Brilliant timepiece well worth re-visiting
I watched this film again having first seen it on late night TV in the mid 1980s when I was twenty. I thought it would be unintentionally funny, expecting it to have dated badly. How wrong I was! This film is an important timepiece, a fascinating insight in to hip west coast middle class life at a time when America was still on top of the world, yet to realize it would all be downhill from there. The film has stood up remarkably well, it's subject matter still poignant. The cultural and social concepts of fidelity are forever shifting, often turning full circle making films like B&C&T&A relevant and thought provoking some forty years after release. The film is beautifully directed by Mazursky, and is arguably the finest work ever done by all four leads in the film. I found it fascinating observing each performance closely – noting how the actors juggled their obvious affection for their character, while at the same time being true to Mazursky's raison d'être – a gentle dig at the new social mores of the wealthy west coast hip set. Delicately picking at the counter-culture as if choosing hors d'oeuvres from a waiter at a cocktail party, Bob and Carol experiment with dope, extra marital sex and new age group therapy. The dialogue sparkles, the actors so in tune with Mazursky's vision they breathe life in to what are essentially caricatures. At times the film is laugh out loud funny, though not unintentionally as I had expected. I was surprised to realize the film was released in 1969, thinking it was more an early 70s creation, so ahead of its' time does it seem even today. It was years before other artists dared tackle the difficult subject of middle class vacuity, and rarely with the eloquence and humour of this film. The film is also sumptuous to look at, Bob and Carol's elegant faux Spanish villa positively luxurious even by today's standards. The scene of the foursome cruising to Las Vegas in Ted's convertible Cadillac is an elegiac vision, a scene of America that no longer exists. A time when wealthy Americans still bought Cadillacs, when Las Vegas was seen as a place of glamor and fun and despite the social unrest and Vietnam, America was still big, brash and confident. The greatest civilization in the history of the world, all there to see as the white ragtop barrels down the highway, the foursome laughing and in high spirits – a scene that in some ways summed up the theme of the movie. With so much at their fingertips, the luckiest people to have ever lived, but they don't know what to do with the privilege. They are lost, their search for sexual and emotional fulfillment nothing more than a desperate search for meaning, a sad attempt to fill a nagging void. In the mid 1980s, former Eagle front man Don Henley had his last big hit with 'The Boys Of Summer', in which he sings of his dismay at seeing a new Cadillac pass him on the LA freeway, a Dead-head sticker on the bumper. The former hippies, the baby boomers, had sold out. Mazursky was telling us the same thing fifteen years earlier. Perhaps Pete Townsend of the Who summed it up best in his anthemic Won't Get Fooled Again – 'meet the new boss, same as the old boss' A highly thought-provoking experience seeing this film again, and for those interested in culture, counter or otherwise – this is a must.
- Oct 31, 2010
Contribute to this page
Suggest an edit or add missing content
By what name was Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1969) officially released in India in English?Answer