The Coolest Guys to Ever Hit the Vegas Strip!

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Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr.

 

The Rat Pack

 

This New Year’s Eve some of us movie junkies are staying in for the festivities. If you’re doing the same, I recommend adding to your viewing list, “Ocean’s 11.” It’s a great New Year’s Eve, buddy movie and heist caper all in one. What better way to ring in the new year than with the coolest guys to ever hit the strip.

 

Ocean’s 11 (1960)

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I can just hear Sinatra’s proposal.  How about this, we’ll shoot a film during the day in Las Vegas then party and work the Sands Hotel at night.  Unanimous vote.  (EE-O-Eleven.)

 

 Look out Vegas, here we come!

 

The Rat Pack: Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr.

Humphrey Bogart (regarded as the greatest male star by the American Film Institute in 1999) originated the concept of the “Rat Pack” with his “Clan.”  He was “the man”, holding court nightly in the 50’s at Holmby Hills. (home of Bogey and his wife Lauren Bacall)  He passed the torch to Frank Sinatra, (an original member of Bogart’s “Pack” who served as “pack master.”)  After Bogey’s death in 1957,   Frank’s boys became his “Rat Pack.”

 

Humphrey Bogart

Bogart

Performers commonly associated with The Rat Pack:  Joey Bishop and Peter Lawford.

Angie Dickinson and Shirley MacLaine were often referred to as the “Rat Pack Mascots.”

 

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Peter Lawford, Sammy Davis, Jr, Frank Sinatra, Joey Bishop, Dean Martin

 

Danny Ocean isn’t really a fictional character, he IS Frank Sinatra.  Believe it, his boys would do anything for him. Except for Dean, he was the only one who ever said no to old blue eyes.  Frank really dug Dean’s truthfulness.

The plot revolves around a group of former World War II army buddies (under the command of Danny Ocean) conspiring to rob, on New Year’s Eve, five casinos on the Vegas strip.  When Peter Lawford presented the story idea Frank Sinatra joked: “Forget the movie, let’s pull the job!”

 

 

Whenever one of the “Pack” was performing at a club in Vegas, the others would show up to support and usually put on an impromptu performance.  While they were in town, Las Vegas was jam packed with admirers hoping to catch a show.

This performance was on June 20, 1965, featuring, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr.   Johnny Carson (known for The Tonight Show) served as the emcee, filling in for Joey Bishop who had hurt his back.

 

It would be their only televised concert together.

 

 

Robin and the 7 Hoods 1964

 

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Set in Prohibition-era Chicago, the film is a take on the classic Robin Hood tale.  This engaging musical features the Academy Award nominated song “My Kind of Town” sung by Frank Sinatra.

My favorite number is “Mr. Booze” sung by Bing Crosby.  I love this scene because Robbo’s (Sinatra) club miraculously converts into a mission (due to some clever architectural tricks) to fool the police during a raid.  Robbo’s gang breaks into the gospel version of “Mr. Booze” with Alan A Dale (Crosby) preaching and Little John (Dean) testifying on the lessons of temperance.

Peter Lawford was originally cast as Alan A. Dale, but due to a falling out with Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby took over the role.  At the time, Lawford’s brother-in-law was President John F. Kennedy and Lawford had arranged for The President to stay at Sinatra’s home.  However, because of concerns over Frank’s ties to the “Mob”, the plans were scrapped.

“Mr. Booze, Mr. Booze, Mr. B double O, Z, E, don’t ever choose.”

 

 

Other numbers include:

“Don’t be a Do-Badder” sung by Bing Crosby

“Bang, Bang!” sung by Sammy Davis, Jr.

“Style” sung by Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Bing Crosby

 

 

My favorite Rat Pack movie reference line is from Clueless (1995).

Cher’s dad talking to her date who is dressed circa 60’s “Pack” style:

“What’s with you kid? You think the death of Sammy Davis, Jr. left an opening in The Rat Pack?”   Too hilarious!!

 

Over 50 years later, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis, Jr. are still the coolest guys to ever hit the Vegas Strip!

 

 

Happy New Year!

 

 

 

 

 

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Reeling Through The Year in Review Part 2 🎊

 

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In Memoriam

2016 has been a challenging year in so many ways including the loss of some of our childhood idols and icons. As I reflect back on the year, these are some of my most heartbreaking moments.

 

David Bowie 

R.I.P. David Bowie

 

The loss of David Bowie truly touched my heart. I’ve followed and loved his music since 1972 with the release of the album  – “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars”.

 

“Starman” from the 1972 album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.

“If you’re sad today, just remember the world is over 4 billion years old and you somehow managed to exist at the same time as David Bowie”. – Dean Podesta

I’m appreciative of this tweet because I found it calming and it put Bowie’s passing in perspective. A true innovator. He will be missed.

 

 

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Gene Wilder

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Jerome (Gene Wilder) Silberman (June 11, 1933 – August 29, 2016)

Time reversed itself for a moment when I heard the news of Gene Wilder’s passing due to complications from Alzheimer’s Disease. He’s been a part of my life since “Willy Wonka” and his spirit helped me through the challenging and uncertain days of my fight against Colon and Breast Cancer.

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Our Prince is Gone – 1958-2016

 

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Ever since Prince came on the scene his music has been such a vital part of my life. His passing is a tremendous loss personally and his enormous talent leaves a hole in our collective souls.

 

As the memories flood my mind I flashback to Prince and Morris Day with The Time performing at Hill Auditorium on the campus of my alma mater – The University of Michigan. This was 1978 before Prince was PRINCE. I can still see the audience swaying, fully in tune with Prince’s dynamic energy and saw a sea change, realizing this was the last time I would intimately see this badass, revolutionary genius.

Now, PRINCE would belong to the world.

 

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To my dismay, more artists would follow

 

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And, the Greatest of All Time

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So, as we wind down 2016, let us remember the joys, and the sorrows, but look ahead in Faith of a bright and shining tomorrow.

 

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Have a Blessed and Happy New Year!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Year in Review Part 1 🎊

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It’s that time of year for looking back and remembering some of my more popular posts from 2016. It’s also a time to say Thank You! for all your support and encouragement. You’re the best!

Legally Blonde was the perfect film to kick off a year full of twists and turns; highs and lows. A wonderful movie full of hope and inspiration that I thought was the perfect fit to set the new year off with a bang!

The follow-up, Part 2 of my Year in Review, will be a dedication to those we lost in what felt like a never-ending succession of profound emotions and memories.

 

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Legally Blonde (2001)

Thinking about what film to feature for this post I posed the question, what movie could entertain and at the same time set a positive attitude for the new year?

 

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Looking through my film collection, I came across “Legally Blonde” (2001) and thought, yeah, this totally fits the bill. A fabulously positive tale about sorority queen Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) and her awesome dog “Bruiser”, who discovers her inner feminist and realizes she’s smarter, has her own power and possesses more heart than her stupid ex-boyfriend – Warner Huntington III (Matthew Davis).

Legally Blonde

I admit when I first heard of the film I figured it was light weight and would be so-so, but boy was I wrong. The message of “Legally Blonde” (Be True to Yourself) will always be relevant and the film can be an excellent opportunity to demonstrate to young girls and women the strength and determination of a focused woman!

Graduated Harvard Law with Honors

When Elle is dumped by Warner, (her stupid ex-boyfriend) she decides to apply to Harvard Law (where he’s attending) and win him back. This isn’t just some pipe dream. Although she graduated with a Fashion Merchandising degree from UCLA, she studies around the clock for her new goal, taking the Law School Admission Test which she scores 179 on, one point below the highest possible score.

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A perfect example of what I love about Elle’s style is that her law school application is chock full of personality. She creates a video essay demonstrating her unique qualifications (including, she was in a Ricky Martin video) and her resume is pink and sweetly scented. Proving you don’t have to change the essence of who you are to accomplish your goals.

Even though her initial motivation to attend Harward was wack, that path eventually led her to chart a new destiny for herself. Affecting how people perceived her (dumb blonde) into smart, original, diehard friend who doesn’t give up and encourages others to do the same. Like with her manicurist friend Paulette. Elle helps Paulette gain custody of her dog back from her ex-husband, and she also helps her seduce the delivery man on whom she has a crush.

Hadn’t watched “Legally Blonde” in quite some time so I’m so glad I posed the question to myself – what’s a good positive new year movie? This film definitely qualifies and I love Elle, Bruiser and the enduring message of empowerment and friendship!

 

Gotta Love Her!

 

 

“Dancing and Singing at the Movies” 💃🏽🎶

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It seems every time someone asks the question “What’s your favorite? (fill in the blank film) that’s what happens to me…BLANK; there are just too many.  So, I decided to prep for the next occasion.

With the new film “La La Land” starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone being touted as this generation’s “Singing in the Rain”, I decided to start with the Musicals genre. These are some of my favorites that also made AFI’s list of the Top 5 Musicals of all time!

 

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Can you name yours?  Let’s share.

# FILM YEAR STUDIO
1 SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN 1952 MGM
2 WEST SIDE STORY 1961 United Artists
3 WIZARD OF OZ, THE 1939 MGM
4 SOUND OF MUSIC, THE 1965 Twentieth Century-Fox
5 CABARET 1972 Allied Artists

 

Some of my favorite quotes!

 

Singin’ in the Rain (1952)

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Lina:  [with a voice to peel paint]  And I cayn’t stand’im.    Holy crap! This line makes the movie for me!!

 

This celebrated musical-comedy was directed and choreographed by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen. Starring Kelly, Donald O’Connor, and Debbie Reynolds, it offers a lighthearted depiction of Hollywood in the late 1920s, with the three stars portraying performers caught up in the transition from silent films to “talkies.” (Wikipedia)

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West Side Story (1961)

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[singing]

Bernardo:  “I’d like to go back to San Juan.”

Anita:  “I know a boat you can get on!”

Ha!  Bernardo, you do you, cause I’m gonna do me!

 

Ah, the Sharks and the Jets who turn a knife fight into the coolest, choreographed ballet I’ve ever seen. I also have a particular fondness for this film having performed in a community theater stage production.

Jets

Jets

A musical romantic drama directed by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins, the film is an adaptation of the 1957 Broadway musical of the same name, which in turn was inspired by William Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet. It stars Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer, Russ Tamblyn, Rita Moreno, and George Chakiris.

Nominated for 11 Academy Awards and winning 10, including Best Picture (as well as a special award for Robbins), “West Side Story” is the record-holder for the most wins for a movie musical. (Wikipedia)

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The Wizard of Oz (1939)

 

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Cowardly Lion:  ” Alright I’ll go in there for Dorothy. Wicked Witch or no Wicked Witch, guards or no guards, I’ll tear them apart. I may not come out alive, but I’m going in there. There’s only one thing I want you fellows to do.”

Tin WoodsmanScarecrow:  “What’s that?”

Cowardly Lion:  “Talk me out of it!”

 Oh, Lion – you just gotta love him!

Produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, “The Wizard of Oz” is the most well-known and commercially successful adaptation based on the 1900 novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. The classic stars Judy Garland as Dorothy Gale. The co-stars include Ray Bolger (The Scarecrow), Jack Haley (The Tin Man), Bert Lahr (The Cowardly Lion), Frank Morgan, Billie Burke, and Margaret Hamilton (The Wicked Witch of the West), with Charley Grapewin, Terry the dog (billed as Toto), and the Singer Midgets as the Munchkins.

Notable for its use of Technicolor, fantasy storytelling, musical score, and unusual characters, over the years, it has become an icon of American popular culture. It was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, but lost to “Gone with the Wind”. It did win in two other categories, including Best Original Song for “Over the Rainbow” and Best Original Score by Herbert Stothart. (Wikipedia)

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The Sound of Music (1965)

 

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Maria:  “When the Lord closes a door, somewhere He opens a window.”

 Without a doubt, Maria!  Amen!

 

This song by Christina Perri  “A Thousand Years” isn’t from the film but I felt it perfectly reflected the relationship between Maria and the Captain.

“The Sound of Music” was produced and directed by Robert Wise, and starred Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer. An adaptation of the 1959 Broadway musical The Sound of Music, composed by Richard Rodgers with lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II it was based on the memoir The Story of the Trapp Family Singers by Maria von Trapp.

 

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Cabaret (1972)

 

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Sally:  ” I’m going to be a great film star! That is if booze and sex don’t get me first.”

This is a very prophetic quote considering the fate of many a would-be star.

 

This stylish, socially conscious musical drama was directed by the legendary choreographer Bob Fosse and stars Liza Minnelli, Michael York. and Joel Grey. The setting is Berlin in 1931 with the Nazis’ violent rise serving as a powerful, ever-present undercurrent in the film.

Liza Minnelli won the Best Actress Award for her portrayal of the flamboyant, cabaret performer, Sally Bowles, with the film also garnering Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actor (Joel Grey), Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Sound, Best Original Song Score and Adaptation, and Best Film Editing. It holds the record for most Oscars earned by a film not honored for Best Picture. “The Godfather” took the prize. (Wikipedia)

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Chicago (2002)

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Although the stylized, Jazz Age hit “Chicago”(2002) didn’t make the AFI Top 5, (#12), I couldn’t omit this sizzling number, Cell Block Tango. “He had it comin'”☺☺

 

A film version of Chicago was to have been the next project for Bob Fosse, who had directed and choreographed the original 1975 Broadway production but he died before realizing his vision.

Fosse’s distinctive jazz choreography style is evident throughout and he is thanked in the credits. The movie explores the themes of celebrity, scandal, and corruption in Chicago during the Jazz Age. (Wikipedia)

 

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Catherine Zeta-Jones, Richard Gere, Renée Zellweger

 

Starring Catherine Zeta-Jones, Renée Zellweger, and Richard Gere, “Chicago” centers on Velma Kelly (Zeta-Jones) and Roxie Hart (Zellweger), two murderesses who find themselves in jail together awaiting trial in 1920s Chicago.

Queen Latifah

Queen Latifah “Mama”

For her part, the multi-talented rapper, actress, producer, Queen Latifah’s role as Matron “Mama” Morton earned her a nomination for Best Supporting Actress. The movie was the winner of six Academy Awards in 2003, including Best Picture. The film was the first musical to win Best Picture since Oliver! in 1968.

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There are definitely a lot more for the list so please, let me know some of your picks in the comments!

 

I Am Spartacus – Celebrating Living Legend Kirk Douglas

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Kirk Douglas’s personality has always been larger than life; with an incredible presence and life that has spanned these 100 years.

Kirk Douglas (born Issur Danielovitch; December 9, 1916) is an American actor, producer, director, and author. He is one of the last survivors of Hollywood’s Golden Age.

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Young Kirk Douglas

After an impoverished childhood with immigrant parents and six sisters, he had his film debut in “The Strange Love of Martha Ivers” (1946) with Barbara Stanwyck. Douglas soon developed into a leading box-office star throughout the 1950s and 1960s, known for serious dramas, including westerns and war movies. (Wikipedia)

 

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During a 64-year acting career, he has appeared in more than 90 movies and in 1960 (through his production company – Bryna Productions) helped end the Hollywood Blacklist by hiring blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo to write “Spartacus” (1960) with an official on-screen credit. I gained a lot of respect for Douglas when I learned of this decision.

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Kirk Douglas as Spartacus

Screenwriter Dalton Trumbo was blacklisted at the time as one of the Hollywood Ten. The ten writers and directors who were cited for contempt of Congress and blacklisted after refusing to answer questions about their alleged involvement with the Communist Party.

Douglas publicly announced that Trumbo was the screenwriter of Spartacus, and President-elect John F. Kennedy crossed American Legion picket lines to view the film, helping to end blacklisting. The author of the novel on which it is based, Howard Fast, was also blacklisted, and originally had to self-publish it. (Wikipedia)

 

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The film became the biggest moneymaker in Universal Studios’ history until it was surpassed by Airport (1970).

This scene from “Spartacus” is very apropos; rebels standing up for Spartacus the way Douglas stood up for Dalton Trumbo.

 

I love this cinematic moment reflecting the truth that when we stand together, we are a mighty force!

Douglas’s image as a tough guy and international star were established in his eighth film, “Champion” (1949) after producer Stanley Kramer chose him to play a selfish boxer. He received his first Academy Award nomination and the film earned six nominations in all. Variety magazine called it “a stark, realistic study of the boxing rackets.” (Wikipedia)

 

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From that film on, Kirk decided that to succeed as a star, he needed to ramp up his intensity, overcome his natural shyness, and choose stronger roles.

Douglas’early films include Young Man with a Horn (1950), playing opposite Lauren Bacall and Doris Day; Ace in the Hole opposite Jan Sterling (1951); and Detective Story (1951). He received a second Oscar nomination for his dramatic role in The Bad and the Beautiful (1952), opposite Lana Turner, and his third nomination for portraying Vincent van Gogh in Lust for Life (1956). (Wikipedia)

 

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As an actor and philanthropist, Douglas has received three Academy Award nominations, an Oscar for Lifetime Achievement, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. As an author, he has written ten novels and memoirs. Currently, he is No. 17 on the American Film Institute’s list of the greatest male screen legends of classic Hollywood cinema, and the highest-ranked living person on the list.

 

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Wife Anne and Kirk Douglas

A birthday gala was held for Douglas in the Sunset Room at the Beverly Hills Hotel on December 9th. In keeping with his larger than life persona, he entered the celebration with the theme from “Rocky” blaring over the speakers.

 

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Son, Michael Douglas kicked off the proceedings, saying that it’s not just about age, but about the life he’s lived and what he’s accomplished.

 

Kirk Douglas, seated left, holds hands with his wife Anne Douglas, seated right, as they pose with family members, their son Michael, standing second left with his wife Catherine Zeta-Jones, and their children, Carys Zeta Jones, left, and son Dylan

Kirk Douglas, seated left, holds hands with his wife Anne Douglas, seated right, as they pose with family members, their son Michael, standing second left with his wife Catherine Zeta-Jones, and their children, Carys Zeta-Jones, left, and son Dylan CREDIT:CHRIS PIZZELLO/INVISION/AP 

 

As clips from Douglas’ films played in the background, fun and poignant stories were shared about the legend from Don Rickles, Steven Spielberg, friends, and family.

“My wife Anne and I always use these happy occasions to give presents to the institutions we support through our foundation,” he wrote. “Giving is a selfish act, I maintain because it makes you feel so good. I am always asked for advice on living a long and healthy life. I don’t have any. I do believe, however, that we have a purpose for being here. I was spared after a helicopter crash and a stroke to do more good in the world before I leave it.” Kirk Douglas

 

Happy 100th Birthday, Kirk!

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“Hair” A Time for Peace and Love ❤✌🏼

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Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical with a book and lyrics by James Rado and Gerome Ragni and music by Galt MacDermot is a product of the hippie counterculture and sexual revolution of the late 1960s. Several of its songs became anthems of the anti-Vietnam War peace movement.

Gimme head with hair
Long beautiful hair
Shining, gleaming,
Streaming, flaxen, waxen
 
Give me down to there hair
Shoulder length or longer
Here baby, there mama
Everywhere daddy daddy
 
Hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair
Flow it, show it
Long as God can grow it
My hair!

 

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The musical’s profanity, its depiction of the use of illegal drugs, its treatment of sexuality, its irreverence for the American flag, and its nude scene caused much comment and controversy. The musical broke new ground in musical theatre by defining the genre of “rock musical”, using a racially integrated cast, and inviting the audience onstage for a “Be-In” finale.

 

Controversial – Yes! Statement of the times – Yes! If I were doing a time capsule this is one of the films I would include. A snapshot of changing times and a declaration of pride in being who you are and standing up for what you believe.

Hair, the 1979 musical war comedy-drama film is an adaptation of the 1968 Broadway musical Hair: An American Tribal Love-Rock Musical.The film focuses on the lives of two young men in the Vietnam era against the backdrop of the hippie culture, race and class issues of the 1960’s.

 

 

Set in the late 1960s, Claude Hooper Bukowski (John Savage) is a naive Oklahoman sent off to see the sites of New York before beginning his enlistment in the US Army. On his arrival, he hooks up with a group of hippies lead by George Berger (Treat Williams) which results in his questioning everything he was brought up to believe.

 

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John Savage (Claude), Treat Williams (George)

Claude has to decide whether to resist the draft as his new friends have done or to succumb to the pressures of his parents (and conservative America) to serve in Vietnam, compromising his pacifistic principles and risking his life.

The film was directed by Miloš Forman, who was nominated for a César Award for Best Foreign Film for his work. Cast members include Treat Williams, John Savage, Beverly D’Angelo, Nell Carter, and Charlotte Rae.

 

Dance scenes were choreographed by the legendary Twyla Tharp and performed by the Twyla Tharp Dance Foundation. The film was nominated for Golden Globe Awards for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy and New Star of the Year in a Motion Picture (for Williams).

These are the social times and political issues I grew up with and I wear my hippie status with pride. The revolution for love, peace, and equality has been hard fought but what we’ve come to realize is that the struggle will always continue.

I think we need to shake the world up again with this eternal message of peace and love. Yes, I’m a “liberal progressive” and I believe love is love, women’s rights are human rights and Black Lives Matter.

Just like in the 60’s these social and equality issues are still pressing. Every time there’s progress, there are those who want to take us back. We must acknowledge these forces and continue the fight for ALL of our rights.

 

PEACE AND LOVE

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When the moon is in the Seventh House
And Jupiter aligns with Mars
Then peace will guide the planets
And love will steer the stars
This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius
The age of Aquarius
Aquarius!
Aquarius!
 

The Struggle Continues…

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