Shampoo is a 1975 American satirical comedy-drama film written by Robert Towne and Warren Beatty, and directed by Hal Ashby. It stars Warren Beatty, Julie Christie, Goldie Hawn, Lee Grant, Jack Warden, Tony Bill, and Carrie Fisher in her film debut.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Hal Ashby|
|Produced by||Warren Beatty|
|Written by||Robert Towne|
|Music by||Paul Simon|
|Edited by||Robert C. Jones|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Box office||$60 million|
The film is set on Election Day 1968, the day Richard Nixon was first elected as President of the United States, and was released soon after the Watergate scandal had reached its conclusion. The political atmosphere provides a source of dramatic irony, since the audience, but not the characters, are aware of the direction the Nixon presidency would eventually take. However, the main theme of the film is not presidential politics, but sexual politics; it is renowned for its sharp satire of late-1960s sexual and social mores.
The lead character, George Roundy, is reportedly based on several actual hairdressers, including Jay Sebring, Jack Sahakian, and film producer Jon Peters, who is a former hairdresser. Sebring was murdered by Charles "Tex" Watson in 1969. According to the 2010 book Star: How Warren Beatty Seduced America by Peter Biskind, the screenwriter Towne based the character on Beverly Hills hairdresser Gene Shacove.
In 1968, the eve of the presidential election that will end with Richard Nixon ascending to the highest office, George Roundy is a successful Beverly Hills hairdresser, whose occupation and charisma have provided him the perfect platform from which to meet and have sex with beautiful women, including his current girlfriend, Jill.
Despite this, George is dissatisfied with his professional life; he is clearly the creative star of the salon, but is forced to play second fiddle to Norman, the "nickel-and-diming" mediocre hairdresser who owns the place. He dreams of setting up his own salon business, but lacking the cash and other financial matters to do so, he turns to wealthy lover Felicia and her unsuspecting husband Lester to bankroll him. George's meeting with Lester supplies a second secret for him to keep from his would-be benefactor, Lester's current mistress, Jackie, who is George's former girlfriend, perhaps the most serious relationship he has ever had.
Lester, who assumes George is gay, invites him to escort Jackie to a Republican Party election night soiree, at which George finds himself in the same room as a number of present and former sexual partners. The principals adjourn to a posh counterculture party, and the night quickly descends into drugs, alcohol, and sexual indulgence. Later on, Lester and Jill happen upon George and Jackie having vigorous sex on a kitchen floor. Just before their identities are revealed, an impressed Lester exclaims: "That's what I call fucking! Am I right, or am I right?" When Jill recognizes the writhing couple, she throws a chair at them; as George backpedals, trying to placate Jill, Jackie flees.
George realizes that Jackie is his true love, and proposes to her, but by then it is too late. Jackie announces that Lester is divorcing Felicia and taking Jackie to Acapulco. Jackie leaves George alone on a hilltop above her house as he watches her leave with Lester.
- Warren Beatty as George Roundy
- Julie Christie as Jackie Shawn
- Goldie Hawn as Jill Haynes
- Lee Grant as Felicia Karpf
- Jack Warden as Lester Karpf
- Tony Bill as Johnny Pope
- Jay Robinson as Norman
- George Furth as Mr. Pettis
- Randy Scheer as Dennis Lolly
- Susanna Moore as Gloria
- Carrie Fisher as Lorna Karpf
- Luana Anders as Devra
- Mike Olton as Ricci
- Kathleen Miller as Anjanette
- Richard E. Kalk as Detective Younger
- Brad Dexter as Senator East
- William Castle as Sid Roth
- Howard Hesseman as Red Dog
The soundtrack includes songs from its setting of the late 1960s. Included in the party sequence are the Beatles ("Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" and "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds"), Buffalo Springfield ("Mr. Soul"), Jefferson Airplane ("Plastic Fantastic Lover"), and Jimi Hendrix ("Manic Depression"). Also included on the soundtrack album is "Wouldn't It Be Nice" by the Beach Boys, which plays over the opening and closing credits of the film.
Upon its release, the film generally received positive reviews from critics who lauded its talented cast and sharp, satirical writing. Praise was not universal; some critics, including Roger Ebert, pronounced it a disappointment. From reviews compiled retrospectively, review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 59% based on 34 reviews, with an average score of 6.4/10. The site's consensus reads: "Shampoo trains a darkly comic lens on post-Nixon America, aiming at -- and often hitting -- an array of timely targets".
Commercially, Shampoo was a great success. Produced on a budget of $4 million, the film grossed $49,407,734 domestically and $60 million at the worldwide box office. It was the fourth most successful film of 1975 by box office takings, beaten only by Jaws, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Awards and honorsEdit
- Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Lee Grant
- Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Jack Warden
- Best Writing, Original Screenplay: Robert Towne and Warren Beatty
- Best Art Direction: Richard Sylbert, W. Stewart Campbell, and George Gaines
- Best Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy)
- Best Motion Picture Actor (Musical or Comedy) – Warren Beatty
- Best Motion Picture Actress (Musical or Comedy) – Julie Christie & Goldie Hawn
- Best Supporting Actress (Motion Picture) – Lee Grant
- 1975 National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Screenplay
- 1976 Writers' Guild of America Award – Best Comedy Written Directly for the Screen
The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:
- "SHAMPOO (X)". British Board of Film Classification. 1975-02-24. Retrieved 2012-12-04.
- "The Films of Hal Ashby". Beach, Christopher (2009). Detroit, Michigan: Wayne State University Press, p. 176, ISBN 978-0-8143-3415-7.
- Box Office Information for Shampoo. Worldwide Box Office. Retrieved January 27, 2016.
- "Shampoo Movie Review & Film Summary (1975)". Chicago Sun-Times. 1975-01-01.
- "Shampoo (1975)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2019-08-06.
- Shampoo at Box Office Mojo
- "NY Times: Shampoo". NY Times. Retrieved 2008-12-30.
- "AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs" (PDF). American Film Institute. Retrieved 2016-08-06.