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Hair (1979) Poster

(1979)

Trivia

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During the closing number, when Berger sings the third verse, background singers are singing lines from William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. "Eyes, Look your Last, Arms take your last embrace" and "The lips, oh you the doors, of breath, sealed with a righteous kiss" are all from Romeo's final monologue. It's followed by "The rest is silence," the prince's last line in Hamlet.
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Although the film is based on the stage musical, the plot is different, songs are sung in a different order, and characters are portrayed differently.
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According to Emily Soares at the Turner Classic Movies website, Milos Forman's only casting regret was Nicholas Ray as The General. "Though he performed well, Ray had to endure clouds of heavy smoke for his big scene, and it was only weeks later that Forman learned he was dying of lung cancer".
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Cheryl Barnes had previously appeared in the Broadway stage productions of "Godspell" and "Jesus Christ Superstar." In the magazine 'Turnaround', director Milos Forman said of Barnes' audition, "As she started to sing the tune she had prepared, a hush came over the room. She had a voice like a bell, flawless musicality, and great presence."
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Over 20,000 extras and background artists participated in the musical numbers "3-5-0-0" and "Let the Sun Shine In," which were both staged at the base of the Lincoln Memorial.
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Betty Buckley's voice is used for the Vietnamese girl singing "Walking In Space."
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Approximately 10,000 New York residents appeared in the Central Park sequences as extras and background artists for musical numbers including "Colored Spade", "Ain't Got No" (a.k.a. "I'm Black"), and "Aquarius" (a.k.a. "The Age of Aquarius").
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Actress Annie Golden was cast as Jeannie after director Milos Forman saw Golden performing with the punk rock band The Shirts at a famous Bowery Rock 'n' Roll nightclub.
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Madonna and Bruce Springsteen auditioned for parts in the film.
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Gerome Ragni and James Rado, who wrote the original musical along with composer Galt MacDermot, were unhappy with the film adaptation, saying it failed to capture the essence of Hair in that hippies were portrayed as "oddballs" and "some sort of aberration" without any connection to the peace movement. They stated: "Any resemblance between the 1979 film and the original Biltmore version, other than some of the songs, the names of the characters, and a common title, eludes us." In their view, the screen version of Hair has not yet been produced."
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This was the opening night film at the 1979 Cannes Film Festival, but it screened out of competition.
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Diane Keaton sang White Boys/Black Boys in the original stage version. By the time the movie came out ten years later, Keaton was an A-List movie star, probably too big to do a walk-on extra type role she did in the theater production in 1967. The role went to Ellen Foley.
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This was the first film Twyla Tharp choreographed.
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George Lucas was offered the chance to direct this movie in the early 1970s. He turned it down because he was developing American Graffiti (1973).
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Reportedly, director Milos Forman had been trying to stage a production of "Hair" in Prague when Russia invaded Czechoslovakia in 1968.
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When the play premiered in the 1960s, it was a contemporary celebration of the hippie counterculture. The movie, which came out 10 years after the Broadway premier in 1967, became a period piece. Every production since then has been a self-styled period piece, and modern audiences are often shocked to hear that it was not originally conceived that way.
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This was Milos Forman's first film in about four years. His previous film had been One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975).
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Director Milos Forman attended the very first off-Broadway performance of "Hair" in 1967 in New York. Backstage after the show, Forman told the musical's creators James Rado, Gerome Ragni, and Galt MacDermot that he was interested in making a filmed version of the stage musical, and asked them to consider him for directing it.
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This was Nell Carter's film debut.
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The original Broadway production opened at the Biltmore Theater on April 20, 1968, and ran for 1750 performances before it closed on July 1, 1972. It was nominated for the 1969 Tony Awards for Best Musical and Best Direction of a Musical.
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The song "Frank Mills," performed by Crissy in the stage version, was filmed, but cut from the movie. Suzette Charles, who played Crissy, was dismissed when the song was cut. Five years later, Charles became Miss America after Vanessa Williams was disqualified. The old RCA two-record soundtrack doesn't say who sang what in the film, but the souvenir program for the movie included a removable plastic extended play recording of selected songs from the film that does list the singers. The E.P, includes "Frank Mills," and Charles is credited as the vocalist.
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Nicholas Ray died in June 1979, about three months after the movie premiered.
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Melba Moore and Ronnie Dyson, who have solos in '3-5-0-0', both appeared in the original stage production.
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Casting took more than a year, with a comprehensive talent search and some very big casting calls.
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Explaining the film's poor critical reception and commercial performance at the time, director Milos Forman said it was: "Too soon for nostalgia, too late to be actuality"
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During the production, director Milos Forman became an American citizen, and was appointed Head of the Film Department at Columbia University.
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The scenery used in the song, "Good Morning Starshine" was filmed in the Nevada desert with a wide shot down US Highway 50 (America's Loneliest Road) at the end of the song.
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The film was John Savage's second consecutive Vietnam War movie. He had co-starred in The Deer Hunter (1978).
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This was the first of two collaborations between director Milos Forman and screenwriter Michael Weller. They made Ragtime (1981) a few years later.
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In 1980, this was the highest-grossing movie in Hungary.
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The film was made and released about 12 years after the original stage musical "Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical" was first performed Off-Broadway in 1967, at the Joseph Papp's Public Theater in New York.
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This was the only film produced by the stage producer Michael Butler.
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The tagline and subtitle for the stage musical was "The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical".
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Director Milos Forman originally wanted Brad Dourif for the role of Claude Hooper Bukowski.
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Publicity for this picture stated that the film was the "Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977) of movie musicals" and "the best movie musical since Cabaret (1972).
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Lester Persky bought the film rights to the stage production in 1972 for approximately $1,050,000 from theatre producer Michael Butler, who also produced the filmed version.
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For the stage production, the book describes the setting as "The 1960s. The East Village [New York]".
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Dorsey Wright had previously appeared in the Broadway revival of "Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical".
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Debut cinema movie produced screenplay written by screenwriter Michael Weller.
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John Savage had previously won a Drama Circle Award for his performance in a stage production of "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest." Milos Forman had previously directed the film version of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975).
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A March 1979 'Life' magazine article said of the film's Czech director Milos Forman: "He comes from the land of Kafka and he could understand youth in rebellion, since his own country has a tradition of subtle resistance to authority. They've been dominated so often, so long".
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Although critics and audience members were skeptical that this relic of the late sixties would translate to the screen effectively in 1979; once it opened, Milos Forman's stunning, expansive adaptation of the James Rado/Galt MacDermot musical won over most of the naysayers; and now this is considered one of the best modern musicals in film. (It has a 90% Tomatometer rating on Rotten Tomatoes.) Famed film critic Roger Ebert gave this movie ****, and a glowing review: " Milos Forman's "Hair" opens with such confidence and joy, moves so swiftly and sustains itself so well that I wonder why I had any doubts. "Hair" is, amazingly, not a period piece but a freshly conceived and staged memory of the tribulations of the mid-sixties." Ebert goes on to say he was totally blown away by the opening number, "Age of Aquarius":" I walked into Hair with the gravest doubts that this artifact of 1960s social shock would transfer to our current, sleepier times. In the 1960s we went to angry musicals; now we line up for "La Cage aux Folles." My doubts disappeared with the surge and bold authority of the first musical statement: This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius." Ebert goes on to say how blown away he was by the choreography in this number; using dancing horses and hippies alike, dancing in unison: "I said I lost my doubts about "Hair" during "Age of Aquarius." To be more precise, they disappeared during Tharp's opening scene in Central Park, when the dancers were joined by the horses of mounted policemen. Anyone who can sit through that opening dance sequence and not be thrilled should give up musicals." Ebert goes on to say it is one of the best musical books ever written: "It is also a terrific musical. The songs, of course, were good to begin with: The glory of "Hair" and "Let the Sun Shine In" and "Age of Aquarius" and the sly, silly warmth of "Black Boys/White Boys." But to the original music, the film version adds a story that works well with it, airy and open photography, and glorious choreography by Twyla Tharp." Ebert finishes his review by saying Milos Forman resurrects the musical with Hair and opens the door for new modern and adult musicals to come: " He brings life to the musical form in the same way that "West Side Story" did, the last time everyone was saying the movie musical was dead.".
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The actress who sings "White Boys" with Nell Carter and Charlayne Woodard is Trudy Perkins. She also sang the on-camera vocal solo and theme song, "These Hands" in Foul Play (1977).
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When the film was released in Germany, it was the first Dolby Stereo film dubbed in a language other than English.
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In Spain, a subtitled version played only in Madrid, at the Artistic Metropol, for 2 days.
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The film was nominated for two Golden Globe Awards in 1980, but failed to win in either category.
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John Savage who appeared in this film, was going to Vietnam, in the film, The Deer Hunter (1978) he also played a character going to Vietnam.
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This is the third part of Milos Forman's unofficial 1960s trilogy, which includes Taking Off (1971) and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975).
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Included among the American Film Institute's 2004 list of the top 100 America's Greatest Music in the Movies for the song "Aquarius."
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When the national touring production of HAIR was booked into Wichita KS in 1970, city officials banned the show from the city-owned venue of Century II due to the nudity and police vowed to arrest any performers who appeared nude onstage and the show's engagement was subsequently canceled. Ironically, the following year HAIR, along with the far more explicit EQUUS and OH! CALCUTTA did play Century II without incident.
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The title of this movie, as well as the play from which it is based, spells the word HAIR with an "infinity symbol" of two circles next to each other over the letter I. This could be read as an umlaut or "double dot" which would make the title "Haïr", which is a French verb infinitive meaning "to hate". It's ironic for a play about a culture whose motto was, "Make love not war".
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As revealed in the courthouse scene, Woof's full name is Woof Dachshund. A dachshund is a wiener dog. Why his name is what it is, is unknown, but this may suggest that Woof has character traits similar to traits of... well, a wiener dog.
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Suzanna Love's debut.
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Cameo 

Nicholas Ray: The General.
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Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

The inscription on the headstone for the character Treat Williams portrays reads: "George Berger. Vietnam. Oct 11 1945 - Apr 6 1968".
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In the original play Claude is not a conservative from Oklahoma who is drawn into the tribe, he is the leader of the tribe. He tries unsuccessfully to avoid the draft, but is nevertheless inducted and makes a stunning change of appearance in a military uniform and short hair. He is shown dead at the play's end. "Let the Sunshine In" is first sung somberly as a mournful song, ending the play on a downbeat, before it is repeated as a more upbeat anthem for the curtain call.
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In the final shot of the group standing at Berger's grave, Jeannie is holding her baby, and Woof has his arms around her, indicating that he, not Hud, was the father all along.
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Hud's real name is LaFayette Johnson.
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Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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