An "acid comedy" with Jackie Gleason as an ex-mobster who hates hippies, Carol Channing stripping down to her underwear, Groucho Marx in his final film role as "God", a score from Harry Nilsson, an acid-tripping prison where the guards see naked football players and dancing garbage cans, and cameos from Frankie Avalon, Cesar Romero, Burgess Meredith, Mickey Rooney, Frank Gorshin, George Raft, and Slim Pickens...to name a few.
Does this sound like an Otto Preminger film to you?
Well, there's a reason why the master of Oscar-winning dramas (and off-screen Germanic fits) never really made comedies, and this completely unfunny mess is a good example of why. On the other hand, if you think you'll get a kick (as I did) out of seeing old Hollywood try to relate to the kids of 1968, and fail miserably, here's your shot.
Here's a bonus - an mp3 version of the credits, wherein Nilsson sings the entire credit sequence. MP3: Nilsson, "Cast and Crew". You can also find that song on the import CD soundtrack, and hear more about his collaboration with Preminger in this interview on "Playboy After Dark".
To truly see this film, you have to catch it on screen in glorious widescreen because Preminger plays with the frame in exciting ways (and the color and design look great). It pops up rarely in revival screenings, sometimes at MoMA and most recently in an anniversary show at the American Cinematheque in L.A. So until the studio decides to pull out a DVD release (c'mon, if Myra Breckinridge can make it to DVD, so can Skidoo), you'll have to find it however you can. But even in a fuzzy, maltreated video version it is worth the trip.
You can get a copy on DVD from 5 Minutes To Live (where you can also watch the original trailer - featuring testimonial from Timothy Leary), or thanks to the great movie sharing blog 55 Bells you can download the whole thing and watch it on your 'puter (requires patience and/or a Rapidshare account). I'm also told that there is a Widescreen version lurking out there, made from a copy of the vault print, but I haven't been able to get my hands on one...
Oh, and if you want to find out how Groucho, Otto, and Timothy Leary all became involved in the same counter-culture scene, here's an essay to explain it all: "My Acid Trip with Groucho" by Paul Krassner.
And here's a nice piece of trivia that was on IMDB:
Otto Preminger originally wanted Bob Dylan to score the movie. He invited Dylan and his wife to a rough cut screening at his Hollywood mansion. After the screening, Dylan surprised everybody from his entourage, who thought the film was a disaster, by requesting a second screening but at one condition: he wanted to be left alone with his wife to watch it. Preminger happily obliged, convinced that Dylan would accept the job.
However, Dylan showed no further interest in the movie. He acknowledged later that he and his wife weren't interested at all by Skidoo but that they had requested this second screening to freely explore Preminger's mansion, write down what they liked and take inspiration for their own house.