Sunday, 4 March 2012

Scene On a Sunday: Shampoo

This is less of an actual scene analysis, rather than it is an excuse to take note of a scene in the almost perfect romantic comedy Shampoo. A scene which, incidentally, has little to do with the main romantic thrust of the narrative – at least no specifically. I think Shampoo, up until a somewhat misguided last ten minutes, is an excellent example of serious contemporary comedic filmmaking at its best without the name Woody Allen attached to it. It’s give or take Reds (and, maybe, Bonnie and Clyde) my favourite Warren Beatty performance and it’s got an eclectic cast of ladies – Goldie Hawn, Julie Christine, Carrie Fisher and Oscar winning Lee Grant for this performance all turning above average work.

This scene occurs at the second of two dinner parties on a particular night and hairdresser George is sleeping with everyone woman in his sights. He’s “officially” dating Jill (Goldie, a former flame of Jackie (Julie, who is also Lester’s mistress) and having an affair with Grant's Felicia (who is Lester’s wife). That’s just the backstory.

Jack Warden has two Oscar nominations, both of them in the supporting category for Warren Beatty flicks (this and Heaven Can Wait) and with all the women and Warren’s excellent work he’s something of a liability when it comes to being forgotten. But, then I rewatch Shampoo and remember how excellent a comedic turn it is. Back in the seventies I’d assume all the bare assess was something quite scandalous. After the second, wilder, party is winding and Lester has lost, and found, his pants he happens upon this (random?) scene.

Forgetting how creepy it is that he stands there and watches them, this scene does delight me.
Notice how his hands drop to his sides, as if the sight renders him momentarily speechless, sans pants and all.

That’s the lovely Goldie Hawn (a true delight here), and her beau of the moment played by Tony Bill (an Oscar winner for producing the excellent The Sting). Which segues into the only significant line of dialogue in this scene, and one of my favourite lines from the entire film.

Lester: “Now that’s what I call fucking.”

Hilarious, of course, and a perfectly line reading from Warden….but, that’s not even the punch line.

Lester: “Am I right, or am I right?”

Foiled, by the light of a refrigerator…of all things. There’s his business partner to be and his girlfriend. Now, that’s an image to be left seared in your brain.

Happy Sunday.
Shampoo is something excellent, though, right?

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