Peter Tork and the Monkees celebrate 40 years of 'Head' | EW.com

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Peter Tork and the Monkees celebrate 40 years of 'Head'

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Head_l
The Monkees’ 1968 movie Head (original trailer below) may not have been much of a commercial success, but 40 years after its ill-fated theatrical release, the acid casualty-turned-cult classic will get a second shot at Hollywood glory with an anniversary screening and Q&A being held in Los Angeles tonight as part of American Cinematheque’s “Mods and Rockers” series. Two of the band’s members, Davy Jones and Peter Tork, will be in attendance at the famed Egyptian Theater, which happens to be across the street from what was once the Vogue Theater, where the movie premiered on Nov. 19, 1968, and drew the likes of Dennis Hopper, Robert Redford, and Carl Reiner. “I don’t remember much about that night,” Tork tells EW.com, “except that we were there. But I do know this: the audience for the movie on Wednesday is going to be bigger than the crowd we got in 1968.”

http://www.youtube.com/v/hRuO6y7X9HI&hl=en&fs=1

Despite their celebrity status at the time, and the fact that Jack Nicholson co-wrote and co-produced the film billed as The Monkees’ answer to the Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night, Head turned out to be a colossal dud. With no tangible plot, but rather a series of sometimes psychedelic, more often nonsensical out-there vignettes, the band’s venture into movie-making would precipitate its ultimate demise. The irony, says Tork (who now writes an advice column for web-zine The Daily Panic), is that their intent was to break away from the pop image that ostensibly trapped them, but the movie only drove home the idea that there was no way out. “There was a bit of a contradiction between the plan and execution,” he says. “I think if due consideration had been given to where we wanted The Monkees to go next, we would have not only had a better movie, but maybe even moved the career forward instead of stopping it dead in its tracks.”

No word on whether Nicholson will join in the festivities. Dolenz, jokes Tork, “had a prior commitment which he made as soon as he heard about this.” Nesmith remains estranged from his former bandmates. More of our Q&A with Tork after the jump. 

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: When the idea for Head was bandied about, was it based on artistic expression, rebellion, or just an opportunity to cash in on the Monkees name?
PETER TORK: It was an expression of where we were at the time. When we first talked
about making a movie, the four of us agreed that we really didn’t want to do a
90-minute episode of The Monkees. We wanted to go beyond sitcom situations, because growing up, Mickey and I had seen some of our favorite TV shows, like McHale’s Navy and Dragnet, turn into awful movies.The fairest understanding of the movie was that it was [director and co-producer] Bob Rafelson’s take
on the Monkees phenomenon overall, without much of a comment or a
conclusion. The gist of the movie is the Monkees remain trapped and it
seems like they’re never getting out of it, which was peculiar because
the movie was an effort to get out of it. Other than that, it was a little surreal, some parts are
extraordinarily funny, and a lot of that is Jack Nicholson’s idea of what
was funny.

What was your history with Nicholson at that point?
He
didn’t have much of a history with us. He’d come around the set for a
while. He was fun and funny. He had a style and gestures. Mike adopted
him
completely. And then one day Bob
said, “Jack’s going to help make the movie.” We were delighted because
there was no mistaking Jack’s power and capacity, intellectually and
artistically. It was clear that here was a man who
managed to make himself socially acceptable by bottling all of his
insanity and putting it into useful channels. A very rare quality and
one
that’s made him the superstar that he is. You
couldn’t help but feel that.

There were plenty of psychedelic films being produced at that time to varying degrees of success, so why didn’t Head stick?
The Monkees ran into a brick wall and [Head] was part of that. And the fact that it was marketed as a head movie to the
suburban kids and as a suburban, bubblegum movie to all the heads
didn’t help much either. It was a disaster in the making from some points of view. Commercially, surely.

How is the relationship between the four of you now?
Davy
and Mickey and I talk when the occasion arises. Both of those guys did
shows near where I live, and I joined them for a couple of numbers
onstage. We had a great time and lovely conversation. Those are very
funny guys. Michael does not figure in my cosmos anymore. I know
nothing, I see nothing, I care nothing.

 

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: When the idea for Head was bandied about, was it based on artistic expression, rebellion, or just an opportunity to cash in on the Monkees name?
PETER TORK: It was an expression of where we were at the time. When we first talkedabout making a movie, the four of us agreed that we really didn’t want to do a90-minute episode of The Monkees. We wanted to go beyond sitcom situations, because growing up, Mickey and I had seen some of our favorite TV shows, like McHale’s Navy and Dragnet, turn into awful movies.The fairest understanding of the movie was that it was [director and co-producer] Bob Rafelson’s takeon the Monkees phenomenon overall, without much of a comment or aconclusion. The gist of the movie is the Monkees remain trapped and itseems like they’re never getting out of it, which was peculiar becausethe movie was an effort to get out of it. Other than that, it was a little surreal, some parts areextraordinarily funny, and a lot of that is Jack Nicholson’s idea of whatwas funny.

What was your history with Nicholson at that point?
Hedidn’t have much of a history with us. He’d come around the set for awhile. He was fun and funny. He had a style and gestures. Mike adoptedhimcompletely. And then one day Bobsaid, “Jack’s going to help make the movie.” We were delighted becausethere was no mistaking Jack’s power and capacity, intellectually andartistically. It was clear that here was a man whomanaged to make himself socially acceptable by bottling all of hisinsanity and putting it into useful channels. A very rare quality andonethat’s made him the superstar that he is. Youcouldn’t help but feel that.

There were plenty of psychedelic films being produced at that time to varying degrees of success, so why didn’t Head stick?
The Monkees ran into a brick wall and [Head] was part of that. And the fact that it was marketed as a head movie to thesuburban kids and as a suburban, bubblegum movie to all the headsdidn’t help much either. It was a disaster in the making from some points of view. Commercially, surely.

How is the relationship between the four of you now?
Davyand Mickey and I talk when the occasion arises. Both of those guys didshows near where I live, and I joined them for a couple of numbersonstage. We had a great time and lovely conversation. Those are veryfunny guys. Michael does not figure in my cosmos anymore. I knownothing, I see nothing, I care nothing.