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This film, sadly, has been lost in the forgetfulness of time. I happily
found a copy of it on the Internet and just watched it, after waiting
47-years since my last viewing in 1966. It was a fresh and funny as
that day I first saw it as a crazy, hormone-driven teen. As I watched
it, I marveled on just how "ahead of its time" it actually was, and how
many great films have stolen so many of its artistic riffs, so many of
them redolent of the Swinging Sixties and all of the wild, drug-fueled
looniness that characterized that brief period of time. I realized that
without this seminal film, there probably wouldn't ever have been a
"Graduate," or even a Dustin Hoffman. To see the great character actors
who have gone on to spectacular careers in the many years since was
especially thrilling to see, including Geraldine Page, Rip Torn, Tony
Bill, Julie Harris (would there ever have been a "Thing" in The Men in
Black without a "Miss Thing," curiously starring a much older Rip
Torn?) and the always solid Karen Black in her first screen role. It's
absolutely amazing how many of Coppola's early films have launched such
stellar careers. But perhaps this wonderful film owes so much of its
depth to the co-starring role portrayed by the luminous Elizabeth
Hartman, who's twisted and soulful performance remains one for the
ages. If you smoke pot or occasionally do "harder things" that have a
propensity to expand the mind, this is suggested viewing in any case.
This movie wonder is a perfectly hilarious, perfecting engaging,
perfect little film. Catch it if you can.
P.S. I nearly forgot to give Honorable Mention to the superbly crafted soundtrack by the iconic 60's pop group, The Lovin' Spoonful. Long before it was fashionable for rock groups to create music for film, the Spoonful did it, and did it more than justice... it was perfect. I just downloaded the song, "Amy's Tune" ("Lonely"), and am enjoying it as I write this review... ah, for the halcyon daze of my youth.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Such a great movie. Francis Ford Coppola's early comedy is nothing like his later, full-bodied epics, but it's certainly very entertaining. Peter Kastner is a 19-year old, essentially thrown out into the world by his bombastic father Rip Torn...all to the horror of his clinging mother Geraldine Page. Kastner gets a lot more than he bargained for from wacky landlady Julie Harris (as Miss Thing), extremely misinformed co-worker Tony Bill and insane actress Barbara Darling (an uncharacteristically sexy Elizabeth Hartman). The movie is hilarious with every single actor totally in tune with Coppola's acerbic take on life circa 1966. Karen Black plays the only sane character so you know this is a very different movie. There are great songs from John Sebastian including DARLING BE HOME SOON.
This movie is flawed,frustrating and...fun. What energy! What a
supporting cast! What a cool score from the Lovin' Spoonful(not just
"songs by")! But,yes,it is bizarre,especially for a mainstream film.
It's bizarre in the way that "Harold & Maude" is bizarre. And if you
think that H&M works,give this a chance.
I just emailed TCM to think about doing a 1968 retrospective,as they are doing for 1939. I'm not saying that the films of 1968 were more important that 1939,but'68 is the pivotal (post WWII)year for America. Movies,films,even TV was changing and in some ways we're still trying to figure out what happened. "Big Boy" was the coming of age movie that never got its due while hundreds of thousands of Babyboomers were indeed coming of age.
Peter Kastner passed away at the age of 64, of a heart attack in
Toronto, Ontario, where he had been living for a few years with second
wife Jenny. He had been performing his original songs and playing the
guitar and banjo in clubs. He is on You Tube, just type in his name. He
will be sadly missed.
Besides his wife, he leaves behind a stepdaughter and 2 grandsons.
There is a Toronto Star obituary that contains a number of untruths about him, and which his wife has corrected in the Toronto Star online.
Mr. Kastner was a very creative person, and at one point was an English teacher & mentor to his students. He was the oldest of four siblings, who have all been creative in some way.
You probably never heard of this film--there's a good reason why.
19 year old Barnard (Peter Kastner) is on his own in NYC and obsessed with girls. He's extremely attracted by a beautiful, but cruel, actress named Barbara Darling (Elizabeth Hartman) while sweet, nice Amy Bartlett (Karen Black--supposedly her film debut)likes him. Then there's his domineering parents (Rip Torn, Geraldine Page) and his holier than thou landlady named Miss Thing (Julie Harris!).
As you can tell this is not an ordinary coming of age tale. Great acting by everybody, but this film is very much a product of its time. It's very strange, very quirky and throws in psychedelic images, drugs, sex, horrible fashions and hairdos with fast inter cutting and voice overs--basically, a good example of 60s independent, extremely low-budget films. Looks nothing like a Coppola film.
I didn't really like it. With the exception of Amy, all the characters were annoying, the comedy was very cruel at times and the flashy camera-work really wore me down. A big bomb when it was released and how often do you hear Coppola gloating about this one?
Worth seeing just for the cast (Black is so young!) but don't except much. A must for 60s fans and Coppola completists.
Despite being directed by Francis Ford Coppola, "You're a Big Boy Now"
has pretty much been forgotten in the fifty years that have passed
since it first played in theaters. After watching it, I think I have a
grasp on a possible answer for why it's drifted into obscurity. I'm not
saying it's a bad movie. The movie does capture the era quite well;
those wanting to learn about styles and other period details will find
the movie handy. Also, Coppola directs the movie with great energy
throughout, from bizarre camera angles to offbeat performances.
But while the movie is directed with gusto, it doesn't manage to mask a big problem with the movie. The first half of the movie is really slow going with the story. Sure, the direction hides this thin story for a while, but eventually you realize that not much of substance is actually happening. Things do start moving after the halfway point or so, but it's kind of hard to get involved with what's happening because none of the characters are really all that sympathetic. Even the hero fails to arouse sympathy, because he is for the most part a real spineless wimp. The fact that all the performers give really broad performances doesn't help. In the end, the movie can only be recommended to people with real special interest in Hollywood filmmaking from this period, and even they might find it tough going at times.
The most famous movie to look at the younger generation's
disillusionment with the American way of life is "The Graduate", but
Francis Ford Coppola's "You're a Big Boy Now" also offers some insight.
The young protagonist is a character very much like Ben Braddock: born
into an affluent family that plans for him to be a big success. But
this young man actively seeks out a new life, and he befriends a go-go
dancer...but that's not all.
A lot of the humor is cutaway humor. In the end the movie isn't a masterpiece but has some funny stuff. It's sort of a cross between the zany comedies that dominated the '60s and a Woody Allen movie. One of the most interesting things is the soundtrack. The Lovin' Spoonful did the music, and it includes some songs - among them "Amy's Theme" - that I had heard but never knew whence they came.
I recommend the movie. It's a perceptive look at the youth culture, and also at mid-'60s New York. We even get shots of movie theaters running noted movies of the era! It's really a movie that you gotta love. I bet that when "The Godfather" debuted, people were shocked that it was directed by the same man who directed "You're a Big Boy Now".
And remember, wooden legs and aggressive chickens.
The movie's mainly a matter of taste. There's no real narrative or
exchanges of dialog, while the characters are more humorous caricatures
than real people. Still, the cinematography is dazzling, probably too
much so since FFC appears obsessed with the spiraling effects. These,
however, do lend the film a free-spirited sense of freedom that young
Bernard (Kastner) is confused by, having been kept on a tight parental
leash. So, the theme, as much as there is one, is very much a 60's one
how to break free of stifling convention. In Bernard's case, it's more
like simply understanding what it is that's stifling him.
The biggest mystery to me is how FFC assembled such an outstanding Broadway castHarris, Paige, Tornfor a Master's Thesis. And who's inspired touch is that "attack chicken" that bedevils the girls, or the Neanderthal cop who's never off duty. Anyway, if you're not insisting on a conventional style and are willing to put up with some pretty self-indulgent passages, the movie may have genuine appeal, especially for those either nostalgic or curious about the free-wheeling 60's.
hard to rate: pretty good for a film school thesis? how about an 11; cinema to study as a precursor to several great films? maybe a 5 or 6; as a movie, just a movie, maybe 3; two big problems: story is loose, too often sophomoric, too much filler dialog of no help, never defines the main character, sometimes nerd, sometimes rube, adventurous and off to a new life, a wimp who reports to daddy; worse problem, the actor who plays him, kastner: no screen presence, often unpleasant, beady expression in closeups where he's supposed to be interested, thinking; in drawn out tours of Manhattan, watching him watch NYC, no reason to care; when the locations overwhelm the star of the movie you sense more trouble to come; it does; but, amazingly to me, he was nominate for bafta 'Most Promising Newcomer to Leading Film Roles' in '68, then went on to do mainly minor parts in minor TV series; somehow, film student Coppola got appearances from Geraldine Paige and Julie Harris, both at home with the camera, and a john Sebastian soundtrack; newcomer in small role that leaps out is Karen black, a natural; so settle on a 5- for the history of cinema, and glimpses like break to sepia and stills in a flashback become some of the great scenes in godfather 2
A pre Godfather film from Francis Ford Coppola, and one of his few comedies is an engaging film that exhibits an anarchic feel not unlike DiPalma's early films Greetings! and Hi! Mom! Talented Peter Kastner plays a nebulous young man who's moved away from home and now lives on his own in NYC. One of the highlights of the film is a surprisingly slinky Elizabeth Hartman as the sadistic Go-Go-dancer Kastenr gets entangled with; the film could use more of her. Vivid support is offered by Geraldine Page and Rip Torn are his parents, Julie Harris as his crazy landlady as well as a young Karen Black and Tony Bill. A scene from Coppola's B/W 1963 film Dementia 13 plays in the background at the multi-media club in the film. Too undisciplined for it's own good, You're a Big Boy Now is engaging and diverting and provides a look at New York City in the 60s. Page and Hartman co-starred again in Don Siegel's The Bequiled (71).
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