EDIT NEWS: The Monkees - Head - Press - Page 4
Updated March 2013
The Monkees - Head - Press - UK Release, 1977
The Guardian
18 August 1977

The Other Cinema revives Head, Bob Rafelson's early movie about The Monkees which came after he had made them famous on television and itched to prove that the group was one giant con-trick. Scripted by him and Jack Nicholson, the film didn't mean much at the time, since it was too late for the revelation to seem like one anymore. But it became a cult of a kind, since Rafelson tried also to satirize a movie industry which looked like refusing to give him a serious job. I'd recommend it if only for the moment when the Monkees become dandruff in Victor Mature's hair. Frank Zappa and Sonny Liston also appear.

Derek Malcolm

The Times
19 August 1977

The Electric Cinema Club is giving a much delayed showing to Head, the first feature film of Bob Rafelson, who was to go on to Five Easy Pieces, King of Marvin Gardens and Stay Hungry. The film was a vehicle for The Monkees, whose brief moment of glory was largely due to Rafelson himself, as the man mostly responsible for their television series.

It's a crazy affair, developed out of the style of the television programmes, and, not to put too fine a point on it, a mess. Rafelson has said that because he thought it was to be his only chance of making a film he tried to put into it everything he had ever wanted to do. There are pastiches of the musical, the horror film, the war film, all tricked out with electronic devices. Rafelson claims not very convincingly that he and his co-writer (Jack Nicholson, no less) intended a kind of exposé in such images as The Monkees' symbolic suicide, or a later scene where they become dandruff in Victor Mature's hair and are then swallowed into a giant vacuum cleaner. In any event it would have been hard to predict the future of Rafelson or Nicholson from this film of 1968.

David Robinson

Sunday Telegraph
21 August 1977

Retrospectives can take a certain amount of courage. having made "The King of Marvin Gardens" and "Stay Hungry," director Bob Rafelson may care not to be reminded about Head (A) which The Other Cinema have rescued from the unreleased obscurity to which its original British distributors condemned it. As dull as it is dated (1968), this unprepossessing slice of Monkee business features that mechanical group in a collage of scenes that have been called anarchic and surreal, but are in fact just unthinking and sloppy. Jack Nicholson had a hand in the script. I doubt if either he or Rafelson will be pleased to see the film exhumed.

David Castell

Sunday Times
21 August 1977

Finally London's Other Cinema (and the Electric Cinema Club) offer a chance of catching Bob Rafelson's first 1968 film Head. It's a shifting psychedelic fantasy, as garish as a pop-record sleeve in sometimes too slow motion, in which the four Monkees (remember them?) parade and prance through their own earnest collection of teenage attitudes, music, anti-warfare and fun. And, a bit stunned, the mind goes quietly jogging back to that little Iranian town by the Caspian where nothing much happens to such ultimately touching effect.

David Hughes

New Statesman
26 August 1977

A week of revivals and revivalists. Small screen addicts of long memory may just recall an unprepossessing foursome called The Monkees, a plastic-moulded Anglo-American pop group who trailed in the wake and what they thought was the manner of The Beatles in the sunset of flower power. Head is their apotheosis, a celebration of sorts concocted nine years ago by Bob Rafelson before he went on to better things, like Five Easy Pieces. The Monkees were media-manufactured and knew it ('The money's in, We're made of tin'). They bloomed briefly among the less discriminating teeny-boppers until they were overtaken by the hard rock sounds of another age. This celluloid charade comes on like a rainbow-coloured Kleenex, instantly disposable, and justifies its belated appearance here only as a forgotten artefact of pop culture. The quartet are involved in a series of misadventures and camera tricks, vaguely mocking movie conventions and their own collapsible image. Frantically unfunny pastiches of war films and golden-boy boxing sagas alternate with jokey juxtapositions, like the one which shuffles screaming fans with newsreel shots of Vietnam refugees. (That icon of the tired TV producer - the Vietcong prisoner shot through the head in a Saigon street - also appears.) The offence is cumative, and coloured lurid; and only a few moments, as when the four emerge as dandruff in Victor Mature's hair, survive the general embarrassment. The style was mercifully buried within a year of its birth. But the movie lingers on, evidently - and astonishingly - a cult on campus.

David Wilson

Morning Star
29 August 1977

Head cult

SHOWING at both the Other Cinema and the Electric, Portobello Road, is Bob Rafelson's first film Head co-scripted with a then little-known actor, Jack Nicholson.

This kaleidoscopic extravaganza centres around the Monkees - who were just on the wane in 1968 - and also features Victor Mature, Sonny Liston and Frank Zappa.

A first-ever opportunity to see this neglected musical, which now has a cult following.

Virginia Dignam

Films and Filming
October 1977

[Double page spread of photos]

Monthly Film Bulletin
October 1977
Page 38


U.S.A., 1968          Director: Bob Rafelson

Cert - a. dist. - Columbia-Warner. p.c - Raybert Productions. exec. p - Bert Schneider. asst. d - Jon Anderson. sc - Jack Nicholson, Bob Rafelson. ph - Michel Hugo. col - Technicolor. sp. effects - Chuck Gaspar. m/m.d - ken Thorne. m. co-ordinator - Igo Kantor. songs - "Porpoise Song" by Gerry Goffin, Carole King. "Circle Sky" by Michael Nesmith, "Can You Dig It" by Peter Tork, "As We Go Along" by Carole King, Toni Stern, "Daddy's Song" by Nilsson, "Long Title: Do I Have To Do This All Over Again" by Peter Tork. choreo. - Toni Basil. cost. - Gene Ashman. sd. rec - Les Fresholtz. sd. re-rec - Producers Sound Services. sd. effects - Edit-Rite. l.p - Micky Dolenz (Micky), David Jones (Davy), Mike Nesmith (Mike), Peter Tork (Peter), Victor Mature ("The Big Victor"), Annette Funicello (Minnie), Timothy Carey (Lord High 'n' Low), Logan Ramsey (Officer Faye Lapid), Abraham Sofaer (Swami), Vito Scotti (I. Vitteloni), Charles Macaulay (Inspector Shrink), T.C. Jones (Mr. & Mrs. Ace), Charles Irving (Mayor Feedback), William Bagdad (Black Sheik), Sonny Liston (Extra), Ray Nitschke (Private One), June Fairchild (The Jumper), Percy Helton (Heraldic Messenger), Carol Doda (Sally Silicone), Frank Zappa (Critic), Terry Garr (Testy True), I.J. Jefferson (Lady Pleasure), Bob Rafelson and Jack Nicholson (Themselves); the following credits appear backwards on the film: Terry Chambers (Hero), Mike Burns (Nothing), Esther Shepard (Mother), Kristine Helstoski (Girlfriend), John Hoffman (Sex Fiend), Linda Weaver (Lever Secretary), Jim Hanley (Siderf), 3,072 ft. 85 mins. (16 mm).

Four youths, Micky, Davy, Mike and Peter, the members of the pop group The Monkees, charge into the middle of a bridge-opening ceremony, and Micky flies over the side for a psychedelic underwater ballet with mermaids. Subsequently, the boys rush out of a pop concert in front in front of their screaming fans, and find themselves involved in a stiff-upper-lip war movie. Returning to the concert (which is interspersed with footage of the Vietnam war), they are finally torn apart - in store dummy replicas - by their fans. When his appearance in a TV show leaves him stranded in the desert, Micky attacks an unforthcoming Coke machine, before having the entire Italian army surrender to him; the boys appear briefly in a Western movie, then Davy gives up his violin to enter a bout in the boxing ring. They are all recruited to appear as dandruff in a hair commercial starring Victor Mature, until being sucked up by a vacuum. They are harassed by a cop; Davy is confronted with a huge eye in a washroom cabinet, and backs away into the set of a Gothic horror movie. The cop faints when he also finds himself on the set. Mike reacts unfavourably when the others spring a surprise birthday party on his, and they all spend some time in prison for laughing at a cripple. After listening to a guru discourse on reality and illusion, they are all imprisoned in a black box; Davy smashes a way out, but they are pursued by "The Big Victor" and finally dropped into the desert in the box. Confronted by everyone they have already encountered, they are chased over the bridge at the beginning, and after ending up in the water, are carted away ion a large glass tank.

The apotheosis of late-sixties psychedelia, Head is several contradictions in terms. It is a zany celebration, on the lines of Dick Lester's Beatle films, of the Monkees pop group, and a casual acknowledgement that they had no personality (or real existence) as a group; it is a wittily self-conscious satire on the solipsism of image-making, and an indulgent wallow in that most solipsistic ethos - freaky, trippy Alice B. Toklas-land. Nothing in its style or content leads clearly to Rafelson's subsequent movies - except, perhaps, its more lyrical touches, the kind of romantic afterglow that hallows the moments during the musical numbers when the members of this ersatz group both do their stuff and disappear into pop parodies (a Vincente Minnelli sketch has one of them performing in black on white and white on black in quick succession until the alternation has a strobe effect). Premonitory, perhaps, of the Jack Nicholson character in The King of Marvin Gardens, and his conviction that life is an intellectual conundrum that can somehow be talked into being, is a sequence involving Peter Tork musing on the "nature of conceptual reality" and deciding that "even manipulated experiences [a phoney pop group for instance] are received more or less directly by the mind", and are therefore indistinguishable from reality. The entire film is more or less a joke on the fact that The Monkees, created by producers Rafelson and Bert Schneider and director James Frawley for the popular TV show, were first made up as a gimmick and only later became a musical group: "a manufactured image, with no philosophies", as the title song cheerily acknowledges. A similar strain of self-mockery, along with the kaleidoscopic, flick-of-the-switch visual style, was also part of the TV show, fairly typified by the scene where Mike Nesmith, annoyed at suddenly finding himself alone in the frame when the others disappear by camera magic, announces, "If you think they call us plastic now, you wait till I get through telling 'em how we do it". For Head, Rafelson extended this style into more delirious realms of self-conscious punning, and the film - made after the TV series and more or less the last thing The Monkees did - was not a commercial success. the creation of The Monkees had been explained by Frawley: "We could have found a group, but Bob and Bert wanted the Three Stooges, the Dead End Kids, that feeling of a tall skinny one, a pretty one, a goofy one and a crazy one, really stereotypes". The toying with stereotypes produces some energetic if fairly conventional fun in Head: the boys turn up at one point in a cavalry and Indians scene, until Micky Dolenz declares, "Bob, I'm through with it", and stalks off through the painted backdrop. But when Rafelson seriously begins tampering with the fictional rules, the fun acquires a more sophisticated tinge, identified by Frawley again, in connection with Marvin Gardens: "It was true surrealism, but of a very American style, because American surrealism is funny". Here there is a sequence that develops like The 5,000 Fingers of Dr T out of Fantastic Voyage, as the boys are asked to step forward for an audition, to find themselves mingling with huge stalks of hair as they discover that they are playing the dandruff in a commercial featuring Victor Mature's head - until they are sucked away in a giant vacuum tube. Thereafter, Mature (or "The Big Victor") plays both their genie and their nemesis as they flee through filmland, mingling with the resident clichés but threatened persistently with imprisonment in a large black box, which finally becomes a glass tank in which they are hauled away by Mature's impresario, grinning like the Cheshire Cat. Makeshift and casual as much as this appears, it is only the most Lester-oriented sequences in fact which fail to come off - mainly because, unlike the Beatles, it is not their personal charm as a group or as individuals which brings out the comedy of this foursome, rather their plight as random particles tossed about in some demented jester's wind machine.

Richard Combs

The Monkees - Head - 'Press'

© Various authors 1968 - present