Written by: Carroll Jenkins on December 3rd, 2010
Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1967
Director: Arthur Dreifuss
Writers: Hal Collins, Arthur Dreifuss
Cast: James MacArthur, Richard Todd, Susan Oliver, The Chocolate Watchband
DVD released: September 19th, 2010
Approximate running time: 86 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Sony Pictures
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $24.95
Synopsis: A university professor resigns when the sweetheart underground newspaper editor couple are expelled by an uptight right wing zealot. Seems Dr. Barnett also has advocated LSD use in the past. He becomes a beloved and benign guru of spaced out oblivion. Too bad he’s just a opportunistic charlatan.
Well, so is producer Sam Katzman of Creature with the Atom Brain, Earth vs. the Flying Saucers, and The Giant Claw infamy. He also produced several films featuring garage bands including Get Yourself a College Girl, Riot on Sunset Strip, and Angel, Angel, Down We Go. But he blew it big time when he committed the Unforgivable Sin of tragically underutilizing one of the greatest sixties garage bands – The Chocolate Watchband. They have a good appearance in Riot On Sunset Strip in a club, but this should have been their supreme showcase – it’s obvious they thought it would be. But, we see more of a poster for them in a kitchen than we do the band. They do appear in long shots playing on a stoop for two seconds, on the top of a love-in bus for two seconds, but when they prepare to pummel us with one of the all-time garage anthems ‘No Way Out’, the singer magically disappears. Instead we get a few more seconds of band sans singer while the instrumental backing track plays. At least ‘Are You Gonna Be There (At The Love In)’ is played in its intended form almost uninterrupted. Yes, the Rolling Stones obviously derived their inspiration for ‘Satisfaction’ from the Chocolate Watchband.
Susan Oliver had an incredible career in television and especially in cult series including Twilight Zone, The Untouchables, Rawhide, Route 66, 77 Sunset Strip, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., I Spy, Peyton Place, The Wild Wild West, The Invaders, and Alias Smith and Jones. But the feather in her cap is the unaired original Star Trek pilot ‘The Cage’, which was chopped up (and long thought lost) to create the two part ‘Menagerie’ episode. James MacArthur (Hang ‘Em High) is her love interest, and Mark Goddard of ‘Lost In Space’ is the pusher (drug dealer)!!!
Unfortunately, this is a basement budget hippie soap opera that simultaneously panders and slanders anyone that might have bought a ticket, and most everyone that never would. That kinda makes it worth watching, but listen to the Chocolate Watchband tunes in their entirety (45 versions) here and here for a ferocity that is sadly absent from the film.
Supposedly remastered from film elements, this Sony MOD (manufactured on demand) disk has frequent motion problems (though there isn’t much) and is inferior to the ‘Remastered’ Warners line. Not even the pretense of a menu, though there are 10 chapter stops. Why can’t we at least have subtitles for such exorbitantly priced barebones discs – especially since the sound is mastered too low to crank up?.
These criticisms are mostly relevant to repeat viewings and to CWB fans. Otherwise, this is a distant third best Hollywood Hippie flick behind Psych-Out and Riot On Sunset Strip (and discounting The Trip and Wild In The Streets, of course). Everyone must witness the Alice In Wonderland ballet freakout scene. And The Giant Claw.