For those who consider Bulworth to be a savage and unprecedented political send-up, it's worth revisiting Warren Beatty's first, and best, attempt at outrageous social criticism. Mercilessly exposing the essential vacuity ... more »of both the sexual revolution and conservative alarmism over cultural permissiveness, Shampoo remains the best movie ever made about Nixon's America, and one of the very best about the tragic and disappointing conclusion to the 1960s. Set on the eve of the 1968 presidential election that elevated Nixon to the Oval Office, Beatty's uproarious satire follows a hairdressing Lothario (played by Mr. You're So Vain himself) in and out of the beds of several women, including the wife of a wealthy businessman, his mistress, and his young daughter (Carrie Fisher, in her first screen role). Juxtaposing tropes from Restoration comedy with Southern California dialogue and a healthy, hilarious dash of running commentary from election returns, Beatty's ruthless awareness cuts through the film like a scalpel. The performances are uniformly excellent and surprisingly ego-free; though Jack Warden's portrayal of Lester, the twice-cuckolded businessman, stands out as a model of sensitive, nuanced parodic acting. Released in 1975 during the messy cleanup at the conclusion of the Watergate era, Shampoo neatly bookends the Nixon presidency, and concludes with the frightening finality of an iron door slamming on a cell. Commended for including the live version of Jefferson Airplane's Plastic Fantastic Lover. --Miles Bethany« less
"Cheers to Johnny Depp, Sandra Bernhard, and Julianne Moore for citing this almost forgotten '70's classic as one of their all time favorites. To most, Shampoo is looked at as a Beatty vanity project, a dated box-office hit, or just dull and not worth your time. It's a shame because it's one of the best films of its time and is probably the last example of a sex comedy having any sly wit, sophistication, or style. The character of George (Warren Beatty) is based on Manson family victim Jay Sebring -a close friend of Beatty's- and his quest for maturity and respect cuts through the dozens of meaningless, in-your-face type comedies of today. No, it's not an overbearingly gross, laugh-'til-your-side-aches ride with lots of gratuitous nudity and forgettable one-note characters; the film builds at a carefully constructed pace and -using humor as an undercurrent and beautifully soft neutral colors as its visual look -packs a slight emotional wallop at the end. It's as close to an American art film comedy as you're going to come.The collaboration of screenwriter Robert Towne (Chinatown) and director Hal Ashby (Harold and Maude, The Last Detail, Coming Home) is a small dream and together they create some beautiful magic: the subtlety of Towne's very funny dialogue never becomes monotonous like a bad Broadway farce and Ashby's camera allows a viewer to discover hidden depths in Goldie Hawn, Carrie Fisher, Jack Warden (Oscar nominated), and Lee Grant (Oscar winner). All the performances are first rate but Julie Christie as George's true love interest steals the movie with those wonderfully expressive eyes and her classic drunk scene. (One of the best visual jokes in the movie is the backside of the black cocktail dress she wears at the election dinner.)
I owned the Criterion laserdisc version of Shampoo and saw a great print on the big screen but this digitally remastered DVD treatment is nothing short of fabulous. The visual look of Shampoo is very important since as the story gets deeper so do the colors (watch the scene where George cuts Jackie's hair in her bathroom while they both glow in the fading afternoon light) but you could never tell from the VHS tape copies or even on its scatter-shot television appearances. This transfer does the film justice but unfortunately there are no special features whatsoever. A making-of documentary or even a commentary track (with the exception of Jack Warden all the principal actors are still alive) would have made this edition a great feature in your library. It's still worth buying but also just a bit of a letdown. Regardless, you can view Shampoo as either a lumbering, relic-like snapshot of its time or a morality tale with depth, humor, and some class. A richly rewarding viewing experience awaits the viewer who sees the latter. Enjoy!"
Wouldn't It Be Nice?
Hillary | Brooklyn, New York | 01/05/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Yes it would if we could get Hollywood to produce films that are timelessly fresh as the great "Shampoo".
Warren Beatty is unforgettable as George, a shameless womanizing cad of a hairdresser, who effortlessly beds every woman that crosses his path. They usually do that at his salon, as they all wait for George to "Do" them, in more ways than one!
George naturally has several girlfriends who he tries to keep from knowing about the others, but of course they all find out. Goldie Hawn is just adorable here in her little velvet brown baby doll dress, and exudes a helpless little girl type charm from every pore. She lives with George, when he's not with various others. Lee Grant is his married lover, whose husband Jack Warden is the patsy. He plays his role quite sympathetically. There is Julie Christie as the girl who George really wants, and the only one who doesn't want him. Now that IS realistic cinema. There are other quickies of course. A not to be missed young Carrie Fisher scores some real "Love" between tennis lessons before her mom gets "done" by George when she arrives home, and finds her daughter took her appointment! George goes about his day to day activities, without a hair out of place, no matter how often, or how many women try to seduce him. A drunken Lee Grant creates a memorable scene when she visits George under a table they are seated at with several other people. For more, YOU need to watch!
What is interesting here, besides the wonderful flavor and mood of the late sixties captured in the music, free love attitudes, fashions and mod ambience, is that it took place in 1968 and was released in 1975. It covers the election eve of 1968, the whole start of the Nixon era, released at the end of the Watergate era. Maybe that can be called dated now, but it gives you a real flavor of what the world of politics and attitudes were. It is interesting and very unusual to see a film that is set in a time period, so close to the actual era that just preceded it. There is less than a decade between the 1968 era theme, and the films release in 1975. For this reason, it was perfect for it's day, and in my opinion remains so today.
There are way too many wonderful moments to list here. If you haven't seen this film, you are truly missing a classic piece of what made the late sixties and mid seventies so special. If you didn't live it, here is a film that will give you a great vcarious feeling that you did."
Shining, Gleaming, Streaming, Flaxen, Waxen
Kevin Killian | San Francisco, CA United States | 10/20/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"SHAMPOO harks back to the glory days of Hollywood to the famous incident at Ciro's (the night club) when Paulette Goddard added spice to her career by slipping under a table to give an evening's worth of excitement to director Anatole Litvak, thereby sealing her reputation as a party girl who really didn't care what anyone thought. (In another version of the story, Goddard and Litvak both vanished under the table simultaneously and had sex on the nightclub floor on the feet of their friends.) In any case, SHAMPOO recalls this incident by having Julie Christie slide out of her banquette to take care of the hairdresser, George Roundy (played by Warren Beatty) even though her "boyfriend" (Jack Warden) is hovering dangerously close by.
SHAMPOO also takes its cues from British Restoration comedy like Wycherley and Congreve, a world of cuckolded gentlemen, odious bourgeoisie, discontented wives, and boys on the make, re-locating the center of the gilded universe from London to Los Angeles in the late 1960s. As in Congreve, the husbands believe it's safe to leave their wives and daughters alone with George because he's a dandy/aesthete/hairdresser. That suits him down to the ground, for on the bodies of these ignorant women he can have his revenge on the men who treat him as a tradesman, a social inferior. The picture has a slightly dated air, as if to say, we're different now than when the action of this film is laid, which might be difficult to apprehend today.
Beatty is fine, though his haircut doesn't recall the 1960s as much as the mid 70s when the film was produced. As the typically 60s sex objects George dallies with, Julie Christie and Goldie Hawn are perfectly cast, almost too perfectly, they hardly seem to be acting at all; their haircuts and their clothes set the scene and call "cut" at the end of each take. Kathryn Blondell, the insanely talented Hollywood hairdresser, did the real hair work here, at the beginning of a long career which has included just about every movie Goldie Hawn has done since (Kate Hudson too!), as well as such period pieces as APOLLO 13 and BIRD. She is the master at making women look great on screen, and not just leading ladies, but supporting players and extras too. But this might be her best work-other than the futuristic styles she gave to Paul Verhoeven's STARSHIP TROOPERS."
He's just a boy who can't say no.
Drawn to the Screen | New York, NY, USA | 07/09/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Shampoo" is probably the most sophisticated sex comedy ever made in this country. It's a very clear-eyed (and very funny) look at how love and lust get inextricably mixed up with up with power, money, position, and politics. Of course, contrary to almost every critique posted here, George (Warren Beatty), the philandering Beverly Hills hairdresser, is the primary victim of the rules of the game, late-60s Southern California-style. Unlike the protagonist of the great Renoir movie, George doesn't end up dead, but he's left alone, abandoned by all the women he's bedded, looking like a naive fool. And that's George's sin--he's an uncynical romantic in a world that doesn't know the difference between felt emotion and deliberate calculation. He sleeps with women because he genuinely likes them. For him, taking a woman to bed is an extension of doing her hair--it's an intimate act in which he makes her look and feel better. All the other characters in the movie use sex as part of a larger plan--they each have some separate goal on their mind, which they achieve in one way or another, and George is left behind with his silly emotional and sexual vulnerabiliy. He's Don Giovanni in reverse--the boy who can't say no because he actually gives a damn--and he pays a steep price for his availability. Playing a slightly out of it dupe, Beatty has never been better or more dazzlingly glamorous. And he's surrounded by a flawless ensemble cast--Lee Grant is simply astonishing as a deceived and deceiving Beverly Hills matron, and Julie Christie, in her flared pants and mini skirts, is peerlessy sexy as the 1968 version of a Rodeo Drive courtesan. Thanks to Robert Towne, "Shampoo" also has some of the most natural, unforced, yet revealing dialog ever heard in an American movie--nothing is stylized or italicized, but every nonchalant remark hits target like a polished Wilde epigram. Delectable."
ginsu | tv land | 04/30/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This film is a modern time libertine drama with a satirical/screwball tone - its somewhere in the continuum between Paul Morissey's screwball dramas Heat/Trash and the comedy Flirting with Disaster.
The acting and directing is very believable and well done. I thought the plot was tight and well crafted; they did an excellent job of dramatizing the theme, and articulating the main characters psyche. This film is obviously based on life experience.
WHile much is said about the historical place of this film; its worth noting that the film has a timeless quality - it does a brilliant job of dealing with love, lust, realtionships, overlapping relationships, trust, human nature, the meaning of life etc. In the same way classic greek and roman comedies show that as things change things stay the same."