The 1960s stage musical Hair was rigorously anti-Vietnam, vigorously anti-authority and glorified free love, bisexuality, long hair, draft-card burning, LSD and body odour. It still played very much like the Sixties period piece it had already become when it was belatedly filmed in 1979.
What Hair had to say in 1967, to cynics who wanted no part of conventional society, was productive and vital. Kids piled into a defunct nightclub called Cheetah, smoked pot, and made love, not war.
Later the message reached the masses on Broadway, and songs like Aquarius and Let the Sunshine In became hymns for a restless generation with no use for soap, underwear or sixties values.
Years passed and the old words became old hat. At a time when yesterday’s hippies were either running record companies or working in government jobs in Washington, Hair was as tired as a ten-year-old bikini.
With nothing but noisy music and no plot, the people responsible for dragging Hair out of its closet had to find a way to contemporise it so it wouldn’t seem dated beyond rescue.
A lame plot structure was invented involving innocent Oklahoma farm boy Claude Bukowski (John Savage) who boards a bus to the Big Apple to spend a day and night in New York sightseeing before reporting to the draft board to go and fight in Vietnam.
In Central Park, he comes across a group of homeless, rootless, mindless loonies who are much too old to be hippies, and gets introduced to a new lifestyle. He also spots and falls in love with wealthy young New Jersey socialite Sheila Franklin (Beverly D’Angelo) who he sees horseriding in the park and his newfound hippie friends conspire to bring them together.
Thoroughly stoned, jailed, humiliated, and confused, Claude ends up in an Army training camp in Arizona (the sequences were filmed at Fort Irwin, a National Guard installation near Barstow, California) with the flower children in hot pursuit.
The leader of the hippie pack, a hirsute hobo named Berger (Treat Williams), cuts his own hair and exchanges clothes with Claude so the soldier can sneak off the base for a rendezvous with the gang – and gets mistakenly shipped out to Vietnam in his straight buddy’s place and is killed in action.
Claude Hooper Bukowski
Lady in Pink