Dec 16, 2019
Skidoo (1968), the lost recap (part 7 of 14): All things are like the void and cloudless sky
Previously on Skidoo: Hot parking violation action! led to Darlene and Angie getting on a boat (and Stash… not getting on a boat) to go see God. Meanwhile in the Rock Island federal pen, Tony got in touch with Packard via radio-fork-TV interface, but Packard was already onto him. But all that became of secondary concern when Tony accidentally licked an envelope tainted with LSD, as people so often do.
Cut to Darlene and Angie and Stash riding on that motor boat, as they come upon a yacht, and we see the name of the yacht is “Mother”. This is the home of God, and we cut to him below decks, and he’s played by… a 70-something Groucho Marx. I have no idea what he was thinking when he took this role, but I do appreciate how Groucho himself later called the film and his performance “God-awful”, saying that he looked “embalmed” in this movie.
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God is playing bumper pool. Yes, on a boat. That’s the joke. His opponent, and apparent mistress, is an extremely tall woman who’s clearly a fashion model (she’s played by Donyale Luna, the first black model to appear on the cover of Vogue UK). She’s got on these weird pointy finger extensions, and she takes one off so she can lick her finger, and then rub the tip of his cue. Ew.
Then comes a creaky slapstick bit, where Groucho goes to take a shot, the boat rocks, and he’s pitched forward. He gets on a videophone and complains to the boat’s captain about this. And the captain is played by another legendary actor, George Raft, which would also depress me, except he already had a cameo in the 1967 Casino Royale, which is arguably even worse than this movie. God tells the captain to keep the boat steady, but the captain insists the boat is steady. God says, “Are you contradicting me?”
The captain immediately says sorry, sticks his finger in his mouth and holds it up, and pretends there’s a wind coming in from the northeast.
God’s supermodel friend insists that this is “ten thousand more you owe me!” And then a bell rings, and the captain informs God he has visitors, in the form of Angie, Darlene, and Stash, who’s currently soaking wet. God sees them on the videophone and comments that Angie is a “Bright kid, but stupid.”
God asks Angie about the “two girls” with him. Angie points at Stash and says, “This one’s a boy!” Those crazy hippies, right? God tells his supermodel to go out and search the newcomers, and as she leaves, she turns around and her dress exposes a healthy dose of, what’s the word? Ah yes, “ass cleavage”. I believe that’s French.
God gets back on the videophone. He’s annoyed that Angie took it upon himself to bring people to his yacht, and asks why he doesn’t just “tell the whole world my longitude and latitude”. Angie says he has Tony’s daughter with him. God mistakenly refers to Darlene as “Dorothy”, and yes, that is a joke, and yes, it will be repeated a million more times before the end of the movie.
God turns his attention to Stash, asking what a hippie would want with God. It’s entirely possible Stash thinks he’s talking to the actual God, because he launches into an inane speech about wanting a world where “people can do their thing and not be hassled! Where nobody’s uptight, or paranoid about being together! So we can all groove, and dig ourselves for what we are, living things!” And nobody’s harshing on anybody’s mellow! Or laying any kind of headtrips on each other!
God says, “Very groovy!” Man, it hurts that Groucho has been reduced to this kind of stupid patter. On top of that, they have Groucho wearing his fake grease paint mustache, like he used to in his early films, even though by this point in his life, Groucho had grown a real mustache. Why? Who knows.
As the supermodel searches Stash, he adds that he also wants “a safe place for butterflies! Organic supermarkets, and better bodies for women!” The supermodel gets offended at this for some reason, and asks what’s wrong with her body. This, like most of the lame dialogue in this movie, goes nowhere.
God asks Stash if he likes money, and Stash says, “Who doesn’t?” That doesn’t seem very hippie-like, but I guess that’s the joke. God says he’ll have a “proposition” for Stash a little later, and tells his supermodel friend to bring them all inside. But it turns out God is deathly afraid of germs (it seems he’s what we would refer to today as OCD), so he wants them all to take a “hot bath” first. But in the case of Stash, I can’t really blame him.
And now we head back over to the prison. There really is no rhyme or reason to the flow of this movie, by the way. It just cuts back and forth between scenes whenever Preminger runs out of footage.
Tony is still laying down, preparing himself for his LSD trip. But he doesn’t feel anything. The Professor insists that “you’ll know when it happens”. Tony thinks the Prof is making “a damn fool” out of him, but then as the Prof talks, Tony sees him shrink down to teeny, tiny size. Ah yes, we’ve fallen down the rabbit hole, ladies and gentlemen. This is where the true insanity begins. I can promise you that none of what I’m about to describe has been embellished for effect. I couldn’t make up stuff this crazy.
Tony gets a big Gleason-esque bug-eyed look as he sees the Prof shrink down to Lilliputian proportions. Mini-Prof says with an echoing voice that Tony might have “a high ego retention”, just like most “members of the Establishment”. He says, “They don’t realize the beauty of life without ego. They don’t realize the beauty of an ego-less life!” Tony bugs his eyes out even farther when he sees Leech shrink down too. Tony looks directly into the camera and says, “I’m on a trip!” Oh thanks, now I get it.
The Professor has him lie down. “Your time has come wherein all things are like the void and cloudless sky! And the naked spotless intellect is like a transparent vacuum!” Tony says he’s scared, then looks up, and instead of the Prof’s face, he sees an undulating pink and purple blob hovering in the air. Then he looks down and sees Mini-Prof hovering in a purple and pink cloud (in a really lousy chroma key effect) as he tells Tony not to be afraid. “Wherever you go, you’re still here!”
To psychedelic noodling on a synthesizer, Tony looks over and sees Mini-Leech sitting in an cloud of red, black, and purple mist. Mini-Prof says, “Oh, Tough Tony. The time has come to seek out the clear light!” And the time has also come to ask Alice. I think she’ll know. He says that “Light is the flame of your life” and tells him to “Surrender to it. Join it!” Carol Ann, go into the light!
A very sweaty Tony looks up, and stares at the underside of the top bunk. There are holes in the bed frame, and something moves inside the holes. Tony starts moaning in fear. Mini-Prof says, “Remember the final reality. The all-good, the all-peaceful, the light, the radiance! Let mind and body separate!” Good god, just shut up. I think I’d rather hallucinate that I was falling into a very deep and dark hole than have to listen to this jerk.
Suddenly, things get all purple. The picture also gets all wavy, like we’re about to flash back to a classic episode of The Skidoo Show. Tony sees a pair of fake eyeballs poking through the holes in the bedframe above him. He continues to moan in fear, as the camera zooms in on one of the eyeballs.
The camera then pans back and forth between the eyeballs. They fade into a purple muck, and out of that muck floats an old Tommy gun. Tony continues to moan in fear as the Tommy gun turns and is pointed in his direction. Though, I think he should be thrilled about possibly getting put out of his misery this quickly.
At the last second, the gun barrel turns to rubber and bends upwards, and then the gun explodes, which looks like superimposed footage of a Roman candle. And then bullet holes appear in a wall, forming a pattern, and writing out numbers. Tony is quite amused at all the numbers forming before his eyes, and begins loudly laughing.
Cut to Leech, out in the real world, wondering what Tony is seeing. The Prof tells him to be quiet. Meanwhile, the shooting of numbers is played in reverse. Tony cries, “I see mat-matics! Mat-matics!” Now that’s the line Gleason should have been famous for. Instead of “Baby, you’re the greatest”, or “How sweet it is”, it should have been “I see mat-matics!”
Whew. Did you survive all that nonsense? I hope so, because we’re not even halfway through the acid trip sequence.
Next time: Part two of the LSD trip so incredibly tedious that I couldn’t write about the whole thing in one recap installment. And now I’m remembering why it took me 12 years to post this recap.