Skidoo (1968)

reviewed by
Jerry Saravia


SKIDOO (1968)
Reviewed by Jerry Saravia
RATING: One star

When you have a top-notch director like Otto Preminger and a great, able comic cast that includes Jackie Gleason, Groucho Marx and Carol Channing, you should expect fireworks. You expect at least a good comedy with a few laughs. You don't expect a haphazard effrontery to the comedy genre like "Skidoo," which seems to be two different movies running at once. It is a train wreck, and just as unwatchable.

The movie begins with a shot of a TV set where two different channels being switched back and forth - one is some live courtroom trial and the other is some John Wayne movie. Jackie Gleason is a retired mobster (do they get to retire?) and Carol Channing is the peroxide, free-loving wife, and they keep switching channels with their remotes. And this scene goes on for an eternity. And there is the flower-child daughter who is dating a hippie. And we get a cliched body-painting scene (though it is far more egregious in "The Swinger"). Finally, we are back to the flimsy plot which has Gleason going to Alcatraz so he can bump off his best friend, also a mobster and a snitch (Mickey Rooney).

Added to this strange amalgam of genres is Groucho Marx as a mob boss named "God"; Frankie Avalon as a mobster who runs into these hippies; Frank Gorshin as some inmate at Alcatraz; a makeshift hot-air balloon; and nothing short of three psychedelic LSD montages (one in slow- motion), including the Green Bay Packers playing football with their bare asses showing!

"Skidoo" is so flatly directed and staged that it becomes unbearable to sit through, no matter how absurd is the notion of hippies and gangsters in the same movie. Still, even if it doesn't gel, the very absurdity of it all could have wrung some laughs. Aside from the opening title theme song sung by Channing at the end, there are no laughs and not one moment that made me remotely chuckle. The late director Preminger claimed that since he had done LSD, he could make the movie. Well, he made something that can be called anything but a movie. It is a monumental disaster. You know it is a bad movie when Groucho Marx seems to be reading from cue cards.

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