I woke up at like 2:30am this morning with the TV still on, about halfway through 1975's bittersweet look back at 1968, "Shampoo". For those who have never experienced the magic of Warren Beatty's helmut-haired, characteristically wooden portrayal of a himbo hairdresser whose extreme dandy costumery created the template for the International Male line of clothing, it's very, uh, different.
The movie revolves around the motorcycling hairdresser who spends his days and nights cheating on an absolutely stunning Goldie Hawn with every woman who walks into his salon. The character is a blank slate with no real back story, motivation, desire (other than lots and lots of hetero fucking) or focus. He vaguely entertains the idea of opening his own salon, but gets caught fucking his financier's girlfriend, so that goes down the drain. Oh, and Goldie finds out and leaves him. Then the financier's girlfriend elopes with the financier, and after a torturous, constipated bit of Beatty acting sad, the credits roll. I guess the message is that cheating is, like, bad.
The interesting thing is the frame in which all of the frivolity is set: the eve of the 1968 presidential election, which everyone in 1975 understood to be the moment when the uber villian of that time, Richard Nixon, began his reign. The characters float around a rich hippy version of L.A. with lots of drugged out parties in enormous Hollywood Hills mansions with strobe lights and Beatles music. Everything is free and groovy as the looming bogeyman of the 1970s periodically pops up on TV screens campaigning for president.
It is impossible to understand why anybody liked this movie without understanding the deep malaise of the mid seventies. It feels like the popular culture spent a good part of the 70s asking "what went wrong?" The answer according to "Shampoo" is too much extracurricular fucking/voting for Nixon.
Anyway, "Shampoo" is really a piece of shit in the sun, rewarded by the 1976 Academy Awards with three Oscars, including Best Screenplay!
It's kind of worth a watch, just as a cringeworthy examination of the embarrassment that is Warren Beatty.
And at least it's not Bulworth.
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