Friday, January 4, 2008

It Takes 2 to Skidoo!

I haven't done this in a while, but I want to call attention to an important Turner Classic Movies programming note for tonight. At 2:00 a.m. Eastern time, TCM is showing Otto Preminger's 1968 comedy Skidoo.To attempt to summarize Skidoo would be futile, and it would probably take as long as the movie to do so. It stars Jackie Gleason as a retired hitman who is sent on one last job by a mob boss named "God" (played by Groucho Marx!) to infiltrate a prison and bump off Mickey Rooney. While in prison, Gleason drops LSD, trips out, and renounces violence. Lots of others trip out, too, and the trip footage is amazing (one includes the Green Bay Packers mooning a prison guard). I really don't want to say much more than that about the plot, but it should give you a sense of just how nuts this movie is.

The cast is also a big part of the appeal. In addition to Gleason, Marx, and Rooney, the film also stars Peter Lawford, Franky Avalon, Cesar Romero, Carol Channing, Frank Gorshin, Burgess Meredith, John Philip Law, Slim Pickins, Richard Kiel, and Harry Nilsson. And now that I look at that list, I'm thinking this film may have the highest concentration of Batman villains (including director Preminger).

The film was much maligned and died quickly in its initial release, but over the last 40 years, it's developed a well-earned cult status. On one level, it can be seen as an example of just how challenging it was for the Hollywood establishment to tap into the burgeoning youth market that had made Easy Rider such a surprise success. Preminger even experimented with LSD himself, with the help of Timothy Leary, as a preparation for this movie.

Skidoo is truly a hard movie to find, and I've only ever seen a third-generation bootleg copy of it. Set whatever recording device that kids are using these days for Skidoo--you won't be sorry.


Unknown said...

Wow, I thought I was the only other person who knew "Skidoo." Next to "The President's Analyist," it's my favorite movie of the decade. Excellent call.

ODK (The Other Dr. K)

Dr. K said...

Since I'm actually married to "The Other Dr. K," it might be confusing for readers of the blog to find out that there is another Other Dr. K. Might I suggest a different name, such as "Doctor Double-K"?