February 28, 2006
Harold Fine--uptight, soon-to-be-married attorney, firmly entrenched member of "the establishment"--arrives to pick up his younger brother, Herbie, for the funeral of a family friend.
One of Herbie's hippie friends comes out to tell him Herbie's on his way.
Harold is instantly enchanted by her (Leigh Taylor-Young) beauty.
Herbie's friend has been successfully brainwashed and indoctrinated by the counterculture: "What a beautiful day for a funeral!"
"Mars and Neptune are at the tenth angle, and Saturn starts progressing into Aries". Harold's checking out her tenth angle.
Free spirit, Herbie, wears his Sunday finest for the funeral: "It's the traditional burial outfit of the Hopi Indians." Yes, of course it is.
Herbie's explanation doesn't satisfy horrified, conservative older brother, Harold.
The motley crue arrives at the funeral home only to find a hearse driver strike under way. Hmmm, I wonder who'll be asked to drive the casket to the cemetery?
Nancy, who's never been to a funeral, has a splendid time. Leigh Taylor-Young was in her prime in 1968. Glowing with beauty, one can see why Peter Sellers chose her for the part, and then later fell in love with her (according to her website), as he would with many of his female co-stars.
Picture from Leigh Taylor-Young's website showing Peter Sellers taking her picture the day of her audition.
Picture from Leigh Taylor-Young's website, picture by Peter Sellers
"What kind of mashugina outfit is this? What LSD clothes he's wearing?"
"It's the traditional burial outfit of the Hopi Indians."
Yep, no one but Harold can transfer the coffin to the cemetery due to the driver strike. Have I mentioned the Fine family and friends are Jewish?
On the way to the cemetery, Harold gets hassled by "the man", and instructed to get a smog detector.
The first of many wrong cemeteries.
Harold begins to notice the not too subtle differences between his fiance, Joyce, and flower child, Nancy.
The choice is clear--what every man desired in 1968 v. every man's
Finally, they arrive at their destination.
Harold drops off Herbie and Nancy after the funeral. This screencap shows the amount of detail someone put into the car. It's pretty awesome, actually. I think that's Dylan (the face on the door), during his Blonde on Blonde period, but it could be Hendrix.
more car detail
Harold then drops off
"Going to Laurel Canyon?"
The Rodriguez family from part 1!
Stereotypes are funny.
Fellow hitchers accept the Rodriguez's invitation for a ride. It's a cameo by Paul Mazursky and Larry Tucker, the screenwriters. They had had some success writing the pilot episode for The Monkees TV series. Mazursky was actually supposed to direct I Love You, Alice B. Toklas, as well, but Sellers didn't want a first-time director on the job.
Harold: "Where's Herbie!?"
Nancy: "Oh, Herbie met Lovelady."
Wasn't she beautiful? She reminds me a little of Jessica Alba.
"Don't you know it's very dangerous to hitch by yourself out here at night? There are sex MANIACS driving in cars! Perverts. I see them in court every day. Believe me."
Harold Fine: sex maniacs driving in cars expert
Nancy crashes at Harold's almost swingin' bachelor pad.
SEE! The butterfly tattoo on Nancy's soft, inner thigh. What was the Andy Warhol connection?
SEE! Nancy whip up a mean batch of brownies, using? Pixie dust? Oregano? Lawn trimmings??
SEE! Old people behaving stoned. Really stoned. Most convincingly so. Was there a reason?
February 25, 2006
I Love You, Alice B. Toklas! begins with a hippie, Jesus/Rasputin type laying his flower-power philosophy on a couple of aspiring drop-out flower children:
"Flower in the crannied wall
I pluck you out of the crannies
I hold you here, root and all, in my hand,
Little flower--but if I could understand
What you are, root and all, and all in all
I should know what God and man is."
--Lord Alfred Tennyson-"Flower in the Crannied Wall"
The groovy chick asks him if that's Ginsberg.
"So, to know God, to know man, you first have to know what a flower is. A flower. But how can you know what a flower is unless you know who you are? Who are YOU? Do you know who you are?"
Harold Fine (Peter Sellers) does not know who he is. Or so he thinks.
This is the theme song, featuring Harpers Bizarre (Van Halen producer Ted Templeman on lead vocals) doing some of the best corporate, manufactured psychedelic rock I've heard. An extra helping of trippy-dippy! Really nice. It was an Oscar finalist for Best Song.
Templeman is the guy with the bright blonde chili bowl, front and center
The song perhaps raises a few questions. Answers?:
A visual manifestation of Harold's simmering angst.
Oh well, back to the Manson family:
The hippie manifesto:
"We must find a way to send out love messages to them before it's too late. We must turn them into love junkies. We must hug and kiss them in the streets, in their homes (I would not want these people in my home), in their offices, IN THEIR MINDS..."
Los Angeles area McDonald's
Harold is engaged, and not exactly a "love junkie". Here, we see him experiencing post-coital asthma. That's sexy. Peter Sellers was a hairy man, no?
Harold resorts to borrowing the mechanic's car while his is getting repaired. The mechanic tells him his son "ran off to San Francisco with a colored girl". Of course he did. That's what kids did back in 1968 to get kicks.
Ironically, the photo of George Harrison near the left front wheel well is from when George journeyed to the U.S. to be with the hippies of Haight Ashbury. The entire experience caused Harrison to become majorly disillusioned with hippie philosophy and culture. He spoke of seeing nothing but "spotty", filthy drop-outs (most were young kids) sitting around on Haight's sidewalks and streets. As you'll see, this is at the heart of the screenplay's theme.
Harold Fine is an attorney, with clients like the Rodriguez family. All eleven of them were in a car accident. Mr. Rodriguez could not see out of the rear window because "the chickens were in the back seat".
In the middle of his meeting with the Rodriguez family, Harold's mother arrives with bad news.
Jo Van Fleet, playing Harold's mother, Mrs. Fine, comes to tell Harold that a family friend has died.
Harold goes to tell his younger, hippier brother, Herbie, the bad news.
Herbie lives in Venice Beach, mystical land of the hippies.
Man, they sure look happy and free, don't they?
Sure looks like fun...
Just sitting there. Doing nothing. All day long. Nothing.
Just. Sitting on your ass, all day. Drooling.
Harold thanks Herbie for agreeing to come to the family friend's funeral, because it will make their mother happy. Herbie tells Harold he's going because it will make him (Herbie) happy.
Harold buys Herbie a copy of Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung for a dollar from the hippy supermarket.
Later, Harold gets coffee with a colleague, Murray. Murray is a complete player. He's a raging sexaholic who, as Harold observes, mentally rapes every woman who walks by.
"Look at that. Look at that one."
"Oh my darling, a year's salary for ten minutes."
Harold asks Murray, "What is your definition of love?"
Murray tells Harold "Love is ten minutes. Love is before, marriage is after."
"Oh my God. Hmmm. I'd love to lily your lollies."
"Where do they come from? What do they WANT from me? When they stop, I'll stop. They know that they're driving you crazy! And they love it."
COMING UP IN PART TWO: Harold is driven "crazy" by a really happenin' chick named Nancy and her "special" recipe.