It's all about bouncing back

Saturday, July 12, 2008


Last night was truly an entertainment jackpot. After the concerts, we came back to find that Turner Classic Movies "Underground" was showing the 1968 Otto Preminger gem "Skiddo"! This was a rare treat because the film isn't available on home video and it's rarely (if ever?) shown on television. So you really have to get lucky to score a viewing.

Of course, mind you, there is a good reason why the thing is so scarce: this star-studded classic is a bouillabaisse of bad. A random jumble of barely connected elements (mobsters! hippies! mobsters on acid! Jackie Gleason!) which tries to portray gangsters as bumbling goofballs who are easily turned away from their life of crime by hippy wisdom (and more acid). The best (?) part is the spot-the-star (is that really him?) cast, including Gleason, Carol Channing, Frankie Avalon, Peter Lawford, Richard Kiel, Burgess Meredith, Frank Gorshin, George Raft, Cesar Romero, Slim Pickens,Austin Pendleton (AWESOME in this!), Kirk Douglas and an older Groucho Marx as God (as per TCM, this was his final film role). Though it's very tough to choose - is the key highlight watching every one of those stars debase themselves in what TCM's own reviewers calls a "garish clusterf*ck"? Or is it the psychedelic hot-air balloon escape from Alcatraz? Or is it the dancing garbage cans? How can I choose?

If you get a chance to catch it in the future, maybe you can help me with this trivia question: I want to figure out whether the role of Gleason's daughter, Darlene, was played by Leigh Taylor-Young, the female lead in my other favorite 1968 hippy comedy, "I Love You Alice B. Toklas!" Does anyone know? The voice is similar; but all hippies sounds alike. IMDB doesn't credit the role and even TCM's very detailed background story of the film doesn't mention who played Darlene.

Edited to add: Oh my word -- how did I miss this? TCM's Underground website has been kind enough to post a series of awesome clips here -- come watch Jackie Gleason's acid trip!! You will *not* regret this and will be thanking me for years to come . . .

Also: found this Wikipedia article which credits the role of Darlene to Alexandra Hay -- remember her? She actually had her first television role in an episode of The Monkees. Yup -- I think that's probably right.

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