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|Index||24 reviews in total|
This film could almost be viewed as the "let's-get-real" answer to "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner", a film that probably still could not get made in the U.S. As a snapshot of "swinging London" in the sixties, "Joanna" has it all. But Donald Sutherland absolutely steals this movie as Lord Peter Sanderson; his strange, wonderful, secular soliloquy on a Moroccan beach at sunset still provokes both goose pimples and tears. South African actress Genevieve Waite, who plays the wide-eyed heroine, was declared persona non grata in her native country after making this film, solely because of her love scenes with Calvin Lockhart (she later emigrated to the U.S. and married John Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas). All in all, a strange, wonderful, campy, mystic trip to the sixties.
I remember this film as one which helped to define my life in college in the late 60's. I must have seen it along with my friends 10 times. We had the songs memorized and would sing them everywhere. I can't really understand the negative comments about this film. I would really like to find a copy out there somewhere so I could see it again. Does anyone have a copy?
Michael Sarne wrote and directed this odd, sometimes-charming, sometimes-not chronicle of a wide-eyed art student in '60s London who falls in with a decadent crowd. Helium-voiced Genevieve Waite is like a cross between Anne Heche and Shirley Temple. She has fantasies of bathing nude in a pond full of lilies and being dried off by her girlfriend dressed as a maid, and later one featuring the same friend being strangled by her lover. "Joanna" is incongruous: Sarne is in love with old-fashioned trappings and different techniques, and some of his shots are delectable (Waite crossing a bridge at sunset, or running down a pathway lined with trees). But the film's eye-candy needs something substantial to go with it, and I never understood the leading character or felt anyone on-screen did either (at one point, the girlfriend says to Joanna, "I don't sleep around as much as you do", but we never get the impression that Joanna is promiscuous--she seems only to want true love). Donald Sutherland gives the film's only solid performance as a fey Lord and the sharp, canny editing keeps the picture popping; otherwise, the movie is just a Mod bauble, and only a hint of true cleverness is left behind. ** from ****
I knew there was something special about this movie after my law school roommate asked me out of the blue how many times I'd seen Joanna. Turned out he had another friend who spent every weekend looking for this movie in the theaters (we're talking pre-video tape days here folks). I remember being carried away by the romance of this movie, feeling totally part of the London scene it portrayed, and I liked Donald Sutherland (whom I'd never seen act before) quite a lot. I guess Genevieve Waite never made it big as a film actress, but that picture of her clothed only in a necktie that ran in the New York Times ad for this film, with the trailer "Cult Film of the Decade," sure made an impression on me in my early 20's. Highly recommended.
It is silly the way we talk about movies. They are not meant for the ages but for slices of time. Once in a great great while one captures something eternal...8 1/2, Third Man, etcetera, but films are social chewing gum. Here is a fine example of an English director of the 1960s doing some turns that were fresh seeming and of the time...playing to the camera in the post dramatic sequence...don't tell me that wasn't and still would be a kick. And Sutherland's lisping soliloquy in the desert, my first awareness of the Canadian actor. A memorable film, one with some fans, many deprecators. But that's what makes horse races. Does sit hold up to critical analysis? Probably not, certainly not in the context of a lot that has followed. But lovely and fresh and exciting at the time, just like that first date with the sweet fresh girl who is now the woman with the scar from the auto accident. We change, the cinema changes. Films are not for the ages, after all, but acts of commerce sometimes tinged with art and freighted with our associations.
Reading the comments of other reviewers sparked my memory of my first
viewing of Joanna. I saw it in a practically empty theater; and as the
story came to an end, I was not impressed but not completely dissatisfied,
as I remember. Then the cast and crew broke into that delightfully silly
and raucous rendition of the title song, complete with kick line. I was
flabbergasted and enchanted that I stayed for a second show (you could
actually do that in those days!). I talked a friend into coming back a
days later, and he was just as delighted.
I have the soundtrack (lp record) and still play it once in a while. The final track still raises hairs on the back of my neck as I remember the surprise I felt when I first heard it. My wife, who has not seen the film, cannot understand what I am talking about when I try to explain that a rather poor, innocuous, silly piece of "hippiness" can evoke such nostalgia.
I saw it in 1968 in a theater in Willamette, Illinois and remember little of it now except for a dance line at the railway station and a sojourn in the desert. The reviewer ahead of me is probably right. Probably not a great movie but for some reason it struck me right at the time. I have been trying to find out anything about the film ever since. Only today did I find it here. I am happy to know it is not wholly forgotten. If anyone knows of a copy I would be very happy to see it
Wow. I wouldn't have believed 25 people actually watched this movie. From reading the reviews it seems like the finale was good. I didn't stay for it though. In fact I didn't stay much past the railway number. I saw what I could take of it on 8th St in the Village. I remember it being billed as Joanna - She's a Banana! No wonder that the "star" was run out of Britain after making this. Joanna stands out as the worst movie I ever saw in a theater, and that's by a long shot! I often think of it when I see a lousy movie. It serves as a baseline for comparison, so for that reason I'm glad I saw it. In 42 years, that's since 1968,I have not seen a worse movie. That's something to be thankful for.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I saw this movie in 1968 and thought it was a hoot. I remember thinking how outrageous it was, but mostly was fascinated by the work Donald Sutherland and Calvin Lockhart. Of course, this is not a film that "wears well" as to look at it now, it seems rather campy and silly. Joanna, as a free-wheeling girl of the '60's seems more like a doormat in our "enlightened" 21st century eyes. However in 1968, relationships between white women and black men were much more taboo and this part of the film brought considerable controversy which would be laughable today. There are several homages to Fellini that don't really work in such a breezy little film. Unfortunately, they might not be see as recognizable homages at this point in time. My review is based on what I thought about at the time, but it is certainly worth a glance if one has never seen it.
Mr. Sarne's portrait of an era, now seems often laughable and ludicrous, not unlike many other feature films that intended to demonstrate the importance of one single period, specially such a difficult one as the 60s - they just seem to loose their punch throughout the years. Although 'Joanna' does provide enjoyable, light moments, most of them are all too heavy handed, and unconnected. The movie relies on a number of senseless episodes to show us the story of a young woman yearning to find an adult identity in London, during the late 60s. What could be a sensible, lovely little story - if properly told - is wounded by Ms. Waite's inexperience, as she sleepwalks through the movie, and can only act appalled and shocked during the major conflicts of the story, Mr. Sarne's hideously pretentious, pompous direction, and Mr. Rod McKuen's tedious soundtrack, only highlighted at the movie's ending, in which the entire cast join in a train station singing the title tune - 'you fill our hearts with hope, your smile's like Cinemascope' - while Joanna departs to have her baby, still, as imature, childish and unprepared as she was in the beginning of the movie.
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