A Tribute to Mike Nesmith: HEAD

As a tribute to Michael Nesmith who passed away on December 10, Cygnus Studios proudly presents the Monkees’ film, “HEAD” in its entirety!

Graphics by Doctör Ivan

It’s a satirical, psychedelic movie with absolutely no plot, which unfortunately failed miserably at the box office ($750,000 budget, $16,000 box office gross). This was largely due to horrendous under-promotion, but since that time it’s sold uncountable copies on VHS, Beta, Laserdisc, two different versions on DVD, as well as a recently remastered Blu-ray edition.

Predictably, it was slammed by critics upon initial release, but what Monkees fan could give a rat’s ass about that? I’ve never met one who didn’t enjoy it.

An ironic yet especially nice touch is a live performance by the band at the Valley Music Hall, Salt Lake City, Utah of “Circle Sky”, an original penned by Nesmith who is widely considered to be the “Father of Country Rock” .

Theatrical Poster

Nesmith, Jones, Tork, and Dolenz, circa 1968

Credits

  • Distributed by Columbia Pictures, released on 11/06/1968
  • Written and Produced by Jack Nicholson and Bob Rafelson
  • Director: Bob Rafelson
  • Executive Producer: Bert Schneider
  • Video introduction produced at Cygnus Studios

Notable Appearances

  • Toni Basil
  • Annette Funicello
  • Teri Garr
  • Dennis Hopper
  • Sonny Liston
  • Victor Mature
  • Jack Nicholson
  • Ray Nitschke
  • Bob Rafelson
  • Frank Zappa
Zappa joins Jones during a short scene.

Soundtrack Album Cover
The original had a mirrored finish so you could see, well, your HEAD!

Monkee Music

  1. The Porpoise Song
  2. Ditty Diego Chant
  3. Circle Sky (Live)
  4. Can You Dig It?
  5. As We Go Along
  6. Daddy’s Song
  7. Do I Have To Do This All Over Again?
  8. The Porpoise Song (Reprise)

Video Notes

  • Full-length 120 minute film, presented in its original 4:3 aspect ratio.
  • If playback does not begin automatically, simply press the play button to start the video.
  • Sampled at 30FPS to reduce file size for streaming. Depending on your display, full-screen playback may be less than optimal.

A Bit of Trivia

Production

  • The plot and peak moments of the film came from a weekend visit to an Ojai, California resort where the Monkees, Rafelson, and Nicholson brainstormed into a tape recorder, reportedly with the aid of a quantity of marijuana. Jack Nicholson then took the tapes and used them as the basis for his screenplay which (according to Rafelson) he structured while under the influence of LSD.

HEAD was largely filmed from February 19 to May 17, 1968 in California, at:

  • Columbia Pictures/Screen Gems Studios in Culver City
  • Columbia Ranch in Burbank

Other locations:

  • Ribbon-cutting ceremony: Gerald Desmond Bridge, Long Beach
  • Factory sequence: Hyperion Sewage Treatment Plant, Playa Del Rey
  • Desert sequence: Palm Springs
  • Concert sequence: Valley Music Hall, Salt Lake City
  • Micky’s underwater sequence: The Bahamas
Dolenz: Shooting part of the underwater sequence in the Bahamas.

Miscellaneous

  • HEAD has developed a huge cult following. Leonard Maltin describes it as “delightfully plotless” and “well worth seeing”, giving the film 3 out of 4 stars, while Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a 75% rating.
  • Bright color filters heighten the visual effect and dreamlike touch of some passages, which include mermaids rescuing member Micky Dolenz in the film’s start. It recalls some of the visual and musical elements used in the Beatles’ films Magical Mystery Tour and Yellow Submarine.
  • Includes music compositions by Carole King (“Porpoise Song”) and Harry Nilsson (“Daddy’s Song”).
  • Some of the closing credits are spelled backwards.
  • The footage featuring actor Bela Lugosi reciting the line, “Supernatural, perhaps. Baloney, perhaps not.” is sourced from the 1934 film The Black Cat.

One thought

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