rayban

"Wild In The Streets"

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This 1968 film from AIP has a certain reputation and a certain following.

 

But, today, in 2017, it is a highly improbable tale of a famous rock star (Christopher Jones) who suddenly realizes that he has political power and is thus able to help to lower the voting age to 14.

 

Then, he gets his LSD-addicted girlfriend (Diane Varsi) elected to the state legislature. 

 

Finally realizing the extent of his influence, he runs for President and even gets elected.

 

Whereupon, he lowers the retirement age to 30 and puts "old people" in over-the-hill camps where they are forced to down LSD drinks to "keep them quiet".

 

It's very blunt and heavy-headed - and often an insult to one's sensibilities and intelligence.

 

It plays like a paranoid comic book - and maybe that was the intention.

 

I see it more in the vein of an attempt by AIP to capture the youth market and make millions.

 

If you worship Christopher Jones - and who doesn't? - his over-wrought performance in this film might be reason enough to see it.

 

Shouting "Give me the power!" to a rapt audience, he is the genuine article.

 

Shelley Winters, who plays Max Frost's mother, almost steals the film, though.

 

Especially when she is put into one of the "old-age" camps and subsequently goes beserk, having expected to get an ambassadorship from her son.

 

That's right, the President of the United States, who walked out on her and his father a long time ago. 

 

  wildinthestreets-1.jpg

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Interesting review, Ray. I've never seen this film. Sounds like Shelley Winters plays an over-the-top mother. Speaking of which, BLOODY MAMA is another interesting performance of hers.

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Interesting review, Ray. I've never seen this film. Sounds like Shelley Winters plays an over-the-top mother. Speaking of which, BLOODY MAMA is another interesting performance of hers.

Yes, as she became older, she became a great character actress.

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Diane Varsi had such a strange Hollywood career - she seemed on the verge of stardom, but, somehow, she never really got there - in this film, she gets third billing and she never says a word - she was the first Alison MacKenzie on the screen in "Peyton Place" - Carol Linley was the second in "Return to Peyton Place" - who is your favorite? - then, of course, there is Mia Farrow's Alison MacKenzie in "Peyton Place: The TV Series".

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Diane Varsi had such a strange Hollywood career - she seemed on the verge of stardom, but, somehow, she never really got there - in this film, she gets third billing and she never says a word - she was the first Alison MacKenzie on the screen in "Peyton Place" - Carol Linley was the second in "Return to Peyton Place" - who is your favorite? - then, of course, there is Mia Farrow's Alison MacKenzie in "Peyton Place: The TV Series".

 

Varsi is my least favorite of the Alisons. Mia is at the top of the list for me.

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I saw this one a looooong time ago. It was mildly amusing and an artifact of its era, being filmed late in '67 after the summer of love when all of the media hippy-obsessed. If you watch network TV shows "in living color" during the '67-68 and '68-69 seasons, you get a sense that the Hollywood Establishment was both amused and confused by what was going on. An episode of Green Acres viewed flower power with a bit of disdain, but Bewitched was always a progressive show with Cousin Serena very supportive and Darrin being the square.

 

Backtracking years earlier, episodes of radio series like Suspense's "The Juvenile Rebellion" (1961) and Mad magazine parodies I enjoyed reading that also date from the Kennedy years often had a similar theme: the youth overthrowing the adult population. In the one Mad parody I have sadly lost over time so I can't re-read it, the children of one rebellious biker couple later become an uptight businessman son and straight-laced daughter. However their children rebel from them and rejoin Grandpa and Grandma on their Harleys. What I liked about this parody is that it didn't overlook a certain flaw of Wild In The Streets: that everybody under 40 eventually becomes 40 and you need to see what happens next. Not just the ten year olds starting the next revolution.

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I saw this one a looooong time ago. It was mildly amusing and an artifact of its era, being filmed late in '67 after the summer of love when all of the media hippy-obsessed. If you watch network TV shows "in living color" during the '67-68 and '68-69 seasons, you get a sense that the Hollywood Establishment was both amused and confused by what was going on. An episode of Green Acres viewed flower power with a bit of disdain, but Bewitched was always a progressive show with Cousin Serena very supportive and Darrin being the square.

 

Backtracking years earlier, episodes of radio series like Suspense's "The Juvenile Rebellion" (1961) and Mad magazine parodies I enjoyed reading that also date from the Kennedy years often had a similar theme: the youth overthrowing the adult population. In the one Mad parody I have sadly lost over time so I can't re-read it, the children of one rebellious biker couple later become an uptight businessman son and straight-laced daughter. However their children rebel from them and rejoin Grandpa and Grandma on their Harleys. What I liked about this parody is that it didn't overlook a certain flaw of Wild In The Streets: that everybody under 40 eventually becomes 40 and you need to see what happens next. Not just the ten year olds starting the next revolution.

The film is wildly youth-oriented - but at the end the 25 year-old who has just become the President of the United States does realize that he cannot stay "young" forever.

 

A little girl sees his age as that of an old man.

 

The film has a barely submerged homoerotic feel - lots of shots of Christopher Jones in tight, tight pants - and unapologetic shots of his crotch.

 

One of his aides - a fifteen-year-old gay kid, who is played by Kevin Coughlin, has "a thing" for a much-older married man who is played by Hal Holbrook.

 

There is also a scene in which Christopher Jones and another male aide seem on the verge of getting it on - and Jones' girlfriend, Diane Varsi, takes note of the seemingly "gay action".  

 

There is little doubt in the film that a young man as glowingly attractive as Jones' Max Frost would not be, at the very least, BISEXUAL.

 

His girlfriend is too strung out on acid to give him any real satisfaction.

 

The entourage of very attractive young men are undoubtedly providing him with "oral service".

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During an earlier discussion on Auntie Mame, I stumbled on this site. This writer has both G-rated and X-rated blogs covering homoerotic and heterosexist content in movies, TV shows, music and culture in general. Some of the material may not be the kind you would excerpt on this wholesome messageboard, but this brief review of  Wild In The Streets ties in well here.

 

http://everydayheterosexism.blogspot.com/2013/05/christopher-jones-wild-in-streets.html

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In Wild In the Streets you also get an early acting performance from Richard Pryor as "Stanley X". It's also the uncredited film debut of perennial crazy guy Gary Busey, although it's only in crowd scenes and I wasn't able to make him out in the group shots.

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I would like to see the probably missing footage that delineated the sexual attraction/fixation that was experienced by Billy Cage (Kevin Coughlin) for the married older man, Senator Johnny Fergus (Hal Holbrook).

 

Also, I do believe that the senator's son, Jimmy Fergus (Michael Magotta), who left his father to devote himself to Max Frost was probably acting on a sexual attraction.

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This film has an interesting score by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil - and it also produced a hit record, "The Shape of Things To Come", by Max Frost and The Troopers (the name of Christopher Jones' band in the film).  

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This film was offered to Phil Ochs, who wanted to transition into movies.

 

But he rejected the script, because he felt that it gave a distorted view of the counterculture.

 

It's much more of a comic-strip view.

 

It can't be taken seriously.

 

But I do like the choice of Christopher Jones in the role of Max Frost.

 

He had the necessary charisma, charm and good looks.

 

If only the "gay undercurrent" of the film had been allowed to surface more.

 

chrisJones7.JPG

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What I remember most about this picture is Shelley Winters saying, "I'm sure my son has a good reason for paralyzing the country."

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What I remember most about this picture is Shelley Winters saying, "I'm sure my son has a good reason for paralyzing the country."

That's hilarious. Too bad Shelly never got the chance to work with John Waters, because I bet it could have been a beautiful thing. rayban's description of this movie as "a paranoid comic book" fits Waters' early films as well.

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That's hilarious. Too bad Shelly never got the chance to work with John Waters, because I bet it could have been a beautiful thing. rayban's description of this movie as "a paranoid comic book" fits Waters' early films as well.

A double bill of "Wild In The Streets" and "A Face In The Crowd" would be very, very interesting.

 

Yes, Shelley Winters and John Waters would have been an interesting combo.

 

But we do have "Serial Mom".

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The film is airing again very early in the morning on September 15th. The online schedule includes it with titles for the 14th, so if you are planning to record it, make the proper allowances.

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