Friday, October 22, 2010

The Endangered List (Case File #88)



KEEP OFF MY GRASS
(1972)

a.k.a. KEEP OFF! KEEP OFF!

CAST
Mickey Dolenz (You Know)
Marcus J. Grapes (Wolfman)
Gary Wood (Jerry)
Everette Addington (Twila)
Louis Quinn (Maury Sherman)
Ed Kearney (Cal Woodall)
Gerald McRaney (David Sherman)
Christine Nelson (Rose Sherman)
Herb Nelson (Horace Talbot)
Rick Hurst (Grady Talbot)
Christina Hart (Rita Talbot)
Denise DeFelice (Sandy)
Arthur Giron (Bingo)
Nita Wilson (Jessica)
Michael Anthony (Eddie)
Linda Yasnyi (Fire Fly)
Susan Gebhardt (Suze)

Directed by
Shelley Berman

Produced by
Albert J. Salzer
and
Austin and Irma Kalish

Written by
Austin and Irma Kalish

Executive Producer
Allan D. Yasnyi

Director of Photography
Robert A. Weaver

Edited by
Robert A. Weaver

Art Director
Lesley B. Yasnyi

Script Supervisor
Evelyn Hendrickson

Production Manager
Gilles A. de Turenne

Sound Mixer
Mike Perry

Make-Up
Scott Hamilton

Assistant to the Producer
Mary Andre

Gaffer
Don Clark

Assistant Directors
Susan S. Grapes
Paul Ehrmann

Still Photographers
Steve Baum
Robert Ehrlich

Equipment
Castex Motion Picture Rentals

Location Publicist
Jerry Pam & Associates

Music
Norma Green
Jim Helms
Gary LeMel

Sound
Ryder Sound Service, Ind.

Titles and Optical Effects
Consolidated Film Industries

A
Sol Fried - David Roth
presentation

Released by
Capital Productions

(Re-released by Gamalex Associates, Ltd. in 1973)

Running time: 90 minutes
MPAA rating: PG


SYNOPSIS

It is a winter morning in Brandonville, an average town. Gloom has settled over the scene; a group of hippy-clad long-hairs have “moved in” to one of the better sections. Their presence poses a threat to the community. Panic has struck. The streets are deserted. Sales have plunged. The otherwise peaceful life has ground to a halt. The outlook is grim -- and the finger points to the hippy band and its rag-tag ways.

Something has to be done.

After much scratching of heads, the civic leaders have come to a decision: They will buy Riverway, a nearby shanty town, and offer it as a gift to their unwelcome visitors. They will tell them, go there and do your thing, and leave us to do ours in peace, with the added admonition, “and keep off our grass.”

MR. SHERMAN (Louis Quinn), a kind, determined Jewish shop owner, and one of the city fathers, presents the offer to the group; JERRY (Gary Wood), a handsome long-hair and leader of the hippies, accepts.

The bizarre procession winds its way out of town, to the relief of the citizenry. Spearheading the group, in a pick-up, is Jerry; seated beside him is SUZE (Susan Gebhart), sulty and sexy.

Along the way the caravan halts as Jerry stops to offer a girl a lift; she is TWILA (Everette Addington), a pretty drop-out hitch-hiking east. Twila is invited to join the group.

Arriving at their new “home,” the abandoned shanty town, the hippies name it Violets, and set about putting things in order. Soon Violets becomes a beehive of activity as housing is repaired. Buildings go up. Shops open. WOLFMAN (Marcus Grapes) is a leather worker; Jerry deals in candle making. And others -- even YOU KNOW (Mickey Dolenz), a lovable bird-brain, devotes himself to planting and nurturing a patch of “grass,” fenced in with a sign reading, “Keep Off My Grass.” But, Violets is not all work. There is living and loving too, where tempers flare and passions flow. And sex expresses the urge to surge. The flower children are making love, not war.

But, war comes -- one day when Jerry and Suze are burst in upon by HORACE TALBOT (Herb Nelson), a sadistic bigot and drug store owner in Brandonville, and his sneaky son, GRADY (Rick Hurst), who, at gun point, order the lovers out on the charge of trespassing. Jerry stands his ground, and upon showing title to the deserted town, sends the irate Talbot and his bullying son off in a huff. But love is fleeting, even in Violets; it is on the wane between Jerry and Suze. Soon the more idealistic Twila takes over Jerry’s heart and home.

Violets is flourishing, and Jerry’s business with it, as the demand for candles grows. Jerry is happy. He asks Twila to marry him. She protests that, with the success, they have become the very people they tried to escape from and pleads with Jerry to return with her to the free life. Jerry placates Twila with “what do you say we make love instead!”

Meantime, DR. CAL WOODAL (Edmond Kearney), a sophisticated young medic, sets up a clinic in Violets. RITA TALBOT (Christina Hart), the loose and flirtatious pretty daughter of Horace Talbot, the druggist, makes a play for the new doctor; she is repulsed as being “pushy.”

DAVID SHERMAN (Gerald McRaney), a nice Jewish city boy, who had met and since become enamored of SANDY (Denise De Felice), Dr. Woodal’s attractive assistant, leaves home, with parental consent, to join the hippy band, and Sandy.

Meanwhile, the ever eager Rita has failed to impress the doctor, after repeated tries, and on the re-bound and desperate, works on the girl-shy and as yet untried You Know. And makes him. The naïve You Know is ecstatic over his first conquest; braggingly, he gets the word out, only to learn in due time from Dr. Woodal that he had received a case of something else from Rita, less welcome than the charms of the promiscuous girl.

Rita, still bearing the sting of the good looking Dr. Woodal’s rejection, plans a spiteful revenge, along with her hateful brother, Grady. The romance between David and Sandy has now flowered into marriage plans. Rita and Grady learn of the wedding date. They spike the ice cream with LSD and the wedding ceremony ends in a tragic freak-out, as the guests go psychedelic, and one of the hippies, under the influence of the drug, kills himself.

The sheriff arrives. Rita and her brother, Grady, are accused, by Dr. Woodal, but the accusation is ignored.

Jerry’s and Twila’s differences are growing; she is unable to persuade Jerry to give up his new life for the free life. The unhappy Twila steals out, one night, and once again hits the road.

Jerry, dejected, disillusions You Know by telling him his garden of “grass” is a garden of weeds.

Jerry takes on new interests as the settlement continues to prosper, drawing the patronage and admiration of the people of Brandonville and attracting, to the chagrin of the now very establishment residents, of all things, new hippies.

BOXOFFICE review
In this rather simple story of youth's rebellion against the establishment, Shelley Berman, making his directorial debut, gently pokes fun at both sides of the generation gap. Careful handling will be needed for the film to find its proper audience despite the fact that it shows the rebels coming full circle to return to establishment values. Although the screenplay by Austin and Irma Kalish levels gentle barbs at everyone concerned, it is not an honest evaluation of both points of view. Acting jobs rate from fair to poor, with Mickey Dolenz as You Know the only one to come across as more than a stereotype. Some patrons will find his character offensive due to his interest in establishing a marijuana plantation and his feverish attempts to promote his first sexual encounter. Gary Woods plays Jerry, self-appointed leader of the group who doesn't put up much of a fight against capital gains as long as they are his own. Christina Hart plays a spoiled little rich girl from a nearby town who relieves Dolenz of his unwanted virginity. The Eastman Color photography by Robert A. Weaver is run-of-the-mill as is the music by Norma Green, Jim Heims and Gary LeMel. Film is a Sol Fried-David Roth presentation produced by Albert J. Salzer and Austin and Irma Kalish.

(Boxoffice, May 15, 1972, 4487)

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow!!..It is wonderful and amazing that such films exist(or existed)..Shelley Berman *And* Mickey Dolenz...I'd love to see this!

This is such a fantastic and informative blog..thank you for your time,research and enthusiasm!!

Keep up the good work!!
Steven

Booksteve said...

Once again you have managed to find a cool-sounding film that even I have never even heard of--Do you know how hard that is for most people?