• Wild In The Streets



    Released by: Olive Films
    Released on: August 16th, 2016.
    Director: Barry Shear
    Cast: Christopher Jones, Shelley Winters, Hal Holbrook, Miller Perkins, Richard Pryor
    Year: 1968
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    The Movie:

    Barry Sher’s Wild In The Streets, made for American International Pictures at the height of the tumultuous sixties counter-culture revolution, stars Christopher Jones as a young man named Max Jacob Flatow Jr.. He lives at home with his domineering mother, Daphne (Shelly Winters), and father, Max Sr. (Bert Freed). When he finally has enough of his mother’s nonsense he trashes the house, blows up the family care and heads out to start a new life out from under their thumb. Soon enough, he’s going by the name Max Frost and he’s a big wig in the music scene. Not only is he a hit performer but he’s putting out records by other artists like the radical Stanley X (Richard Pryor) and the super hip The Hook (Larry Bishop)!

    Max is no fool, however, and after he appears at a political rally for would-be Senator John Fergus (Hal Holbrook) he clues into the fact that he’s just the guy to reach the youth of the day and to help them make a change. Max manages to get in front of the microphone himself and get the crowd riled up. What do they want to do? Change the voting age to fourteen! When do they want to do it? Now! From here, Max’s star continues to rise, but as it does, he learns this is not without a set of its own unique problems. As he gains more and more political clout and edges closer to making a bid for the White House itself, he finds it increasingly hard to stand up to ‘the man’ – but are his ideas, which involve re-educating anyone past their mid-thirties and the rampant dropping of acid – really going to make American a better country, or is Max the next Adolf Hitler?

    “I have nothing against our current President... that's like running against my own grandfather. I mean, what do you ask a 60-year-old man? - You ask him if he wants his wheelchair FACING the sun, or facing AWAY from the sun. But running the country? FORGET IT, babies!”

    Clearly meant to cash in hard on the hippie craze of its day, Wild In The Streets is nothing if not a product of its time. The politics and movement that it exploits are ridiculously dated, and both the fashions and styles on display just as much. The way that the movie works drug use into the storyline seems forced, a way to attract attention to the picture and give it what would have been, in its day, a bit of an edge. It’s all over done, fairly ridiculous and hard to take seriously even for a second. At the same time, it’s also a lot of good, goofy fun.

    Jones is pretty fun as the lead. Despite the fact that he’s a bit of a dick (blowing up his old man’s car was out of line!) we are at least interested enough the guy to want to see how his story plays out. Despite some obvious missteps on his rise to power, at least initially his heart seems to be in the right place. Jones gives Max some charisma, so even while he’s nailing every reasonably attractive female flower child in sight, you kind of want him to make it, to get the job done, even if you know he’s probably not really cut out for it. The supporting cast is also interesting. Winters chews the scenery as his crazy mother, but that’s what Winters tended to do best at this point in her career, you’d be unreasonable to expect anything else from her. Bret Freed is more or less disposable as the father but hey, check out a young Richard Pryor – that’s pretty cool! Hal Holbrook is well cast as the fledgling politician who gets Jones’ character all riled up in the first place, and look out for both Diana Varsi and Millie Perkins in supporting roles here as well. Ed Begley Sr. even pops up in the film for a few minutes!

    This is all set to a pretty boss soundtrack, there’s plenty of trippy psychedelic visuals and the pacing here is pretty quick. The film is never dull and while its message gets lost pretty early one, you can’t help but have a good time with this one. Would make a great double-feature with The Trip (also available on Blu-ray from Olive Films)!

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Olive Films presents Wild In The Streets on Blu-ray in its proper 1.85.1 theatrical widescreen aspect ratio in AVC encoded 1080p high definition. For the most part, the movie looks quite good on Blu-ray. There are some spots where grain gets heavier than it does in other scenes, but stick with it and you’ll wind up pretty impressed. Detail is quite solid throughout, close ups in particular, while black levels are strong and generally pretty inky. Nicely lit outdoor shots really look quite good and indoor shots fare well too, even if they’re never quite as colorful looking. Skin tones look nice and natural, there are no signs of edge enhancement or noise reduction and although the disc is single layered compression artifacts are never an issue. This blows the old DVD release from MGM out of the water.

    The only audio option for the feature is an English language DTS-HD Mono mix. Clarity of the audio is fine. The levels are nicely balanced and there are problems with any hiss or distortion and the film’s quirky score has some decent presence to it in spots. Not a fancy mix, but it suits the movie and gets the job done without any issues.

    Aside from a theatrical trailer, static menus and chapter selection the disc contains no extra features.

    The Final Word:

    Never trust anyone over thirty! Time has not been kind to Wild In The Streets, you can’t take it seriously, but it’s definitely an entertaining picture. The cinematography is cool, it’s got plenty of great ‘stuff’ to look at and the performances are pretty fun. There’s a lot of enjoyment to be had from this one, dated or not, and Olive’s Blu-ray release, while light on extras, looks and sounds very nice. Easily recommended for fans of sixties counter-culture/drive-in movies.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!