Mini-Review: I Love You, Alice B. Toklas (1968)

I Love You, Alice B. Toklas (1968)
AKA Kiss My Butterfly

Starring Peter Sellers, Jo Van Fleet, Leigh Taylor-Young, Joyce Van Patten, David Arkin

Directed by Hy Averback

Expectations: None at all.


The film opens with some hippie guru saying stuff like, “Do you know who you are? You must know a flower before you can know yourself.” Cut to: Peter Sellers driving a car through the downtown city. Sellers plays a Woody Allen type of character, a slightly neurotic normal man who has all kinds of extraordinary circumstances surrounding him. Generally in a Woody Allen film this is funny, but in this film it isn’t so much. Sellers does the best he can with the material, but this kind of counter-culture film just isn’t going to play well 42 years later.

There are some jokes about how a Mexican family is trying to pull some insurance fraud when someone rear-ended their car carrying 11 people and some chickens. The family walks into Sellers’ office all wearing neck braces. Maybe I’m twisted, but I laughed when I saw the kids wearing neck braces. The whole scene was surprising though, as you don’t see many of these blatantly racist stereotypes in films nowadays. There weren’t that many jokes that still worked, but I did enjoy the part with the hearse drivers being on strike.

The opening of the film isn’t bad and has promise, but it slowly slides into pointless hippie drivel when a girl makes pot brownies for Sellers, after which he decides to leave his current self behind and live the free and uninhibited hippie way. If you’re a big Peter Sellers fan, you might give this one a look, but don’t expect too much. It hasn’t aged well.

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)

Starring Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, Sterling Hayden, Keenan Wynn, Slim Pickens, James Earl Jones

Directed by Stanley Kubrick

Expectations: High. I adore Kubrick and I’d only seen this once before.


Stanley Kubrick is one of my favorite directors, but this film has always been something of an enigma to me. I only saw it once, about 10 years ago or so, and at the time I enjoyed it but I just didn’t think it was as amazing as everyone else seemed to think it was. It had been built up as one of the great screen comedies, but for me it didn’t deliver at that level. I got the satire, but it’s more of a slight smile throughout kind of movie, instead of a raucous laughter kind of movie. I was really into Billy Wilder comedies at the time so I guess subconsciously I went in expecting something in that vein. This time around, obviously, I knew what I was getting myself into. That helped quite a bit and my second viewing of Dr. Strangelove was a much more pleasant experience.

The plot follows three separate but connected stories. There’s the story of Gen. Jack D. Ripper (Sterling Hayden) who orders his planes to commence “Wing Attack Plan R.” There’s also the story of the B-52 Bomber crew on their run towards their target inside Communist Russia. Finally, we have the War Room, where the President and many top advisors, including Gen. Buck Turgidson (George C. Scott) argue the fate of the world. The plots are skillfully intertwined and perfectly play off of one another. Sterling Hayden is fantastic and reminds me a lot of Clint Eastwood in this cigar-chompin’ role. I’ve always felt that he is one of the great actors that doesn’t get enough credit these days and his performance in Dr. Strangelove is one of his best.

Continue reading Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) →

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