Shampoo

1975, Movie, R, 109 mins

Review

SHAMPOO
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Satire of a satyr. Playing a Jay Sebring-like hairdresser/boy toy to the Beverly Hills elite, Beatty mercilessly lampoons his own offscreen image in a bumptious comedy of manners that turns persuasively sombre at the end. The events take place on Election Day, 1968, a date clearly chosen to signify the end of an era. Beatty is fooling around with Grant, an attractive married woman. Their coupling is interrupted by a phone call from Hawn, who represents the closest thing to a serious relationship Beatty can manage; he rushes over to her home and ends up spending the rest of the night with her. Later Beatty talks to a bank loan officer, hoping to get money to open his own hair salon. The loan officer thinks Beatty is a poor risk, and the angered hairdresser retaliates by screaming, "I've got the heads!"

Grant suggests Beatty approach her husband, Warden, for the money. Warden is sleeping with Christie, an old client/lover of Beatty's; he assumes Beatty is gay and doesn't catch on even when he finds his mistress and her lover virtually in flagrante. He agrees to consider Beatty's request, and asks Beatty to beard Christie at an election night party. Beatty reluctantly agrees, and the party proves to be a fiasco of drink, boorishness, and sexual betrayal.

Beatty, who produced SHAMPOO and cowrote the script (reportedly working for six years on it), was born to play the aimless, none-too-bright Don Juan. Hawn sums up his character nicely when she shouts at him: "You never stop moving! You never go anywhere!" The film's use of television election returns during the election night party is effective. History is in flux--with Nixon's election, the Swinging Sixties are definitively over--but the overprivileged party guests remain oblivious, caught up in the drama of their own sexual politics. The Beach Boys' popular song "Wouldn't It Be Nice" plays as the credits roll, a black-humored punch line to the film. Fisher made her film debut here as Grant's feisty daughter who seduces Beatty in record time. Reportedly Fisher's mother, Debbie Reynolds, was furious with her daughter for taking the part. SHAMPOO was an enormous success at the box office, taking in some $60 million during its initial release. leave a comment

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