The Trip (1967)   Leave a comment

The_Trip

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Made during the height of the psychadelic 60s, THE TRIP tells the story of a man taking his first acid trip. Peter Fonda plays the married director of television commercials who decides to try LSD. Guiding him through his psychological journey is Bruce Dern.  Dern looks professorial with his civilized beard, corduroy blazer, and turtleneck. His demeanor differs immensely in his film too.  He’s worlds away from his usual snarling criminal, but no less convincing. Dern will stay sober and remain with Fonda ensuring that if he gets too high or has a bad reaction to the drug, Dern can calm him down. Roger Corman based this film on his own experiences with LSD.  He went on a controlled trip himself and his experiences and that of screenwriter Jack Nicholson make up the bulk of the film.

wash
“This antelope just wants her babies, man.”

I watched The Trip with director Roger Corman’s audio commentary.  He paints a fascinating picture of maverick filmmaking and the 60s counterculture. Filmed at Big Sur, the Sunset Strip, and beach homes owned by those immersed in that culture, the film looks authentic. Corman says they barely changed the decor of the houses and paid a great deal of attention to detail when dressing the sets. For example, in one scene we can see the book HOWL by Allen Ginsberg sitting on a shelf. He filmed in a real nightclub and laudromat and for one long shot of Peter Fonda walking along the Sunset Strip at night, the cameraman sat in a wheelchair behind Fonda and Corman pushed him down the street.

hopper
“Please look at me.”

To be honest, the film itself, which also stars Dennis Hopper and Susan Strasberg pales in comparison with the stories Corman tells about it in his commentary and the effects he uses to tell it. The cinematographer, Arch R. Dalzell used light, color and psychedelic paint in some cool new ways. During a love scene between Fonda, Strasberg, and Salli Sachse, Dalzell projected wild colors and designs onto the stars’ naked bodies. It looks fantastic.

paint

I enjoyed watching this film, but the commentary made it for me. Corman liked making it very much and speaks fondly of the entire experience. He also gives us some great background stories. During one scene, Dennis Hopper tells a story while a joint is passed around a circle of people. Corman says he was so intent on getting the shot that he barely heard the story. When it was over, others on set laughed because they had never heard the word man so many times. Apparently Hopper was riffing a bit. Bruce Dern, that symbol of the counterculture, never took drugs. He was a marathon runner who tried out for the Olympic team and has always led a very healthy life. You can even see him in a scene in which a joint is passed just handing it to the next guy. If you watch THE TRIP, bring a buddy and opt for the audio commentary. Roger Corman won’t let you down, man.

Bruce The Trip #4

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