Skidoo Blu-ray review
Jackie Gleason. Carol Channing. Frankie Avalon. Fred Clark. Michael Constantine. Frank Gorshin. John Phillip Law. Peter Lawford. Burgess Meredith. George Raft. Cesar Romero. Mickey Rooney. Groucho Marx. All of these people thought signing on to appear in SKIDOO was a sensible idea.
Hitman Tony Banks (Gleason, so far from his days winning Tonys and playing Minnesota Fats) has retired, opting to spend his time at home flipping through the channels with his wife (Channing, 1967’s THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE) and making sure his daughter (Alexandra Hay, 1968’s HOW SWEET IT IS!) doesn’t fall in with any hippies. One night, two mobsters, Hechy (Romero, who played The Joker on TV’s BATMAN) and Angie (Avalon, without Annette), bring word that mob boss God (Marx, in his final movie appearance)—take that as you will—wants Banks to carry out a hit against his former partner, “Blue Chips” Packard (Rooney, Stanley Kramer’s IT’S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD).
This leads Banks to Alcatraz, where—oh, forget it. It doesn’t matter, because the movie is just a one brain celled-collage of draft dodgers, hippie communities, corporation parodies and acid trips (picture Ralph Kramden hallucinating a flying screw with the head of Rufus T. Firefly, or the Green Bay Packers playing without pants on). And somehow or another, a total of three BATMAN villains turn up.
SKIDOO is one of the zanier works to come out of 1960s cinema and it’s quite difficult to comprehend its purpose. Director Otto Preminger had tackled controversial subjects before—drug addiction in 1955’s THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN ARM, rape in 1959’s ANATOMY OF A MURDER—but he always had to treat them with a straight face. SKIDOO allows him to approach a taboo subject and have fun with it; but fun for him isn’t necessarily fun for the viewer. (A prologue informing the audience that one’s enjoyment depends less on partaking in acid hits than their proximity to an exit sign should have been included.)
SKIDOO is (or is at least meant to be) a comedy, but it’s just plain dumb. Giving the movie the benefit of the doubt, maybe it was relevant to some degree when it was released in 1968 (the same year LSD became illegal in the U.S.); but today it just comes off like a once-prominent director trying to be hip and in (the same could be said of Marx, who reportedly took hits of acid with Merry Pranksters member Paul Krassner as research).
SKIDOO, which is written by Doran William Cannon (who would pen BREWSTER MCCLOUD, directed by Robert Altman, next) is no cultural touchstone. Instead, it’s a cluster of disorienting scenes in which the actors are behaving like lunatics and the director seems to have no idea whether they’re giving performances or not. There are also dancing soup cans.
In addition to those listed on the poster, the cast also includes Slim Pickens (DR. STRANGELOVE OR: HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE BOMB, Richard Kiel (less than a decade before he would be cast as Jaws in THE SPY WHO LOVED ME) and Harry Nilsson, who sings—that’s right—the end credits, all the way down to the copyright’s Roman numerals.
Video: 2.35:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. This high-definition transfer of SKIDOO looks quite sharp, with vibrant colors and fine details throughout.
Audio: English Mono DTS-HD Master Audio. The audio is also nice, with clear dialogue and a clean Harry Nilsson soundtrack.
There are no special features on this release.