Major film planned for February!
The Monkees hope that they will have completed all filming for their present television series on December 22. Provided that they meet this deadline, they will take the whole month of January off before they
start filming their first major Hollywood movie at the beginning of February.
Bob Rafelson is writing the script for the film and recently moved offices so that he could be left alone to concentrate on the job. He says that the basic idea will be somewhat similar to the television series, i.e. he will pick on a series of incidents which the Monkees will handle in their usual crazy fashion.
Off the Grapevine
February 23 1968
Morsels of gossip as reported by some of the nation's most talented listeners
[Dull Hollywood stories by dull writers. Only one item of relevance here, from Dorothy Manners:]
Victor Mature is back in town to play himself in the next "Monkees" picture, as yet untitled.
HE'S TELLING NITSCHKE HOW TO PLAY FOOTBALL! - Ray Nitschke, the all-star linebacker of the Green Bay Packers, listens intently as Jack Nichulson [sic], co-producer of a Hollywood movie starring the Four Monkees, tells him how to throw a block. Nitschke is making his acting debut portraying, of all this, an amateur football player who blocks one of the Monkees in a battlefield scene. If that sounds ludicruous [sic], so is the entire movie.
Daytona Beach Morning Journal
February 25 1968
[Note: The Miami News also ran this photo with alternate text two days before. The erroneous 'Jack Nichulson' spelling occurs there too so it was probably spelt that way in the press release]
Movie Call Sheet
Los Angeles Times
February 26 1968
Bert Schneider will play a policeman in the Monkees film for Columbia.
[Note: A regular page in the LA Times, 'Movie Call Sheet' included several column items about the Monkees film over the course of a week - no doubt all from the same press release document supplied by Columbia Pictures.]
Movie Call Sheet
Los Angeles Times
February 28 1968
Victor Mature will make his first Hollywood based motion picture in seven years as a guest star in the currently filming Monkees feature still untitled.
Movie Call Sheet
Los Angeles Times
March 2 1968
Annette Funicello will make a guest star appearance in the Monkees film now shooting for Columbia. The Raybert Production is still untitled.
The Milwaukee Journal
March 10 1968
By SHEILA GRAHAM
North American Newspaper Alliance
The Monkees are going ahead with a movie career now that the series has been dropped by NBC. In their as yet untitled film for Columbia, they will have Anjanette Comer as the leading lady. Miss Comer has gotten over her shyness, or whatever it was that made her unpopular and got her replaced in Michael Caine's "Funeral in Berlin."
[Note: Part of a much longer article full of stories not relevant here.]
March 16 1968
Monkees aren't moaning about TV setback
Peter Tork and Mike Nesmith make like method actors in Hollywood, where they're working on their first movie.
By DICK KLEINER
HOLLYWOOD - Mike Nesmith and the Monkees consider it a "moral victory" that their television series wasn't renewed for next season.
The four primates are shooting their first movie for Columbia now. It has no title - the working name, Changes, will have to be changed because there already is a film by that name - and to give you a rough idea of the type of plot it has, consider this scene:
The setting is wartime, an unspecified war. The four are in GI uniforms, in a large economy-sized foxhole. Shells are bursting around them. Peter Tork runs out to get help and along comes Green Bay Packer linebacker Ray Nitschke, in full football equipment, and blocks him out. No explanation, of course.
Nesmith was able to relax while the cameras focused on Tork, Davy Jones and Mickey Dolenz. He is a bright, articulate and pleasant young man, given to big words and refreshing frankness.
"We couldn't have gone through another season with the series," he said. "We were in the middle of a political struggle and, although we didn't precipitate any of it, we got a bad press. Now we've instituted an open-door policy - we'll talk to anybody, any time. This has been a moral victory for us."
They will continue together as a group, of course, with the movie, recordings (they're doing their own now, Nesmith says), personal appearances and television specials.
"Now we'll be able to do the things the way we want to," Nesmith says. "We each have our own style - Peter is understatement, quieter, melodic; Mickey is ragtime, old-fashioned; Davey is Broadway, mohair tuxedo; and I'm hard-driven West Coast rock - and our albums will have a bit of each.
He says that the "pop music establishment" is down on them, possibly out of jealousy, and that they haven't received the recognition they deserve as musicians. But he believes with time, that will change and they will be appreciated.
"People think we're tools of the establishment," he says, "but we're not. We're really the truest expression of the iconoclastic youth of today."
Their personal lives have, naturally, changed considerably since the lightning struck. Nesmith has adjusted beautifully to the problems of fame and fortune.
"The solution," he says, "is to realize what you can and cannot do. I learned early that I can't go into Denny's for a hamburger. But I've found quiet, out-of-the-way places where I can go - it may cost me $50 to get in, but I have privacy.
"If I'm going anywhere, I know I'll get mobbed. So I either go prepared for it, or I don't go. I don't think that any of the big stars - Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart, people like that - have been through what we have. Perhaps only five others in history have had it - Presley and the Beatles."
There are compensations, of course.
"It's easy to get used to luxury," Nesmith says. "The other day, I asked my wife how Alfie was working out - Alfie is our chauffeur. And she said, 'I don't know how I ever got along without him.' The body adjusts to luxury very quickly."
No Room For The Monkees
The Deseret News
March 30 1968
There is little chance the Monkees will return to a television series next season, according to word from NBC-TV. The network admitted there have been many protests because of the cancellation, but this won't change the situation.
In the first place, the Monkees will soon go on an extended concert tour of the Orient and Australia and wind up in Hawaii. They also have a heavy recording schedule and they are seeking more movies. They just recently finished one film titled "Untitled."
They aren't saying what it's about. Victor Mature, who appears in a short scene, says the reason they're not saying is "because they don't know."
Micky Dolenz, a spokesman for the group says he doesn't expect them to split up for a long time. "We may not appear together as often as we have in the past," he said, "but that will be because we're not doing all those 39 TV episodes."
Shooting on their first big film, which has provisionally been entitled "Changes", started on February 19th and is due to last between 30 and 40 days. All the interior shots will be filmed in the Hollywood studios, but there will also be plenty of location work on the Pacific beach, in the desert and in many other places. Japan has been cancelled as a location and also for a concert tour for the time being. But the other tour dates are still pretty firm.
Monkees Give Zappa Bum Steer
April 27 1968
Frank Zappa of the Mothers of Invention flew into Los Angeles for a "walk-on" in the first Monkees feature. He is the only pop star - except for the Monkees, of course - scheduled to appear in the film.
Zappa plays the role of a cowman in the production, sharing the camera in one scene with Davey [sic] Jones and a huge white faced steer named Torro.
"What happens is this," Zappa said between takes. "Davey finishes singing a really cruddy song, like 'Winchester Cathedral' and I come up to him, pulling this bull behind me, and I tell him the song is a piece of ---- ."
In actuality, Zappa's lines were somewhat subtler, delivered ad lib as is much of the rest of the film. "But," Zappa said, "no question about it, they have me saying the song is rotten - which it is." He paused and grinned. "They're trying to make a heavy out of me."
The film is as yet untitled and is tentatively set for a late summer release by Columbia. It is being produced by Raybert Productions, producers of the recently cancelled Monkees TV series.
MISMATCH of the CENTURY
Pages 58 - 60 and 62
Taking off on a flight to dreamland (opposite page), Monkee Davy Jones is powered by Sonny Liston's mighty right hand. As Jones makes a point landing (above), the other Monkees climb into ring. Despite the authentic look of hurt on Jones' face (below), it was all just tricks for the camera in the Monkees' first movie now being filmed.
Sonny Liston battles Monkee Davy Jones in zany new film
FORMER heavyweight boxing champion Sonny Liston weighs about 220 pounds. Davy Jones, member of the TV and recording star group, the Monkees, weighs in at 123 pounds. No one in his right mind would match the two in the ring - but somebody did. In The Monkees' first movie (a slapstick production entitled Untitled), Davy plays the typical role of the talented young musician of the Depression years who goes into boxing to support his family, gets tied up with the gangsters and eventually ends up getting knocked out by the champion - Sonny Liston who plays, of all people, Sonny Liston.
Liston was on the set for only three days during the filming of his sequence (shot in Los Angeles' Olympic Stadium) and walked away with a $5,000 winner's purse.
Monkee Mike Nesmith plays a hoodlum type backer of boxer Davy, sits at ringside with his moll, Carol Doda. Miss Doda originally won fame as San Francisco's first "topless" entertainer.
With Davy on floor, Monkee Mickey Dolenz slugs Liston who falls back into his trainer, jimmy Cansino, an ex-boxer who often plays bit roles in movies.
As more than 400 pounds of humanity heads for the floor, Nesmith and Miss Doda climb into the ring. Movie is a melange of unrelated, satirical sequences.
Liston's fall is cushioned by Cansino. Columbia Pictures film changes sequences when Monkees enter huge black box, come out in different time and place.
WHAT A CRAZY FILM!
Pages 23 - 25
I've had dozens of conversations with the boys about their film and they've told me about all sorts of incredible happenings, but I must confess that I still don't really know what it's all about!
Mike tried to explain the story to me: "There's a kinda big black box, and we keep jumping out of it into the craziest situations. Well, not so crazy really. It's all very logical."
"Yes, of course", I agreed.
"Well, it's a kinda anti-the-establishment film. We're all kicking at the guys in power and the things they do that bug us all."
I understood what Mike was getting at but it still didn't reveal much about what the actual story was about.
The boys have spent several days in the desert filming scenes. the rest of the film - with the exception of a few other short location scenes was all shot in the Hollywood studios.
I asked Davy what it was like on the desert location.
"Terrible!" he said, "we were filming in a place called Palm Desert. It's about 130 miles east of Los Angeles. It's the same spot they used to film that famous chase scene in 'It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World'. We suddenly find ourselves in the desert when we pop out of the black box. Every-time we come out, we end up in a different place so there are all sorts of crazy scenes. In the desert we meet with Arabs, Indians, factory workers and the Italian army."
"The what?" I asked him, weakly.
"The Italian army", Davy repeated. "Complete with uniforms, everything ... Just like they wore in the last war. We have a tremendous battle in the desert. Everyone's tearing around. Grenades are going off and Micky blows up a coke machine with a tank."
"How did he get a tank?"
"Oh, he captured it from the Italian army. Good job they were there ...." Davy went on to describe the trials and tribulations they had filming in the desert. "It was terribly hot. The temperature went up to 105 degrees at times. On the third day, we had a sandstorm, which really caused a panic. Those desert storms can strip the paint off a new car within a few minutes.
"We were O.K. though as everyone put on goggles and face masks until it blew itself out."
The boys told me that usually they started shooting between 5.30 and 6 in the morning which meant they had to get up an hour before that.
And they didn't stop work most days until 6:30 in the evening. During their location work in Palm Desert they stayed at the Erawane Arden Hotel. "They" included the director, Bob Raphleson [sic] and the rest of the crew - about 110 in all. From what they told me, I think they enjoyed most of their location work. Peter, who doesn't have to pretend he's as dumb as he usually does in the television show, told me about a fantastic race that you'll see in the film. Once again, it sounds crazy, but a giant Victor Mature 25 times as big as a normal man pursues four miniature Monkees. It's all done by trick photography.
Most of the interior scenes were shot before the end of March in the studios. And this was when things got really mad.
They filmed lots of scenes with Davy, Micky, mike and Peter popping out of the black box, plus a fantastic fight that Davy has with the ex-world heavyweight champion, Sonny Liston.
It sounds like a fantastic scene. There was lots of tomato ketchup all over the place as Davy was beaten to a pulp. (No need to feel sorry for him, all you Davy fans - the blood was all put on by the makeup boys.) In the film Sonny Liston keeps knocking Davy down and Micky keeps telling Davy to stay down. Then, apparently, things go completely wild and Micky jumps into the ring and knocks Davy over followed by Sonny Liston and the referee. then, loads of policemen and fans appear and we have another marvellous Monkee chase. Then Dodo [sic], the topless dancer from San Francisco gets knocked out. Finally, Peter comes in and says, "I'm the dummy."
There is another incredible scene in which the Monkees have a run-in with a cop, Davy dives into a public restaurant and looks in the mirror in which he sees a chamber of horrors.
They haven't changed their clothes a great deal for the film. Davy mostly wears a green velvet shirt with a mandarin collar. he seems to be particularly fond of this style nowadays and is often seen wearing it both on and off the set.
Peter, as you will all remember from his visit to London at the start of the year, is very fond of wildly coloured shirts. He's also on the Eastern kick and, like Davy, doesn't wear a tie, except of course, on the Monkees television show.
Mike has undergone a quiet revolution and doesn't wear his green hat at all, which secretly makes me a bit sad, because I think I will always associate a green wool hat with Mike Nesmith. But in the film it's gone, so that's that/
Micky is usually seen in his favourite garb of slacks or jeans, often white, with a pullover sweater.
As I already told you, they spent the first week in the desert, which was followed by three weeks solid slogging in the studio which ended on March 27th.
Then, everyone realised that the music and songs for the film were still not complete, so the boys stopped work on the actual filming for two weeks so that they could go into the recording studio.
They've had several short location scenes outside the studio. People in the Long beach area were very startled one morning to see a nice American boy, who looked rather like Micky Dolenz of the Monkees, jumping off a bridge as though he was ending it all. But, when they got closer, they saw that there was a film crew there and that it really was Micky Dolenz of the Monkees jumping off a bridge - but, only for their film.
This scene is followed by some fantastic underwater photography, which shows Micky entering the water after jumping off the bridge and being greeted by mermaids.
The boys, the crew, director and everyone also went off to the Paramount Studios to film a wild party scene, which sounds really daft when you think about it, because Screen Gems is owned by Columbia Pictures and Paramount is one of their big rivals.
But, the answer was easy to find. Paramount had completed a tremendously expensive set for Mia Farrow's new film "Rosemary's Baby", and rather than build the whole thing again, Columbia asked Paramount if they could use their set. The answer was yes, so, the Monkees, all the crew, director, writer, cameramen, 100 extras, Keinholtz, a very well-known Californian pop artist, and dozens of others piled in. Keinholtz was there because he had shown an old car at an exhibition with a couple in the back seat smooching away, and the Monkees wanted the car for this party scene in their film.
The party is a psychedelic light show with all the walls acting as a sort of mirror. From then it's chases, a crazy merry-go-round of tricks, with a noose round Mike's head, Micky laughing, Peter running, Davy falling, until pandemonium reigns.
I don't know about you, but I'm feeling exhausted just writing this. the Monkees' first major film sounds as though it's really going to be one of the gooniest and looniest ever.
First Exclusive Look at the Monkees' Movie!
The Monkees have just finished shooting their first feature, still called "Untitled." Micky, Davy, Peter and Mike romp through 100 minutes of sight gags, 11 songs, and 20 totally different plots. Micky jumps off a bridge; Davy fights Sonny Liston and gets badly beaten in a prize fight; all the Monkees get stranded on a desert with Arabs, Indians, and Italian soldiers. Annette Funicello plays a movie star who does those 'beach movies.' The Monkees even get lost in a sewage plant.
If you're confused, so are we. But one thing's for sure. The Monkees' movie will be different from anything you've ever seen before and you'll love every minute of it!
The Monkees' film is still not quite finished. Shooting was originally scheduled to last five to six weeks, but extra scenes have been written in and these were being filmed during May.
One studio report was that each boy was going to appear in a special scene connected with a different season of the year.
THE MONKEES AND YOU
Page 16 - 20
BY GLORIA STAVERS
PETER is drafted!!
MICKY gets shot!!
MIKE gets kissed!!
DAVY saves a bunny!!
DON'T BE SHOCKED and don't faint dead away! Yes, it does happen, but "it's only a movie" - the Monkees' new movie (its first title was Changes and its present working title is Untitled). Untitled is a series of 30 fast-moving, brilliant, impetuous, spontaneous vignettes - all to be ultimately linked together in a kind of uproarious, zany, spellbinding flick - the likes of which no one on earth has ever seen before!
|All in white, the Monkees pose in front of a stained-glass window for their film.|
Since everyone in the production company of the movie - including the Monkees themselves - have been sworn to secrecy regarding the "plot," it took a sort of miracle (that only 16 can bring about!) to take you onto the locations, onto the sets and behind the scenes for on-the-spot thrills of watching Davy, Micky, Mike and Peter while they shoot their first ever motion picture together!
THE SWINGING PAD
The first day's shooting takes place in the Monkees' world-famous Screen Gems Studio 7. When you enter the studio, everything seems about the same as it has always been. Gene Ashman is discussing wardrobe with Davy, and David Pearl and the rest of the regulars are helping to set things up and organize the day's work. After a warm greeting from your Monkee friends, you look around and discover that Studio 7 is not quite the same as it used to be. It's dark on the set and you can't puzzle it out.
Suddenly there is a lot of scurrying about. It's time for the Monkees to start filming. You are breathless when the lights are switched on, because there before you, looking more groovy than ever before, are Peter, Micky, Davy and Mike all in white - kneeling in front of a beautiful stained glass window! This first shot of the day will probably be used as the intro to the movie - with the credits running across it.
Next, you see the guys perched on the back of a big fat couch in (according to the movie) their winging pad." The crazy interior features a baby grand piano, an aquarium, the devil himself and - of all things - a barber's chair!
A TELEGRAM FROM THE PRES
The following action sequence shot for the film will arouse plenty of comment when the movie is released. Peter answers the doorbell and an old-timey Western Union delivery man hands him a telegram. Peter opens it, begins to read, and discovers to his dismay that it is a message from the President of the United States, complimenting him on having passed his draft board examination with flying colors and notifying him that he is now not only 1A - but also a member of Uncle Sam's armed forces!!
After a stunning fade-out, the doorbell rings again - and this time there's a pleasant surprise. A lovely young girl who has "lost her way" is standing there. Being too polite to turn her away, the Monkees invite her in. The girl - played by starlet I.J. Jefferson - decides that Mike is the guy for her, and in no time at all she tries to capture his innocent young heart. As the saying goes - if you wanta know what happens, you gotta go see the movie. (But please bear in mind, little darlin's, it is just a movie - not real life).
The first day's shooting literally seems to fly by. It's exhilarating, but exhausting - and that night at dinner, Davy fills you in on a few facts from the film.
"I think I should first set you straight on one thing," Davy confides in you. "It's really true that everyone who visits the set is sworn to secrecy. You are a privileged guests, of course, and the sequences that you see and tell your friends about will be in the movie - but neither you nor I know exactly how they will be used! The reason for this is that the producers and we Monkees got together and decided that the Monkees fans would have more fun if the movie 'plot' comes as a complete surprise.
"But I can tell you one little secret: the movie is as different from the Monkees' TV series as day is from night. Of course, it's in color and we will sing in it, but the resemblance stops right there. In fact, the guys and I do a complete turn-about. For instance, there's one scene where Micky goes stark bonkers! You know, right up the wall. And then Peter goes to war. I mean, can you picture peaceful Peter in a fox-hole?"
Davy looks at his wristwatch and realizes that it is getting late. "Hey, it's time to fold up," he tells you. "You will find out all about the war tomorrow, cos we will be shooting it on location. I'll see you there."
ON THE BATTLE FRONT
Bright and early the next morning you find yourself on location with the Monkees in a place called Bronson Canyon - which is right outside of Hollywood. However, from the way things look, you feel more like you're in the middle of some crazy war. The Columbia crew has done a fantastic job of simulating a real battlefield, and more than once that day your heart skips a beat as you see your beloved Monkees facing bomb explosions and rifle bullets!
One of the first scenes of the day is a segment in which Davy pulls the pin from a grenade and throws it. His reaction swings from curiosity to disbelief to terror. But don't worry - his "big buddy" Mike is on hand to protect him. And there is a funny but touching scene afterwards when Mike and Davy rescue a bunny rabbit who suddenly comes hopping along the trench.
The next sequence features Ray Nitschke of the Green Bay Packers professional football team. Peter is confronted in the trenches by "something" that fills him full of fright. At first, you don't know what it is - but you know by looking at Peter's face that it must be the horror to end all horrors! As it turns out, the "horror" is great big Ray - who flattens Peter with a running tackle! When director Robert Rafelson yells "Cut!" to this scene, Peter hops up and gives Ray a great big kiss! It's so incongruous that it's funny, and you secretly hope that this bit of "business" will be kept in the film.
Now it's Micky's turn, and his realistic "dying" scene has you on needles and pins. You don't realize it, but Davy has been watching you - and when he sees how seriously you react to Micky's getting shot, he goes and takes you by the hand.
"Follow me," he whispers, and before you know it you are standing face-to-face with a grimy, but smiling Micky Dolenz. Micky understands your apprehension. "Don't worry," he says, giving you a hug. "It's just a movie."
Well, maybe it is "just a movie." But right now it's the most exciting thing that is happening in Monkee-land - which everyone knows is just a few steps away from heaven! So if you want to be heaven-sent again next month, be sure to tube in here for the Monkees' further movie adventures. They will meet you in the July issue of 16 - which goes on sale May 21st! It's a date!!
Pages 30 and 39
OUR MAN IN MONKEE LAND GIVES YOU ALL THE LATEST ON THE MICKY, MIKE, DAVY AND PETER HAPPENINGS
Nobody can blame Screen Gems for hiding the Monkees' first major film behind a strict veil of secrecy. If they were to give all the details away months before the premier they would, obviously, ruin the impact of many of the very unusual incidents which it contains.
But, here in Hollywood everyone agrees that it should be an outstanding movie. It is impossible for anyone to know exactly what a film will be even though they have seen most of the scenes being filmed because, as you probably know, they are not done in the same order as they appear in the finished picture. Only the script reveals exactly what the director is aiming at achieving.
Let's make one thing quite clear right now - there is a script for the Monkees film! I've seen it, but only at a distance and I certainly haven't read it so I can't tell you exactly what it contains.
One thing the boys have revealed and that is script changes have been made. As usual, all the Monkees have come up with suggestions and ideas which they think will help particular scenes. For example, as you were told last month, Micky dives off a bridge and the shot of him actually taking off from the bridge and splashing into the water was filmed at Long Beach. But, it was very difficult to shoot the bit of Micky underneath the water with mermaids which followed because the Long Beach water is not clear enough. So, a special crew flew to the Bahamas just to cavorting on the sea bed at a fabulous location on Paradise Island.
But, just to prove how contrary she can be, Mother Nature upset things and gave the film crew bad weather for almost the whole week they were there - (it's not just in England, folks!)
In between shooting the boys have been very busy in the studio recording songs for their next single release, "D. W. Washburn" and a new album.
As usual, they have thought up some really weird and wonderful titles. I think that the Monkees are more original than any other group in the world in this respect, but funnily enough, there is usually a reason for their way-out titles - they're not just picked out of the sky.
For example, Micky wrote one song recently called "Shorty Blackwell", It's an odd title but the explanation is simple. It's named after his cat, a black kitten which arrived in the post. An odd name for a cat? Well, this is a very odd kitten because it's never grown any bigger and it's still a tiny little kitten - hence the name "Shorty". Two more of Micky's titles are "French Song" and "There's A Way". And Peter's written one called "Can You Dig It". I'm sure we will, Peter!
The Monkees don't only record their own songs though. They are quite happy to use any good number that comes up and Carol [sic] King and Gerry Goffin have written a great number for them called "Porpoise" which they expect to include in the film.
Incidentally, Mike's "Wichita Train Whistle" is not being released under Warner's Reprise label now - it's being put out on the Dot label.
Talking about kittens (which I was a few paragraphs ago), Davy also received one from a fan. It's a Siamese and is now great buddies with his black rabbit called Jonathan.
The cat was sent by a fan through the post. But the boys did ask me particularly to point out that no one in this country should ever think of sending a live animal through the post as it is a terribly cruel thing to do and the poor animal would undoubtably suffer very badly and die en route. So, to quote Davy, "Please, please ask them NOT to send anything live to any of us.
Anyone who thinks that Davy is just about to marry Lulu would probably be surprised to hear that his current girlfriend is called Linda Hanes. But it is only fair to both Davy and Lulu to point out that they have always insisted that they were just very good friends and had no intention of dashing up the aisle in the immediate future.
Micky, when he's not messing about with those crazy machines of his, likes to show movies. He borrows them, of course, from the studio libraries. What sort of films does he show? Well, lots of newly released pictures. For example, last week he saw "A Patch of Blue", which is about a blind white girl who falls in love with Sidney Poitier - you remember he played the coloured school master in Lulu's film debut, "To Sir, With Love".
All the boys are following their own special interests and there are certainly thousands of things to do in California.
Mike is following up his special musical interests by backing a blues band with the odd title "Armadillo" which is the name for a large lizard-like animal with a horny back which inhabits Mexico.
One thing the boys are all very firm about and that is if only they can get their present contracts successfully re-negotiated in time, they want to do a world tour and they are insisting that England must be included, although they, obviously, can't say how many towns they will be able negotiations are completed very soon so that the boys are able to visit all of you this summer!
By Our Stateside Reporter
As I told you last month, Davy, Micky, Mike and Peter plus the film crew made a special trip to the Rose Bowl, Pasadena to film sequences for their first major movie.
Special costumes had been designed for the sequence. All the boys wore white slippers, white trousers and polo-necked jumpers. The first person I saw walking round the Bowl was Peter with a large 'A' on his chest. Then Mike turned up with a large exclamation mark. Even when Davy and Micky arrived with a 'W' and 'R' respectively emblazoned on their jumpers, I still didn't get it. Then, they all filed on to the green turf of the Football Pitch and lined up and there it was - a big W.A.R.!
Davy, on the left, looks as though he is bowling one of the fastest balls delivered at Lords cricket ground - in actual fact, he just leapt into the air shaking his fist; over the page you can see that Peter is producing the most frantic leap of all.
None of the Monkees realised that the film might be given an 'X' certificate in England until I pointed it out to them and I can tell you that when Davy realised what I was getting at, he said: "We'll make sure that it doesn't happen." So, it looks as though every Monkee fan will be able to see every second of the picture when it's finally released in this country.
Film companies usually produce what they call a "rough cut" before they actually release a new film. This rough cut is normally very near the finished version and it's put together so that the film company can get an audience reaction. A few hundred people are invited to see the film without being told first what it is. If the audience dislikes one or two scenes particularly, then these are usually chopped out before the film goes on general release. The Monkees movie, or rather "Movee Untitled" as it's being called now, was shown to 100 people at a small cinema in Los Angeles at one of these sneak previews two weeks ago.
The audience reaction to this first showing was mixed. Some of them said that they didn't understand parts of the film - others thought it was great. Producer Bob Raphelson [sic] was reported to be quite satisfied with the reaction which, apparently, was just what he expected.
A VERY PERSONAL DAY WITH THE MONKEES!
CAROL DECK (FLIP'S GIRL IN HOLLYWOOD) TAKES YOU ALONG TO SPEND A DAY ON THE MAD, MAD SET OF THE MONKEES' MOVIE!
Visiting the Monkees on the set of their TV series was always a panic, but seeing them on the set of their first movie is pure madness!
The main problem is that no one seems to know what the movie is about. It's being filmed in bits and pieces all over Southern California and you can watch them for one whole day and still only know what one minute in the movie is about.
If you ask anyone what it's about, they just sort of shrug their shoulders and look bewildered. If you're really lucky someone will swipe a copy of the script for you, but even that doesn't really help.
When I arrived on the set they were back on the Screen Gems lot where most of the Monkees' TV show was filmed and Peter, Mike and Micky were all hanging from the ceiling a good eight feet off the ground.
The first thing I heard was Mike, "All I can say is, 'Man, am I in pain!" And you could tell that he was, so the director yelled, "OK bring em' down and let's see if we can adjust those things."
"Those things" were harnesses attached around their waists to enable them to seemingly fly through the air.
The scene they were filming somehow involves the fact that they have been reduced to miniature size and got caught in Victor Mature's hair - all of which had already been filmed - and are now being sucked out of his hair in a vacuum cleaner.
In order to get this effect, one half of a gigantic vacuum cleaner hose had been constructed and the three of them were hanging from harnesses helf up by wires the same color as the hose - bright orange - so they don't show.
When they thought they had Mike's harness adjusted, they hoisted them back into the air and instructed them to flail about in the air and instructed them to fall about in the air while the oversized tube was rushed by behind them so it would look like they were being blown down inside an actual cleaner hose.
"Shoot" yelled the director and Mike, Micky and Peter began flailing while two men shoved the huge hose down past them in a gigantic rush of noise.
"Wow, was that wild" exclaimed Micky.
"Well it scared the #%&$# out of me," groaned Mike.
I have to admit the whole thing was rather frightening, but the director seemed intent on making the guys do it themselves rather than using stand-in's. All four of them do almost all of their own stunt work in the movie.
A lot of the tension that was evident while they were filming the series is gone on the movie, probably because everyone is working very hard and rushing to finish it in the six weeks allotted. Everyone seems too physically tired to bother with any emotional hang-ups.
I kept watching Mike, wondering how much more he'd be able to take, until finally they let him down for a few minutes rest.
Peter and Micky seemed OK, but Mike looked like he felt awful. As he slumped down in the chair next to me, I handed him a copy of the magazine I was holding and wondered what I could possibly say that would make him feel any better.
But I didn't have the chance, as someone yelled "Back to work, Mike!"
"Oh man," he muttered to the guy, "Carol Deck, who is sitting to my left, has just handed me a copy of the new FLIP, which I thought I'd just thumb through for a few minutes, while I catch my..."
Back to work, Mike," shouted the unsympathetic guy.
He slowly laid down the FLIP, eased himself out of the chair and walked back over to the harness, which he looked at unhappily.
For the next hour, the three of them hung there in mid-air, uncomfortable but trying hard to do exactly what the director asked.
avy fared much better. He got to sit on a small flat platform, also the same color as the hose in order to fade in and flail about below the other three. So he would disappear into his dressing room between shots while Mike, Peter and Micky just hung there.
When the shot, (which took over four hours and will probably take up less than a minute in the finished movie!) was completed, everyone thought the worst of the day was over and split for lunch. But the harnesses were nothing compared to what would be expected of them after lunch.
After being blown down this tube, the three of them - Davy gets lost somewhere along the line - then drop into the bag of the vacuum cleaner.
In order to get this effect, a gigantic vacuum bag had been built with just a piece of hose visible and to get the scene just right the Monkees had to climb up a tall scaffold and fall down from the opening of the bag to the bottom of the bag - which was a sort of trampoline so they wouldn't get hurt. But the fall was close to ten feet!
It was pure luck that they managed to get the scene right the first time, for Mike sprained his ankle and I doubt that they could have gotten either he or Micky to do it again. In fact they did have Micky's stand-in get into make-up so they could do it again, but then they decided to go ahead and use the shot as it was.
Mike limped off the set and into his dressing room, while someone from First Aid was called.
As we sat and waited to hear how badly hurt he was, Peter stood looking at me very puzzled for a minute and finally walked over and sat down.
"Do you know if it's true that 'Lady Madonna' was banned on some of the East Coast stations?" he asked. "Because if it is true, I wish you'd print that I think it's deplorable."
I told him I didn't know if it was true, but I'd certainly print his request. The song seemed to be in his head the entire day. He would often sing or hum it to himself during brief stops and at one point he picked up a guitar and Davy joined him as they sang the song all the way through. Peter's voice actually sounded better than Davy's and I wondered why he didn't sing like that more on records.
The First Aid man appeared with Mike and said it was only a minor sprain but he'd file a report on it just in case it developed into anything more serious
Mike said he thought it would be OK if he could just walk around on it for a few minutes and refused to let them use a stand-in for the next scene which only involved talking.
Davy wasn't in this scene and didn't show himself for the rest of the afternoon. But Mike's oldest son, whose entire vocabulary seems to consist of "My name is Christian Nesmith," joined the chaos for a short while.
The scene involved the three of them picking themselves up at the bottom of the vacuum bag, covered with dust. Mike picks up a large cigarette butt and says "Well, it's not one of your standard brands." This line turned out to be quite a problem as they argue over how to deliver the line - should it be obvious what they are talking about or subtle. Mike wanted to do it like W.C. Fields, one of the all time great comedians and one of Mike's idols, would have done it, but he and the director couldn't seem to agree.
At one point, Peter seemed about to reach the breaking point of his patience, when he suddenly walked to the end of the set, stomped up and down once, shouted, took a deep breath, turned and said "OK, I'm ready."
I learned later that Peter was actually feeling quite bad also. A week earlier he had had an abscessed tooth, which had swollen up one whole side of his face and they hadn't had time for him to take a week off and wait for it to go back down, so he'd had the infected tooth removed without missing a day of work.
On top of this, he felt a cold coming on and was stuffing down cold tablets all day.
Micky's only problem seemed to be an insatiable hunger.
It was a very long day for the Monkees, just one of six weeks of very long days, and still no one kows exactly what they're doing, but they are all working, physically and emotionally, very hard to make their first movie a success.
The title of the movie on the script is "Changes," but that idea has long since been shelved and it's being called "Untitled" for now. If no other title is found by the time they finish, it may just be titled "Untitled."
In this respect it does resemble the movie everyone's been comparing it to - "Help" - for the seond [sic] beatle movie was originally titled "Eight Arms To Hold You" and wasn't finally titled "Help" until it was completed.
But other than that, the first Monkee movie doesn't seem to resemble anything ever done before. And the Monkees all seem very secretly confident and proud of their first film effort.
The rest of us will have to wait until this summer to see what it's all about.
Davy shares his secret diary with you and tells you all about a tense and thrilling day in mid-June - the most important day in his entire show-business career!
THERE WAS an unusual amont [sic] of tension in the air as I went onto Stage 7 at Screen Gems today. A great array of music "play-back" equipment had been wheeled onto the stage and the entire Monkee production staff - minus all the Monkees but me - had gathered on the set to watch today's shooting.
As I strode across the large set towards my dressing room, everyone said "hi" and I waved back - but things weren't as they usually were. I was trying to figure out who was more nervous - me or the crew! Today was probably the most important day in my entire show-business career. Today was the day we began to film the big musical production number I perform in the Monkees' new movie. I had chosen the song called Daddy's Song, not because it's sentimental (in fact, it's quite the contrary, so don't misinterpret it when you hear the lyrics), but because it's such a good tune that I feel it will be an instant hit.
All last week, The Monkees costumer Gene Ashman and I had worked together designing two groovy outfits for me to wear in this sequence. One is a black tuxedo with a long flared jacket, and the other is a white tuxedo styled exactly the same way. With the black tuxedo, I wear a white shirt - and with the white tuxedo, I wear a black shirt. The two shirts are exactly the same design, ruffled at the neck, cuff and down the front. They're almost a line-for-line copy of the beautiful yellow batiste shirt Gloria Stavers had made for me and gave to me a little over a year ago. That shirt, by the way, is still one of my favourites. I only wear it on special occasions.
While I was in the dressing room getting ready, choreographer Toni Basel [sic] came in to greet me. We had been rehearsing together for two weeks and now she explained to me that she thought it would take us (Toni appears in the movie in my big song-and-dance number with me) about two and a half days to shoot the Daddy's Song sequence. Those two weeks with Toni were real educational, let me tell you! I found out that it requires more effort to get into perfect physical shape to do a dance routine than it does for a jockey to get into shape to ride in races! Mr. Fred Astaire has my profound respect.
BLACK, WHITE - & NO RAIN
Our sets were designed in a very stark and unusual manner. During the first half of the song, I'm in black - so we dance on white tiles with totally white backdrops. During the second half, I switch to my white tuxedo - and then the tiles and backdrops turn black. The scene starts with me singing (the tune was written by Harry Nilsson) -
"Years ago I knew a man
He was my mother's biggest fan.
We used to walk beside the sea
And he told me how life would be
When I grew up to be a man."
Later on, the lyrics tell how this little boy's father left him (see, I told you it wasn't like my life at all!), and the little boy gets bitter and decides that when he grows up his son will never know that sadness. I sing this song slow at first, and the only prop that enters is an umbrella which flashes on when I have one line, "It was such a rainy day..."
After I have sung the song slowly, Toni dances onto the set and we do our big duet together. I hope you like it, my little sunshines, cos your boy Davy lost ten pounds learning to get it all down just right for you!! After the dance sequence, I suddenly appear in a white outfit and do the tune up-beat - and do a fast dance with it for the grand finale.
I don't "suddenly" appear at all, of course. As you know, when the action stops the camera stops - and I go to the wardrobe, get my clothes, change, and come back and wait for my cue to begin again. When the action starts once more, the camera picks up right where it left off - and later the whole thing looks like magic! Daddy's Song, by the way, will be included in a brand new Monkees LP which Micky, Mike, Peter and I are working on. This LP will be released about the time the movie comes out in August and it will contain all the songs in the movie.
Well the day went very nicely. We did a perfect dress rehearsal and it looks like it will all be finished off within the next couple of days. I think I got one of the finest compliments I have ever had in my relatively long show-business career when I was leaving the set. When everyone was finished, I went to my dressing room, changed to my own clothes and started to leave. As I walked out, one of the hairdressers - a lady who has been watching stars come and go at Columbia for the last 20 years - walked over to me. She placed her hands on my shoulders and said, "Davy, the performance you just gave was one of the greatest things I've ever seen."
Then I saw that there were tears in her eyes. I really was speechless. So I leaned over and kissed her on both cheeks. We smiled at each other and I left. It's a moment I'll never forget.
Here I am at the bottom of the page again, so it's time to say good night. Thank you for all your letters, cards and gifts. I'll see you right here in the September issue of 16. It goes on sale July 23 - so reserve your copy now!
Victor takes the Mickey with the Monkees
Los Angeles Evening News
8th August 1968
Where have all the old stars gone? In today's instalment of a five part series the spotlight is on Victor Mature.
Victor Mature, whose bulging muscles and two-fisted film roles caused columnists of the 1940s to refer to him as "Hollywood's beautiful hunk of man," is on the verge of a picture comeback that just might turn him into a current-day hero in pop circles.
After a decade of self-imposed exile from Hollywood, he has just finished a film - not yet released to the public - in which he stars himself, along with the Monkees.
Mature said he hasn't been able to figure out what the film is about. It is called "Untitled" and will go to the cinemas this autumn with that name, the studio insists.
"What the hell," Mature told me. "They paid me $60,000 for five days work. For all I care, they can call the picture 'Dandruff' and let the Monkees fall out of my hair.
"As a matter of fact, I think that's one of the things that happen. But I can't make any sense out of it."
An executive at Screen Gems, the studio which made the film here in Hollywood, when asked what the film was about, stammered, "I really don't know, I mean, I've seen it and read the script, but I just don't know. Nobody does. Nobody." For costumes in the film, Mature wears clothes reminiscent of his old pictures - trench coats, safari jackets, Rhett Butler style hats and wide-lapel pin stripe suits.
He also goes in for the bare-chested tan he displayed in "The Robe," "Demetrius and the Gladiators" and similar screen epics. It is something of a take-off on his younger self.
Mature is 54 years old and stems to resent it a bit. But he heaps scorn on Hollywood and his own early-day screen image to an extent that has made many film executives angry with him. His refusal to take himself too seriously has cost him a lot of roles.
The Mature Louse has sliding doors that open right onto the golf greens and there is a neat little fire station next door.
"Actually," said Mature, whose hair is touched with grey and whose face seems with age to slightly caricature the Mature of yesteryear, "I am a golfer. That is my real occupation. I never was an actor; ask anybody, particularly the critics. This is my first Hollywood picture in ten years and I only did it because I was getting bored.
"Hollywood to me is mostly a place where I go to funerals. Whenever one of my old friends dies, I go to Hollywood."
The Monkees went into the RCA studios in Hollywood on Friday, August 2nd, to record an hour-long jingle especially for their film. It was described by those who have heard it as being a take-off on all the people who have knocked the Monkees over the past two years saying that they were: "Ignorant"; "Plastic pop stars"; "Never-going-to-make-it"; etc.
Incidentally, the latest title being bandied around Hollywood for the boys' film is, "Head".
Colgems to Release Monkees' 'Head' LP
9 November 1968
NEW YORK - The soundtrack album of the Monkees' movie, "Head," has been set for release this month on the Colgems label, which is manufactured and distributed by RCA Records.
"Head" is scheduled to have its world premiere here Wednesday (6). The film is set to open in Hollywood, Washington, San Francisco and Boston in mid-November.
"HEAD" WILL BLOW YOUR MIND
"Head," the now titled Monkee movie that used to be "Untitled" is crazier than you could ever imagine" But even zanier than the film itself were the crazy behind-the-scenes "happenings" that went on while "Head" was being made.
First, though, what about the title? What does it mean? Just like the movie itself, the title has several meanings. First of all, part of the film takes place in the head or mind of Victor Mature. During those scenes the Monkees actually shrink and you even see them caught up in Mature's hair! Another meaning for their way-out title is that you'll have to use your head to figure out exactly what the Monkees are trying to say - their message. They admit there is a definite point of view, and it's up to you to figure it out.
Filming the picture, for the Monkees, was hard work, but more fun than any TV show they ever did. Why? Because there were so many different roles and characters to portray, they finally had a chance to show off the many sides to their talents. Also, the movie took them out of their TV roles and into some very different and new surroundings.
Their first on-location filming was done in Palm Springs. between shots, they had a chance to lay in the sun, swim, ride dune buggies through the desert hills and enjoy their friends who were invited along to keep them company for the week they spent there. This opportunity to combine work and pleasure was one the Monkees welcomed, since they had just finished their TV series when they began work on the movie.
Another reason the Monkees were so excited about their first movie is that the way the script had been written (with the Monkees contributing many, many ideas) they had a chance to have many of their friends and people they admired in the film. For example, Mike is a big fan of The Mothers of Invention, so he asked if Frank Zappa, the Mother's leader, couldn't have a bit part. The others said "We can dig it," and presto, chango Frank Zappa walks into the film pulling a huge steer behind him.
Micky ended up contributing to the story-line quite by accident. One day in his dressing room, he was joking with friends and he got an idea and acted it out for his friends. he said, "Wouldn't it be funny to have a war cheer, like at a high school football game? (Micky gets up and pretends he's a cheerleader). Give me a W, give me an A, give me an R, what does it spell, WAR.! And as he throws his arms up and makes the sound of an explosion, everyone breaks into laughter. Later they made this satirical joke fit into the movie.
ON THE SET
As if it wasn't enough to film underwater and fly through the air, Mike Nesmith wanted to have some fun on his own. One day coming back from a lunch break, everyone was gathered around the Columbia Ranch swimming pool waiting to begin filming again. Mike, feeling adventurous, began to drive his jeep right into the pool! Luckily he stopped right on the edge, but everyone's heart skipped at least one beat as they watched dare-devil Mike.
There were many more crazy stories that happened during the making of this way-out film, but once you've seen "Head" you'll be too busy trying to understand it to worry about those.
Note: Many of the articles on this page have been typed up from scans on Psycho Jello's Monkees site and others posted more recently to this amazing thread on monkeeland.yuku.com. Pay them both a visit.
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