Taking Off

1971, Movie, R, 92 mins


Milos Forman's first US movie is a rather dated look at the mores of the country he had just adopted. At the time of its release, critics welcomed the Czech-born Forman's skewed perspective on a transitional period of American culture, but today the film, like so much else from the late 60s and early 70s, can best be appreciated as a historical curio.

Heacock is a a teenager who has run away from her affluent Long Island home and settled in New York's East Village, where she hopes to make a career as a singer. Parents Carlin and Henry team up with Lindley, who also has a runaway child, to search for their daughter amidst the countercultural milieu that they fear and despise. At first, they're repelled, but it isn't long before they begin to respond to the allure of marijuana and sexual freedom.

The movie is more satire than farce, and satire "is what closes on Saturday nights," said George S. Kaufman. Kaufman was right, and this movie did nowhere near the business it deserved, although it did serve to introduce Forman to the US audience after his European successes with LOVES OF A BLONDE and THE FIREMAN'S BALL. Henry had done cameo appearances in THE GRADUATE and CATCH-22 and here has a full-fledged leading role. His work is exemplary, and he more than holds his own with the other, more experienced actors. Carlin first came to prominence in FACES, although her career never went as far as her talent could have taken her. Heacock was an amateur whom Forman spotted in Central Park. Forman enjoys using nonprofessionals and always seems to evoke excellent results from them. The promise of this first US movie was realized when Forman distinguished himself with ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST and AMADEUS. The script was written by a formidable quartet composed of Forman, playwright Guare (whose "The House of Blue Leaves" won several Tony Awards in June, 1986), French author Carriere (who co-wrote BELLE DU JOUR and THE MILKY WAY), and Klein. leave a comment

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Taking Off
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