CANDY —-ah,1968, you had to be there. A Christmas release yet, this infamous idiocy tooled the wickedly funny Terry Southern-Mason Hoffenberg book, a sex-satire written a decade earlier, itself spinning off from Voltaire’s “Candide”, which had scandalized society back in 1759.
Buck Henry, fresh off writing The Graduate, took on the script, and French heart-throb Christian Marquand attempted the direction (‘attempt’ being operative), and they updated to the psychedelic love-peace-protest era, seemingly a natural fit. Clonk! My pals and I got giggle fits reading the book, reissued to coincide with the film, when we were thirteen, and with a big-name cast the much-trumpeted movie event promised naughty tee-hee’s and tons of sex.
Seeing it then was a let-down for almost everyone, including thirteen-year-old guys with raging hormones in Walnut Creek. It has some laughs at the start with Richard Burton’s chew-it-up poet expressing his bottomless “need” for ‘Candy’, but as the movie lurches through 115 increasingly frantic, smutty, chaotic, forced and incoherent minutes the initial hopeful snickers turn to intermittent hiss-exhalations, those little ‘sss’-sounds that escape between your lips or via your even more disinterested nostrils when jokes aren’t funny enough pry your mouth open.
Following Burton down the drain are Marlon Brando (a few chuckles as a phony guru), Ringo Starr, James Coburn, Walter Matthau, John Astin, John Huston, Charles Aznavour, Elsa Martinelli and Sugar Ray Robinson. Ringo’s so bad as a Mexican gardener he should have been deported—from the planet— and Robinson may have delivered punches but he can’t swing a punch-line to save his soul. The others flail.
The attention of all is focused on getting Candy into the sack. She is played by 18-year-old Swedish beauty contest winner Ewa Aulin. Who, you may ask, was/is an Ewa? The comely but talent-free Ms.Aulin rapidly went down (choice of words) to low-budget Italian sex-romps, eventually leaving ‘acting’ to become a teacher.
Even someone who could act would have been hard-pressed with the bludgeon of the script and the mangled direction. The movie has a reputation as a bomb, but it did draw in $16,500,000 globally and landed #18 of the years releases, the teaser nudity (not enough, damn it!) and smarm-soaked sneer at society competing with the likes of The Love Bug, Blackbeard’s Ghost and With Six You Get Egg Roll.
It has music by Dave Grusin, a song by The Byrds, awful psychedelic effects, and a woeful hippy-dippy finale (er, climax) that Glenn Erickson sagely observed over at DVD Savant is “dismal imitation of a Fellini film”. With Anita Pallenberg, Florinda Bolkan, Joey Forman.