The Monkees @ The Egyptian, 11/12
The Monkees backstage with Jack. Photo courtesy Henry Diltz.
There’s something undeniably cheeky and charming about The Monkees, even after all these years. Well, 40 years to be exact. In November of 1968, America’s fun-loving answer to The Beatles teamed up with Bob Rafelson and Jack Nicholson to make Head, the only feature film to The Monkees’ credit. And, forty years later (almost to the day), Head returned to Hollywood for a rare 35mm print showing, and a few other one-of-a-kinds as well.
Most people know The Monkees because...well hey, hey, they’re The Monkees. But true fans of the short-lived television series understand that Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork, and Michael Nesmith were much more than just two-season wunderkinds for an American television market trying desperately to carve up slices of the true late-60’s American lifestyle. These fans know that The Monkees, while initially assembled for show purposes, grew to become a potent musical phenomenon, eventually wresting controls of music production away from the studios themselves. And after a 58-episode run on television, The Monkees garnered much success on tour into the early 1970’s, and a splendid resurgence in the 1980’s. And in that time, they even managed to star in a film.
Head, for the uninitiated, is a surrealist grab bag of scenes loosely plotted around the ‘prefab four’ as they tackle their own issues, take flights of fancy, and fall haplessly into obscure and outrageous obstacles. If you are looking for cohesion, plot, story line, or any other contemporary cinematic force that would drive a film from beginning to end, then Head is probably not for you. Simply put, the whole thing is a farce put through a blender. After all, the title itself is a joke which relied on the presumed success of the film to drive audiences to go see Jack Nicholson (co-writer and producer) in the upcoming Easy Rider. The promotion department wanted to be able to say “from the producers who gave you Head”. That, in a nutshell laced with LSD and a bad haircut, is what Head really is.