KAMAD Throwback Thursdays 1975 “Shampoo”

Throwback Thursday #TBT

Throwback Thursday on the KAMAD site will be a regular occurrence in the next year. As a motivational project, to make sure I am working on something, even in a week where I don’t see a new film in a theater, I am going to post on movies from 1975. Along with 1984, this is one of my favorite years for movies and it is full of bittersweet memories as well. 1975 was my Senior Year in High School and my Freshman Year in College. The greatest film of the last 60 years came out in 1975, as well as dozens of great and not so great cinematic endeavors. Most of the films in this weekly series will have been seen in a theater in 1975, but there are several that I only caught up with later. I hope you all enjoy. 


This is a social satire from 1975, set on Election night 1968. In spite of the references to the events in the news, there is really no political content here. The satire is about social mores and behaviors, not about public policy and politicians. It starts out as a comedy, but the closer it gets to the end, it turns into a cautionary tragedy.

Warren Beatty plays a self absorbed hairdresser, probably modeled after real life celebrity hairdressers like Jay Sebring and Jon Peters. George seems to have chosen the profession because it gives him access to beautiful women while at the same time deflecting the attention of their husbands because after all, hairdressers are all gay right, so what’s to worry about.The comedic component comes in the form of all the love triangles that George ends up in. He has a girlfriend, who sort of dates a producer who might cast her in his latest movie. George is having an affair with the wife of a well known businessman, who is himself having an affair with Georges ex-girlfriend, who George still wants to be with. It never quite turns into a farce, but all of the figures do cross paths at some point and George can hardly catch his breath to keep up with his own libido.

Ther cast of this movie is stock full of well known players. In addition to Beatty, there is Lee Grant, Jack Warden, Goldie Hawn, and Julie Christie. The characters all fit some pretty easy stereotypes and the casting gives us a shorthand in their emotions. Hawn is a neurotic innocent, Grant is a clingy harpy and Christie is a conflicted ice queen. Jack Warden was nominated for supporting actor playing a businessman who is thoughtless of his family and mistress. You would almost assume that George is going to be some kind of hero. In the end, George is the one who after hurting everyone else, discovers that he is growing up a little late in life. 

Beatty plays George as a sexual Peter Pan, excited by all the women he meets, at least for a moment. He claims to care for Jill, his girlfriend, but he can’t be bothered to listen to her when she is trying to ask him about a career choice that could alter both their lives. Lee Grant’s Felicia is someone he can use and then dash off to meet another woman. Jill, the woman played by Christie, is someone George thinks he needs, but it is only coincidence that brings them back together. He nearly breaks up an opportunity for her to find the security she has always looked for, and his emotional manipulation leaves him and her devested in the end. The script, which Beatty co-wrote with screenwriting legend Robert Towne, has George constantly speaking in some scenes, but never paying attention to the people he is speaking to or even himself. George seems to have an attention deficit and his conversation skills and the speed with which he blazes past everyone else (except Warden’s Lester), might make you uncomfortable to watch. 

Carrie Fisher famously made her film debut in this movie as Lester and Felicia’s daughter, another woman that George does not have the sense to stay away from. It seems pretty obvious that he has enjoyed the libertine lifestyle for a number of years, as he has a loyal cotrie of admiring women pursuing his profession service as a stylist as well as his side work as lover. He feigns respect for Jill and he convinces himself that he really does love Jill, but those emotions just don’t ring true in the end.

There is an odd moment toward the climax off the story, when things start to fall apart for George and he goes to work to reassert some control in his life. He learns that the son of the shop owner has been killed. It is not clear if this is a moment that forces him to confront reality in his life or if it is another opportunity to deceive himself into seeing his place in the world as being special. The film seems to end abruptly, and we don’t get the coda scrawl that is so typical of movies in the last twenty years. 

I sa this film at the Garfield Theater on the corner of Garfield and Valley Blvd. My friend Art and I walked down from my house to the movie, after I had a blow-up with my little brother and a temper tantrum that probably scared my Mom. There was a lot of tension in our house and I can’t quite remember which side of a family tragedy this happened on. I just know I was embarrassed to lose it infront of my Mom and friend, and as usual, a movie was an escape for me from the realities of my own life.