As oddball movies go this, Brewster McCloud, is hard to beat. Director Robert Altman’s bonkers avian comedy fantasy farce is a surreal series of events centered around our hero, the boy who must fly, Brewster McCloud.
Brewster played by Bud Cort (Harold and Maude) is a misfit and loner living in a giant astrodome. Obsessed with his destiny calling to build wings and fly away. Training himself daily by doing hundreds of pull ups and eating a bird related diet, he takes his mission very seriously.
He is watched over by a beautiful lady dressed in only a raincoat. A guardian angel called Louise (Sally Kellerman) who is always on hand to keep Brewster safe from harm. Oh how I wish I could be bathed by her whilst she sings the “rockabye baby” lullaby to me!
Anyone who gets in our bird boys way finds themselves meeting their maker. This starts with getting bird pooped on. This fate only comes to real nasty racists, bigots and bullies. The collection of unsolved crimes brings in the Det. Lt. Frank Shaft played by Michael Murphy (Phase IV) to help solve the crimes. Now I thought they were riffing on Richard Roundtree’s John Shaft with his character, like a white Shaft, being cool and wearing turtleneck jumpers and colour coordinated gun holsters. It’s just a coincidence though as the film Shaft was made a year later 1971. On reading more I find it was a homage to Steve McQueen and Bullitt.
Now to be perfectly honest it doesn’t really matter that the story is pretty nutty. Just sit back and enjoy the chaotic madcap nonsense, slapstick fun and let the lunacy prevail. Here’s a few notes on what to expect.
Tagline – This may be over your head
The Wicked Witch of the West Margaret Hamilton singing Star Spangled Banner out of tune. Loads of Wizard Of Oz references are dotted throughout. Shelley Duvall enormous eyelashes, a ridiculous fun car chase, a nutty narrating bird professor. Where’s Waldo or Where’s Wally, depending where you live in the world. An orgasming girl! A brilliantly choreographed hide and seek chase through the astrodome with Brewster and a chubby security guard. An awesome 1970 Plymouth Road Runner and tons of visual gags to keep you entertained on this crazy movie trip. Oh and Stacy Keach as an old man!
Frank Shaft – “get that turtle outta here!”
Oh the soundtrack by composer Gene Page is pretty great too. I loved this little piece of music by John Phillips Called Promise Not To Tell which appears half way through. I need to hear that in full.
Further Reading Links