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The New York Times
November 7, 1968

The Screen: 'Head,' Monkees Movie for a Turned-On Audience

Styles of Advertising and Pot Combined

HEAD. written and produced by Bob Rafelson and Jack Nicholson; directed by Mr. Rafelson; Bert Schneider as executive producer; a Raybert Production presented by Columbia Pictures. At the Greenwich Theater, 12th Street and Seventh Avenue, and the Studio Cinema Theater, Broadway at 66th Street. Running time: 86 minutes.
Peter Tork
David Jones
Micky Dolenz
Michael Nesmith
Minnie ............................ Annette Funicello
Lord High 'n Low ............... Timother Carey
Faye Lapid ........................ Logan Ramsey
Swami ............................ Abraham Sofaer
I. Vitteloni ................................ Vito Scotti
The Big Victor ..................... Victor Mature

"Head," which opened yesterday at the Studio Cima and Greenwich Theaters, might be a film to see if you have been smoking grass or if you like to scream at the Monkees, or if you are interested in drifting heads and hysteric high-school girls.  Dreadfully written by Jack Nicholson (who wrote "The Trip") and directed by Bob Rafelson, who, with Bert Schneider, created the Monkees (on the basis of interviews) as a singing group, the movie is, nonetheless, of a certain fascination in its joining of two styles: pot and advertising.  The special effects -- playing with perspective, focus, dimension, interstices, symmetry, color, logic, pace -- are most accessible to marijuana; the use of pre-packaged stars gives the movie a kind of brand-name respectability -- like putting Jim Dooley (of the "come on down" commercial) on display in a hashish crowd.

The Monkees, who are among the least-talented contemporary music groups and know it, are most interesting for their lack of similarity to the Beatles. Going through ersatz Beatles songs, and jokes and motions, their complete lack of distinction of any kind -- the fact that fame was stamped on them by hucksters as it might have been on any nice four random, utterly undistinquished boys -- makes their performance modest and almost brave.  They work very hard and they aren't any good.  This keeps them less distant from their own special fans that the Beatles or, say, Bob Dylan and the Beach Boys are.  They do not have to bridge the distance of talent or style.

There are some funny moments -- an old joke about a regiment of Italian soldiers surrendering to a single man, a policeman posing girlishly before a mirror, a secene in a which the boys are cast as dandruff in the hair of a giant Victor Mature, a war scene in which Ray Nitschke of the Green Bay Packers keeps senselessly tackling a G.I., an attack on a Coke machine, a breaking up of the film set, a nice transposition of the Columbia Pictures logo.  There are some ugly scenes, too -- mock fights in which Sonny Liston badly beats one of the Monkees about the face.

But it will be interesting to see if the underlying fusion works, if taking essentially subversive styles (as in other pot films, such as "Revolution" and "You Are What You Eat" and covering them with famous mediocrities assures their success.  The esthetic marijuana world is bound to come out importantly in films one way or another.  This sort of movie may be testing the ground.

Webmistress note: The word "head" can be referenced to drugs, or specifically pot, like "Billy Bob is such a pot head; he smokes so much marijuana he sometimes thinks his cat, Fluffy, is a big, freaking mountain lion."

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