Milos Forman’s Taking Off

For his first American feature in 1971, Czech director Milos Forman (later of The People Vs. Larry Flynt, Man in the Moon, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest) documents the plight of a disconnected young girl (Linnea Heacock) on the lam from her parents (Buck Henry, Lynn Carlin) while flowing throughout footage of a series of musical auditions by other young girls (wayward or not, never really sure). I’ve always loved this movie stylistically (and just found the LP soundtrack which rules); it takes on a lot of the stream-of-consciousness jump segues of some of the Altman stuff with multiple stories going around a carousel. Poking your head so to speak into assorted rooms just to get a glimpse of something going on, sometimes outrageous, sometimes just kinda droned out, before switching channels again. Buck Henry, Georgia Engel (remember Ted’s wife on Mary Tyler Moore?) Audra Lindley (Mrs. Roper) all put in great performances as the parents who try to trace the roots of their kids’ discontent while simultanously having their own discoveries (Vincent Sciavelli coaches them all on pot smoking). The auditions that weave in and out are amazing though, real snapshots of teens in gawky/brilliant songform that capture their collective teetering between hippie/radical liberation and traces of Puritanical upbringing (in a way it reminds me of a precursor to the updated/new-wave-screamin’ teenage crowd in Devo’s Girl U Want video!) Both Carly Simon and Kathy Bates (listed as “Bobo Bates”) put in early appearances as singers. (Brian Turner)