The future arrived in the 1970s: not yet in handheld computing/communications but socially. The cultural revolution that that finally succeeded (philosophically at least) in the US and elsewhere in the 60s was running freely in the 70s – it actually backtracked somewhat in the 80s. The shift in standards left many people dazed and confused (to borrow a phrase from the movie and the Led Zeppelin song). The off-beat soap “Mary Hartman Mary Hartman” chronicling one woman’s course to a nervous breakdown (on the air on The David Susskind Show) is about as good a portrait of the era as any. Yet it isn’t stuck in the 70s; the issues Mary faces with regard to sex, work, marriage, drugs, and so on are the very ones with which we still grapple today. The list of what is and isn’t politically correct is unchanged since then, as are the objections to that list. Despite the big hair and funny clothes, the show feels contemporary.
Louise Lasser was perfectly cast in the title role. Also, I’ve always liked the quirkiness she brings to all her TV and movie roles. She is nearby my home this weekend at the Chiller Theater convention (I suppose the movie Frankenhooker would be the “chiller” connection), so naturally I stopped by to say hello. I mentioned that my favorite break-up scene in comedy is the one with her and Woody Allen in Bananas. She told me that it was mostly unscripted – the script called for a break-up fight – but the impromptu dialogue worked. Good to know. Most of us can relate to that scene. “I can’t receive either,” I said.
Ann-Margret is at the convention, too, but therein lies another tale.
Bananas (1971) – Break-up