From Howdy Doody to Lenny Bruce: Simon and Garfunkel's America
Pedestrian television special from CBS in 1969, introduced by actor Robert Ryan and sponsored by Alberto beauty products, was creamed in the ratings by a competing Peggy Fleming/Jose Feliciano hour of ice-skating and music. One can easily see why: musicians Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel snipe at each other not very playfully in and out of the recording studio, while director Charles Grodin uses the duo's music to score incongruous clips of "The Lone Ranger," Cesar Chavez, Lenny Bruce, Martin Luther King, et al. If this haphazard approach to our collective 'enlightenment'--taking us down the road from nostalgia to political mayhem--is meant to represent America's loss of innocence, it does so with a bewildering, cynical hand. The only beauty on display is the formation of a peace-sign in the bright blue sky, as well as the introduction of a then-new Simon and Garfunkel song, "Bridge Over Troubled Water." Only ardent fans of the artists really need apply, although their jaded comments are nearly as depressing as what we're seeing happening to the nation.
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