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Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
"While I'm working in that shop, I'm always gonna be doing too many heads."
DVD ReviewFor the true movie geek, there's always a mixture of excitement and fear when you sit down with a critically-acclaimed film from decades past that you didn't get to see in its original theatrical run or countless television replays. Will the passage of time dull its effectiveness or will it be as ageless as Dick Clark?
Fortunately, many of my first time experiences with films on my never ending "to watch" list have been positive, although every once in a while I come across a so-called cinematic gem that brought me to the brink of asking for my rental charges back....like Three Days of the Condor, which seemed to go on for three days. And don't get me started on Last Tango in Paris. Made me want to invest in a soap factory.
Since both of those movie originated in the 1970s, you may understand my hesitance to pop Shampoo into my DVD tray. Again, we have a case of a critically-acclaimed movie in its day, an impressive cast (Warren Beatty, Julie Christie, Goldie Hawn), an esteemed director at the wheel (Hal Ashby) and a script co-penned by perhaps the hottest writer in Tinseltown at the time (Robert Towne).
One hour and 49 minutes later, I was relieved. More importantly, I wasn't disappointed.
Shampoo takes place over the course of a day and half during a pivotal time in American history: the eve of the 1968 presidential election. But politics are the last thing on George Roundy's (Beatty) mind. A much in-demand Beverly Hills hairdresser, he's having enough problems juggling one too many girlfriends, er, customers, butting heads with his salon owner and finding financing to open his own clip joint as hard as Richard Nixon trying to say "Sock it to me" with feeling on Laugh-In.
Feeling his pain, loyal customer Felicia (Lee Grant) suggests her husband Lester (Jack Warden) as a potential investor, a dicey proposition since George is doing more than trimming her bangs. Yet the fear of never being able to break out of his current job situation forces him to take a chance. Not two steps into Lester's office and who should come into view? Old flame Jackie (Christie), who just happens to be the best friend of George's current squeeze, struggling actress Jill (Hawn).
Being the major player he is, it doesn't take Roundy long to figure out that Jackie is in Lester's office for more than financial advice, an assumption clarified by the seedy businessman who then asks for George's assistance in escorting his mistress to a election night party for Nixon supporters so that he can play loving husband to wife Felicia. Considering that girlfriend Jill has a business date of her own with a Hollywood producer (Tony Bill), George figures, What has he got to lose?
What he doesn't count on is sparks re-igniting between himself and his former paramour. During a pre-party trim session to straighten out Jackie's curls and so on, it's not long before they're back in each other's (ahem) hair. But it's the calm before the storm as our Georgie Porgie and his dalliances past and present meet head on at the electoral love-in for Tricky Dick. Individual frustrations come to the fore with volcanic force and a farce-filled evening rivaling vintage Three's Company episodes ensues with conclusions you might not see coming.
Considering the amount of press Warren Beatty's personal life got in the years prior to and preceding the making of Shampoo, his willingness to send up his own image and allow himself to take on a role that he had to know most of the audience would interpret as autobiographical took some serious courage. Although his character's actions are despicable, the emotional intentions behind them aren't cruel in the least and that's what makes the character of George Roundy so fascinating to watch. It's not unlike the feeling I had watching Renee Zellweger's character in Chicago. (Yeah, we should despise her for being a murderess, but she's just so gosh darn charming, one can't bear to throw the book at her.)
Beatty's performance isn't the only reason to lather up Shampoo. There's the pleasure of seeing Goldie Hawn turn down the giggly persona of her Laugh-In past to reinvent herself as a serious actress; Jack Warden graduating from years of television roles to the big screen and capturing an Oscar® nomination in the process; Lee Grant's Academy Award®-winning turn as the jilted wife/mistress and Carrie Fisher in a short but memorable film debut (and one that certainly caught George Lucas' eye) as Felicia's rebellious daughter.
Trumping them all is the gifted and beautiful Julie Christie as Jackie. Sexy, dry-witted and confident with hints of vulnerability, one can't help but wonder why George wastes his time with neurotic and needy women like Felicia and Jill when it's obvious that she's the best chance for a soul mate he may ever have.
Finally: Although it's an unmentionable moment, the film's comic highlight belongs to the English actress. After you see it, you'll know why Shampoo earned a spot in the American Film Institute's top 50 comedy films of all time.
Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A
Image Transfer Review: As the film's dirt filled title sequence rolled, I feared this transfer might be another of Columbia TriStar's backburner efforts. But like a quick April shower giving way to blue skies, talk about impressive. In my research for this review, I discovered that restored prints of the movie made the rounds in the California area in recent years. Undoubtedly, the same elements gathered to strike those prints were utilized in the production of the DVD.
There's also a full-frame transfer for the letterbox impaired, but I'd avoid it like a trip to Super Cuts R Us.
Image Transfer Grade: A-
Audio Transfer Review: Since Shampoo is mostly dialogue driven, the two-channel mono mix isn't detrimental. But it would have been nice had the film's party sequence (featuring classic rock from the likes of The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and Buffalo Springfield) been given some Dolby Digital conditioning.
Audio Transfer Grade: B
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish, French, Thai, Chinese, Portuguese, Korean, Japanese with remote access
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring Mr. Deeds, Bugsy, Cactus Flower
Extras Review: Aside from trailers for other Columbia TriStar films, extras are sorely lacking.
And for the love of God, why in the world is the teaser for Adam Sandler's Mr. Deeds among them? Did Beatty buddy (and future Sandler co-star) Jack Nicholson have something to do with this? I want the truth!
Seriously folks, this ongoing practice of DVDs not containing original trailers for the discs' center attraction has got to stop. Even if they're taken from not-so-pristine sources, we'll take them. End of mini-editorial.
Extras Grade: D-
Final CommentsRinse, lather, repeat. Spread the word about Shampoo to your friends... and maybe they'll tell two friends.... and so on and so on and so on.
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