roasting Old and New Hollywood
in the allegorical film art of Stanley Kubrick
by Gary W. Wright
Starting in the Sixties, a number of older directors and veterans of the allegorical cinematic wars began to address the arrival of New Hollywood in their films. Richard Rush was the first, sympathetically cautioning the exuberant newcomers against libertine excesses and lawbreaking anarchy in such allegorical films as TOO SOON TO LOVE (1960), HELL’S ANGELS ON WHEELS (1967), PSYCH-OUT (1967) and GETTING STRAIGHT (1970). John Huston also turned his sights on New Hollywood, sarcastically warning the newcomers that their big talk of transforming Old Hollywood town into New Hollywood town like a bunch of cinematic sheriffs would come to naught if the new sheriffs were even wilder and more libertine than the old in his allegorical roast, THE LIFE AND TIMES OF JUDGE ROY BEAN (1972). However, no older film director more memorably blasted the cocky and libertine directors of New Hollywood and their anti-establishment, crime, sex and violence loving films with more righteous allegorical fury and cynical amusement than Stanley Kubrick, the thoughtful, plodding and chess loving Napoleon of cinema.
Indeed, le General implicitly took the arrival and success of New Hollywood as a personal insult, and made their decisive defeat of their Twilit Side the overriding objective of his final five films, perhaps because the rowdy young Turks did not embrace the artbuster, the new style of film that combined high artistic, cultural, intellectual, philosophical and spiritual goals with popular blockbuster appeal, colour and effects in order to pull audiences away from their monolithic televisions and HALevision sets and back to the theatres that he had expounded to great success in his epic allegorical artbuster, 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968). Taking on other directors was not unusual for Kubrick, as he had already roasted Alfred Hitchcock in his satirical allegorical film, LOLITA (1962).
‘And instead he wanted me to co-operate with the others making some kind of a…you know, art movie’.
Indeed, James Mason’s Humbert Humbert, the creepy, eccentric, fussy and stuffy transplanted English literature professor who, after moving to the United States, ingratiated himself into the house and life of Shelley Winters’ blonde and Old Hollywood linked Charlotte Haze and tragicomically attempted to woo her equally blonde and New Hollywood and L.A. haze linked teenage daughter Dolores ‘Lolita’ Haze-played by Sue Lyon-evoked the efforts by Hitchcock, the equally creepy, eccentric, fussy and stuffy transplanted English director, to ingratiate himself into the hearts and minds of the Good War generation and then their rebel boomer children after moving to the United States in 1939. The choice of Mason as Humbert underlined the meaning of LOLITA, as Mason had played sinister Phillip Vandamm in Hitchcock’s allegorical film, NORTH BY NORTHWEST (1959). In addition, Lyon in her bikini, sunhat and sunglasses when first met as Lolita looked like the twin sister of Grace Kelly in her bikini, sunhat and sunglasses when first met as Frances Stevens in Hitchcock’s allegorical film, TO CATCH A THIEF (1955), linking Lolita to Stevens and reaffirming that Kubrick was roasting Hitchcock in LOLITA. And not for the first time, as Charles Laughton’s Gracchus had already evoked Hitch in Kubrick’s previous allegorical and rebellious film, SPARTACUS (1960). Kubrick also implied that he was roasting himself, as mischievous television writer Clare Quilty-played by Peter Sellers-was linked to Kubrick throughout the film.
Significantly, given that both Humbert and Quilty failed to win over Lolita to each of their causes, Kubrick implied that he was convinced that Hitchcock and himself would also fail to win over young audiences and succeed with the equally young and restless film artists of New Hollywood who emerged in the early Sixties. A doomed attempt at rapport that was, nonetheless, implicitly acknowledged and sympathized with by Francis Coppola in his LOLITA evoking allegorical film, DEMENTIA 13 (1963), arguably the first feature film of New Hollywood. The sight of Lolita fleeing Humbert in the end-like Kelly fled Hitchcock for the Prince of Monaco-for a young fellow named Richard P. Schuler-played by Gary Cockrell-who looked like Alfred E. Neuman, the ‘spokesperson’ of MAD magazine, was a fitting end to LOLITA. For this MAD ending reminded us that a paperback collection of MAD was seen on a bookshelf in the Haze family home in the Hollywood cadenced burgh of Ramsdale home early in the film, and prepared us for the Mutually Assured Dementia and even more merciless roasts of Old Hollywood directors that prevailed throughout Kubrick’s next allegorical film, DR. STRANGELOVE OR: HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE BOMB (1964).
‘Gentlemen! You cannot fight here-this is a War Room’!
Indeed, this MADcap film that poked grimly macabre fun at the truly MAD doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction that prevailed in American military ‘thinking’ at the time always resembled a MAD magazine movie roast come to life. A real life MAD movie roast that gleefully lampooned blockbuster obsessed film studios and the tragicomic and doomed attempts of directors like Peter Bull’s Hitchcock linked Soviet ambassador, Alexej de Sadesky, the implicitly Kubrick linked RAF Group Captain Lionel Mandrake-implicitly Kubrick linked, as Mandrake was played by a returning Sellers-the equally implicitly John Ford linked American Air Force bomber pilot Major ‘King’ Kong-played by Slim Pickens-and the equally implicitly John Huston linked Colonel ‘Bat’ Guano-played by Keenan Wynn-to direct, guide and release blockbuster hits for the studios that would not bomb but appeal to young Boomer audiences and lure them away from their beloved television sets, rock and roll, junk food, comic books-and MAD magazines-and back to the struggling cinemas. Indeed, nothing summed up this desperate and doomed quest of Old Hollywood to excite the enthusiasm of young audiences with a big blockbuster hit than the sight of the whooping and hollering and cowboy hat wearing Major Kong riding a nuclear bomb down onto its Soviet target at the end of the film-a falling nuclear bomb and the apocalyptic chaos it unleashed that ominously anticipated the falling helicopter of the TZ disaster and the chaos its crash unleashed. A blockbuster hit that set off a nuclear Armageddon that killed most of the people of Earth and forced the few survivors to begin anew, like the early humans of the opening Dawn of Man segment when Kubrick took off the MADcap and got more serious and thoughtful in his next allegorical film, 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968).
‘I’ve got a bad feeling about him’.
Indeed, the scary appearance and the intimidating bone weapon used by Daniel Richter’s Moonwatcher and the Earth bound home of his early human tribe evoked the Earth linked Scarecrow-played by Ray Bolger-in the allegorical and Wicked Wallis Simpson roasting Victor Fleming film, THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939), confirming the Ozian theme of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. For their part, the metal machines, dry and frozen moon, and silver spacesuits of William Sylvester’s Old Hollywood linked Dr. Heywood Floyd-indeed, his name looked and sounded like Hollywood Old-and his lunar companions linked the second half of the Dawn of Man segment to the equally dry, frozen, metal, silver and Water linked Tin Man-played by Jack Haley-while the orange spacesuits and the courageous and David versus Goliath evoking battle of Keir Dullea’s Coppola and Odysseus linked Commander David Bowman with the Douglas Rain voiced and omniscient onboard computer, Heuristic Algorithym 9000 (HAL 9000) on the Discovery I spaceship linked the Mission to Jupiter segment to the Fire linked Cowardly Lion. Not surprisingly, the sight of Commander Bowman floating away from the Discovery I in a pod before blasting off into hyperspace on an intergalactic voyage that led to mysteriously palatial and futuristic Emerald City like digs in the closing Jupiter and Beyond segment of the film evoked Frank Morgan’s Airy and Emerald City ruling Great Oz drifting away in his hot air balloon at the end of THE WIZARD OF OZ-and the tornado that carried Judy Garland’s Dorothy Gale and her canine companion, Toto, from Kansas to Oz at the beginning of THE WIZARD OF OZ. A fitting link to Dorothy, setting us up for the sight of a transformed and evolved Starchild Bowman returning to Earth at the end of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY like a transformed Dorothy returned to Kansas at the end of THE WIZARD OF OZ.
Significantly, the evolved Starchild Bowman implied Kubrick’s hope that film art would evolve into a new ‘artbuster’ era of film that combined the best of art and blockbuster films. For the mostly silent and speechless first half of the Dawn of Man segment evoked the silent era of film art, the eagerly talkative and music supported second half of the Dawn of Man segment evoked the talkie era of film, the artsy Mission to Jupiter segment evoked the artsy post-WWII film era, while the Jupiter and Beyond segment evoked the psychedelic Sixties era of film, implying that Kubrick was meditating on the history of film art and trying to kick off a new and transformed artbuster Starchild era of film art free from the disturbing and television evoking presence of Sentinel monoliths in 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. So as to also appease and appeal to young New Hollywood film artists like Coppola and George Lucas implicitly linked to Gary Lockwood’s Vice-Commander Frank Poole of the Discovery I-given all of the nods to Coppola and the allegorical and Kubrick addressing Lucas student film, ELECTRONIC LABYRINTH THX 1138: 4EB (1967), in 2001; A SPACE ODYSSEY. Young film artists that clearly aroused Kubrick’s satirical fury, with such early allegorical film art as the Coppola directed feature films, FINIAN’S RAINBOW (1968), and THE RAIN PEOPLE (1968), for Kubrick put on his MADcap again and dismissively roasted Coppola and Lucas in his next allegorical and Ozian themed artbuster, A CLOCKWORK ORANGE (1971).
‘Excellent. He’s enterprising, aggressive, outgoing, young, bold...vicious. He’ll do’.
Indeed, Coppola and Lucas were implicitly blasted in A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, but, significantly, not in the symbolic form of the film’s infamous narrator and protagonist, violence, sex and mayhem loving, Alex DeLarge. Instead, Coppola and Lucas were implicitly roasted in the symbolic form of Dim and Georgie-played by Warren Clarke and James Marcus-two duplicitous teen thug followers or ‘droogs’ of Alex. Significantly, as Dim eventually betrayed Alex and the thug code by selling out and joining the police, Kubrick implied his dismissive conviction that Coppola would also soon give up on youthful film rebellion and become just another one of the fat and complacent members of the Hollywood establishment and churn out non-challenging, mainstream films. Interestingly, it was Dennis Hopper that Kubrick implicitly linked to the wild, imaginative and sex, violence and mayhem loving Alex and dubbed the true rebel indie film artist who would defy any attempt by the Hollywood establishment to tame him-like Alex defied the establishment’s attempt to tame him with its cinematic Ludovico Treatment-a conclusion that Kubrick probably reached on the basis of the allegorical and implicitly Coppola and Lucas basing film, EASY RIDER (1969).
This Hopper approving implication was affirmed by the fact that Alex and his three droogs evoked Hopper’s Hitler obsessed Peter Vollmer and his trio of Nazi thugs in the Stuart Rosenberg directed allegorical telefilm, ‘He’s Alive’ (1963), from the fourth season of the original Twilight Zone television series. Indeed, the black Nazi-style uniform with the red left armband that Alex wore in prison openly linked him to Vollmer-and ominously linked Kubrick and A CLOCKWORK ORANGE to the Twilight Zone years before the TZ disaster like most of the film artists of the era. Thus, Kubrick was undoubtedly pleased when the attempt by Lucas to roast him and 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY in his first allegorical feature film, THX 1138 (1971), was rejected by audiences, and no doubt displeased with the surprise success of the allegorical and Don Shebib roasting Lucas film, AMERICAN GRAFFITI (1973), that established Lucas as the new reigning box office King. Kubrick was no doubt also displeased by the fact that Coppola succeeded with his two Old Hollywood bashing allegorical hits, MARIO PUZO’S THE GODFATHER (1972), and MARIO PUZO’S THE GODFATHER PART II (1974). Kubrick was also definitely displeased that John Landis likened his cinematic attack on New Hollywood in A CLOCKWORK ORANGE to being akin to that of the tragicomic and film long homicidal rampages of an early human-played by Landis-straight out of the first part of the Dawn of Man segment of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY in the gleefully satirical and Kubrick roasting allegorical film, SCHLOCK (1973). Displeased, indeed, as the woeful, painfully amateurish, dismal and mostly mercifully unnoticed first allegorical feature ‘film’ of Landis implicitly inspired Kubrick to take off his MADcap again and get more serious and thoughtful in his next allegorical artbuster, BARRY LYNDON (1975).
‘The fact is, the young monkey’s fallen in love with Nora…’
Indeed, Kubrick implied that the naïve and foolish Irish country boy known initially as Redmond Barry and later as Barry Lyndon-and played by Ryan O’ Neal-who longed for fame and fortune symbolized the equally naïve and foolish Landis and his longing to be a successful film artist throughout BARRY LYNDON. The sight of Barry losing his father to a duel early in life and being raised by his mother-played by Marie Kean-affirmed the implicit link of Barry and Landis, reminding us that Landis was also raised by his mother after losing his father early in life. The fact that a wealthy and Hitchcock resembling uncle named Brady watched over Barry and his mother after the death of his father reaffirmed the implicit link between Barry and Landis, reminding us that a wealthy uncle of Landis persuaded his mother to move the two from Chicago to Los Angeles so he could watch over them after the death of his father.
In addition, a love scene early in the film between Barry and his ambitious and beautiful young Irish cousin, Nora Brady-played by Gay Hamilton-evoked a similar love scene between Schlock and his heart’s love, Mindy-played by Eliza Garrett-in SCHLOCK, reaffirming the link between Barry and Landis. The sight of a seasoned military veteran named Captain Grogan-played by Godfrey Quigley-taking Barry under his wing after he left home after almost killing Nora’s English fiancée, Captain Quin-played by Leonard Rossiter-in a duel also affirmed the implicit link of Barry and Landis, reminding us that seasoned Hollywood veteran George Folsey jr. also took Landis under his wing and produced his first films. Barry was also gunned down in the end like Schlock, in another link between the two men. Thus, in the quick rise, fall and disappearance of Barry after he managed to marry the wealthy, titled and Old Holllywood evoking widow, Lady Lyndon-played by Marisa Berenson-and be rechristened Barry Lyndon, Kubrick implicitly expressed his belief-if not his hope!- that Landis would destroy himself if he persisted in his delusion that he was a film artist, in the end. A prescient hope, given the damage that Landis would do to film art with the TZ disaster. Alas for Kubrick, his fellow serious film artists and audiences, Landis somehow managed to stick around despite the fact that SCHLOCK was a flop, and lead film art straight into the Twilight Zone.
However, despite the sudden emergence of Landis, and no doubt to Kubrick’s delight, New Hollywood abruptly left behind its art for art’s sake and low budget beginnings and embraced the big budget allegorical artbuster after the release of Spielberg’s big budget and allegorical thrashing of blockbuster film, JAWS (1975). Indeed, starting with Steven Spielberg’s allegorical and implicitly Coppola roasting artbuster, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND (1977), Terry Gilliam’s allegorical and implicitly Spielberg and JAWS roasting artbuster, JABBERWOCKY (1977), and Sir Ridley Scott’s implicitly Lucas roasting and BARRY LYNDON evoking artbuster, THE DUELLISTS (1977), New Hollywood suddenly became eager converts to le General’s cause. This mass embrace of the artbuster ended the war between Old and New Hollywood as it united the high artistic ideals of New Hollywood with the populist and commercial goals of Old Hollywood, sweeping away the rift between the two Hollywoods to create one fused and united Hollywood. Indeed, the artbuster quickly became the dominant type of Hollywood film, with dedicated and unswerving practitioners like Gilliam and Sir Scott and followers like Luc Besson, Kathryn Bigelow, Tim Burton, James Cameron, Sofia Coppola, Richard Kelly and David Lynch the most dominant film artists in Hollywood to this day. Le General must also have taken comfort from the allegorical and implicitly Coppola and Lucas bashing Rush film, FREEBIE AND THE BEAN (1974).
For this frenetic and tragicomic film implicitly linked Coppola and Lucas to two free wheeling, independent, quarrelsome and riotous San Fran police detectives, Freebie and the Bean-played by James Caan and Alan Arkin-whose madcap misadventures and loose interpretation of the law get them in nothing but trouble throughout FREEBIE AND THE BEAN. Kubrick would also have been pleased by Huston’s equally sarcastic allegorical film, THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING (1975). For this tragicomic tale of two nineteenth century British adventurers named Peachy Carnehan and Danny Dravot-played by Michael Caine and Sean Connery-who were destroyed by their attempt to take over and rule their own country north of the India of the British Raj in the end, was no doubt another roast of Coppola and Lucas again and their attempt to create their own American Zoetrope film studio north of Hollywood in San Francisco, just more nasty than FREEBIE AND THE BEAN and gloatingly convinced that the attempt would end in harrowing failure. Coppola’s implicit epic roast, and symbolic murder, of Lucas at the end of his allegorical artbuster film, APOCALYPSE NOW (1979), would also have pleased Kubrick. Indeed, despite being implicitly roasted in the form of John Belushi’s Bluto in the surprisingly successful allegorical Landis film, ANIMAL HOUSE (1978)-an implicit roast taken literally when Robert Altman openly linked Kubrick to the evil Bluto (played by Paul Smith) and Landis to Popeye (played by Robin Williams) in his allegorical and live action musical film, POPEYE (1980)-le General chose to also implicitly blast David Cronenberg in his next allegorical artbuster, THE SHINING (1980).
‘And as far as my wife is concerned, I’m sure she’ll be absolutely fascinated when I tell her. She’s a confirmed ghost story ghost story and horror film addict.’
Indeed, for while there were a few aspects of THE SHINING that evoked Landis-such as Philip Stone’s ghostly and psychotic Overlook Hotel caretaker Grady, whose surname evoked the alias O’Grady that Barry adopted at one point in BARRY LYNDON, and Shelley Duval’s Wendy Torrance, whose first name evoked Mindy in SCHLOCK-there were far more allusions to Cronenberg and his film art in THE SHINING that implied that Kubrick was roasting Cronenberg in the form of Jack Nicholson’s troubled English teacher/writer Jack Torrance in this film. Indeed, the film’s allusions to such allegorical Cronenberg films as STEREO (1969), SHIVERS (1975) and FAST COMPANY (1978), Torrance’s resemblance to Gary ‘the Blacksmith’ Black-played by Cedric Smith-in FAST COMPANY and the film’s Cronenberg evoking spare and minimal camera movements affirmed that Kubrick was roasting Cronenberg in THE SHINING. The eerie and moody electronic score by Wendy Carlos, which evoked the equally eerie and moody electronic score composed by Cronenberg for his allegorical film, CRIMES OF THE FUTURE (1970), reaffirmed the implicit Cronenberg addressing intent of THE SHINING.
The resemblance of Overlook Hotel manager, Stuart Ullman-played by Barry Nelson-to Sir Ridley Scott also reaffirmed the Cronenberg addressing intent of the film, reminding us that Sir Scott had sympathetically reached to the then embattled Cronenberg in the implicit form of equally embattled Napoleonic officer Armand D’Hubert-played by Keith Carradine-in the allegorical film, THE DUELLISTS (1977). The resemblance of Grady to Alfred Hitchcock was also fitting, reminding us that the career of the creepy Hitch was ending just as that of the even more creepy Cronenberg was beginning. Last but not least, the presence in the Overlook Hotel of paintings by Alex Colville and Norval Morrisseau reaffirmed the implicit link of Torrance to a Canadian film artist. Thus, the sight of Torrance going beserk over the course of a long, cold and snowed in winter while acting as caretaker of the Overlook Hotel and trying to kill Wendy and his psychic son, Danny-played by Danny Lloyd-implied that Kubrick believed that Cronenberg was as unstable as Torrance and would soon self-destruct.
Significantly, THE SHINING evoked the films of Rush. A fitting evocation, as Kubrick’s use of Nicholson and mirror reflections showing that Torrance was parting ways with reality reminded us that Nicholson appeared in HELL’S ANGELS ON WHEELS, PSYCH-OUT, and TOO SOON TO LOVE, and that Rush also loved to use subtle reflections of characters in mirrors and windows in his film art to indicate that these characters were also leaving behind reality and embracing out of control fantasy worlds. These nods to Rush in THE SHINING confirmed that Kubrick had been following the films of Rush and approved of their warnings to New Hollywood. Thus, Kubrick must have been pleased when Rush reappeared the same year as THE SHINING with his allegorical film, THE STUNTMAN (1980), an epic artbuster that implied that Rush hoped that New Hollywood’s sudden embrace of the artbuster signalled that the war between Old and New Hollywood was over, and that the era of the artbuster had arrived.
Indeed, this alliance was literally seen in the film, for the film long battle between the young, Vietnam War scarred Scarecrow stuntman, Cam-played by Steve Railsback-and the manipulative, possibly homicidal, Great Oz director, Eli Cross-played by Peter O’Toole-implicitly evoked the battle between Old and New Hollywood that had been fought since the late Sixties. That this battle ended in a grudging acceptance, mutual admiration and commitment between the two men to definitely complete the allegorical film within the film that Cam, Cross and the rest of the cast and crew were seen working on throughout the film, an allegorical Great War film called DEVIL’S SQUADRON, also implied the hope of Rush that the pre-TZ disaster war between Old and New Hollywood was over, and that the time had come for the artbuster. Indeed, with the appearance of such allegorical artbusters as THE SHINING, THE STUNTMAN, Lynch’s THE ELEPHANT MAN (1980), Akira Kurosawa’s implicitly Kubrick roasting KAGEMUSHA (1980) and Ken Russell’s ALTERED STATES (1980), 1980 was a good year for the artbuster.
Eerily, the Overlook Hotel’s fateful Room 237-which evoked the less fateful Sandman Inn room 237 in FAST COMPANY-presciently pointed the way to the 23-07-1982 date of the TZ disaster in yet another ominous memory of the future made more eerie by the fact that the room was originally Room 217 in the allegorical Stephen King bestseller, The Shining (1977), which inspired THE SHINING. Thus, with this eerie omen of the twilit future, the shock of the fatal helicopter crash around 2:20 am in the morning of July 23, 1982 that killed child extras Renee Chen and Myca Le and actor/writer/director Vic Morrow on the Landis Vietnam War era village set of the allegorical Landis, Spielberg, Joe Dante and George Miller film, TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE (1983) itself and the dread allegorical Zone War that resulted, it was fitting that le General implicitly addressed Landis again as well as the TZ disaster and the dread Zone Wars-and also implicitly addressed Kurosawa and KAGEMUSHA-when he donned the MADcap again in his next allegorical artbuster, FULL METAL JACKET (1987).
‘Private Joker is silly and he’s ignorant, but he’s got guts, and guts is enough’!
Intriguingly, the opening shots that saw US Marine barbers begin basic training by shaving the tops of the heads of a group of new recruits and leaving the hair on the sides of their heads before the film cut to the next recruit evoked the samurai with the similar tops of their heads shaved and the sides left long in the samurai films of Kurosawa. Indeed, the final Marine barber looked like Kurosawa, affirming the allusion to Kurosawa. The link reminded us that Kurosawa had implicitly and dismissively roasted Kubrick in KAGEMUSHA in the implicit form of a virtuous and Kubrick resembling Japanese lord named Shingen and his raucous and equally Kubrick resembling security double-both played by Tatsuya Nakadai-two men whose high and low personalities reminded us that Kubrick bounced between high films like 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY and low films like A CLOCKWORK ORANGE.
Significantly, of all the new Marines, it was noticeable that only Vincent D’Onofrio’s Private Lawrence had a surname with eight letters like Kurosawa and looked like a chubby sumo wrestler, implicitly linking him to Kurosawa. Perhaps not surprisingly, given this implicit link to Kurosawa, Pte. Lawrence was constantly verbally abused by Lee Emery’s Gunnery Sergeant Hartman over the course of the basic training that transpired over most of the first half of the film. As a choke hold Hartman put on Lawrence soon after meeting him evoked the infamous Force chokes of David Prowse’s Darth Vader in the STAR WARS Classic Trilogy, the implication was that Hartman symbolized Lucas, one of the co-producers of KAGEMUSHA. Thus, with Lawrence shooting Hartman dead before killing himself, Kubrick symbolically killed Kurosawa and Lucas with one rifle-a link to Kurosawa ironically affirmed by the lone wooden percussion note heard on the soundtrack during the killings, a Kurosawa trademark.
After implicitly taking care of Kurosawa during the first half of the film, Kubrick implicitly focussed on Landis in the form of Matthew Modine’s Joker during the second half of FULL METAL JACKET. Indeed, the implicit link of Joker to Landis was affirmed by the fact that part of a line from the first post-TZ disaster allegorical Landis film, TRADING PLACES (1983), was spat at him by Adam Baldwin’s Animal Mother at their first meeting on deployment in Vietnam after basic training. The nicknames of Joker and Animal Mother and the rest of the US Vietnam War era soldiers met in the film and their casually outlandish behaviour also evoked the nicknames given by Bluto to his fellow members of Delta House in ANIMAL HOUSE and the casually outlandish antics of that embattled Faber College fraternity, reaffirming the film’s implicit interest in Landis. Significantly, Arliss Howard’s Cowboy was linked to Spielberg, co-executive producer and co-director with Landis of TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE, throughout the film. Thus, given these links to Landis and Spielberg, and given the fact that the TZ disaster took place on a simulated Vietnamese village set during the Vietnam War, the implication was that the struggle of Joker, Cowboy, Animal Mother and their fellow soldiers to survive their tour of duty in Vietnam allegorically symbolized the struggle of Landis, Spielberg, and their fellow New Hollywood film artists to survive the Vietnam War linked and TZ disaster haunted Zone War.
Intriguingly, while the Spielberg linked Cowboy was gunned down and killed by Ngoc Le’s VC sniper at the end of the film, the Landis linked Joker survived his tour of duty in le General’s twilit and TZ disaster haunted Vietnam War. In fact, despite the implicit roastings Landis had given Kubrick in SCHLOCK and ANIMAL HOUSE and the TZ disaster, Kubrick also allowed Joker to finish off the wounded sniper after she killed Cowboy-grimly allowing him to fulfull the ‘Born to Kill’ slogan written on the front of his helmet-symbolically freeing Landis from the Twilight Zone at a time when most people were still howling for the blood of Landis. Kubrick then allowed Joker to march off tellingly into the night with his TZ disaster scarred band of directorial brothers ironically singing the Mickey Mouse Club theme in a caustic and sarcastic prediction that the ‘shattered’ directors of New Hollywood would return to their increasingly commercial films without a backward glance once the TZ trial was over in 1987. A prescient prediction, as New Hollywood did go back to movie tie-in merchandise and product placement in their films as if the TZ disaster had not happened after Landis and his four co-defendants in the TZ trial were found not guilty of manslaughter in 1987, the year of the release of FULL METAL JACKET.
Unfortunately for le General, Oliver Stone and company had beaten him to the allegorical punch a year earlier in PLATOON (1986), which had already allegorically linked the struggle of a group of American soldiers to survive their tour of duty in Vietnam with the struggle of New Hollywood directors to come to grips with the Vietnam War linked TZ disaster. Perhaps leading Kubrick to wash his hands of allegorical film art and New Hollywood bashing and the decrying of the corporatization and commercialization of film and let other film artists like Sir Ridley Scott continue the artbuster war, until le General reluctantly decided to return to theatres and implicitly address Lynch with his last allegorical artbuster, EYES WIDE SHUT (1999).
‘Do you mind telling me what kind of fucking charade ends with somebody turning up dead?’
A quiet, thoughtful and mysterious work filled with allusions to such twilit and allegorical Lynch moving paintings as BLUE VELVET (1986), TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME (1992) and LOST HIGHWAY (1997), the telefilm series, TWIN PEAKS (1990-1) and allegorical films that implicitly addressed Lynch like the Tim Burton film, PEE WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE (1985), and the James Cameron film, TRUE LIES (1994), to implicitly affirm its interest in Lynch, EYES WIDE SHUT was also openly linked to the twilit and disastrous events of 1982 from the opening shots. For the arrival of Tom Cruise as the implicitly Lynch linked, naive and establishment serving Dr. Bill Harford-as he evoked Kyle Maclachlan’s FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper in TWIN PEAKS and TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME-linked the film to the twilit and disastrous year via Cruise’s role as Joel Goodsen in the allegorical Paul Brickman film, RISKY BUSINESS (1982). The arrival of Sydney Pollack as Harford’s friend, the implicitly Spielberg and Hollywood establishment linked figure Victor Ziegler, reaffirmed the film’s link to 1982, reminding us that Pollack played George Fields in his own allegorical film, TOOTSIE (1982). Pollack was also openly linked to the Twilight Zone via his character Willis in the allegorical Buzz Kulik directed telefilm, ‘The Trouble with Templeton’ (1960), from the second season of the original Twilight Zone television series. The name of his character, Victor Ziegler, also confirmed the twilit theme of EYES WIDE SHUT and reaffirmed his link to Spielberg, for the name evoked Vic Morrow and Steven Spielberg.
Intriguingly, Harford and Ziegler were ultimately linked to the mysterious death of a mysterious woman named Amanda ‘Mandy’ Curran-played by Julienne Davis-who evoked Sheryl Lee’s equally mysterious Laura Palmer and Sherilyn Fenn’s Audrey Horne in TWIN PEAKS. Curran died after a strange and orgiastic gathering at a castle-like home linked to the film art establishment where all of the partygoers wore masks, a gathering that evoked the brothel One Eyed Jack’s in TWIN PEAKS, and the allegorical and Ida Lupino directed telefilm, ‘The Masks’ (1964), from the fifth season of the original Twilight Zone television series. This orgiastic gathering had implicitly affirmed the film’s interest in Lynch, given that Harford’s Lynch resembling and implicitly linked friend, Nick Nightingale-played by Todd Field-had a surname that evoked a Lynch written song called ‘The Nightingale’ that was sung by Julee Cruise in TWIN PEAKS.
Significantly, given Curran’s link to Palmer and given that Ziegler persuaded the well meaning but naïve and out of his depth Harford to give up on his quest to solve the mystery of the death of Curran and bring the establishment to justice after Harford foolishly attended this gathering, Kubrick implied that he thought that Lynch was also well meaning but naïve and out of his depth in a Hollywood establishment that was too strong to held accountable for the deaths of Chen, Le and Morrow in the TZ disaster. Le General also implied that Lynch and his moving paintings would not be able to stop the death of film art for film art’s sake, swept away by 1999 by CGI enhanced blockbuster beasts championed by people like Spielberg that had led to the end of higher film art and idealistic and film artists like Kubrick and Lynch. Kubrick implicitly affirmed the personal nature of the film with the presence of Rade Serbedzija’s old, cranky and Kubrick resembling and implicitly linked costume store owner, Milich, a tired and cranky old character who rented Harford his mask for the partay, allowing le General to roast himself one last time in EYES WIDE SHUT. Making it implicitly clear that indeed were these the final sad, embittered and cynical thoughts on film art from an equally worn out and world weary le General.