I Love You, Alice B. Toklas! (1968)

I Love You, Alice B. Toklas! (1968)

“That’s a brownie!”

Synopsis:
A square lawyer (Peter Sellers) with a nagging mom (Jo Van Fleet), a hippie brother (David Arkin), and doubts about marrying his earnest girlfriend (Joyce Van Patten) ends up eating hash-laced brownies, falling for a free-spirited young woman (Lauren Taylor-Young), and questioning his entire lifestyle.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Black Comedy
  • Character Arc
  • Counterculture
  • Peter Sellers Films

Review:
Three years after donning a ridiculous wig-with-bangs to play sex-obsessed psychoanalyst Dr. Fritz Fassbender in What’s New, Pussycat? (1965), Peter Sellers had another chance to go long-haired in this time-capsule movie about “finding oneself” in the midst of the counterculture revolution. Sellers’ character here (Harold) is hard to sympathize with: he treats his fiancee (Van Patten) terribly, he never stands up to his domineering mother (Van Fleet), and his shift to a hippie lifestyle rings completely false. This is all meant to be played for laughs — yet there’s clearly an undercurrent of supposed “Truth” behind Paul Mazursky’s screenplay as well, with guileless Taylor-Young coming across as the most authentic of the bunch. Meanwhile, the scenes with a Latino family seeking compensation for a fender-bender are simply offensive.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Good use of location shooting in Los Angeles

Must See?
No; you can skip this one. Listed as a Cult Movie in the back of Peary’s book.

Links:

2 thoughts on “I Love You, Alice B. Toklas! (1968)

  1. Not must-see.

    Sellers appears adequately invested in this satire on ‘finding yourself’. As a light, ’60s romp, it has its moments and it could have been worse. But it’s still not all that much, as it ultimately bashes one ‘extreme’ in life after another, with everyone except the protagonist depicted as losers.

    When she’s not being pushy about getting married, Van Patten has some nice comic moments because of her delivery; the same is true of Van Fleet: (“Don’t say ‘bathroom’ and I won’t laugh! I *said* it!!!” ).

    There are some questionable ‘gay’ jabs: i.e., a transvestite shopping for a mini-dress; Sellers making a disparaging remark about lesbians.

    It’s mostly tiresome all-too-soon. But there’s a nice score by Elmer Bernstein.

  2. ⭐️⭐️⭐️ out of ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

    Another I’ve not seen since a UK TV screening in the ’80s. My overall impression at this distance is solid, funny, goofy counterculture comedy.

    Another Sellars film to have fallen by the wayside and not really be revived much since, in fact it’s even more obscure than Being There (1979) which at least has been championed by the Criterion Collection with a Blu-ray (BD) release.

    The most recent release of this I can recall is the 2008 DVD.

    Not must see.

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