Skidoo Screen 5 articles



Skidoo Poster
  • It's the film in which Otto Preminger’s camera guides a sweaty, prison-striped Jackie Gleason through his first acid trip, Groucho Marx plays a gangster named “God,” and Frankie Avalon’s remote-controlled apartment is on the fritz. It’s a psychedelic farce with teeth, a loony masterpiece. And Harry Nilsson’s on the soundtrack. And there’s naked football. And multiple musical numbers. This list is not exhaustive.

  • The scattershot and hectic comedy conveys Preminger’s sense that the world he knows is coming apart at the seams; he does more than depict or caricature the cultural shifts and the generational clashes of the times—he finds new cinematic forms for them. The movie is an astonishment of tone and style throughout (Groucho Marx plays a gangland boss called God), and it’s very much a musical, down to its ingenious end credits, which are composed and sung by Harry Nilsson.

  • Among its other eccentricities, “Skidoo” may be the most LSD-tolerant movie Hollywood has ever released. Preminger’s research included taking the drug, and the elaborate acid trip he choreographs for Gleason was, he claimed, based on his own. The scene, which involves singing garbage cans and a slapstick jailbreak, is also distinctively Premingerian — at once totally subjective and objectively detached.

  • In his loopy comedy, Preminger doesn’t just depict—or, rather, caricature—the cultural shifts and generational clashes of the late sixties, he finds new forms for the new events. It’s an astonishment of tone and style from beginning to end, literally.

  • [To end this piece on problems about commercial viability and taste,] as most often happens, is to surrender to a rather tiresome series of tautologies. And to argue that Skidoo is so bad that it’s good, employing what might be termed the ever-popular Edward D. Wood escape clause, might simply be an alternative way of perpetuating the same syndrome.

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