a feathered hat that make her look exactly like Big Bird. And I don’t care that Big Bird wouldn’t come along until a year later, the resemblance is uncanny.
The old woman with the cane turns out to be the mayor of Santa Del Mar, and she explains to all the gathered well-to-do housewives that her husband suggested they make the “get a haircut” poster into the “basis of our anti-ugliness drive”. The mayor has a flunky beside her who chimes in with, “Ugliness is un-American!”
Suddenly, the doors fly open and hippies start filing in, some in full body paint. Yep, that’s right: The cops arrested all the hippies, and took them to… City Hall. The mayor sees that an “urgent matter is at hand” and excuses all the ladies. The mayor then addresses the hippies, telling them they aren’t wanted in this town.
She haughtily says, “We’re proud of ourselves, our clean upright citizens, senior and junior. We don’t need you, we don’t want you!” The Mayor’s Flunky adds, “You are a backwards step in the evolution of mankind!” Hey, don’t talk about the screenwriter like that, it hurts his feelings.
This leads to much laughter among the hippies. Flo walks over and whispers to the mayor, wondering if that’s Darlene in the crowd. The Mayor says of course it’s not her, but of course it is Darlene, and she tries to hide behind Geronimo.
One of the police officers from the bus enters, and hands the mayor all of the hippies’ assorted paraphernalia. The mayor opens up a can, but can’t guess what the contents are, so our friend Stash pipes up that it’s “Chinese bay leaves, Mayor!” This causes even more laughter to issue forth from the hippie crowd.
Among the junk, they also find a bottle of birth control pills, which the pregnant woman comes up and claims as hers. Much more laughter ensues from the crowd. See, she’s pregnant, so why would she need the Pill? Oh, my sides.
Then the Mayor’s Flunky picks up the joint, still inside the little joint holder, and yells, “What about this?” Geronimo walks up and takes it away from the guy and lights it in front of everyone. A cop yells, “Hey, put that out!” Wow, pretty ineffective police in this town.
Geronimo says to the cop, “Have a toke!” He then passes the joint under the nose of the mayor and her flunky. The mayor sniffs it and says, “Smells like… like…” Geronimo says, “Pumpkin!” This leads to, you guessed it, more hippie laughter. But keep in mind, they’re all most likely extremely stoned.
The mayor bangs her gavel and tells them they’ll all be kicked out of town within the hour, but Stash claims they have a “constitutional right” to be here. The Mayor’s Flunky starts to quote a statute about “unlawful assembly”, and in the background, Hippie Gene Shalit pastes a red rose on the mouth of Ronald Reagan’s portrait. Uh… hilarious?
The mayor tells the hippies that they’ll have to choose between “the highway or jail”. Stash cries out, “Something tells me we’re not wanted!” And they all walk out. I like how in this town, it’s left up to you to decide if you want to be arrested or not.
Outside on the front steps, Flo runs into the crowd to chase down Darlene, but Darlene only tells her, “Goodbye, mother!” Finally, Flo makes her stop, and for no particular reason, the whole group of hippies stops too. Flo refuses to let Darlene “run off” with all of them, but Darlene calls them “beautiful loving people who don’t mean any harm to anyone!” Eventually, Flo decides that the only way to get her daughter to come home is if she lets all the hippies come home with them, too. Makes perfect sense, don’t you think?
Stash thinks this is “groovy” (of course he does), because they now have someplace to go where they won’t get “hassled by the police”, but Flo says they’re sure to get “hassled by Mr. Banks”. She fears Tony won’t like this. Dozens of strange hippies taking over his house? What makes you think Tony won’t like this?
Darlene is sure it won’t be a problem. While Mom escorts the hippies home, she and Stash will go to Dad’s “office” to deliver the news. And then the whole group happily marches off, sure to cause more wacky hijinks.
Next time, it’s back to Tony as he sneaks his way into Rock Island Federal Pen on his quest to “kiss” Packard. Going forward, the hippie subplot and the Tony subplot will play out in parallel until they come together at the very end, though it’s hard to say which of the two competing plotlines will be the more tedious.