Somewhere in the middle of TOMMY and JESUS CHRIST, SUPERSTAR we received the wonderful release of HAIR. This movie, based on a successful Broadway play, was released a day late and a dollar short. Trying to get the 70's generation, who had changed their moral, emotional and physical outlook from free-love to free-enterprise, to fall back into an era that was both disturbing and disruptive was virtually impossible. This was unfortunate because the musical had more to offer than snappy tunes and distorted outlooks.
Although widely accepted with previous looks into the morose 60's, Hair was considered the bad boy of the big screen. Personally, I thought it was a superb performance portraying the relationships between man and family, man and man, and man and God. The musical score has become, for the most part, a classic which includes the most recognizable songs - Let the Sunshine In', Aquarius', Hair', Good Morning Starshine' and Easy to be Hard'.
Featuring some great stars - John Savage, Treat Williams, Beverly D'Angelo (hometown favorite), Charlotte Rae, Nell Carter, and Melba Moore - this story is based on the tale of Savage, making his first trip to the big city (New York) from Oklahoma, before he leaves for that slice of Heaven known as Viet Nam. (Now this could be another huge problem why this movie was basically ignored - it was 1979 and the last thing anyone wanted to see, hear, or discuss was Viet Nam).
A group of city people', aka hippies, takes this little boy under their wing and into their world. Quite a shock for this country boy. High on pot and experiencing things never before dreamed, he meets up with D'Angelo, the local debutante that likes a little of the dirty side of life. She invites Savage, et al, to a dinner party which turns into a disaster. Actually, this is the scene of one of the best choreographed songs viewed for quite some time. Williams, draft dodging hippie, becomes disenchanted with the conversation and balderdash moving around the table and climbs up on the table and performs quite a dance number. Incredible to observe and a really great song to boot!
All in all, even with all the new adventures and promises of things to come, Savage realizes he must follow through on his promise to his country. However on his way to join his fellow soldiers he gets waylaid and Williams agrees to stand in for him so he will not be marked AWOL. This requires Williams to loose that beautiful hair and do something he vowed would never happen - don a uniform of the fighting unit of the United States.
There is no way I can tell you how this movie flows, nor am I willing to divulge information about the ending of this movie. The entire movie moves with the times and the music, but unfortunately moves a generation too late. Like most movies, I have forced this one on my boys because I think it is important to relate the feelings of utter desolation we felt during this era. It is important they realize the values some had to abort and the intensity we had toward our beliefs. If we are not aware of what was past how can we believe in the future?
Granted, due to some of the sexual overtones and the language in this movie, it probably shouldn't be seen by youngsters but I fear if we wait too long the meaning will be lost in contorted minds and lost dreams. As we baby boomers age we loose the power of our mental sights and our beliefs in our goals. What once was a desire has become a tainted dream. That is the power I feel in this movie.
The technical ability of this movie is top rated, the choreographic scenes are some of the best ever shown, and the cinematography is powerful. However the true selling point of the movie is the sheer animal energy that pours and flows from every scene, involving you in the lives and pitfalls of each of the characters.
Two great scenes come to mind - one when the horses do their fantastic ballet in Central Park where the mounted police have been assigned to watch the <gasp> hippies and the other when the ladies give their rousing rendition of "Black Boys/White Boys".
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Susi Dawson (SusiDee34)
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In what is widely considered to be even better than the Broadway stage musical, this film version of HAIR, directed by Milos Forman, gives a boost to what was, on the stage, a nonexistent plotline, and highlights the already fabulous score with this epic musical. Filmed on location in and around New York City, the main plotline follows Claude (John Savage) a farm boy turned draftee from Oklahoma on his way to Vietnam. In New York, he is adopted by a group of flower children, led by Berger (Treat Williams) and including Jeannie (Annie Golden), who take him on a series of counter-cultural adventures that introduce Claude to hallucinogens and to a flaky but loveable debutante named Sheila (Beverly D'Angelo). Along with this experience come an introduction to issues of race, gender, politics, and war. The performances--both the acting and the singing--are extraordinary, and choreographer Twyla Tharp stages some of the most inventive and exquisite dance sequences ever seen, including a "horse ballet" by mount...