Tuesday, June 19, 2012


(March 1979, U.S.)

HAIR, in my opinion, is one of those rare movie musicals that even a guy like me, who generally hates musicals, can love and enjoy. In fact, I can safely say that HAIR stands proudly as my favorite movie musical (from a very short list, I admit!). From the opening moment when the first song "Aquarius" begins, it already differs from the original showtune in that it features a beat that's more catchy, more funky, and with just a little bit of that disco sound that ruled the era. From the moment the camera work of Milos Forman circles around Ren Woods singing that song with her great physical passion, the viewer becomes part of the music and the spirit of the psychedelic '60s it represents.

Unlike GREASE (1978) just a year before, HAIR is clearly not a rock and roll musical that will be destined to ultimately become a chick flick. The music in HAIR is racy, as is the sexual freedom of the time it sings about. Racy is a key word here, because for me it defines the idea that you can likely get away with almost anything on screen or stage if you're simply singing about it. How else can you explain how a twelve year-old boy in 1979 (that's me!) got his overly-conservative parents to take him to a movie where hippie characters are singing about "Sodomy" and "Black Boys"?? In particular, the character of George Berger (played by Treat Williams - the first time I ever saw him!) is racy, obnoxious and at times, an asshole...and you just love to love him because he's a man also filled with uncompromised joy and freedom. He can sing and dance, too. His companions Wolf (played by Don Dacus) and Hud (played by Dorsey Wright) are a fine additon to the mix that defines family in a time of open minds and open bodies. The character of Jeannie (played by Annie Golden who looks a whole lot like Stevie Nicks circa 1977), I must confess, is a character I find almost useless other than for the purpose of illustrating that she's pregnant by two of her male friends (now THAT'S sexual freedom, baby!). There's also a strong point of bizarre irony in the end when, as a result of what seems like just another silly prank, Berger mistakenly ends up in Army uniform on his way to fight the war in Vietnam he's proudly been against throughout the film. It's actually a bit sad to watch his friends surround his grave as they break into the final song of the film, "Let the Sun Shine In".

Now here's a confession to share with you that will paint me as rather ignorant, even for a twelve year-old boy at the time. When I saw HAIR on screen, I had virtually no knowledge of the 1960's and the psychedelic youth conter-culture that made it infamous. That being the case, I honestly thought that the film was taking place in present day 1979 and that New York City's Central Park was just filled with a LOT of strange (stranger!) people. Hey, I was TWELVE, for Christ sakes!

Well, having written and shared all of this with you, I'm suddenly inspired to try and find a functioning 8-track tape copy of the HAIR movie soundtrack to also go with the functioning 8-track player I've been searching for on eBay for so damn long! But that's another issue...

Favorite line or dialogue:

Angry woman at dinner table: "You've got a hell of a nerve, young man!"
George Berger (in song): "I got life, mother...I got laughs, sister...I got freedom, brother...I got good times, man...I got crazy ways, daughter...I got million-dollar charm, cousin...I got headaches and toothaches and bad times too like you..."

1 comment:

  1. Don't forget the Twyla Tharp Choreography of the Police Horses in the dance.
    Hair was one of those films I saw in the seventies that fell outside of my criteria for the original Movie A Day Concept (Summer Release). Although I suspect I did not see it until the summer since most specialty films still rolled out slowly in those days.

    The U.S. involvement in Vietnam had been over for six years at that point, but my memories of all the political upheaval from 1966-1973 made a lot of the sentiments in the movie work. I watched it maybe ten years ago and it felt a little creaky. I always enjoyed the music however. It beats the hell out of some of today's strung together musicals (Rock of Ages, Mamma Mia).

    I was surprised that you liked this because from your other posts you make it clear you are not a musical kind of guy. I can see how the theme, nudity, language and charisma of Treat Williams could encourage you. Looking back, I think I saw this movie the same day I saw "The Muppet Movie". I seem to remember seeing this with a friend that I went to the show with only occasionally and I think we double dipped that day. How is that for two ends of the spectrum? I'll keep my eyes open, if it shows up on the satellite, I'll give it a go.