Saturday, November 22, 2014

Only A Southern Song

Terry Southern. One of the great 20th Century comedy writers.
As a beat poet and part of the '60s Swinging London, he rubbed elbows with all the greatest writers, artists and thinkers of his time.
Some of which share space with him on the Beatles Sgt. Pepper's album cover,
such as Lenny Bruce and William S. Burroughs, whom he helped to get Naked Lunch published.
Southern's first book to gain attention was his second effort; Candy. Co-written with Mason Hoffenberg. The book was later adapted into a movie which featured an all-starr cast, including Ringo Starr, and Sgt. Pepper alum Marlon Brando.
Interestingly, the prostitute in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is named Candy Starr.
John Astin plays his own twin brother in Candy. Which, like 2001:ASO, seems to have a "transcending the film" motif, the difference here is that Candy seems to loop back into the beginning.
Ringo plays Emmanuel, who in the book, is the one who injures Candy's father, putting him into a coma and leaving Candy in the care of his twin brother. In the film it is Emmanuel's sisters who injure him.

Southern's third book The Magic Christian was also well received, especially by young film director Stanley Kubrick, who was given a copy by Peter Sellers.
Fans of the "Paul McCartney is dead" myth will enjoy the fact that there is a recurring conversation in the book between Guy Grand and his sisters about a man from Liverpool named Bill, who was a dentist and put an egg in his sister's mouth, then ran out of the building yelling, "Yaahh! Yaahh! Yaahh!"
Kubrick later met Southern in 1962 when he was interviewed by Southern for Esquire Magazine about his controversial new screen adaptation of Lolita.
A few months later, Kubrick asked Southern to co-write the script for his new film Dr. Strangelove.

Fast forward to 1969. Terry Southern goes to work writing the screenplay for a film adaptation to The Magic Christian, with director Joseph McGrath, along with Graham Chapman, John Cleese and Peter Sellers. The film is produced by Denis O'Dell who previously produced A Hard Day's Night.
Peter Sellers had a hit in 1964 with his parody cover of the film's title track.
The biggest difference between the book and the film was the adopting of a son by Guy Grand.
Sellers played Grand, and the adopted son was played by none other than Ringo Starr.
The movie also features music by the Apple Records group Badfinger, particularly their song "Come And Get It", which was written and produced by Paul McCartney.

The Beatles wyncs do not end there. This film is a Rosetta Stone for Beatles researchers.

After Guy Grand adopts Ringo, the very first thing they do is go to see Hamlet. When they arrive, Guy's sister mentions that is is at the part with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.
When they sit down to watch the play, Ringo says, "I've seen this. Shakespeare, right?"
To which Guy replies, "Right and double right!"
There was a play which premiered in August 1966 titled Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.
Sean Lennon wrote & recorded the soundtrack to a film titled Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Undead.
The play goes into a scene where Hamlet performs a strip-tease.
Hamlet is played by the Manchurian Candidate in The Manchurian Candidate, Laurence Harvey.
Harvey also co-starred with McCartney's girlfriend Jane Asher in The Winter's Tale.
See my post on The Manchurian Candidate here.
At the end of the scene, a sign comes down which reads "ZAP".
In AHDN, when Paul quotes from Hamlet, "Oh that this too, too solid flesh would melt", he turns to the camera and exclaims, "ZAP!"
In 1964, The Beatles performed a skit from Shakespeare's A Midsummer's Night Dream on British tv. In the skit, both Paul & John's characters kill themselves.
They were playing the role of traveling actors playing the roles of Pyramus & Thisbe. In the play Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, there are also traveling actors that play skits.
The 1990 film adaptation of Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead features a story within a story motif.

Grand & his new son then attend a business meeting. One of Grand's employees is played by the young blond man who had a cameo in both AHDN and Help!

They then board a train almost exactly the same in appearance to that of the train in AHDN.
In their train car sits a stuffy old man, just like in AHDN. Sitting next to him is an Asian man, who gets switched out for a different Asian man.
The old gentleman does a double take, but soon returns to reading his paper. The second Asian man then gets swapped out for a third. Again the man senses something amiss, but pays it little mind.
The third Asian man is switched out as the first Asian man returns. Looking over and seeing the more familiar face of the first Asian man, the gentleman relaxes back into his newspaper reading.

In Sharon Tate's first film, Eye of the Devil, the landowner of a family owned vineyard is sacrificed by a local cult to ensure the abundant growth of the crops. There is a recurring harp motif in the film, and the son watches his father's sacrifice through the strings.
The Magic Christian features a very similar shot, seemingly unnecessarily so.
But if that wasn't enough, it then cuts to a shot where we can view the tv, as it shows a protester sign reading, "Vote Pig '68".
"Pigs", "Death to Pigs", and "Political Piggies" were the three messages written in blood by Manson's followers in the homes of their victims. Inspired by The Beatles song Piggies.
This was done with hopes of framing the Black Panthers in the murders and inciting a race war.
Then what do we see next on the news they're watching?
A black panther run amuck at a local dog show. It's owner, this African man.
And who has a cameo later on? Roman Polanski.
Earlier in the film, Grand had his men put an apology in his newspaper regarding an earlier story. The appy polly loggy was to be written in Polish.
The article in question was about a dead woman.
And of course, one of the famous scenes both in the book and the film, is where Grand wears a pig mask.

The launch date of the Magic Christian is Easter Sunday. Bringing to mind resurrection.
Two of the passengers for this prestigious voyage are (portrayals of) John Lennon & Yoko Ono.
While the Magic Christian is supposedly on it's voyage to New York, (it never really leaves London), there is a false flag hijacking of the ship by Cubans.

The updated book cover is rather interesting. We see a palm holding a lone heart. Twins. An Eyes Wide Shut mask. And a ticket to ride.
Palm raised over Paul on Lonely Hearts cover.
Interesting that on the Sgt. Pepper cover, we have Mae West, Terry Southern and H.C. Westerman.
Paul met Lina Eastman at the Sgt. Pepper release party.
See my post on North here.

Guy Grand being GG/77 brings up the ubiquitous OZ reference.
Grand even mentions the Yellow Brick Road to Ringo at one point in the film. Followed by him saying, "Done and double done".

Peter Sellers hired Terry Southern to write his dialogue for the 1967 film Casino Royale; a film that is so loaded it deserves a post of it's own.
^ Film's intro


JasonTryp said...

Great piece once again. Your blog is a trip!

woslo w said...

Thanks, man!