The Cool and The Crazy was part of Showtimes Rebel Highway series (a series of low budget, quickly shot , by the likes of William Friedkin, Joe Dante and Robert Rodriguez, films inspired by subversive 50s classics).
Ralph Bakshi began developing Cool and the Crazy in the late 1960s under the title If I Catch Her, I’ll Kill Her. United Artists and Paramount Pictures each paid Bakshi to develop the film in the 1970s after Fritz The Cat hit,
but were unwilling to produce the non-animated concept. In 1993, Lou Arkoff, the son of Samuel Z. Arkoff, approached Bakshi to write and direct a low-budget feature for Showtime’s Rebel Highway series. Bakshi revisited his screenplay for If I Catch Her, I’ll Kill Her, and retitled the film Cool and the Crazy Ralph Bakshi’s Cool and The Crazy has nothing in common with the original The Cool and The Crazy aside from the title.
I happen to think that “The Cool” of the title means the world of jazz clubs, fun for fun’s sake, the girl at Michael’s office, Lorianne, who can excell at her job, admit when she is horny and allow people into her fantasies.
The jazz world has Kerouac on its side (even if the actor looks far too young and the real Jack did not really have kept woman the way he does here). It is a world that Michael (Jared Leto) is not ready for. Joannie (Jennifer Blanc) and Roslyn (Alicia Silverstone) when they cheat in the film are not having fun for fun’s sake because there is dishonesty and cruelty involved. And that is what makes them part of “The Crazy.” Crazy here is not having any responsibilites, living carefree but choosing to do so with a cruel streak. The character of Joey (Matthew Flint) embodies all these negative qualities. He could enjoy life more if he did not have such a violent cruel streak. The opposite of fun is waiting in a car to see if a woman is doing what you asked her to when you could be out of the car hooking up with her. My favorite Bakshi movie is Hey Good Lookin’ which also took place in the 50s, had a character like Joey and a character named Crazy. That film celebrated the sex machine hood as hero
This film looks at that world from the side of the cheated on husband. rascals and bad men celebrated in cartoons makes sense, somewhat lame husbands, not so much.
The Plot (from wiki):
High School sweethearts Michael and Rosy happily marry during the 1950s, both 18. Things go along smoothly until Roslyn gets pregnant, at age 19. The bills pile up and the two grow apart from each other. Roslyn spends most of the time taking care of their child and hanging out with her best friend, Joannie, who’s married to a guy named Bobby. Joannie’s been cheating on her husband with a man named Frankie. Roslyn is introduced to Frankie’s friend, Joey, a bad boy who’s also married. Immediately, Roslyn begins an affair with Joey. At first Michael doesn’t suspect anything, but when the two girl friends go out at night and come back later and later, it dawns on him that they are both having affairs. Michael works at a design company with Lorraine, who’s into the The Beat and jazz scenes. One night, he goes out to have an affair with her. The next morning, however, his uptight attitudes causes him to back out of the affair when he learns that he’s not her only lover. Eventually Lorraine leaves to go to New York. At the same time, Roslyn’s trying to break off her affair with Joey, but he won’t give up that easily. Varied events soon escalate in violence. Joey kidnaps Roslyn, and Michael goes after them, and takes his wife back from him. Michael and Roslyn go their separate ways.
What Works and What Does Not:
I will start with what does not. Days and seemingly weeks pass without notice (except something like: “haven’t seen you in a while Joey”) and without regard to how characters are paying bills or what they are doing. Also every character seems to be serving one function only: brute, jealous husband. And though there is some sense of liberation throughout, the film ending might have been better had they stuck with 50s obligation. Michael behaves admirably only to not stick it out after saving Roslyn. He claims they were better friends than married, and the film provided no evidence of that. I wish they would have just stayed together both having learned a little about themselves.
The opening is a nice bit of business because it brings out that the girls are emotionally immature and one is impulsive (Joannie) “I am so glad we did this…always wanted a double wedding” and one is a follower (Roslyn). Michael in the very next scene (sharp edit usual in RB) talks about how a year has passed and a baby came and now they are a regretfull couple. All that info in two minutes of screen economy. They want to work on it but baby toys and baby cries get in the way, a fairly broad scene but it gets its point due to the actors gazing at each other. Silverstone is better in this than she has been before or since (baby fat works to her advantage plus her vapid innocent quality works here). All the actors are top notch.
Bakshi’s animated features (and this is his last film, or at least he has not made another yet, and his only non-animated one) all have an interesting color palette, the lead in Hey Good Lookin’ is yellow and decayed. The Cool and The Crazy uses a lot of pastels. Bakshi is also known for his odd imagery, the only odd imagery that really stands out here are the Navy men nearly holding hands after being beaten. I do love the odd side angles of the action scenes though, almost like the fights are being viewed by a bystander some distance away. Another plus is the chase scene (Joey after Michael) . It has moments of real terror, but it does run a little long, about 20 percent of the film.
Overall Grade: B+
Huge Bakshi fan, but remember finding little to admire here. Thanks for the heads up and for the contextual info about the Rebel Highway series. Could be interesting. Glad to see also that the old Bakshi Spiderman episodes are all up on Netflix.
I used to feel that way too when I first saw this film but now that time has passed its merits have grown on me. I am a big Bakshi fan and would rather watch this than Fire and Ice and a couple others.
So wait, we’re supposed to watch it today and contribute to the thread?
I can get behind this.
although you can watch and contribute anytime you like.
Thomas is picking the next film. But you are welcome to the week after if you participate
Just finished watching. I haven’t seen too many Bakshi movies, only a few actually and they’re not the supposed ‘great’ Bakshi works. I like the whole throwback feel to the film. I’ve always liked films that deal with young people of a certain time who are trying to achieve what is supposed to be the american dream and it doesn’t work out for them. Interesting cast and holy shit it’s John Hawkes. Although a small role but still, it’s John Hawkes. I would have loved to see what Bakshi would have done with this story as an animated film.
Still haven’t decided on a film yet.
There is something very…standard about the film that I think might prevent it from being a good cartoon, as I said Hey Good Lookin is a reverse version of this that is animated. Who is John Hawkes (guess I could look that up)?
This film I thought was pretty fair minded in that it did not completely suggest a disdain for 50s ideals of work and family nor did it completely romanticize the greaser and the free spirit. It showed how some selfishness is involved in either decision.
I thought Kerouac showing up was strange and (as I said in intro) was bothered that the couple did not try to stick it out, seemed too progressive not to mention unnecessary.
I think Jazz should join (:
He has netflix and likes when people gather and watch the same stuff.
John Hawkes was in Winter’s Bone and Martha Marcy May Marlene. And he was in that show Eastbound and Down. He was the more scrawny member of the gang. I believe he’s just called Crazy.
It seemed like everything got a bit sour too soon in their relationship. But then again, they were pretty young.
rewatching it made me remember Silverstone used to be a big deal (good here) and rightly sort of disappeared
I Remember loving her when I was younger. I’ve no idea how many times I’ve seen Clueless.
Crazy is one of the lead characters in Hey Good Lookin’
That should be watched after this if possible as they are connected in ways hard to explain
“This film I thought was pretty fair minded in that it did not completely suggest a disdain for 50s ideals of work and family nor did it completely romanticize the greaser and the free spirit. It showed how some selfishness is involved in either decision.”
Agreed. I liked that about it.
None of the characters had a voice of reason or truth. The woman Leto was having an affair with explained what was wrong with him with an arrogance. She was criticizing this man’s fears and lack of understanding when she herself has never been in his position. Why? Because she is incapable of responsibility. She thinks she can be free and tell people the problems with their way, even though she has yet to grow up and find her own way.
As the viewer, I could sort of understand where the characters were coming from, but it’s their arrogance that makes their positions in life hard to sympathize with. Two young women get pregnant and are in unhappy marriages and decide to cheat to get some of that passion back. I get that, and did not feel anger towards them until I began to see the utter contempt they had for their husband’s feelings and their babies. The way they lie and verbally assault Leto’s character alienated me from their motivations.
They see their husbands as the absolute reason of why they’re being tied down and suffocated, when it’s really them who screwed up. Watching people who refuse to own up to their own mistakes frustrates me.
But otherwise, I thought this was an entertaining movie. And I found the part where Leto has the gun to the guy’s head as the camera hangs above them to be very intense. Good pick, I give it a B and look forward to what Thomas chooses :)
I second the intensity of that scene and LoverofLeCinema
I happen to agree about relatability, of the group, I guess I found Michael the most sympathetic even as he has some issues and growing up to do.
These characters really don’t show that there will be any room for growing up and making changes. They all end up right back where they started, but there’s nothing to show that a similar thing won’t happen again.
I suppose that is true
I do have hope for Lorraine tho, she is a working woman who is open to fun and experiences, she can be just as judgmental as the squares, but she admires art and well, she is hot.
When you come up with a pick, Tomas announce it in the original thread (Netflix and Hulu Streaming Party)
also am I the only know who thought some of the shots were very odd?
I was about to ask about where I should post my pick. I thought that would be it. I’ve narrowed it down to a few so I just have to choose.
Odd like how? The only ones that felt a bit strange were the slow motion shots. The one in the diner towards the end was quite impressive and out of place from the whole tone of the film.
as I mentioned some of the action scenes are seen from side angles like someone looking thru binoculours down the street also, as with most Bakshi films, there is odd editing, where I occassionally felt like I had missed something, for instance all the time passing that I mentioned in the OP.
With the cartoons I know that some of those were made for years at a limited budget under less than stellar circumstances so a little incoherence from time to time is understandable
but here he had a short schedule and a planned budget, maybe this is just his style (I don’t want to sound like I am knocking him as Hey Good Lookin is one of my all time favorite films)
I really liked the one during the car chase that was a real long shot that took in the entire street, but was dramatically tilted. There were a lot of disorienting movements too. The ones in the bar and when Joey and the guys are causing a ruckus in front of Michaels house.
discussion of Tony Manero goes up saturday.