Ex-gangster Tony Banks is called out of retirement by mob kingpin God to carry out a hit on fellow mobster "Blue Chips" Packard. When Banks demurs, God kidnaps his daughter Darlene on his ...
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Ex-gangster Tony Banks is called out of retirement by mob kingpin God to carry out a hit on fellow mobster "Blue Chips" Packard. When Banks demurs, God kidnaps his daughter Darlene on his luxury yacht. Written by
Alex Barylski <email@example.com>
The film begins with a cartoon figure in striped prison clothing dancing across the film's title and Otto Preminger's credit on the main characters' TV set. The channel is switched by Jackie Gleason before any other names are revealed. See more »
A much-maligned classic, this psychedelic gem came late in the career of director Otto Preminger, possibly at a time during which he was hoping to find a new niche. Clearly, this wasn't it, as the films he went on to do became far slower and subdued. Too bad, really, as there's some great stuff herein. An excellent cast weaves its way through a confusing plot, as follows: Jackie Gleason has retired from the mob and lives happily enough with wife Carol Channing and turtle-faced lackey Arnold Stang, the latter of whom gets iced (and prematurely, I say let Stang stay in the picture!) when George Romero and Frankie Avalon try to persuade Gleason to pull a hit for the mob leader (`God' Groucho Marx living in luxury on a boat with skinny Donyale Luna). Gleason finally agrees, and disappears to prison, cellmates with a peace-speaking mad scientist-looking Austin Pendelton. Meanwhile, Channing, pretty teenage daughter Alexandra Hay and her hippie boyfriend John Philip Law (who goes by `Stash') all become close friends when mom lets his hippie commune live in their house. Channing and Fay go (separately) to seduce Avalon to find out to where Gleason has gone. In prison, Gleason accidentally lets on to his hit, potential squealer (and squeal he does) Mickey Rooney (at the time in his sixth decade of filmmaking!), and further blunders when he writes a letter home and licks one of Pendelton's LSD-soaked envelopes. After a mesmerizing yet stupid trip sequence, Gleason decides not to make the hit and goes into conference with Pendelton. It's right around here that things get very manic, with an acid party in jail on the day that warden Burgess Meredith stops by to eat with the prisoners. Gleason and company make their escape while everybody's tripping their ears off (including tower guard Harry Nilsson and switchboard operator Slim Pickens), and the cast assembles for a bizarre conclusion on Marx's boat. No easy whodunit, this. That Paramount would make a production with a cast and crew like this clearly indicates that the rule-less environment of 1968 sent the studios scrambling. Furthermore, the gimmick of presenting some of Hollywood's best known faces feigning acid trips acts as evidence that in the ensuing hubbub, producers showed heart in making vehement attempts to pander to a difficult target audience. Two serious low points may leave people with a rotten taste in their ears: Channing has a musical number near the end of the film that advocates a free-wheeling hippie lifestyle, and Nilsson sings each and every word of the credits, down to the copyright.
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