Folk singer Arlo (Arlo Guthrie, who does quite well in his film debut), a talented young man of exceptionally undistinguished appearance, is waiting to be called up for military service. On account of his long hair and guitar, he is continually persecuted by the police.
He joins his friends, Ray (James Broderick) and Alice (Patricia Quinn) in the church they have bought to use as a hippy hideout. After a Thanksgiving dinner, Arlo takes the garbage and dumps it by the side of the road. He is had up and fined.
When Arlo is summoned for his medical examination he tells the authorities about this ‘criminal’ record and is rejected for military service.
A drug-addicted friend dies, so does Arlo’s father, Woody (speechlessly played by Joseph Boley). Ray and Alice have a second wedding in their church but Ray spoils the party by getting drunk.
In this meandering, colourless tale there are a few funny moments – the whole sequence of the medical examination, for example, in which everyone involved seems temporarily shaken out of a long period of sedation.
Patricia Quinn is excellent as the warmhearted, gullible Alice, who slowly realises the truth of the square old adage that a woman’s work is never done.
The movie was inspired by Guthrie’s popular song of the same name. The movie was filmed on location in Van Deusenville MA, and originally released with an X rating. The theme is rather flimsy, but director Arthur Penn succeeds in wringing charm, energy, and comedy from the material.
Alice Brock (the real Alice who was paid $8,000 for her story) appears as Suzy.