John Savage (Dark Angel)
Treat Williams (Marathon Man)
Beverly D’Angelo (American History X)
Annie Golden (Baby Boom)
Dorsey Wright (The Warriors)
Adrienne King (Friday The 13th)
Hair is a musical film focusing on the lives of two young men against the backdrop of the hippie counter culture of the Vietnam era. Claude Hooper Bukowski is a naive Oklahoman sent off to New York City after being drafted by the Army (“Age Of Aquarius”). Before his draft board-appointment, Claude takes a self-guided tour of New York, where he encounters a close-knit “tribe” of hippies led by George Berger. As Claude looks on, the hippies panhandle from a trio of horseback riders including upper-class debutante Sheila Franklin (“Sodomy”). Claude later catches and mounts a runaway horse, which the hippies have rented, and with which Claude exhibits his riding skills to Sheila (“Donna”). Claude then returns the horse to Berger, who offers to show him around.That evening, Claude gets stoned with Berger and the tribe. He is then introduced to various race and class issues of the 1960s (“Hashish”, “Colored Spade”, “Manchester”, “I’m Black/Ain’t Got No”). The next morning, Berger finds a newspaper clipping which gives Sheila’s address. The tribe members – LaFayette “Hud” Johnson, Jeannie Ryan, and “Woof Daschund” – crash a private party to introduce Claude to Sheila, who secretly enjoys the disruption of her rigid environment (“I Got Life”). After Berger and company are arrested, Claude uses his last 50 dollars to bail Berger out of jail — where Woof’s refusal to have his hair cut leads into the title song of the soundtrack (“Hair”). When Sheila is unable to borrow any money from her father, Berger returns to his parents’ home. His mother gives him enough cash to bail out his friends. They subsequently attend a peace rally in Central Park, where Claude drops acid for the first time (“LBJ”, “Electric Blues/Old Fashioned Melody”, “Hare Krishna”). Just as Jeannie proposes marriage to Claude, in order to keep him out of the Army, Sheila shows up to apologize. Claude’s “trip” reflects his inner conflict over which of three worlds he fits in with: his own native Oklahoman farm culture, Sheila’s upper-class society, or the hippies’ free-wheeling environment.After snapping out of his acid trip, Claude has a falling-out with Berger and the tribe members, ostensibly due to a practical joke they pull on Sheila (taking her clothes while she’s skinny-dipping, which forces her to hail a cab in just her underwear), but also due to their philosophical differences over the war in Vietnam – and over personal versus communal responsibility. After wandering the city (“Where Do I Go?”), Claude finally reports to the draft board, completes his enlistment, and is shipped off to Nevada for basic training. It’s now Winter in New York when Claude writes to Sheila from Nevada (“Walking In Space”). She in turn shares the news with Berger and his friends. Berger devises a scheme to visit Claude in Nevada. Meanwhile, Hud’s fiancée – with whom he has a son, LaFayette Jr. – wants to marry as they had apparently planned to earlier (“Easy To Be Hard”). The tribe members trick Sheila’s brother Steve out of his car, then head west to visit Claude.Arriving at the Army training center where Claude is stationed (“Three-Five-Zero-Zero”, “Good Morning Stashine”), the tribe is turned away, ostensibly because the base is on alert (the MP on duty also assumes a condescending attitude toward Berger. caricaturing his perceived vernacular). Some time later, Sheila chats up army sergeant Fenton at a local bar. She lures the sergeant, with intimations of sex, to an isolated desert road, acquiring his uniform. The tribe members steal Fenton’s car, both of which Berger uses to infiltrate the Army base. He finds Claude and offers to take his place for the next head count, so that Claude can meet Sheila and the others for a going-away picnic they’re having for him in the desert. As fate would have it, just after a disguised Claude slips away to the picnic, the base becomes fully activated with immediate ship-outs for Vietnam. Berger’s ruse is (somehow) never discovered; clearly horrified at the prospect of joining the war, he is herded onto the plane and shipped out. Claude arrives back to see the base empty and the plane Berger is presumably on taking off and flying to Asia (“The Flesh Failures”). Much later, Claude, Sheila and the tribe gather around Berger’s grave in Arlington National Cemetery, in a scene implying he was killed in the war. As “Let the Sunshine In” plays, they mourn the loss of their friend. The movie ends with a full-scale peace-protest in Washington D.C.This film is a gem. The music and staging are spot on perfect. Milos Foreman clearly loves this material. If you’ve never seen it before make sure to watch the widescreen version. Treat Williams, who has sunk below the radar these days, takes ownership of the character Berger and pulls us along for the ride.