Wild in the Streets Film Details
Overview: A young man gains significant political influence as the leader of a counterculture rock band with his rallying cry of voting rights for teenagers.
Tagline: If you’re thirty, you’re through!
Review: I was curious to read some reviews of Wild in the Streets from when it was released (i.e. Ebert’s) to get an idea of what the movie was thought of at the time. There was a good line that nails what is probably at the core of the film, which is “the fascist potential of pop music,” but it can be taken a step further to what the fascistic potential is of anyone who appeals to a section of the culture that can be galvanized. The movie wasn’t well received- it was, granted, an AIP picture dumped on the masses as a hippie exploitation flick along the likes of Psych-Out- but now in looking back I wonder if the writer, Robert Thom (also responsible for the cult classic Death Race 2000) and director Barry Shear (mostly a TV director) were much ahead of their own audience. It skewers the old and politicians, yes, but it also skewers pop music and LSD and hedonism and even communism to a certain extent. It’s a fun, absurdist nightmare ‘trip’ on what would happen if the “kids” took over, which leads eventually to the question: what happens when they’re too old. Four sentence summary: Christopher Jones plays Max Frost, a pop star who had one of those shaky childhoods that led to a lot of acid and blowing up his parent’s car. His band, a bunch of Monkeeys rip-offs (yes, that’s right), are filled with a bunch of who’s whos, like a 15 year old super-genius account and a black anthropologist played by Richard Pryor. At a political rally for a “youth” senator (Hal Holbrook) who wants the voting age lowered to 18, he comes up off the bat with a rallying song, “14 or fight” to lower the voting age to 14! And then everything soon spirals into a youth-controlled congress and presidency (think Mr. Smith Goes to Washington with over-ecstatic flower children), with all the “old” pulled into camps where they’re doped on acid and given frocks to wear. Trippy, man, trippy. Contrary to what some have said, and perhaps I read more into it than was necessary or warranted, Wild in the Streets takes a hold of its principal subjects as something that is meant to be mocked mercilessly. While nowhere near the brilliance of Network, it does have the same kind of super jaded view of humanity below the surface. Everything becomes so exaggerated that the only conceivable way to take it is as a satire; if it is meant as a “serious” look at politics and the youth culture then only a few moments stand out (actually the “Shape of Things” song is ironically powerful in the context of where it comes which is right after a few students are shot at a rally – a foreshadowing to Kent State?), but on its terms of it being a nutty but oddly lucid spoof on the political scene then it works really well. If for nothing else the cast is a hoot: Shelley Winters hams it up as the star’s mother who in one scene literally crashes through security gates to get to her son who really doesn’t want anything to do with her, especially after she basically kills a kid with a car! Also big props to Hal Holbrook who takes the quasi William Holdon in Network role (the one “serious” guy amid the chaos) and Ed Begley as a crusty old politico who quickly gets run out to the old-folk farm singing in circles. Along with Pryor look out for Larry Bishop and Millie Perkins. It’s not high art, but Wild in the Streets has some scenes that are excruciatingly funny (I was dying during the 25 year old “chick” speaking to congress about lowering all ages to run for office to 14), and there’s even some good pointers made about the state of the nation. It’s exploi-satire, baby!
Country: United States
Duration: 97 min
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Music
Also known as: The Day it Happened, Baby,Les troupes de la colère,Quattordici o guerra,Violência nas Ruas,Gatans vildar,Дикарь на улицах,Wild in the Streets,Kadun hurjat,狂った青春,El presidente,Дикуни на вулицях,HaNo’ar LaShilton,De unge ta’r magten,Rebell på åpen gate,Rebell på öppen gata,Wild in den Straßen,La rebelión de los hippies