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.