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(COLUMN) Rice: Just Another Gal from Casper – Watching ‘Hair’

Kate Rice

JUST ANOTHER GAL FROM CASPER: WHAT I’M WATCHING RIGHT NOW EDITION…

I finally watched a musical I’ve been avoiding for years. My sister loves it, and back when we lived together (a questionable decision, but we were super-broke), she listened to the soundtrack so much it drove me nuts.

But enough time’s passed, so I figured I’d finally give 1979’s Hair a try. I’m down with things set in the ’60s during Vietnam. How could I not dig this flick?

Spoiler Alert: I did not dig this flick.

I liked the music — songs like “Aquarius,” “Easy to be Hard,” “Black Boys/White Boys” and the titular “Hair” are fantastic. The choreography’s great. The acting’s good. 

So, what’s my problem?

The story — if you can call it that. A young man leaves his Oklahoma family, having been drafted. He ends up in New York, falling in with a random band of hippies. He sees a rich chick riding a horse, and apparently…falls in love? He and the hippies crash her debutante party, land in jail, are released, spend time getting high in the park and goofing around, then he goes to basic. A few months later, his friends (and the rich chick) decide to drive to Nevada to see him. There’s an interesting ending…but not interesting enough to justify this movie.

The original 1960s stage musical apparently has a different storyline, and judging by the songs, it had something to say — the movie just didn’t say it. This Wiki quote (don’t judge me) regarding the creators of the original show kinda nails it:

“While the film received generally positive reviews, Ragni and Rado said it failed to capture the essence of Hair by portraying hippies as ‘oddballs’ without any connection to the peace movement.”

Yep.  

Maybe you’ll watch this gem and decide that it’s packed with cultural significance and depth…or not. Hair stars John Savage, Treat Williams and Beverly D’Angelo, and is directed by Milos Forman. Search streaming options (I regrettably spent $3.99 on Amazon) and let me know what you think.

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