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The Country Wife
casper-1225 July 2003
Beatty says he approached Towne to do a modern version of the classic restoration comedy called The Country Wife (hilarious by the way). In the original play, the hero beds all the wives by confessing to their husbands that he's impotent so the husbands make fun of him and think nothing of leaving their frustrated and underappreciated wives in his care.

Here in the updated "Shampoo", Beatty and Towne make the hero an assumed-to-be-gay hairdresser (instead of impotent)and the results are inspired bedroom farce mixed with social satire.

Younger viewers may find the film a little dated but it was a "period" film when it was made (set in 68 when it was shot in 74) so Ashby consciously gave it that dated look. For me this and Heaven Can Wait are Beatty's best work. Walks a fine comic/tragic line. And this really feels like the closest character to Beatty's heart. It was after this that I went back and saw Splendor in the Grass and began to appreciate Beatty as an actor rather than just a gigolo celebrity.

Great dialogue by Towne, Jack Warden's hilarious and Julie Christie is stunning.
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best script ever
buby198718 December 2001
Robert Towne's "Chinatown" is considered the greatest script of the past 30 years, but I think "Shampoo" (written by Towne and Beatty) is even better. It is an intricately constructed sex farce, with realistic, flesh-and-blood characters. Beatty's character, George, is trying to serve two masters -- his own uncontrollable libido, and his desire to set up his own hair salon. These two desires come into direct conflict when he seeks funding from wealthy financier Lester (Jack Warden), while also having affairs with Lester's wife Felicia (Lee Grant), Lester's mistress Jackie(Julie Christie), and even Lester's daugther (Carrie Fisher). In fact, George beds all of these women in a 24-hour period, while also trying to maintain his relationship with his steady girlfriend (Goldie Hawn). All of these incompatible desires are compressed into a short time frame, and George's life unravels spectacularly, as he learns some very hard lessons by the end.

Structurally, "Shampoo" is brilliantly devised. Each character has an opposite. George, the satyr, has Lester, the cuckhold, as his opposite. George exudes natural sexual appeal, whereas Lester is loved merely for his wealth. Tony Bill's character, an ad executive, is the younger version of Lester. Tony Bill dangles a job offer to Goldie Hawn in order to bed her. Despite his hip outward appearance, this character is as staid as Lester. In fact, the two characters are linked by separate scenes in which each one stares out of a skyscraper window, gazing at a panoramic view of L.A., and makes a world-weary comment about the craziness below (in Bill's case, he says, "Jesus, this town"). There is also a contrast between George and Jackie. George, in his own words, "doesn't f*** for money, I do it for fun," whereas Jackie ends up as a kept girl (by Lester). Goldie Hawn's character also prostitutes herself, in a very subtle way. In the moral universe of Beverly Hills in 1968, Beatty's promiscuity seems more pure than the money-driven machinations of everyone else.
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The film portrays its women, perhaps in a questionable way, accompanied by awareness of their way of life…
Nazi_Fighter_David7 July 2007
A day in the life of a Southern California hairstylist (Beatty) as he beds three women (Christie, Hawn and Lee Grant) while at the same time trying to seek a loan from businessman Lester (Oscar nominee Jack Warden) to help him open his own salon… His world soon starts to fall apart as he realizes what he fervently wishes in life and the limitations of his cheerful posture toward others…

Lee Grant won an Oscar for playing Lester's bored wife who can't seem to take her eyes off Beatty, and even her nymphet daughter (a young Carrie Fisher) desperately wanted him to be engaging in reciprocal sex… Grant's actually quite jovial and adorable in her role as we heartily feel for her character near the climax…

Warren Beatty appears either excitable or distracted through most of the story… He lies, hides, and denies facts, doing whatever it takes to make everyone happy...

If you like to see Julie Christie notoriously fellating Beatty underneath an elegant dinner table… well don't miss this funny sex comedy which received four Oscar nominations…
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Did you ever have to make up your mind?
Coises29 December 1998
Warning: Spoilers
**SPOILERS** Publicists billed "Shampoo" as a comedy, and critics called it a satire; actually, it's a romantic tragedy: a film about decisions we'd rather not have to make. The hero's tragic flaw is that he can't make up his mind, and the heroine's is that she can. Hal Ashby set his film on election day, 1968, when America had to make a decision amidst the epistemological turmoil of the times and chose Richard Nixon (an act that could be read as the beginning of the end of the Sixties, and at the least makes a good metaphor for it).

George is a Beverly Hills hair dresser whom women love for more than his skill with a blow-dryer. Warren Beatty conveys the character perfectly: sleeping with virtually every woman who crosses his path, he never seems lecherous, chauvinist or even condescending. He simply loves women, and he can't bear to disappoint them (or let one get away). His life consists largely of trying to avoid the need ever to say, "No."

Of course, this does produce comic moments. When Jill (Goldie Hawn) stumbles upon George making love to her best friend in the boat house at a party, he looks up and without missing a beat says, "Honey, where have you been? We've been looking all over for you." A bit later, though, in a rambling, revealing speech, he's at a loss to explain himself in the terms Jill expects. What can it mean that he sleeps with so many women? "I see a beautiful girl... and it makes me feel like I'm gonna live forever... Maybe that means I don't love 'em. Maybe it means I don't love you, I don't know. Nobody's gonna tell me I don't like 'em very much."

Eventually, George makes a commitment --- probably his first --- when he asks Jackie (Julie Christie) to marry him. He and Jackie have known each other a long time; they were once lovers. Now he's finally come to the realization that even among the things one loves, some are more important than others. "I don't trust anyone but you," he says. They embrace, and the bond between them is heartbreaking. But Jackie has told Lester (Jack Warden) she will go away with him; he's left his wife and proposed marriage. She runs from George because, if she walked, she might not get far enough before her resolve gave way.

In the closing scene of Shampoo, George stands alone. Silhouetted on a Los Angeles hillside, he stands like an icon of the things we leave behind when life offers us no other choice but to grow up. The background music is a wordless version of the theme Paul Simon later recorded as "Silent Eyes" --- which cuts to The Beach Boys' "Wouldn't It Be Nice" when the credits roll.
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I know it's classed as comedy but...
bluegoldhighlander15 February 2009
Warning: Spoilers
...while there are certainly humorous moments in this film, overall I found it mostly poignant. After watching this film I always feel a sense of longing, loss and nostalgia for the past. Is this what George is feeling when finally proposing to Jackie? A feeling that perhaps the past was better than what is currently being experienced and a compulsion to try and re-create some of that magic that existed when he was younger? The closing scene of him watching Jackie being driven away by Lester (wonderfully portrayed by Jack Warden) is one of the most touching scenes of loss in modern film? To finally recognise what is important only when it is too late is one of the most affecting human tragedies.

Dismissing George as a simple playboy I think also sells this movie short. Certainly George is a womanizer in this film, but I feel he could also be seen as much used as the user. Certainly the women in this film (Felicia, Lorna, Jill and to some extent Jackie) could be seen as the aggressors in most of the sex that occurs. The constant demands of all the women in this film, even the women on the street that come up to George and demand "call me," make George in some ways a character that deserves some sympathy.

Overall I find Shampoo to be very under-appreciated, being written off as a mere sex/comedy farce. There is a lot more depth to it than that. To really appreciate it, it should be looked at in the context of the time it was made, the end of one era (swinging 60's) and the beginning of another, characterized more by the loss of innocence (Watergate, end of Vietnam, 70's recession). Surely this translates equally well to the passing of any era and the moving on into new times that may not be that comfortable to those that fully enjoyed what went before.
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Fun 60s lifestyles with social criticism thrown in
roger-21225 July 2004
Hal Ashby always leavened his comedic films (Harold and Maude, Being There, Last Detail) with sharp social commentary and observation, and "Shampoo" is no different. Taking place on the eve and day of the 1968 Presidential Election, it's as concerned with the "free love" hedonism as it is with the profound and dark social changes that had taken place by 1975 (the year "Shampoo" was produced).

Beatty has never been more charming - or revealing as emptily vain as anyone so "successful" with women can become, and the film switches between surprisingly adult material even for now with a concern for mid-life crises, cultural politics, and ultimately, a cynical view of how the free-wheeling 60s counterculture didn't take themselves seriously enough. Robert Towne's influence in the script is clearly evident.

Already "dated" when it came out, it's a great snapshot of the times, its concerns and issues, and is relevant today.
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Underrated Classic
raymond_chandler30 July 2001
This is one of those films that all takes place in one 24-hour period. When such movies work, the changes in the characters' lives feel more real and intense. So it is in "Shampoo", as we watch George's world slowly crumble.

Rarely has a movie-star's real life persona been used to better effect. Warren Beatty gives a moving performance as a guy who sincerely does not intend to hurt anyone, but he becomes a victim of his own allure. He is supported by fantastic ensemble acting.

Written by Beatty and Robert Towne (Chinatown), and directed by Hal Ashby (Harold and Maude, Being There), "Shampoo" is Hollywood moviemaking at its best, and it deserves to be ranked with its more well-known contemporaries, like "M*A*S*H", "Annie Hall", and "The Sting". Its theme of the emptiness of unchecked promiscuity is still relevant in a culture where sex is more of a commodity than ever.
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The Hairdresser Undresses The Customer
Chrysanthepop6 August 2008
'Shampoo' is quite an interesting period black comedy set in the late 60s during the sex revolution. In one sentence, it's about a Casanova hairdresser who sleeps around with every woman he meets but there is one whom he loves and she happens to be the mistress of a not-to-mess-with businessman. Ashby does a splendid job in bringing out the 60's look but it is Towne and Beatty who bring the feel especially through the dialogues and use of language. Not to mention, the make-up department that does an equally fine job. The humour is somewhat different from other films and traditional viewers may find the jokes somewhat vulgar but that doesn't bother me as long as they manage to draw chuckles and at least make me smile. The actors, that include a vivacious supercute Goldie Hawn, a sizzling Julie Christie, a hilarious Jack Warden, a fiery Lee Grant and a very young Carrie Fisher. But, it is Warren Beaty's film. He demonstrates George's wildness, passion, vulnerability and despair with effective skill. In my humble opinion it is one of his best works, both as actor and writer. I don't understand why people call it outdated. It is set in an older time and if the humour still works, why is it obsolete? I got the movie randomly and now I'm glad that I picked this one.
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why don't more people love shampoo?
ggoodm1 May 2000
In a recent interview in Cineaste magazine, celeb film critic Pauline Kael described the 1970's as the greatest decade of American movies. She then laid claim by listing her seven favorite films from that period. One of the films mentioned was Shampoo. I couldn't agree more with Pauline. Aside from the lighting and some of the camerawork, everything in the film is about as good as it gets---Robert Towne's ear for common parlance, Beatty's understated charisma, and Ashby's whirlwind direction.

It's strange that more people haven't written about this movie. In many ways, Shampoo seems to have been forgotten, floating somewhere in film history heaven. I live in Los Angeles and have never heard about it being screened anywhere. Dave Kehr and the critical establishment in general have all written it off as a film that hasn't aged well. And I've never seen a book written about either Shampoo or Ashby. Am I living in a vault or is this really the legacy of Shampoo? If you don't like this movie, I urge you to write or contact me. My e-mail address is listed above. I simply don't understand why more people don't
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70's movie-making at its best
mbhuens13 April 2006
An almost perfect balance showing at once the beauty and shallowness of Los Angeles and those who live there. The film is famous for being about Lothario, but the film is really about a cultural malaise that is Los Angeles. The movie industry has infected everyone in Los Angeles and as a result, you can't get your car repaired without hearing some namedropping (especially today, but even back in 1968) and velvet rope sightings.

Some people seem content to try and write off this film as a Hollywood porn film, but it's much more than that. Porn is cheap and often mechanical. Shampoo is full of rich characters and the story, as it should, has the tangles of wet hair. How often has you seen a film where you look forward to each scene? To know what the characters will do next? Shampoo at its center, has Beatty, playing both a fictional character, and to some I'm sure, a bit of the ladies man he was in the public eye for years and years. (Actually, the character is based on a real hairdresser who had a sad ending, being murdered in the terrible Manson murders along with Sharon Tate.) The film not only entertains, but deepens with time. (Anyone, whether here or on other sites, tries to compare movies made years ago with movies today, is either naive or terribly arrogant. Would you hold Wuthering Heights next to Saw? Would you compare Nat King Cole to Marilyn Manson? All were or are popular, so what's the difference? Plenty, I doubt most Blacks would like to go back in time and compare the civil rights laws, if even existed, to today's laws.) Besides Beatty, there are many other fine performances, from Lee Grant, Julie Christie, Goldie Hawn, Tony Bill, Carrie Fisher, Jack Warden among others. Restored on DVD, it's a very good watching experience now as well.
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Still shines
Pamsanalyst19 October 2004
Dated? Unfunny? Only to those weaned on formula action comedies of the past fifteen years. I can still remember the gasp in the suburban twin theater when Carrie Fisher made her indelible suggestion to Beatty, and the roar of delight as viewers saw what Julie Christie was up to at that dinner party.

Towne's script, and the acting, makes us care about George, Jackie, Felicia and even Lester, to a degree, and it makes the excellent point that is still true today: money trumps all. Its logical ending, where nothing happens but life goes on, without a wild chase on motorcycle to the airport in pursuit of Jackie and Lester, is perfect. Did anyone really expect George to win the fair hand of the gorgeous Ms. Christie when he cannot even talk to a banker.

As I write more and more highlights come to mind: George giving Lester his lecture on women while Lester's goons wait outside. George fobbing off Felicia in the dark as he hustles to see Jill, the "terminally ill" friend.

When Kubrick died, print and the net was drowned in tributes, but poor Ashby, a great filmmaker practically left the earth in silence. Ashby lost himself once the 70s ended, and films had to have tacked on happy endings again [e.g. The Natural], but then in my mind the same could be said of Kubrick.
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JasparLamarCrabb4 December 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Surely one of the most cynical "comedies" ever made, SHAMPOO is a jarring, scalding satire featuring Warren Beatty as a highly successful Beverly Hills hairdresser hoping to strike out on his own. Unfortunately his runaway libido and the wacky women in his life are conspiring against him --- as Beatty's neurotic girlfriend, Goldie Hawn is wasted in a thankless role. On the other hand, as Felicia, the wife of his potential benefactor, Lee Grant has the role of her career. She's clingy, desperate, and acid-tongued. Julie Christie is his ex-girlfriend, who happens to be the mistress of Felicia's husband. Carrie Fisher is Felicia's daughter and may very well be the kinkiest ingénue in film history. The script, by Beatty and the great Robert Towne slams all kinds of politics: presidential, sexual, business, show business...all with equal vengeance. SHAMPOO is something of a naughty cousin to Beatty's more straightforward political satire BULWORTH. The melancholy, sparsely used music score is by Paul Simon
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Classy porn? Not quite, but "Shampoo" represents a breakdown of studio taboos
moonspinner5531 July 2001
Kaleidoscopic comedy-drama about a Beverly Hills hairdresser/womanizer on Election Eve-1968, his life complicated by women, his ex-girlfriend's current lover (whose wife is another "client"), and the perplexing responsibilities facing a man in his thirties. It's not half as daring as it was in 1975, but the performances are excellent, the acerbic script funny, callow, and nakedly emotional. Warren Beatty is not your typical lothario; great pains were taken to make this motorcycle-riding stud both sensitive and shallow, caring and inept, bumbling and suave. Beatty is the ultimate seducer one minute, an exposed fool the next. Lee Grant won Supporting Actress Oscar as Jack Warden's sex-starved wife, but all the acting is on an equal level. Has some brash moments, some dull ones (a political dinner sequence goes on too long), but much local color and dark-hued humor. **1/2 from ****
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Time capsule
barbarella702 December 2002
Cheers to both Sandra Bernhard and Julianne Moore for citing this 70's classic as one of their favorites. A character study about a bed hopping male hairdresser (based on Manson family victim Jay Sebring) can be seen as a Beatty vanity project, a comment on materialism, or a dated box office hit. I feel strongly about the second. The film builds at a deliberate pace and packs a slight emotional wallop at its end. George's quest for respect and maturity cuts through the average sex comedy's awkwardness and Hal Ashby's camera allows a viewer to discover hidden depths in Beatty, Goldie Hawn, and Jack Warden. Lee Grant won an Oscar for her terrific interpretation of Felicia and if you put this performance next to the one she gave in The Landlord you'll see she was an artist of substance who underscored her roles with both humor and pathos. Julie Christie also shines, displaying an unusual mixture of sexiness and insecurity that help make Jackie a great foil for George.

Words like "boring","dated","culturally irrelevant" are tagged to this film unfairly. When I asked various people about Shampoo all they could say was "All he did was go to bed with everybody." First of all, almost every film dates. So do t.v. shows, songs, plays, etc. It's an easy critism and one that's rarely valid, especially if the film means something special to you. Shampoo caused a bit of a stir back in the day and now you can either see it as either a relic-like snapshot of its time or a morality tale with wit, strong acting and a soft filmmaking style. A richly rewarding film experience awaits the viewer who sees the latter. Enjoy!
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"Incapable of love"
Steffi_P27 January 2011
Back in the early 1930s, in the time of cinema known as "pre-code" due to the general disregard for the prohibitive Motion Picture Production Code, there were lots of so-called sex comedies which made gags out of the bed-hopping escapades of their philandering heroes. The best of them were renowned for their cleverness in hinting at sexual acts that could not be shown on screen. Forty years later the production code had been scrapped and sex now could be (and frequently was) shown explicitly, but the sex comedy did not make a significant comeback. Shampoo is a rare but prime example.

Shampoo is a sex comedy in that most, if not all, of its jokes revolve around sex, or at least the implication that sex has taken place or might be about to take place. As a result it is arguable that the comedy is a bit thin and repetitive, and it is true that the story is hardly bursting with riotous wit. And yet ace screenwriter Robert Towne constructs situations that are funny in their believable social awkwardness. They might only raise a chuckle or two over the course of a scene, but they have an almost soap opera quality which keeps us watching. Besides, there's a bit more going on here than bedroom humour. The decision to set it seven years in the past seems strangely arbitrary at first, but it has a surprisingly moving impact when political events start to creep into the narrative, and Warren Beatty's womanising antics are put into some perspective.

Like all comedies, a lot of its success or otherwise depends on the acting performances. This was largely an age of realism in acting, but here the performances are just on the comedic side of real. Nobody does anything which is exactly funny in its own right, but it often is funny in its timing and context. For example, there is Beatty's mumbled excuse to Carrie Fisher (whom he has just had sex with) when he is dragged off by Lee Grant (who intends to have sex with him). Similarly, a lot of Jack Warden's self-important manliness is funny in the context of the fact that Beatty is busy screwing his wife, mistress and teenage daughter. Lee Grant gives another of her typically attention-grabbing minor roles, the authoritative society lady one minute, girlishly sipping a soft drink through a straw the next. Returning to Beatty, I'm also vaguely amused by the way he emphasises the last syllable in "pancreas" during the first scene, as if it's some kind of ass.

The director here is Hal Ashby, a really fine craftsman of 70s cinema with a deceptively simple approach. He doesn't move the camera much, and often keeps back a bit from the action, not in a cold, distant way but more to show everything that is going on in a scene and allow the actors' body language to come across as well as facial expression. This is even effective for the comedy, such as in the scene where Beatty trashes the bin outside the bank, in which the wide shot makes him look somewhat pathetic in his anger. When Ashby does move the camera it is usually to give an impression a setting or situation, often with beautiful economy, and nearly always disguised by following the movement of a character. Take the shot which introduces Jack Warden's home life. He enters from one end of the room, kisses his daughter in mid-shot and surrounded by lots of colour. Then as he crosses what turns out to be a rather large room, the camera wheels round, to reveal his wife sitting alone amid stark white furnishings. An editor before he took up directing, Ashby clearly knows the potentially comedic value of a well-timed crosscut. For example, after the scene in which Warden discusses whether or not Beatty is "a fairy", we cut to a shot of Beatty blow-drying a woman's hair, her face virtually in his crotch.

But there is one thing that makes Shampoo really stand out, and this is something which comes both from Ashby's direction and the Towne/Beatty screenplay: Despite coming from a more liberated era, it still has the artful good taste of the sex comedies of the 30s. It resists the temptation to become soft porn or a string of gross-out jokes. There is only a little partial nudity, and for the most part we do not see much of the sex acts, only their beginnings and aftermaths. And this is an era in which a fairly graphic sex scene was fast becoming a staple of any romantic movie. Despite its being a comedy almost wholly concerned with one man's sexual adventures, Shampoo is a surprisingly mature and refreshingly intelligent motion picture.
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Possibly the greatest sex comedy of all-time
robb_7726 February 2008
After scaling the amazing highs of 1967's BONNIE AND CLYDE, Beatty also turned in some great work in the solid films like Robert Altman's MCCABE & MRS. MILLER (1971), Richard Brooks' sadly underrated heist caper $ (1971), and Alan J. Pakula's terrific political thriller THE PARALLAX VIEW (1974). Yet it was a kitsch-heavy sex comedy that provided Beatty with his next signature role with the somberly hilarious SHAMPOO (1975). Reportedly based on either Jay Sebring or Jon Peters (who later became an uber-film producer), SHAMPOO allows us to spend 24 hours in the life of a refreshingly macho hairdresser (shattering many queer stereotypes in the process) as he unsuccessfully attempts to juggle three women simultaneously. The whole thing is set against the eve of President Nixon's 1968 inauguration, which provides some interesting counterpoints for a film made immediately post-Watergate.

While this may sound like an obvious set-up for a Hollywood sex comedy (and, truth be told, it actually is), but the screenplay by Beatty and Robert Towne is devilishly satirical with fully-realized characters and real motivations. Director Hal Ashby (best-known for 1971's HAROLD AND MAUDE and 1978's COMING HOME) keeps all the various story threads moving along at a swift rate, and even allows several moments of disarming perceptiveness to creep in without ever throwing the picture's balance off. The cast is wholly excellent: Beatty is perfect for his Casanova-with-depth role, Julie Christie is very funny and sexy, Goldie Hawn is subtle and affecting, Jack Warden is strangely endearing in an Oscar-nominated turn as a man who can't seem to accept his age, and the always-terrific Lee Grant finally won an Oscar for her hilariously tight-lipped performance as Beatty most demanding "customer." Also, a very young Carrie Fisher (in her film debut) makes an immediate impression in a scene-stealing turn as Grant's not-so-innocent daughter.

The reviews from film critics at the time of the film's release were decidedly mixed. For example, Roger Ebert felt the movie was disappointing whereas it was one of the usually-vicious Pauline Kael's favorite films of the seventies. However, audiences loved it and the film became one of the Top 5 grossers of the year and received four Oscar nominations. While some may claim that the film is dated, but I completely disagree - the film was already something of a period piece (which helps conceal any such complaints), and such sharply-written characters and dialogue never go out of style anyway. In fact, I argue that SHAMPOO is not only one of the best comedies of the seventies, but is also possibly the greatest sex comedy of all-time!
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Beatty's Masterpiece
jaxla10 July 2005
Sometimes I think the world is divided into those who appreciate "Shampoo" and those who don't get it. For the latter: this is not a balls-out sex farce, but, rather, a sexy comedy of manners in which a group of Beverly Hills ladies play "La Ronde" with George, their stud/hairdresser.

The film taps into modern mythology by having real life Casanova Warrne Beatty, who produced and co-wrote the film, play the bed-hopping hair stylist. He's never seemed so relaxed on screen; even when he's pained, the pain seems funny.

Shampoo can also be considered the concluding chapter in a triptych of Julie Christie films. Arguably she portrayed the same woman over ten years, first as an aspiring model (in Darling), then as a bored, rich housewife (in Petulia) and, finally, as a brittle, sun tanned kept woman in Shampoo. Al Pacino once called Christie "the most poetic of actresses." Well said. Who else could make you care so much about a selfish narcissistic woman?

This is also a time capsule film for its depiction of late 60s Los Angeles. The bell bottoms, mini skirts, psychedelic's all here, gliding in the background, skillfully mixed by master director Hal Ashby. He manages to create a tone of wistful comedy that sustains the film over its two hours.

Shampoo is SERIOUSLY funny. Beatty's made some great films -- Bonnie and Clyde, Reds, Bullworth -- but Shampoo just might be his greatest.
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T. J. Larson7 March 2005
Warren Beatty, Hal Ashby and Robert Towne crafted a sardonic gem with this film. I think it really holds up well almost 30 years later, as a kind of culturally historical document. It is significant in the cannon of great 70's cinema I believe for it's flawless melding of downright screwball comedy with social and finally even emotional drama. It's Preston Sturges for the Free Love Generation.Was Julie Christie ever sexier? And Goldie Hawn? Off the hook pixie erotic! Lee Grant won the Oscar but I felt she was over-shadowed by others in the ensemble. Tony Bill as the creepy producer. Carrie Fischer as the angry, horny daughter. Jack Warden was perhaps the most under-rated of the bunch for his work here. The movie was very well edited, no surprise there. Nixon came on strong at the end there, his performance was also worthy of Oscar!

I just think this is a brilliant film. Genre bending. Political. Human. Real.
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What "Johnathan Antin" wishes...
lambiepie-213 February 2007
Warning: Spoilers
"The best form of flattery is imitation" - as the saying goes. And in the mid-70's a film about the late 60's blew the lid off of the life of a "male hair dresser". Of course in this day and time, we have to say "hair stylist" but back in the 60's it was an industry that was truly 'female' dominated. The only males that were associated with this career were assumed gay. And with this little nugget, we have "Shampoo".

Shampoo is a picture that hits on 60's 'free love' and also the 70's 'me' generation. Besides, at that time in the 70's you did have a real "hair stylist" who's life mirrored this film to a degree, Jon Peters. And I believe Warren Beatty knew this - which is why he looked and acted so similar to the real Jon Peters, and that's what made the film very interesting back then. (and gave the new celebrity magazine "People Magazine" a lot of ink between Mr. Beatty and Mr. Peters!) Mr. Peter's was also a hairstylist to the Hollywood heads, and it is no secret that Mr. Peters had his name associated with many Hollywood women too, and Mr. Peters went on to become one of the most famous and successful movie producer teams of the 80's and 90's. (with Mr. Guber, of course!) But back to Shampoo, this (ahem) 'fictional' movie. This is the story of a womanizing hairdresser (Beatty) who's dream it is to open his own salon. He oozes charisma, and oozes a lot of other things too except knowing how to start his own small business away from the Beverly Hills shop he's the star of and despises (the owner played by the wonderful actor Jay Robinson from "The Robe" and "Demetrius and the Gladiators" He's just SO over the top, ya gotta love him!) He has several ex and current girlfriends - one is an young actress that is insecure (Goldie Hawn) and her best friend (Julie Christie), a 'kept' woman who just happened to have been one of his lovers as well. The kept woman is kept by the husband (Jack Warden) of one of the hair dressers top lovers & client (Lee Grant)who has the key to him financing his new shop - her financially dubious business husband. Oh what a vicious circle in Beverly Hills. But this hairdresser is about to use his libido once too often in 1968 and see all his dreams go up in smoke.

Shampoo has a deep affection in my movie collection because of the above back story of the time and the way the team of Warren Beatty, Hal Ashby and Robert Towne pulled it off. Warren Beatty is 70's charming as the hair dressing womanizer trying desperately to prove that he IS a 'he-man' and not like the other male hairdressers; Goldie Hawn is perfect as the ditsy/smart up and coming actress; Julie Christie is marvelous as the "kept" woman; and Lee Grant is perfect as the older Beverly Hills socialite with her boy toy. Jack Warden lends the side of pseudo-reality as the aging Top Beverly Hills Businessman/Mistress keeper and Tony Bill is perfect as the late 60's 'type' producer with a sensitive side to his business dealings.

This film is a gem, it's also a look into norms and ideas of two decades clashing and a production and direction team using current innuendo of the time to tell a story within another time.

Rent or buy this film, look at it, and then sit down and watch the 2000's Bravo "reality" show "Blow Out". I think then you'll grasp what kind of an old masterpiece "Shampoo" truly is.
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Shampoo-Wash That Man Right Out of Your Hair **
edwagreen13 February 2007
Disappointing film as Warren Beatty plays a non-homosexual hairdresser who rides around in a motorcycle as if he is part of "Easy Rider."

Obviously, George does more than hair with his clients. The film is Robert Altman-like with its jumping around as it follows Beatty's sex escapades.

Julie Christie and Goldie Hawn steal the acting here in their portrayals as two of Beatty's clients. The supporting Oscar went to the usually fabulous Lee Grant. I can't imagine why even though her category was full of weak contenders in 1975.

Beatty's life unravels at a party on election night 1968. President-elect Richard Nixon promises an open administration, the next day, which is probably the film's greatest laugh.

Guys should take heart since Beatty probably gets what he deserves at the film's end. (No, it's not the "Bonnie & Clyde" shooting.)

Jack Warden received a supporting Oscar nomination for his portrayal of a man who Beatty asks to loan him money so he can open his own beauty salon. Warden is carrying on with Julie Christie, who is also the lover of Beatty but at the same time Beatty is carrying on with Lee Grant, who is wed to Warden. When all this is discovered, it really is not handled that well. This hysterical-like situation could have been dealt with a lot better.
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A completely boring, tedious, unfunny and unsexy movie.
bobleb30 August 2000
I rented this film and watched for the first time over the past three days. It took me that long simply because there is a limit to how much boredom I'm willing to endure at one sitting.

My first reaction after finishing was that the movie has no point at all. But on reflection, I've decided it has one (although feeble) ... namely, that Warren Beatty can appear to bed a large number of women, so long as he writes the script!

It is dumbfounding to me that this film is described as a comedy, and even more stupifying that it was included on the AFI 100 Funniest list. I genuinely did not laugh a single time during my (3 day) ordeal.

It is also amazing that I have seen the movie described as sexy. Nothing could be further from the truth. The "sex" portrayed is so mechanical that it's the opposite of a turn on.

I gave the film a "1" rating. Only because I didn't find "0" to be available.
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Still a classic despite its shortcomings.
bobsgrock12 May 2010
No matter what the AFI or other critics say, Shampoo is not a great comedy, mostly because it doesn't try to be one. Of course there are some humorous moments such as when George(Beatty) tries to listen to his women and work at the same time, or the out-of-place Lester at a party filled with hippies of the psychedelic era. However, this is a much more serious film than it lets on, which will certainly make some people mad or disappointed in that it didn't live up to its billing.

Yet, I cannot blame this film for what it does well, which is portray the life of a man who simply wants a good time and success and an accurate picture of the times of 1968 when Nixon was about to be elected, the Summer of Love was almost upon us and free love was a progressive idea. Yet, this movie seems harder on these characters than would be let on. Perhaps it is a nostalgic look-back to a time when there was a great feeling of new-found freedom but these people didn't know what to do with it. Some also criticize it for being chauvinistic but in reality, the females are the most confident, the most aware of their situations and the only ones able to make sense of what the next step should be.

As you might expect, the acting is very good with Beatty playing the character completely aloof, always in his own world trying to think faster than the situations being thrown at him. He realizes what a mess he's in but also knows he doesn't want out so easy. Goldie Hawn is a wonderful, charming and confident actress whose beauty is secondary to her talent while Julie Christie gives the film's best performance as a conflicted woman who seems to know exactly what she will do despite not letting on. The Academy Awards only recognized Lee Grant and Jack Warden, perhaps because they represent a past age, a world about to get completely swept up in the new era being established during the '60s.

Some see it as a political satire, others see it as an unfunny comedy about the consequences of free love. I see it as both as well as a very smart character study of what not to do but also why it's so fun doing it.
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The original Zohan
tieman641 August 2008
Hal Ashby's "Shampoo" stars Warren Beatty as George Roundy, a popular Beverly Hills hairdresser who spends his life juggling customers, jobs and women.

The great joke of the film is that George exists solely to please other people. He's entirely selfless. Whilst Ashby paints the rest of society as being self-centered and selfish, George dutifully cuts hair, tends to women and bounces from one lover to another. The poster boy for altruism, he exists solely to make other people happy.

Though marketed as a sex comedy, the film works better as a political statement. It takes place during the eve of the 1968 presidential election (in which Nixon was elected) and attempts to capture the last vestiges of a certain crazy, carefree era, Ashby contrasting whimsical Pre-Nixon attitudes (nonchalant sex, free love, a kind of social cohesion which George can no longer maintain), with the knowledge that Watergate, corruption, lies and the general pessimism of the Nixon era, were all on the horizon. By the film's end, George can no longer love everybody. The glue has failed and myopia, separation, selfishness and egotism on a grand scale has begun.

Unsurprisingly, everyone in "Shampoo" aspires to success in both bed and bank. The characters are constantly working. Working at their jobs, on themselves, or on their lovers etc. But Ashby's larger point is that they ultimately have no significant political or cultural impact. They're too selfish, myopic and self centred, and thus the Nixon administration, which comes about at the end of the film, is exactly what these people deserved.

"Shampoo's" opening and closing scenes neatly portray George's own personal evolution. The film opens with him making love to one of his many women, the Beach Boys' lyrics, "Wouldn't it be nice if we were married..." pulsating on the soundtrack. The song emphasises the yearning beneath George's playboy image. By the end of the film, however, George is left alone on a hill top, watching as his women turn their backs on him and drive away with their respective partners. They've all moved on, whilst he stands there, a dead man with a pipe dream. Hard luck, man.

7.9/10 - Worth one viewing. Adam Sandler's "Don't Mess With The Zohan" would borrow heavily from Warren Beatty's work here.
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subtle, sophisticated and worth getting to know
David1 December 2004
With every viewing, SHAMPOO seems more and more like (even in the 70s) one of the weirdest things to have ever become a hit - a challenging and complex film somewhat erroneously presented as a sex farce, complete with a slow-to-start plot that would challenge any audience today.

The free-spirited bed-hopping of the 60s (the story is set on Election day 1968) is reconsidered, as the men here are generally pigs, and the women generally put up with it (to a certain point at least), and all consider themselves to be quite, quite hip - above the uncool squares who were busy electing Nixon on the same day. The fact that reality might intrude (as it does only fleetingly, and fairly late into the movie) never occurs to anyone, and Ashby's suggestion (also on display in BEING THERE, and perhaps HAROLD & MAUDE) that reactionaries may hijack American politics while the hipsters go off to party is open to debate, though also uniquely prophetic.

The portrayal here isn't to justify vapid debauchery, but - then or now - there's a world of shallow people out there, and SHAMPOO is as potent of a reminder as any of how ugly it can be when you do absolutely nothing but show off how fabulous you think you are at all times. Ashby's 70s films (along with FIVE EASY PIECES and Coppola's 70s films) were about - among other things - the limits of the 60s, and the hangover that must follow the party, but the openness of the screenplay (by Robert Towne, also known for CHINATOWN and THE LAST DETAIL) does also give the film a timeless relevance.

Towne and Beatty also gave director Hal Ashby another of his famous symbolic misfits - like Beau Bridges (THE LANDLORD), Bud Cort & Ruth Gordon (HAROLD & MAUDE), Jack Nicholson, Otis Young & Randy Quaid (THE LAST DETAIL), and Peter Sellers (BEING THERE), Beatty's character is perpetually adolescent in ways both great and awful, and acting out in some attempt at making some sense of a world that either does baffle him, or would if he were to actually stop screwing around and think about it for a second (witness the debacle of trying to get a bank to loan him money early on). Ashby always used these characters as a platform for satire (in this case, of some of the hypocritical excesses of the sexual revolution), while simultaneously playing them as symbolic of some greater human needs that go unmet in an increasingly complicated world - implicitly suggesting that a mix of pleasure principle (or naivete and awe) and tough self-discipline and pragmatism are essential to any kind of success. Though such a sentiment would seem obvious (this is the philosophical link between all of Ashby's best films - the aforementioned five for sure), perhaps it was - in fact - increasing rare in Ashby's world, and perhaps in everyone else's as well.

Analysis aside, this works best if you like introspective and dark humor - there is much that is subtle in SHAMPOO, and the kind of unthinking, reflexive flash we expect out of current Hollywood product is completely absent. Ashby's technical skill as a director and editor become most apparent very late into the film (the party scene is a doozy), though a few knockout moments are to be found earlier as well. Overall it's one of the more brooding and jaded comedies to ever be marketed as such, though also rewarding and sophisticated.
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hideously self-indulgent
T Y8 January 2005
The story of a p*ssy-seeking alpha-male (played by then alpha-male Beatty) produced by said "star" as a p*ssy-seeking ad for himself.

All that George (Beatty) cares about is that the number of chicks he's nailing increases, because his self-regard requires it. He doesn't care about or connect with any of his conquests. But that's no matter because as viewers, we don't care about them either, because they're 70's era self-actualizing simps. With a decent script or in the service of a greater message, the best this could have been is something like Boogie Nights, which isn't saying much.

The open sexuality of the 60s became "dirty" junk like in the 70's; the smutty, repulsive aftermath. Maybe people didn't notice how ugly their surroundings were because they were zeroing in on which occupants they wanted to nail, or forgetting the last one they actually did. The story implicates seventies values topically; bad hair, bad clothes, bad music... The production implicates Hollywood values, with hyperactive bit-actors trying to hog the screen. Everyone enters a scene shrill and loud. Viewers who see fun in this, miss the fatuous self-absorption and meanness to the whole thing.

Beattys stammering cuteness is tiresome in all his movies. The only scene in which he's required to show any emotional range is the last one. You have got to see it to believe it. Beatty flexes every muscle in his body trying to overcome his cuteness and register something complicated on his face and FAILS utterly. In a just world, this scene should have ruined his career.

Structurally this is a train wreck. It should be regarded as the Showgirls of the 70s. Artistically it's sh*t. Thanks Warren. The DVD should come with a syringe full of penicillin.
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