Reviewed by John Weber
Rating: 10 Beans
f this were my web site, we would rank movies with Skidoos instead of Beans. That's how much I think of this...this unintentional masterpiece! This is, in my humble opinion, the best worst movie of all time (with apologies to Ed Wood, of course).
Why do I feel that way? Because "Skidoo" is populated with many, many people who should have known better. Who have done better. Ed Wood was spending 49 cents per flick on his little demented visions. What in God's name is director Otto Preminger's excuse? He had lotsa money and lotsa name actors. Was it the acid he dropped in prepping for this film?
But I'm not angry. I LOVE this film. Let me try and sketch out a plot here, and then tell you about some of the wonderously godawful moments. Without gushing, that is.
Jackie Gleason is "Tough" Tony Banks, a former mobster out of the business for 17 years, and married to Flo (Carol Channing), who apparently slept with everyone else in the mob before marrying Tony. One day, two mob guys (Cesar Romero and Frankie Avalon) come to see Gleason, wanting to smuggle him into prison to off "Blue Chips" Packard (Mickey Rooney). Rooney's about to turn state's evidence, and getting the royal treatment in jail.
Gleason's forced to go. He accidentially takes some acid in jail, has a "trip", won't kill Rooney, and escapes from prison using vegetable sacks filled with oxygen and garbage cans. Really.
His escape is covered by the fact that the entire prison is on an acid trip, courtesy of a little extra ingredient in everyone's lunch. Gleason heads straight to the boat of mob kingpin "God"(Groucho Marx in his last film!). Wife Flo has also stormed the boat with an army of hippies, singing the title song and dressed up like George Washington (!)
That's as much as you need. Moments you will watch over and over again with your mouth agape (at least I do):
Carol Channing, going to see young mobster-wannabe Avalon, and doing a striptease (!)
Jackie Gleason's acid trip (featuring eyeballs poking through bunk beds, the head of Groucho on top of a large screw, Gleason shouting "I see mathematics! I see mathematics!").
The prison lunch scene, where everyone has been fed grub laced with LSD. See Frank Gorshin, Peter Lawford, Burgess Meredith, Richard Kiel, Slim Pickens, Fred Clark and Harry Nilsson (among others) get totally wasted in a slo-mo, very, very weird, extended (and fascinating) scene.
The garbage cans in the prison yard coming to life and doing a production number.
The "Green Bay Packers" playing football - wearing nothing but helmets and shoulder pads!
The final scene, where Carol Channing and her daughter's hippie friends storm God's boat (captained by George Raft, by the way). She sings the title song. And Gleason floats in on his balloon. Wow.
And the closing credits. They're all sung by Nilsson. Every single one of them, from the stars to the copyright information.
I can't do this thing justice. When the movie studios tried to make films combining their traditional stars with plots and situations intended to bring out the younger demographic,
a bunch of films like "Skidoo" were allowed to grow wild and unfiltered.
It's not on video yet, but if you need to get your hands on this thing, drop me an E-Mail and I'll tell you where you can get a copy. In the meantime, if you see this thing turn up on TV, cancel all of your plans and watch it.
I think I'll go watch it again.
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