“You are a backwards step in the evolution of mankind!”
An ex-con (Jackie Gleason) is summoned by his former crime boss (Groucho Marx) to kill a prison inmate (Mickey Rooney); meanwhile, his daughter (Alexandra Hay) is seduced by a group of hippies (including John Phillip Law) who move in with her and her mother (Carol Channing).
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Cesar Romero Films
- Mickey Rooney Films
- Otto Preminger Films
Otto Preminger’s notoriously bad counterculture comedy only played in theaters for about a week (Vincent Canby of the New York Times called it “something… for people whose minds need pressing by a heavy, flat object”), and was only recently released for home viewing. Nonetheless, it’s developed a strong cult following by those who consider its very existence a juicy feat to behold. Gathering together an eclectic host of “big names” (including a surprising number of TV actors), Preminger puts his characters into situations that simply defy logic and expectations; indeed, whatever one feels about the ultimate success of the film — and opinions vary wildly! — what definitively cannot be denied is that one is never sure exactly what will happen next.
The brief synopsis provided above only hints at the wacky trajectory of Skidoo‘s storyline, which eventually devolves into massive LSD tripping and the most creative prison break ever depicted on-screen. Preminger had apparently experimented with acid himself, and was genuinely interested in attempting to portray such experiences on film — indeed, it’s Preminger’s sincerity with the entire venture that ultimately affords it its campy seal of “approval”. Taken strictly on face value — as an earnest attempt to tell a tale of redemption and cross-cultural understanding — the characters and situations are undeniably ludicrous and naive; viewed as a wacky congruence of fearless caricatures and boldly outrageous scenarios, it may provide you with just the type of cinematic misadventure you can’t look away from.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Maybe – just maybe – the hallucinogenic “Dance of the Garbage Cans”
- The truly unique (entirely sung) closing credits
Yes, simply for its bad-movie cult notoriety.