(Italy/France - 1968)
Directed by Christian Marquand. Written by Buck Henry. Cast: Charles Aznavour, Marlon Brando, Richard Burton, James Coburn, John Huston, Walter Matthau, Ringo Starr, Ewa Aulin, John Astin, Enrico Maria Salerno, Elsa Martinelli, Sugar Ray Robinson, Anita Pallenberg, Florinda Bolkan, Marilu Tolo, Nicoletta Machiavelli, Umberto Orsini, Joey Forman, Fabian Dean, Lea Padovani, Peter Dane, Enzo Fiermonte, Buck Henry. (R, 124 mins)
Based on the controversial 1958 "dirty book" of the same name by Terry Southern and Mason Hoffenberg, CANDY is the kind of movie that could only have been made in the late 1960s. Unevenly mixing slapstick sex farce with trippy psychedelia and counterculture satire in one bloated, overly indulgent, and almost instantly dated package, CANDY is a chaotic all-star mess of the 1967 CASINO ROYALE variety, but like that film, it's an endlessly fascinating one. Contrary to the myth that's stuck over the nearly 50 years since its release, it was not a box office disaster. Indeed, opening in December 1968, it made $16 million and was the 18th highest grossing film of the year in the US, sandwiched between THE BOSTON STRANGLER and THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR. Adjusted for inflation, that's $111 million in 2016 dollars. Can you imagine something as balls-out insane as CANDY making $111 million in theaters today?
entrance of his career as MacPhisto, his hair and scarf constantly blown back by a seemingly supernatural wind that surrounds only him. Coburn is great as the demented Krankheit, with the notion of the rock star-like surgeon, years before Buckaroo Banzai, the height of the film's absurdist Southern influence (Southern also co-wrote DR. STRANGELOVE and would write 1969's star-studded and equally anarchic THE MAGIC CHRISTIAN, which also starred Starr). Brando is also quite amusing as the phony mystic, sheepishly trying to hide a footlong sub and a bottle of beer as Candy awakens after a marathon of Twister-like sex.
The Byrds and Steppenwolf), CANDY was hard to see after its theatrical run in 1968 (where it was in cinemas the same time as the similarly time-capsule-worthy SKIDOO), Outside of some occasional and highly-edited late-night TV airings, the film built a cult mystique as it essentially disappeared for a number of years. It was never released on home video until Anchor Bay's DVD and VHS editions in 2001. It recently debuted on Blu-ray courtesy of Kino Lorber, with a very good Buck Henry interview, where the 85-year-old comedy writing legend is pretty blunt about what works and what doesn't and shares a number of stories about the production.