One of the most underrated films of the 1960s, Candy uses the lascivious adventures of your average, innocent, teenage sexpot (played by doe-eyed 19-year-old Swedish blonde Ewa Aulin – who was crowned Miss Teen Sweden in 1965) as an opportunity to satirise the American military, 60’s hippie idealism, middle-class morality and more.
Based on Dr Strangelove (1963) writer Terry Southern’s notoriously ribald novel adapted by The Graduate (1967) screenwriter Buck Henry – Candy features a jaw-dropping gallery of players. The movie also has a revved-up soundtrack by The Byrds and Steppenwolf.
Naive high-school beauty Candy Christian (Ewa Aulin) is innocent and trusting, and thoughtlessly compliant to every forced advance. She has faith in everything and everyone.
Richard Burton appears as McPhisto, a groupie-swamped pisshead Zen-poet who wows his impressionable audience before taking Candy home.
He abuses her in his car – chauffeur-driven by Zero (Sugar Ray Robinson) – but is too drunk to proceed further which allows confused Mexican gardener Emmanuel (Ringo Starr) to grab handfuls of Candy and make love to her on a pool table in the basement.
Candy’s father, John (John Astin) walks in on them and is so distraught that he resolves to send Candy away to a private school in New York. He is joined by his twin brother, Jack (also John Astin) and his sassy wife Livia (Elsa Martinelli).
Chased by Emmanuel’s three sisters on motorcycles – because she has corrupted their brother who has now forsaken the priesthood – they board a military plane carrying General R.A. Smight (Walter Matthau) and a squad of troopers who patrol the skies in constant battle-readiness.
During the scuffle, Candy’s father takes a blow to the head, resulting in a serious head injury
General Smight, unfortunately, has been starved of female companionship and proceeds to maul Candy in the cockpit.
Landing in New York, Candy’s dad has to undergo brain surgery (in front of a paying audience!) at the hands of superstar surgeon, Dr A.B. Krankheit (James Coburn), aided by Anita Pallenberg as his psychotic left-hand, Nurse Bullock, and Dr Arnold Dunlap (a creepy cameo from John Huston).
The hilariously homicidal doctor then examines his patient’s daughter, but Candy’s father wanders off and she escapes to attempt to find him on the streets of New York.
Candy runs downtown to Greenwich Village where she is abused by the mafia and then a random man with a camera who insists on filming her for a porno film in the gents’ toilets.
Fortunately, he is beaten by the Police and Candy runs off, only to be raped by a Hunchback thief (played with creepy intensity by Charles Aznavour) and then indecently frisked by a horny cop (Joey Forman).
Candy next encounters Marlon Brando as a sex-addicted Maharishi-style guru called Grindl, whose temple is in the back of an 18-wheeler.
Grindl reveals that Candy’s route to a higher state will be through sustained sexual congress – although she outlasts his energies and heads out to the desert where she meets a mysterious mud-caked pilgrim who leads her to a temple where they have sex.
When a deluge destroys the temple and washes the man clean, Candy recognises it is really her wandering father and runs away again.
She finally finds herself in a hippie orgy, reunited with all her past sexual partners.
Dr Arnold Dunlap
General R.A. Smight
Sugar Ray Robinson