SHAMPOO(director/writer: Hal Ashby; screenwriters: Robert Towne/Warren Beatty; cinematographer: Laszlo Kovacs; editor: Robert Jones; music: Paul Simon; cast: Warren Beatty (George Roundy), Julie Christie (Jackie Shawn), Goldie Hawn (Jill), Lee Grant (Felicia), Jack Warden (Lester), Tony Bill (Johnny Pope), Carrie Fisher (Lorna), Jay Robinson (Norman), Luana Anders (Devra), Randy Scheer (Dennis), George Furth (Mr. Pettis), Brad Dexter (Senator Joe East); Runtime: 110; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Warren Beatty; Columbia; 1975)
“I didn’t care much for the trim this satire on a girl crazy Beverly Hills hairdresser gave me.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
I didn’t care much for the trim this satire on a girl crazy Beverly Hills hairdresser gave me. Hal Ashby (“The Landlord”/Harold And Maude”/”Being There”) directs the sexual farce with labored political overtones and some social commentary on a superficial Hollywood, but all the observations are facile, the songs from the “Sergeant Pepper” album date it and the bleak ending where the swinger anti-hero gets his comeuppance is too predictable and meaningless to count for much. The screenwriters are Robert Towne and Warren Beatty. It’s set in 1968, the night before Richard Nixon’s election to the presidency and his promise of bringing a divided country together.
On this historic day, the not-too-bright chic ladies’ man hairdresser George Roundy (Warren Beatty), who has a gift for turning on his gorgeous lady clients, is concerned most with juggling his women lovers and secondly getting a loan to open his own beauty salon. His giddy neurotic aspiring actress girlfriend is Jill (Goldie Hawn) and his bored slightly older married mistress is Felicia (Lee Grant). Felicia asks her preening tycoon husband Lester (Jack Warden) to get him a loan. Lester’s depressed mistress is the sexy Jackie (Julie Christie), who happens to be George’s ex-lover. Things come to a head that evening when Lester asks George, whom he thinks is just another fruity hairdresser, to escort Jackie to a Nixon fundraiser. But Jackie feels ignored by Lester and goes on a confrontational drunken binge that opens Lester’s eyes to see George is doing more than both Jackie and Felicia’s hair. That morning a sad but not wiser George learns that his promiscuity wrecks his relationships, as all the gals desert him and his business deal falls through. I imagine this is to be taken as some sort of life lesson (just don’t ask me exactly what sort of a lesson).
The trouble with the satire is that it’s too fuzzy in its intent and its leaden humor hardly made me laugh. Beatty’s character was based on Beverly Hills celebrity hairdresser Jay Sebring, who was murdered along with Sharon Tate and several others by the Manson gang in 1969. Nevertheless, the womanizer played by Beatty veers fairly close to the star himself.
Carrie Fisher at 19 appeared in her first film as a hostile teenage daughter of one of Beatty’s lovers, who tries to seduce him. The public loved the film and it became a box office smash.
REVIEWED ON 7/17/2008 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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