Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Summer re-runs: You're a big boy now

YOU'RE A BIG BOY NOW - Francis Ford Coppola's delightful 1966 coming-of-age comedy.

Bernard Chanticleer (Peter Kastner) is an ordinary young man anxious to step out into the "adult world". His plan is to move out of his parents' Long Island house into an eight-floor Greenwich Village walk-up - and to try and convince someone to share his new "liberated lifestyle". This was Francis Ford Coppola's UCLA Film School master's thesis - and a hilarious, high-speed debut in film comedy for the future director of THE GODFATHER and APOCALPSE NOW. Fresh off A PATCH OF BLUE Elizabeth Hartman suitably plays the kooky spiteful actress who toys with Bernard. Karen Black makes her debut as the nice girl Bernard overlooks and Geraldine Page nearly steals the show with her Academy Award-nominated performance as Bernard's possessive mother.
Go-go dancer and actress Barbara Darling (Elizabeth Hartman)
My pal Stan and I loved this when we were 20 (at Balham ABC in '67) and I had not seen it since. It brings it all back - being 19 or 20, living in the big city - that soundtrack by John Sebastian and The Lovin Spoonful. I loved that sound then: "Did you ever have to make up your mind", "Warm Baby" etc. Its certainly a free-wheeling zany take on the standard coming-of-age scenario (a more funny ALL FALL DOWN, another one I like) and for me as essential a 60s romp as THE KNACK or our English equivalent of this, HERE WE GO ROUND THE MULBERRY BUSH. It captures that mid-60s look too.
The cast here is the thing: Elizabeth Hartman as the man-hating actress and go-go dancer Barbara Darling who gets our hapless hero in her thrall. We see flashbacks to her youth, laughing at horror flicks like THE PIT AND THE PENDELUM ... Kastner is just right as Benjamin, with Tony Bill as his colleague at the New York Central Library (we were back there recently with THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW), where Bernard's father is curator of the secret pornography section which Miss Thing stumbles into.... did I not mention Miss Thing? - she is Bernard's landlady and is the great Julie Harris and she is wonderful here ... there is the rooster guarding the corridor and who attacks girls; and then we have the equally wonderful Geraldine Page (above) as Bernard's mother, with Rip Torn as his father.  This was based on a popular book by David Benedictus which I remember reading at the time. It reminds me a lot too of that zany free-wheeling HAROLD AND MAUDE.
Miss Harris as Miss Thing - see Harris label for her very nice note to me in 1977
It is all fresh, zany, funny, everything about being young and captures that time perfectly. Good to see this Seven Arts production again now as part of the Warner Archive Collection (no-frills dvds) and great to see theatre legends and friends Page and Harris enjoying themselves here. Elizabeth Hartman was that very individual actress (also in THE GROUP, THE FIXER, THE BEGUILED) who later committed suicide - and Karen Black (before her hits like FIVE EASY PIECES, NASHVILLE or AIRPORT 75) is the nice girl our hero will of course run around New York with at the end with the dog, called of course Dog. We are 20 again when we see this. I must have another look at Lumet's THE GROUP soon...  
I have just seen on IMDB: Peter Kastner 1943-2008, aged 64, he was also in another interesting '60s one: NOBODY WAVED GOODBYE, a Canadian indie in 1964.

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