2ND Revised Page
January 25, 1967 [sic]
Some of them root for Liston. Others "get up you bum," etc...
Sitting amongst them: Mike "Cool" Nesmith -- in suit and hat,
disturbed but immobile; his blonde, BIMBO; and Micky "Pops"
Dolenz, agitated, rising to his feet.
Stay down...stay down...
Davy is up on one knee. Count of "4". Micky looks at
I told him to stay down.
CU - BIMBO'S HAND
He slaps Bimbo's hand. Davy, at the count of "7"...his face
is totally battered. Sweat drips from his face. The crowd
screams, "get up you stiff"...Davy squints through his half
CU - BIMBO
CU - MIKE
CU - MICKY
|EXT. NEW YORK STREET - DAY|
REPEAT of earlier angle ending as Davy in his violin
blonde outfit. Theresa is in braids and the violin sings
over the dissolve.
'Bimbo' is renamed in the end-credits of Head as 'Sally Silicone' and is played by Carol Doda, at the time celebrated as heralding a new age in topless club dancing - and being one of the first to receive breast augmentation (which presumably provided an extra career boost in that area).
Exactly why she was cast in the movie is less clear - her function being simply to act as mute gangster's moll to Mike's character rather than any of the things she was known for (she does get one line later in the script - in a scene which eventually got cut) so one has to conclude that the producers hoped that having the name 'Carol Doda' on the posters and in the attendant publicity would bring in a few dirty raincoated punters hoping to be entertained by her massive breasts.
The character's original scripted name, as well as being descriptive of the character, may also have been a case of Nicholson and Rafelson giving Micky Dolenz something to giggle about during filming, as 'Bimbo' was also the name of the famous baby elephant in Circus Boy, an NBC/ABC TV series which had aired 1956 - 1958 and which had starred the 10-year-old Dolenz (or Micky Braddock, as his stage-name was at the time) in the title role.
Evidently the script didn't spell out the clichéd back-story of the sleazy rigged boxing match clearly enough - so Nesmith's line in Shot 165 is extended to "He'd better... The money says so.", which does the job perfectly.
|Davy fights the Champ in 'Monkees In The Ring'|
During Criterion's Head DVD commentary, Mike Nesmith claims to have had "no cultural or literary reference" for the 'Throwing The Fight' trope he was required to participate in. "Why would he say 'Stay down'? That's how naive I was...", he insists. We must presume therefore that he had little or no recollection of an episode of The Monkees TV series (filmed just over a year previously) called 'Monkees In The Ring' (Season 1, Show 20, NBC, 30 January 1967) - which had used just such a trope: two crooked boxing promoters setting up Davy as a sure-fire bet in the boxing ring by making him fight a succession of opponents who'd been paid to take a dive (and presumably 'stay down') before finally pitting him against a non-corrupt Cassius Clay-esque 'champ'.
Amusingly, the same episode features a brief scene in which Micky Dolenz affects the persona of a father-figure and begs Davy not to fight, using the line "You'll never play the violin again...". On that occasion however, Davy insists that he doesn't actually play the violin. "You could always learn!", Micky replies... The show culminates, naturally, in a big fight scene - although this is played entirely for laughs and certainly lacks the bruises, blood and gore which makes this particular scene in Head stand out.
Other notable spoofs of the corrupt boxing match trope can be found in Police Squad and Head-fan Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction. Alternatively you could simply skim through pretty much any biography of the real-life Sonny Liston and discover all manner of suggestions of mob-ties, dive-taking and general corruption.
Whether true or not, Sonny Liston took a final dive on December 30, 1970, a victim of a heroin overdose.
In 'Changes', Davy only gets knocked to the floor once during this sequence. In the movie he actually hits the canvas three times (up at the count of 4 after the first; up at 6 for the second, and the third leading towards the dissolve to the flashback). It's tempting to consider that the action may have been artificially extended in the editing suite by cutting together alternate shots and angles of the falls, although ultimately this is unlikely - the appearance in the 'Ditty Diego' sequence of an alternate take of Davy's third fall suggests that everything was quite tightly choreographed by the time of the shoot.
Head doesn't feature Shot 167 with Davy's POV of Bimbo/Sally Silicone, and the subsequent shots of Mike and Micky are swapped around. The script however doesn't include the shot of Theresa/Minnie sitting amidst the crowd pleading "Please don't, Davy..." before the flashback.
The following two pages are 'Added' - 44A and 44B - although, curiously, they're only highlighted as 'Revised'. The scenes they cover are Theresa/Minnie pleading with Davy to change his mind over the fight and Davy choosing Sonny Liston as his sparring opponent. We can only speculate as to whether either of the above were present in the first draft. And we will too. At a guess, the 'omitted' shots 170 and 171 on Page 44 originally covered Davy choosing Liston as his opponent (shots 160 and 160A in the final script), while the flashback to Theresa/Minnie didn't feature at all in earlier drafts. This may also explain why the script doesn't depict her sitting in the crowd before the dissolve.
January 25, 1968
|INT. ROOM - SOUND STAGE - DAY|
Don't Davy. Please don't.
CLOSE ANGLE - DAVY
I've got to do this.
MEDIUM ANGLE - COUCH
Why do you have to, Davy?
Why? Why? What am I gonna
do, play violin in two bit clubs
all my life?
Forget it. Forget what Ma
and Father Duffy say about
You play so beautiful.
I'm not good enough, you
understand? At this, I could
Then you have to?
That's right. They pick the
round, I pick the guy. Don't
(he brushes a tear from
I won't get hurt.
The whole cheesy boxing match premise, with Davy as the small-town hero battling his way out of the gutter with his devoted girlfriend on one side and corrupt managers/promoters on the other, perhaps conjures up the kind of movie Columbia Pictures would have liked to have had on their release schedules, ie the archetypal tie-in exploitation flick featuring a pop star - a genre which eventually reduced Elvis Presley to such a joke amongst serious music lovers. Indeed one of Elvis' movies, Kid Galahad (United Artists, 1962) had put him in just such a boxing scenario.
Annette Funicello wrote about her reaction to appearing in Head in her autobiography, A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes (Hyperion, 1994):
One day I received a script titled, appropriately, "Untitled." As I perused
the first several pages, it was clear that this script was unlike any I'd ever
seen, with descriptions of brief, seemingly unrelated scenes and nonsensical
dialogue that was totally incomprehensible. All I knew about it was that it
had been co-written by Bob Rafelson and Jack Nicholson for the Monkees, and that
they wanted me to be in it.
Of course I knew the Monkees - Davy Jones, Mickey [sic] Dolenz, Mike Nesmith, and Peter Tork- from their hit primetime
television series and their hit records, like "Last Train to Clarksville," "I'm
a Believer" and "Pleasant Valley Sunday." Many years before I'd met Mickey
Dolenz when he was a young boy playing the title role in the television series
CIRCUS BOY. My part, which was just a cameo role, was to play Davy Jones's
girlfriend, who begs him not to give up the violin to become a champion boxer.
What did it mean? Don't ask me. In fact, no one working on the film,
including Victor Mature (whose hair the Monkees romp through in one
surrealistic scene), boxer Sonny Liston, topless dancer Carol Doda, or musician
Frank Zappa, probably knew either.
Although HEAD, as the movie was subsequently titled, seemed to make a somewhat
heavy, depressing point about the planned obsolescence of pop culture and its
heroes and commented sharply on the Monkees' manufactured image, the guys
themselves were actually quite happy and engaging on the set. I particularly
liked Davy Jones because he was the shyest. Between takes, we had several
heart-to-heart talks and a lot of fun. Even if only for a few weeks, the
experience made me remember how much fun work could be, yet rarely was. In
1968, when I got a chance to see the finished film, I must admit that it made
no more sense to me than it ever had. But it was a challenging, offbeat role,
and I was happy to play it.
|Production photos: Annette Funicello on-set during the studio filming|
In Head Davy doesn't brush a tear from Theresa's cheek as per the script direction (at this point he's facing away from her). However, an anonymous hand does reach into the close-up shot and do just that. A lovely, subtle visual gag, perhaps cooked up on-set.
Note that Davy's dialogue during this scene is pretty much performed as-written, rather than busked around (as per those scenes where he's supposed to be playing 'himself') emphasising that the violinist/boxer is a mere character which Davy Jones is portraying as part of his job.
Ken Thorne's musical score throughout this scene is full of nice touches, with Davy's solo violin recital filling out to become the incidental music as we fade to the interior scene. Little triangle 'ting's are also added to the soundtrack to highlight the brushing away of Theresa's tears (sadly, either through oversight or because those specific audio elements couldn't be found, the latter 'ting's are absent from Criterion's 5.1 remix).
January 25, 1968
We now see in the distance, a totally different b.g. than
expected. In a hand-held move, Davy exits to b.g., a brick
wall on a sound stage.
Davy walks to where 15 fighters are standing. The DIRECTOR
is there. A casting GIRL accompanies him. Davy walks
down the line of suited pugs. Then he stops at Sonny.
Hey, great! You won't hurt
my face, will you? Million
dollar head, here!
He's got a kind face. Go ahead...
The scripted setting of the scene as 'Sound stage' rather than 'Living Room' or somesuch is explained at this point as Davy does indeed walk straight off the living room set, leaving Theresa/Minnie behind him. However, the editing is so subtle and quick-cut during this transition that it can be missed on first viewing and seem like a simple cut to a different scene.
|Production photo: Sonny Liston shows Davy's awful trousers to the world|
This is the last we see of Annette Funicello in Head.
The camera follows Davy as he walks past the lighting man who'd been illuminating the previous scene, and is led, at a jogging pace, up a short flight of steps by director Bob Rafelson, to some anonymous section at the back of the soundstage in the vicinity of a men's toilet. There are a few less fighters than the script asks for - only seven in fact. Rafelson is only seen on camera as they ascend the steps. The 'casting girl' is there, waiting at the top of the steps just outside the toilet door but hardly makes much of an impression during the scene. As Davy chooses his opponent, the director is back behind the camera conducting the mini interview.
Davy's busked dialogue in Head includes an enthusiastic observation about how he likes Sonny Liston's smile - which is fantastic as Liston's face hasn't registered a single emotion throughout.
January 25, 1968
Davy points to his jaw. Sonny throws a mock punch.
CU - HAND HITTING DAVY'S FACE
|SHIMMER DISSOLVE TO:|
ANGLE - RING
Davy lurches to his feet, but is knocked down again.
DAVY IN RING
He is on one knee. The count is "7". The crowd roars.
MEDIUM - MIKE AND MICKY
I told him to stay down.
I told him...
Count of "8"
He didn't hear you.
Stay down, you dummy!
Davy is up on "9". He fights hard to stay on his feet.
Liston is at him.
You're the dummy.
He's the dummy.
You're the dummy.
Micky is walking past other crowd members. His eyes on the
The 'Shimmer Dissolve' back to the fight is avoided in favour of yet another a quick-cut back to the boxing ring carnage, and is all the more effective for it - as is the way Micky shouts "Stay down!" again immediately afterwards, bringing Davy (and ourselves) back to earth with a bump.
In performance, the argument between Micky and Mike over who may or may not be the overall dummy escalates beyond the script somewhat - with Mike's final "YOU are the dummy! Dummy!!" providing a nice tipping point and sending Micky over the edge.
He walks up to the ring and jumps in. He pushes his way
past the referee and makes one giant lunge toward Davy.
He knocks him out.
Micky knocks Liston out too. The referee is on his back.
Bang. He knocks him out. Micky is totally insane at this
point. (He's like Cagney in "White Heat" -- "Ma's dead?")
Nesmith and Bimbo enter the ring.
He hits Mike and he goes down. The cops, press, etc., are all
active in the b.g. Micky grabs Bimbo and in the same move of
escorting her to the ropes, he turns and roundhouses her
in the kisser. This is too much. The cops grab him. The
crowd goes crazy. Flashbulbs going off...
ANGOE [sic] - CORNER - PETER
Peter rises alone through the ropes. He looks surprised.
Hurt. Then, quietly:
Let go of me...let go...
Now he sees Peter.
I'm the dummy. I'm always
You are. Oh Peter. I'm sorry.
You are. You are.
Micky's line in Shot 179 is extended to Stay down, dummy!". Liston's line meanwhile is dropped in favour of him tapping Micky on the shoulder.
Those who know The Monkees TV series well will know that Micky Dolenz was never modest about chucking in a gratuitous James Cagney impression whenever he could. The script note referring to the film noir classic White Heat (1949) calls less for actual mimickry, but Dolenz still revels in the instruction, conjuring up the same energy and insanity Cagney threw into the role of Cody Jarrett (and probably even punching out more people while doing so).
| James Cagney as 'Cody Jarrett' in White Heat (Warner Bros, 1949) reacting badly to news that his mother has died.|
Attempts were evidently made to choreograph each of Micky's punches with a simultaneous camera bulb flashbulb, which certainly adds visually to the impact of each thump (although the flash comes in a tad early for the Liston knock-out).
The latter is presented as an overhead long-shot - and we see Liston landing on his trainer, rendering the pair of them flat out on the canvas. They will remain in this position throughout the rest of the scene.
|Production photo: Davy and Mike after hitting the canvas.|
Although his role in the boxing match storyline is at an end, Liston will return later in the movie, delivering a marvellous deflation to the 'Swami' scene (see Changes, Page 71, Shot 238) and - in a section which was filmed but completely excised from the final edit - attempting to hinder the Monkees' escape from the black box (Changes, Page 85, Shot 271).
|Production shots: Micky Dolenz punches out Mike and wins the heart of Carol Doda|
|Some slightly more candid production shots of Nesmith and Doda|
The angle as described in Shot 181 doesn't feature in Head - instead, we remain on the overhead shot of the ensuing chaos as Peter enters the ring (from the bottom-right corner, having evidently walked around to the opposite corner during the fray). As mentioned previously, his role in the whole boxing match storyline as Davy's 'second' has hardly been overly telegraphed. Even here, the back of his shirt - emblazoned with the legend 'Davy Jones' in large white letters - is only seen very briefly.
His initial call-out to Micky is played as voice-over only, making the eventual reveal all the more effective. His sudden Christ-like presence in mid-shot also triggers silence from the crowd and some eerie, unexplained atmospheric smoke which billows across the background.
'NY Action' features a veritable smorgasbord of alternate angles, shots, takes, etc, too numerous to itemise but includes alternate takes and angles of Micky knocking out Liston and Carol Doda, and a low angle shot of Peter climbing into the ring.
| Alternate angles of the boxing match as featured in 'NY Action'|
An extra, added page follows - although note that, although it's highlighted as 46A, it's not marked as 'Added', immediately throwing all our speculative ponderings over the script revisions into doubt!
Micky is on his knees, crying. Behind him the cops keep
back the crowd. This is an obviously disturbed man.
Peter's the dummy. Peter's
the dummy. I'm sorry...etc.
|The Monkees - Head - 'Changes'|