Combustible Celluloid
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With: Jackie Gleason, Carol Channing, Frankie Avalon, Fred Clark, Michael Constantine, Frank Gorshin, John Phillip Law, Peter Lawford, Burgess Meredith, George Raft, Cesar Romero, Mickey Rooney, Groucho Marx, Arnold Stang, Doro Merande, Austin Pendleton, Slim Pickens, Richard Kiel, Harry Nilsson
Written by: Doran William Cannon
Directed by: Otto Preminger
MPAA Rating: R for some nudity and drug content
Running Time: 98
Date: 12/02/1968

Skidoo (1968)

1 Star (out of 4)

Skedaddle from 'Skidoo'

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

For years, Otto Preminger's Skidoo has been regarded as a cult classic, a hard-to-find rarity that was so bizarre, it was a badge of honor to have seen it. Now Olive Films, which has access to the lower depths of the Paramount vaults, has given it an official DVD release. Today it can be seen for what it is: a stodgy old example of the establishment desperate attempt to cash in on an increasingly powerful youth counterculture movement.

Preminger was 63 at the time, and definitely the wrong man for this job. Preminger and the others that made this movie hadn't the faintest idea of what its youth audience wanted to see, and so they copied the images and ideas available to them at the time. (It has the effect of listening to your grandfather trying to use the latest slang.) At best, it's an embarrassment to the established stars that took part in it, and at worst, it's an ungodly mess.

Jackie Gleason stars as a gangster who comes out of retirement to infiltrate a prison and kill a notorious squealer (Mickey Rooney). Inside, he tries acid for the first time (complete with "psychedelic" special effects); he has a revelation and doesn't want to kill anymore. He escapes in a hot air balloon made of laundry bags and a trash can (a fitting metaphor). Meanwhile, his daughter (Alexandra Hall) falls in love with a hippie, and his wife (Carol Channing) invites all the hippies to live at their house. Later, Channing sings the nonsensical title song (a maddening experience). Someone else (Harry Nilsson?) sings the end credits to us.

Aside from all this nonsense, there's a huge selection of guest stars, starting with Groucho Marx -- in his final role -- as the mob boss known as "God." I suppose the movie has some historical value, but more as a way to learn from past mistakes.

In 2014, Olive Films followed up with a Blu-ray release, with improved picture and sound, and with much improved cover art.

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