Candy, released in 1968, is a completely crazy little film that offers up so many odd-ball surprises that it’s nearly impossible to describe the bizarre culmination of all of its psychedelic pieces. Directed by prolific actor Christian Marquand and adapted by the brilliant Buck Henry from the 1958 novel of the same name by Terry Southern and Mason Hoffenberg, the film charts the sexual exploits of an alien in teenage disguise, who wanders from one strange encounter to the next, with danger, satire, and off-the-wall-humor mixed into the proceedings. I’ve definitely not seen anything remotely like this one, which at times feels like a farcical precursor to something like Under the Skin, but of course minus that film’s sense of bracing modernity and serious existential themes. The lead role was taken on by Ewa Aulin, who was a former Miss Teen Sweden, and it can’t be denied that she was most certainly extremely photogenic, and perfectly cable of projecting the blank-slate stare and empty emotional behavior that was no doubt required by the filmmakers.
The supporting cast is just ridiculous, with every single actor behaving in a maniacal, over the top, or oddly threatening manner which increases the strangeness factor; look out for Marlon Brando (as a phony Indian guru!), Richard Burton, James Coburn, Walter Matthau, Ringo Starr, John Huston, John Astin, Charles Aznavour, Elsa Martinelli, and Enrico Maria Salerno, with cameos from Sugar Ray Robinson, Anita Pallenberg, Buck Henry as a mental patient, and many more. Dave Grusin’s groovy music sets the stony-acid-retro vibe, Dean Tavoularis’ funky art direction adds lots of flavor, and the too-cool cinematography by Giuseppe Rotunno keeps everything visually interesting and distinctive. Kino-Lorber released Candy on Blu-ray last year, and the picture and audio quality are both strong. There’s also a very funny and informative 16 minute interview with Henry who re-counts the film’s asinine production, as well as trailers, radio spots, and a interview with film critic Kim Morgan. For some reason, I could see Candy playing really well on a double bill with An American Hippie in Israel, or Duke Mitchell’s unintentional masterwork Gone with the Pope.