"I don't understand the connection."
"I guess something got lost in the translation."
The mid/late '60s was a great era for mind-bogglingly whacked-out cast lists with equally diverse results, from Casino Royale (abysmal) to It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World (hysterical), to The Magic Christian whose zaniness Candy most closely resembles. Check it out: Richard Burton, Walter Matthau, Ringo The Beatles Are Still Together Freaking Starr, John Huston, Addams Family's John Astin (in a dual role), boxing legend Sugar Ray Robinson, James Coburn, and the Method Man himself Marlon Brando! Throw in music from the Byrds and a Buck Henry screenplay of one of the decade's most scandalous books co-written by Terry Southern and you've got a cult curiosity that just screams "Watch Me!"
Does it measure up? My rating should tell you "yes and no." The episodic format of Candy, played with doe-eyed innocent perfection by newcomer Ewa Aulin, bouncing from one lusty sexual predator to another like an Alice in Molesterland is completely loose-limbed. There's no story development, just some outrageous situations which sometimes produce laughs, and surprisingly little visible nudity for a movie the New York Daily News called "the ultimate dirty movie." The only social commentary I can see is that men in what are considered lofty, respected, or trusted fields - a poet, a surgeon, a military C.O., a hospital administrator, an uncle, a guru - are just as base and lascivious as anyone else. Matthau is a riot as the leader of a paratroop commando unit that has been in constant airborne mobilization for six years, and Enrico Salerno has a great bit as an experimental filmmaker. "Did you see my last project? It was called 'Gumbo.' Soup, nothing but soup!" Richard Burton has a lot of fun as the lecherous poet MacPhisto whose every utterance is dramatic, and with long hair and billowy clothes constantly being blown by unseen fans. But if there's one "must-see" performance, it's Brando in fall-down funny hijinks as the guru/charlatan. His 15-20 minute see-it-to-believe-it contribution makes this up-and-down (or should I say in-and-out) mishmash worthwhile by himself.
My dad was waxing nostalgic about this "bizarre, awful (funny)" movie he saw in theatres back in 1968. After naming off the surprisingly notable cast he finally came upon the name--Candy. He then confided to me that he could never find a copy of the film anywhere else and that it must have been withheld from distribution. This, to me, sounded like a challenge. We watched it together the next day.
This movie reeks of 1968. It's such a snapshot of some of the "wackier" films of that time that that aspect alone makes it worth watching. The inclusion of all the star names--Brando, Astin, Matthau--adds a definite freak factor to it all. How did they corral all these people into one strange sex comedy? Perhaps all the actors thought they could do their one obligatory embarrassing psychedelic movie in one fell swoop and then return to "legitimate" film. Either way, it's nothing short of hilarious to watch Marlon Brando in the back of a sixteen wheeler spouting off new-age nonsense as the "traveling guru"--before launching himself at the films titular blonde protagonist, of course.
The entire film is carried by each man's wanton desire to bed Candy, the overtly innocent and breathy-voiced star of the film. The movie sort of meanders after a point, and is carried only really by the fascinating cameos and how none of them seem to let on how strange what they're doing really is. John Astin is the standout performance of the flick, being the only one to really communicate comedy in a way that isn't incidental.
Candy is a bizarre little slice of cinema that has no doubt garnered some kind of a cult following in the decades since its release. It's too peculiar not to have.
The opening sequence, set amid the stars, planets, nebulae, with a 60's rock score, as well some of her risque scenes are among many stunning ones.
Candy focuses on the main character Candy Christian (played by Ewa Aulin), who apparently comes from outer space, and lives among the humans. She constantly gets into sexual mishaps with the strangest of characters who are all attracted to Candy, including a popular poet Maphisto (Richard Burton), the household gardener Emmanuel (Ringo Starr), and several other eccentric characters.
This film made absolutely no sense. First of all, if Candy is from outer space, why does her father live on Earth? It's clear that this was made in the late 1960's, as most of the film is completely random and feels like it was written in a drug-induced haze, which it probably was. That's also some of the fun of the film. Most of the actors were probably on drugs during filming, so most of their reactions to the dangers in the film are just hilarious, such as: "Hey, there's a gang of biker chicks following us!" "What could they want?" "Perhaps they want to talk to us?" I mean really, what person thinks like that? The acting as you could guess, is pretty poor, but probably because the actors know what this film is.
I think I was most surprised by the amount of big name stars in this film. I mean, this has Richard Burton, Marlon Brando, Ringo Starr, and more. How did they get so many of these stars? I'm guessing their budget was pretty high, or they got these celebrities to exploit their popularity so they can get higher ticket sales. This film, along with Yellow Submarine, is often chosen as the films that sum up an era. And I'll agree, it shows, with all the psychedilic imagery that the sixties encompassed.
Really, Candy is pure camp. It makes no sense, but some of the subtleties is what makes it kind of fun to watch. I'll say this though, there are too many friggin sex scenes! They aren't even good sex scenes, they are painful to watch! If you decide to watch Candy, don't watch it with high expectations. Just expect a stupid, nonsensical, yet strangely entertaining time. (Real rating: 69%)
Must be Brando's worst performance and that's saying something.
I know it was made during the rise of flower power and the hippy movement but the producers and all involved in this awful movie must have been on mind bending/life altering drugs to have made such a dog.
Avoid completely unless you want to see how a bad movie is made.
Ewa Aulin is fantastic as Candy!