Oct 8, 2019
Skidoo (1968): the lost recap (part 5 of 14)
Previously on Skidoo: Tony Banks broke in to prison, on a mission to carry out a hit on his old mobster friend Packard. Along the way, he made a whole bunch of wacky new friends, including a future Bond villain, a guy with John Lennon’s glasses, and a serial rapist! Meanwhile, Tony’s wife and daughter became concerned by his sudden disappearance, and as we’re about to see, they’ve decided independently of each other to use their feminine wiles to get information about his current whereabouts. Though, one of them seems to have considerably less, um, “wiles” than the other.
Now we’re heading into the Rock Island Pen mess hall. Leech, Tony, and Lennon Glasses all grab trays, and Leech bemoans how they used to serve fresh vegetables in prison. They line up at a counter, and Leech complains everything now tastes like plastic bags as he indicates the “Reddy-Freddy Frozen Foods Inc.” sign on the wall. I mean, if you can’t get organic, locally-sourced GMO-free food in prison, where can you get it? Tony comments he’d like a piece of that Reddy-Freddy action.
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And then one of the guys serving the food speaks up. He says, “Hiya, Tony!” Wow. Between him and Leech, I’m glad Tony bothered to come up with a cover story. The server adds, “Give my best to Flo! I used to go with her before you came along!” Well, at least it continues the running gag in the most obvious, unfunny way possible.
Tony says nothing to the guy. Instead, he and his fellow prisoners head out into the dining hall, where they sit at a table with Richard Kiel, and also… Frank Gorshin. Who, like Richard Kiel, is wearing a red armband that says “Trustee”. Gorshin says, “I’m the man, Tony!” Indeed he is. Let’s see… most people reading this will know him as the Riddler on Batman, and also as one of the half-black/half-white aliens from a Star Trek episode. And checking the cast list, it appears the name of Gorshin’s character is actually “The Man”, so he’s not just bragging. But calling a character “The Man” is going to get old fast, so I’m sticking with Gorshin. Also, Kiel’s character’s name is “Beany”, but I’m not really feeling that one, either.
Gorshin asks Tony if Flo’s still a good dancer, and Tony takes offense at this. I’m starting to think I should take a drink every time this movie implies Flo slept with a lot of other mobsters and criminals before she got married. Gorshin quickly changes the subject and talks business. With his teeth clenched and his lips held in place, he tells Tony that he’s talking like this because there’s “closed circuit TV here, with a deaf-mute readin’ lips!” Okay, sure, why not? Lennon Glasses also tries to talk this way, but looks like an idiot. Well, more of an idiot.
Gorshin says they’ll look after Tony’s well-being while he’s here, but Tony says he “Don’t need no bodyguard” and just wants to get out of here as quickly as possible. In clench-speak, Gorshin promises Tony will be out “one hour after you do the job”, but until then, nobody can get near Packard because he’s in “maximum-maximum security”, which I assume is something like double-secret probation.
Then Gorshin addresses Lennon Glasses as “Professor” and wonders why he’s not eating. The Professor insists that he eats “only brown rice”, and it’s another bit that goes nowhere. Tony asks if they ever take Packard out for exercise, and Gorshin switches back to clench-speak to say that if they do, he doesn’t know where. “They even cook his food separate!”
Tony wonders why he’s even here, if Packard is a mystery wrapped in an enigma shrouded in double-secret probation. Gorshin assures him that since he’s Packard’s best friend, Packard will see him if he asks. Tony wonders how he’ll get word to Packard in the first place, and Gorshin says that’s where the Professor comes in. “This jerk is a technical genius!”
The jerk in question speaks up. “Hey, look, man, I don’t know what this is all about, but I’ve dropped out of your gadget civilization!” Me, too! I’m burning my iPad tomorrow. He says he’s “renounced all science and technocracy!”
Richard Kiel finally speaks: “Remember, Professor, we can make you 4-F permanently!” That could either be an incentive or a threat, depending on how you look at it, but the important thing is, Richard Kiel just spoke more words here than in both of his James Bond movies combined! And also Eegah and that Twilight Zone episode, for that matter.
Before the Professor can reply, an especially stoic guard comes over. He puts his hand on the Professor’s shoulder and says, “Your hair don’t conform. Barbershop!” As he’s led away, the Professor “hilariously” yells that the guard is violating “the Bill of Rights”.
Cut to Angie’s bachelor pad. Frankie Avalon is wearing a red smoking jacket as he sprays the whole place with air freshener. A buzzer goes off and he runs to his big remote control. He speaks into the control, saying, “Are you here, sweetheart?” Without waiting for an answer, he says, “Open the door and be glad, baby!” Cut to the front entrance of his apartment building, and unfortunately, it’s not the hot date Angie is expecting, but rather Flo. Let the hijinks begin!
Up in his bachelor pad, Angie uses his big control to draw the curtains, dim the lights, start the romantic music, and project a star field pattern on the ceiling. The doorbell rings and he gets back on his remote control and says, “Come to Angie!” Flo walks in, and as you might expect of a comedy of this caliber, he doesn’t look at her face, and only stares at her body as she walks in, so he doesn’t realize it’s not the woman he’s waiting for. He kisses the back of her neck (while standing on tiptoes, because Carol Channing has a good five or six inches on Frankie Avalon) and she turns around, and finally we get the expected shot of Angie’s delayed horrified reaction when he sees who it is.
Flo demands to know where Tony is, and she knows it has something to do with the “tree”, and that’s why Angie and Hechy came to their house last night. Angie tells her to go home, relax, and “bake a chocolate cake”, but Flo insists on knowing why God wants Tony. Angie tries to get her to leave, because he has a woman coming over. Flo ignores him and suddenly checks out the digs, calling them “sweet”, and saying they’re a “lot plusher than when Hechy lived here!” Drink!
Angie’s all buttered up now, so he hands her his remote control, saying, “The age of electronics!” I guess he has not dropped out of our gadget civilization. She pushes a button on his control and switches the music, first to some jazz, then to some classical guitar, then finally to some generic ‘60s freak-out rock music. Flo starts to get into it, whipping her feather boa around and swinging it over her head.
Angie desperately tries to get the control back, but again, Carol Channing is significantly taller than Frankie Avalon and has no problem playing a lengthy game of keepaway. Finally, he gets the control back and shuts off the music and tries again to get Flo out. Flo suddenly calls him “cute” and wonders if he’s a good dancer. Angie smiles and says, “I’m a good everything!”
She tells him to prove it, and so he tries to kiss her. Geez, man. You don’t need to prove your manhood that badly. But before he can kiss her, Flo grabs him by the arms and lifts him several inches in the air, demanding to know where Tony is. He breaks away from her as someone else buzzes at the door, and he says into his control, “I hear ya, baby!”
He tells Flo that he’s got a girl coming up in the elevator, “so you go down the stairs!” Flo says she wants to see God, and won’t leave until she finds out what’s going on. Angie says he’ll take her to God, but pleads with her to wait outside “until you see a redhead leave!” Which should be in about, oh, six minutes or so.
But Flo refuses to leave. Even worse, Carol Channing slowly starts… grrk… unzipping her dress. And it’s a zipper that goes all the way around, so when she’s done unzipping, she just shimmies out of her dress completely and she’s in her underwear. Thanks a lot, Skidoo. One day, I’m going to flash back to this scene, something in my brain will snap, and I’ll kill a busload of kids.
Flo lies down in Angie’s bed, thinking this will drive off the woman Angie’s got lined up. So Angie pushes a button, causing the bed to sink into the floor, and to be covered up by a desk and an office chair. Now if only it were so easy to eliminate all memory of what just happened, as well.
He tosses Flo’s clothes in the closet and sits on the chair. He says into the control, “Come on in, baby!” But instead of the redhead, it’s Darlene. Angie is amazed to see “Tough Tony’s kid!” Darlene wants to know what’s up with the “Tough Tony” name, but Angie insists he’s got someone coming over and tries to hustle Darlene out, too.
But then Darlene glances around and is also taken with Angie’s pad, calling it “wild”. They start to flirt, but naturally, the doorbell rings. Excuse me, I was promised a mind-blowing psychedelic trip. Why am I getting a lame episode of Three’s Company instead?
Angie picks up his remote control, and in an attempt to get rid of the girl at the door, he says, “This is a recorded message. I am out, and will call you when I get back!” Unfortunately, Darlene laughs during this, tipping off the redhead at the door. Cut to her calling him a “crumb” and storming off. Whew. One less woman in danger of sleeping with Angie. You dodged a bullet, my dear.
Also out front, we see that Stash gave Darlene a ride here in his beat-up Rolls. As the redhead walks off, a doorman goes up to Stash and tells him to move his car. Stash just ignores him and rolls up his window. The doorman promptly walks over and complains to a cop. Watch out, Stash; the cop might make a note of this.
Back up in the bachelor pad, Angie is pouring champagne and making the moves on Darlene. They have a toast, but Angie tosses his glass to the floor and mauls the poor girl. Darlene resists, mentioning the guy she has waiting downstairs. Angie is livid, because he just got rid of a “broad” that he was “working on” for “six solid weeks!”
He angrily throws down his control, causing everything to go haywire. Darlene gets a good laugh as he frantically pushes buttons. Well, the button. Alas, this ultimately leads to his bed rising up, with Flo still lying on it in her underwear. Gah! That never gets easier to look at.
Of course, it’s krazy komedy when mother and daughter see each other. Flo is flustered and covers up with a pillow, while Darlene tries to play the understanding daughter. Flo tries to explain why she’s here by saying, “God sent for your father!” Darlene momentarily thinks her dad’s dead, but Angie says, “Not that God, dope!”
Flo wants Angie to “tell her about the tree”, and oh boy, this is sure to be worth the buildup. Angie pushes that same button, and his blinds rotate to reveal a multi-level map labeled “The Tree”. Wow. Tony’s not in the mob at all. He’s a Scientologist!
The flowchart has several numbered circles, with a big G at the top. Angie suddenly has a pointer, and he points at one circle. “That’s me! I run Oregon and Idaho!” Right, right, we heard that part already. It’s still not impressing anybody. Darlene is confused, so Flo explains that her father was part of the Tree, but quit before Darlene was born. But Angie says emphatically that “Nobody quits the Tree!”
No, the Tree is “the most important organization in the world. Except maybe for the Pentagon, and we’re more efficient!” He tells them there would be “chaos” without the Tree. “Every hothead with an itchy finger would be extortin’ somebody! Every shopkeeper with a plate glass window wouldn’t be able to sleep at night!”
However, with the Tree, “nobody has to worry”, including those who own laundries, because those places won’t “blow up”, or guys who run roadside cafes, because they know that the highway won’t be “detoured someplace else”. Flo cheerfully says, “It’s a protection racket, honey!” And for once in this movie, somebody finally cuts through all the crap.
Angie takes umbrage at this, saying there’s nothing wrong with a protection racket because “Ours is a violent society!” Flo explains that the “G” at the top of the Tree is God, who sent for Tony to do something, but Flo doesn’t know what. She says that’s why she was flaunting her irresistible figure to Angie, because she figured it was the only way to get any information about Tony out of him.
Darlene tells Angie to take them both to see God, but Angie calls them crazy. “You want me walking around with my head under my arm?” Sounds painful, so I’ll say yes. But Darlene kisses him, and he immediately changes his mind.
Coming up next: If you’ve been on the edge of your seat about which legendary Hollywood actor will show up to embarrass himself in this movie next, your wait is over, because Mickey Rooney is about to make his grand appearance as George “Blue Chips” Packard. But that’s only the second most momentous event in store for us, because next time… Tony gets his first taste of LSD, and that’s when this movie gets weird.