Thursday, January 06, 2011

Script review- “Shampoo” by Robert Towne and Warren Beatty

An odd sort of film – a sort of comedy of manners in Beverly Hills 1968, with a great central character: a hairdresser who everyone assumes is gay but is actually the biggest tomcat in town. He can’t help himself – he can’t say no to women, he understands them but is a victim of them in a way - which makes him surprisingly likeable. The big speech George gives to Jill (Goldie Hawn’s character) is meaner and tougher in script form – not as good as the film which has that great line “maybe I don’t love you, maybe I don’t love them but no one’s going to tell me I don’t like them”. Also from memory it was the owner of the salon who lost a son in Vietnam in the film (here it’s a woman who does the shampoo); and George suggests to Lorna they have sex but in the film it was Lorna (Carrie Fisher). 

But it’s still an excellent script, a lot better than I remembered (I watched cut-up versions on TV with key exchanges cut out, like Carrie Fisher suggesting they have sex). It gets better as it goes along, with solid pay off at the end: the set up of George and Jackie being busted having sex is done in the best traditions of solid farce (Lester looking for a towel, Jill going to get him but also trying to find George); there are three great drama confrontations: George and Jill where he explains why he is what he is; George and Lester, where he explains women (“we all want to f*ck them and they know it and they like it and they don’t like it” – as good a summing up about sexual politics as any); George and Jackie, where he makes his final plea. The political comment isn’t that awesome – it takes place during the 1968 election with the point being all this drama is happening while the characters don’t notice. But really what else could they do? March in protest? Write a letter? It’s a little unfair.

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