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Posted: May 16, 2013 at 4:42 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

Movie #4 – The MonkeesHead

Year – 1969

Up until now, every movie on this list was designed to either resurrect a show or take it to the next level. But here we have a movie that, one could credibly argue, was purposefully designed to destroy itself. In 1967, The Monkees were the biggest band in the world. And that’s not the hyperbole of a super-fan (which I am). In 1967, The Monkees had four #1 albums. They outsold The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. Not The Beatles or The Rolling Stones, mind you. The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. That’s combined. “I’m a Believer” kept “Strawberry Fields Forever” from reaching #1 on the U.S. charts.

But their popularity, while intense, was short-lived. By the spring of 1968 their show was cancelled and the band, originally a boardroom creation, was now a living breathing thing saddled with slumping album sales and reputation as pretenders. And it was in the middle of this shit-storm that they made their one and only feature film. At the time it was deemed an unmitigated disaster. But over the years it’s come to be recognized as a classic cult film deserving of the Criterion treatment – an honor for any filmmaker.

This is the part where I would recap the plot…if there was one. And that’s really a criticism, per se. The film is a trippy collection of psychedelic non-sequiturs designed to distance The Monkees from their corporate image. And it might have worked…had anyone seen it.

Unfortunately the movie only grossed $16,000. And no, that’s not a typo. The Monkees fan base was largely children who, by this time, had either moved onto the next fad and/or would’ve been put off by the movies psychedelic elements. And the people who might have enjoyed the film (read: “hippies”) would never consider seeing a “Monkees movie”. For Monkees fans this is widely considered the beginning of the end for the group. However, the director, Bob Rafelson, and producers, Bert Schneider and Jack Nicholson (yes, that Jack Nicholson), went on to make other largely forgotten films such as Five Easy Pieces and Easy Rider.

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