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Worst All-Star Movie Ever?

Worst All-Star Movie Ever?

Imagine what an incredible comedy you could make with a cast like this in 1968: Jackie Gleason, Mickey Rooney, Groucho Marx, Carol Channing, Frankie Avalon, Frank Gorshin, Peter Lawford, Cesar Romero, Slim Pickens, Burgess Meredith, George Raft, Arnold Stang, and Harry Nilsson. And yet, Skidoo is one of the least funny motion pictures of all time. How was that possible?!?

Especially when you consider Skidoo was directed by one of Hollywood’s greatest filmmakers, Otto Preminger, responsible for such immortal films as Laura, Carmen Jones, and The Man With The Golden Arm. Preminger may be best known to classic TV audiences as bald-headed Mr. Freeze on Batman (1966-68).

Roger Ebert gave this flop 2 stars in 1968 saying, “But Preminger marches his actors through their paces, and even Groucho seems curiously passive. There are a lot of scenes of hippie body-painting, and Carol Channing takes another of those guided tours into deepest groovy life style, but somebody ought to tell Preminger and everybody else in Hollywood that the Haight is dead, flower children are into speed, and who paints bodies anymore?”

“For people whose minds need pressing by a heavy, flat object,” Vincent Canby of The New York Times carped. “The cast is large and mostly old (George Raft, Cesar Romero, Peter Lawford, Doro Merande, Burgess Meredith), but Preminger's use of disintegrating faces is more cruel than comic. Groucho Marx appears briefly as the syndicate boss known as ‘God,’ a conceit that's funny for even less time than it takes to report, and Carol Channing, who plays Gleason's wife, is simply a running sight gag. The movie's almost complete lack of humor, its retarded contemporaneousness (much is made of hippies, pot and LSD), its sometimes beautiful and expensive-looking San Francisco locations, and its indomitable denial that disaster is at hand (apparent from almost the opening sequence)—all give the film an undeniable Preminger stamp.”

Otto Preminger had begun experimenting with LSD alongside Timothy Leary; this film is the psychedelic result, a cinematic hallucination shot on location in San Francisco. Where else, right?

As such, many consider Skidoo to be so bad it’s good, well worth seeing if only as a curiosity. “In his loopy comedy,” Richard Brody of The New Yorker writes. “Preminger doesn’t just depict—or, rather, caricature—the cultural shifts and generational clashes of the late sixties, he finds new forms for the new events. It’s an astonishment of tone and style from beginning to end, literally.” Brody appreciates the film’s, “classic Preminger hallmarks—notably, its visually balanced, dialectically charged compositions.”

It’s telling that Otto Preminger never mentioned this movie in his autobiography but modern audiences are discovering a lot to love about Skidoo. Considered anachronistic when it was released, the film today serves as a funhouse mirror reflection of a romanticized, bygone hippie era.

As a reviewer on Rotten Tomatoes opined, “Seriously, this was a festive abortion of a movie and I adored every second of it. Jackie Gleason on acid? Groucho and Mickey Rooney as mafia kingpins?” Another remarked, “This is and always will be the best Acid movie.... ever.”

In 2011, Dennis Lim of the LA Times took another look at the acclaimed director’s red headed stepchild, “Where many of Preminger's best films sustain an unnerving ambiguity, ‘Skidoo’ often just seems muddled. But it's also more fascinating than its reputation suggests — despite, or perhaps because of, how often it tips into grotesquerie.”

Sadly, this was Groucho Marx’s last appearance in a motion picture and his worst performance, it seemed as if he was merely reading off of cue cards. Yet he was supposedly hilarious on the set.

Here’s the entire film, judge for yourself…

 

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Worst All-Star Movie Ever?

“Comedy is a fragile item and wilts quickly. You can't do it by the book, no matter how hard you try.” - Roger Ebert

Skidoo features 4 actors that played villains on Batman. Besides Preminger, Cesar Romero played The Joker, Burgess Meredith was The Penguin, and Frank Gorshin was The Riddler. You mean Mr. Freeze could have been tripping on acid?!?

Groucho’s yacht in the film belonged to John Wayne in real life.

Was Groucho Hijacked?

 

 


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