Vintage Movies: “Shampoo”

MAGNET contributing writer Jud Cost is sharing some of the wealth of classic films he’s been lucky enough to see over the past 40 years. Trolling the backwaters of cinema, he has worked up a list of more than 100 titles—from the ’20s through the ’80s—that you may have missed. A new selection, all currently available on DVD, appears every week.

Shampoo (1975, 109 minutes)

The Beach Boys’ “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” slowly fades in over a black background. Softly groaning, Felicia (Lee Grant) begs, “Please put your hand up there and hold it.” Just as she starts to lose control, the phone rings. A small spotlight illuminates George’s tired face as he picks up and says, “Oh, when did you get back in town? Come by the shop tomorrow and say hello.” Felicia urges George, “Just tell them you’re sleeping.” As she drags him back to bed, the phone rings again. “Oh shit! What are you doing?” she demands as George hangs up after a brief conversation and begins to pull on his pants. “This girl is different,” he explains of his late-night caller. “She has attacks, something to do with her pancre-ass.”

Flying under the vigilant radar of boyfriends and husbands thanks to his occupation, hairdresser George Roundy is sleeping with most of his clients. Played by an insatiable (and shaggy-headed) Warren Beatty, George has a dance card so full he’s all but falling asleep astride his 750-cc Triumph motorcycle as he zips through the Hollywood hills from one bed to another.

A needy girlfriend, Jill (Goldie Hawn), frequently breathes into a paper bag to relieve panic attacks as she decides whether to fly to Egypt for a film project. “I have these dreams that someone is trying to get me,” she tells George. Munching on an apple, George warns her, “The only one who’s gonna get you is me!” as he tosses the apple over his shoulder and chases her into the bedroom.

Tired of working at someone else’s beauty shop, George needs cash to open his own salon. “Rates raise independently of tight money,” a loan officer explains to him. George grins as if he understands. “What sort of references do you have, Mr. Roundy?” asks the banker. “References? I do Barbara Rush … her hair,” replies George. “I was talking about credit references,” says the banker. “I don’t know what a financial statement is,” says George. “But I’ve got the heads, the customers. I’m the one they want. They come to me.”

The bank officer turns off the charm. “I’m sure they do,” he says. “You don’t know what I’m talking about, do you? How do you expect to loan me money if you don’t know the first thing about my business?” asks George, becoming agitated. “I don’t. Good morning, Mr. Roundy,” he says, tossing George’s crumpled application into the wastebasket. George bends down, looks the banker in the eye and says, “Thank you. Asshole!” He stomps out of the bank, rips off his coat and tie, slings them into a garbage can, then picks up the garbage can and body-slams it into the concrete as a shower of bottles and cans rolls aimlessly into the parking lot.