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Hieronymus Merkin has recently turned 40, and is in the midst of preparing a film that details his life's history and development. Portraying himself as a marionette being controlled by an unseen puppet master, young Merkin is led away from the innocence of youth and into the waiting arms of one woman after another by Goodtime Eddie Filth. With Filth's guidance, Merkin steadily transforms into a self-centered womanizer, save only for the longing he feels for his one lost love, Mercy Humppe. As the producers of his life story scream for him to come up with an ending, Merkin must look back and decide what, if anything, he's learned from his experiences. Written by
Jean-Marc Rocher <email@example.com>
When the film was originally released in 1969, some newspapers refused to advertise it, compelling cinephiles to call up their local theaters to learn the title. A few theaters even temporarily expanded their marquees to fit the entire title. Other theaters truncated the title to "Heironymous Merkin". See more »
The color of Thumbelina's ice-cream cone changes between brown and white and pink. See more »
Can Heironymus Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe And Find True Happiness? (Anthony Newley, 1969) **
Little seen ego-trip for the resistible talents of writer/producer/director/composer/star Anthony Newley (featuring his then-wife Joan Collins) which, due to its copious and gratuitous nudity (including its creator!), is surely the most notorious production ever to be filmed in Malta and, consequently, something of a holy grail for local film buffs! Given its unavailability, then, I wasn't overly disappointed in the poor (but certainly not unwatchable) quality of the print and the film itself, possessing a certain sense of style, wasn't as worthless as its reputation would have it!
In itself, a flashy and pretentious semi-autobiographical piece obviously inspired by Fellini's 8½ (1963), it's largely set on a beach where the protagonist is apparently mounting a film based on his own life (how self-indulgent can you get?). In fact, what plot there is resolves itself into a music-hall revue with plenty of rather quaint musical numbers (one of which is reprised ad nauseam throughout) by Newley and others. These, however, are often interrupted by the surprising presence of legendary American showmen George Jessel (as a wise-cracking, white-clad Angel Of Death figure, dubbed "The Presence") and Milton Berle as the Mephistophelean Goodtime Eddie Filth.
Newley's choice of character names is, if anything, admirably Fieldsan: indeed, here, Heironymus Merkin is torn between Collins' Polyester Poontang and Playboy playmate Connie Kreski's Mercy Humppe (hence the film's unwieldy title). Occasionally, too, Merkin is able to step out of character in order to observe his own actions enacted, in the interim, by a blank-faced dummy! Also incorporated is an irrelevant adult-oriented fairy-tale, entitled "The Princess And The Donkey", involving the intimate relationship between one Trampolena Whambang and a mule (which then turns into a dwarf!); amazingly, this infamous sequence was filmed in Malta's Presidential Palace!! The cast includes other familiar faces such as Stubby Kaye as Merkin's long-suffering scriptwriter and Victor Spinetti as a bewildered film critic who, perhaps justly, blames Fellini for Merkin's (and, by extension, Newley's) folie de grandeur.
There's a possible goof, too, in the appearance of a religious statue in the background during one of the beach sequences; this was supposedly removed for filming purposes and, consequently, has been the cause of much consternation locally to this day! I'm also confused by the film's actual running time: the X-rated version I watched, which one would assume to be uncut, ran for 107 mins. (with the trimmed R-rated version being 106 mins. long) but the BBFC gives its complete length as 117 mins.!
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