Apr 25, 2019
Skidoo (1968): the lost recap (part 4 of 14)
Previously on Skidoo: An absolutely authentic portrayal of what middle-aged guys in the ‘60s thought hippies were like. A group of horny, obnoxious, and easily entertained youths (so, this movie’s target audience, basically?) were nearly exiled from the township of Santa del Mar, California, until Flo Banks took pity on them and decided to take them all home, just like stray dogs. Dirty, mangy, flea-infested stray dogs who hump anything that moves.
Down at the docks, a police wagon pulls up and several cops with rifles jump out. Inside the wagon are a group of guys in trenchcoats and fedoras and newsboy caps, so you know they’re all a bunch of nogoodniks. As it turns out, they’re prisoners about to be shipped off to Alcatraz, I mean, “Rock Island Federal Pen”, but the film is decidedly less than lucid about what’s happening here. We do, however, get a close-up on one particular criminal who sorta looks like Jackie Gleason.
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A cop takes the prisoners into a bathroom to give them one last chance to take a leak before they hop on a boat. While in there, one prisoner starts loudly singing an operatic aria. A cop tells the guy to knock it off, and while he’s distracted, Tony quietly comes out of one of the stalls, also wearing a trench coat, and takes the place of his doppelganger and falls right in line with the other prisoners. See how slick that was? God can do anything! Especially when his only obstacle is one inattentive cop.
The one prisoner continues to sing the aria as they’re all marched onto a boat, and naturally, the orchestra on the soundtrack joins in with him as the boat shoves off.
Soon we’re in prison. Well, watching this movie feels like a prison, but I mean an actual prison. This one has an Orwellian female voice broadcasting over a loudspeaker, giving instructions to the new group of arrivals, which includes Tony. The voice tells them that “This penitentiary has been re-equipped with the most modern audio and video devices in order to assist you in paying your debt to society!”
Suddenly, Richard Kiel—yes, Eegah himself—appears, wearing prison stripes and a red cap, and he’s here to take Tony away. And this is several years before he became famous for playing Jaws, meaning Preminger just wanted a seven foot tall caveman-looking mofo in his movie.
The rest of the new prisoners step into what the voice calls “induction stalls”. Among them is a guy with shaggy hair and John Lennon’s glasses. Since we’re focused on him for this whole scene, I’m going to hazard a guess that he becomes important later, but then again, in a movie this scattershot, it wouldn’t surprise me much if he completely disappeared after this.
The female voice commands him and his fellow prisoners to “remove all your clothes.” There’s a blatant jump cut, and their clothes are instantly off. Bizarre. The voice then commands them to answer a series of questions by pressing “yes” or “no” buttons in front of them. And the last question is, “Do you have one or more children?” Lennon Glasses doesn’t answer. This causes an alarm to go off and the voice to incessantly repeat, “Someone hasn’t pressed his button!”
A guard comes over to see what’s the matter, and Lennon Glasses calls the machine “silly”. The guard points out he only has to press yes or no, but Lennon Glasses says, “Suppose my answer is maybe?” And the scene ends there, so I guess that was the punch line. Anyway, I don’t know what he’s hesitating about. He’s got Julian, and he’s got Sean, so obviously the answer is yes.
Next, we find Tony in stereotypical prison clothes, complete with white and black stripes, and Richard Kiel is leading him down a corridor to his cell. And here we notice that Kiel has a red armband that says “Trustee”, but that’ll make more sense later (maybe). Once Tony is inside his cell, he shares a cigarette with his cellmate, a guy by the name of “Leech”. We learn Tony’s using the alias of “Filipowicz” while in prison, but even though he introduces himself by his fake name, Leech already knows his name is Tony.
Tony asks why Leech is reading a book. “Shrink makes me,” Leech tells him. “Says it’s a release. I’m a recidivist!” A recidivist, in case you’re like Tony and you didn’t know, is a “habitual criminal”. Leech says he’s been in jail “on and off since ’51… mostly rape!” Ah, just what this movie needed: an even less sympathetic character.
More prisoners are led into the same cell block, and among them is Lennon Glasses. A guard pushes him into Tony and Leech’s cell, but for no reason, the cell door shuts directly on his body, pinning him in place. He screams that he’s stuck and a guard has the door opened again and the guy tumbles into the cell. I wonder if that was supposed to be funny, instead of weird and random like it turned out.
Tony picks up some of Lennon Glasses’s stuff, and quips that he’s the only guy in prison with “personal stationery”. The guy also has a poster print that he wants to hang up. So I guess prison is like Survivor, in that you get to bring your own luxury items.
Tony asks what he’s in for, and Lennon Glasses reveals that he “burned [his] draft card!” A moment later, Tony finally realizes what that implies, saying, “You mean, you didn’t want to go in the army, like a draft dodger? I don’t like that!” He really hounds the guy, saying, “What are you, an anarchist or something? Don’t you believe in America?” Now compare and contrast Tony’s reaction to this guy to how he reacted to the guy locked up for committing multiple rapes.
Tony grabs the guy’s shirt and makes him answer. Lennon Glasses says he just doesn’t believe in some of the things America does. Leech butts in: “Don’t you believe in the Bill of Rights, kid?” A powerful argument. Especially coming from a serial rapist. Lennon Glasses doesn’t want to talk about it, so he climbs into his bunk and hangs up his poster.
Meanwhile, Darlene gets home, still in her underwear and body paint, and there are hippies everywhere. In the kitchen, Flo is washing Geronimo’s hair in the sink. Okay, you won’t find me eating food from this kitchen any time soon. Darlene tells her mother that Dad’s gone and nobody’s seen him.
Flo just blows off Tony’s disappearance, and calls out, “Next!” She grabs another hippie and dunks his big ol’ frizzy afro in the kitchen sink. Well, I sure hope the Bankses have stocked up on disinfectant. In fact, they really should burn the whole house down, just to be on the safe side.
Flo, looking seriously out of it, comments that Tony said something about “driving to Santa Barbara”, but Darlene points out his car is still parked at the “office”. Flo says, “He flew!” But then Darlene points out that Santa Barbara is only 23 miles away. Maybe he punched himself in the face so he could fly to the moon. To the moon, Alice!
Flo just looks spaced out as she wanders out of the kitchen, and Darlene mentions how no one’s seen Harry, either. Suddenly, the Mayor’s Flunky walks in, asking Flo if the hippies “entered by force”, and wanting to know if she requires “police protection”. Do hippies just wander in packs through upscale neighborhoods, forcing their way into homes? Flo says she invited them over, prompting Flunky to tell her that if she has people like these over all the time, “property values will nosedive on this street!”
Without saying much more, Flo grabs her yellow feathered boa and walks out of the house. She gets in her car, parked among all the hippie vans and buses and VW Beetles, and Darlene tries to get in on the passenger side, but the doors are all locked. Flo then silently drives off. That’s it, just drive right on out of this movie, Carol. Don’t look back.
Back inside the house, a Cute L’il Hippie Girl™ answers the phone. She greets the caller with, “Worldwide Pop and Cop-Out Festival, make love not war!” It turns out the call is for “Miss Banks” and Darlene takes it. Our mobster friend Angie is on the other end, and he at first glance appears to be in a barber shop, with his head under a big salon hair dryer.
Angie perks up when he hears it’s Tony’s daughter on the line. He refers to her as “little kiss-kiss herself” and remarks, “You and that Comanche looked like you were never coming up for air!” And as he talks, he grabs a giant remote control, presses a button, and the “barber shop” spins around and disappears behind a wall, taking the barber with it.
Angie then officially introduces himself to Darlene, saying, “We passed in the night. Last night! I can still close my eyes and see you!” Darlene says, “Where do you get your dialogue, from old valentines?” That’s what I wanted to ask the screenwriter, but then I realized that would be a step up from this script.
Angie invites her to come over to his swinging bachelor pad whenever she’s in San Francisco, and gives her his address. Darlene rebuffs him, so Angie just tells her to let her mother know that Tony had to go “out of town”. Darlene angrily asks what he knows about her dad’s whereabouts. Angie replies, “Baby, I know so much, it’s painful!” Him, too? I know so much about this movie, it’s painful. And with that, he hangs up.
Join us next time as this movie gives us another former Batman villain, and we finally learn what the “tree” is, and Flo pays a visit to Angie’s bachelor pad to give us that Carol Channing striptease I’ve been promising/threatening/dreading for almost a month now. Gird your loins, everyone.