Monday, August 30, 2010
I'm not sure when I first bought the book "Candy", but I know it was before the movie came out. For some odd reason, over the years I have always associated the book only with Terry Southern and completely forgotten that it was co-written with Mason Hoffenberg. I had such a fondness for the book that even though the cover is loose and the pages are age tanned, I still have my copy (see photo below). As you can see, it was originally published under the pseudonym Maxwell Kenton.
I'm sure I was excited when they made "Candy" into a movie in 1968 and even more revved up to find that Ringo Starr was going to be in the movie. Besides Ringo, Candy was packed with stars: Richard Burton, Marlon Brando, James Coburn, John Huston, Walter Matthau, John Astin, Sugar Ray Robinson, Anita Pallenberg, and even Buck Henry, who wrote the screenplay.
Since this was Ringo's solo (without any other Beatles) big screen debut, I thought I would give Candy another look all these years later. I was astonished to find that it was out of print (although there are many used copies of the dvd and vhs for sale online). I was able to view a used vhs copy and found that my memories of the movie were better than the movie itself....proving once again, sometimes it's better to leave memories alone.
In case you don't know the plot of Candy (the book is somewhat different): Ewa Aulin plays Candy, an innocent (or dimwitted, depends on how you want to view her) young lady, who brings out the beast in men. Besides the psychedelic opening and New Age closing, the major part of Candy is a set of vignettes; each one with someone trying, usually successfully, to get into Candy's pants. Richard Burton plays a self important booze soaked poet, Walter Matthau, whose performance shines above everyone else's, plays a maniacal Air Force General, James Coburn plays a famous surgeon, Walter Huston plays a hospital administrator and Marlon Brando plays a guru.
Of course, we're here to talk about Ringo Starr and his part as Emmanuel, the Mexican gardener. Emmanuel is a "good boy" who is going to go into the priesthood. Due to some confusion on his part about what certain English words actually mean, he loses his virginity to Candy. Ringo did a very adequate job but I did hear his Mexican accent slip very briefly a few times; otherwise, he held his own with all of the famous actors.
I'm going to say that Candy was a movie "for and of" its time (1968) and I'm sure I enjoyed it back then. Watching it again, these many years later, I found, for the most part, the movie to be boring with only the Walter Matthau section holding up today. Matthau's performance in my opinion was one of the best I have ever seen him do.