Can Heironymus Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe and Find True Happiness? (1969) Poster

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9/10
A wonderfully zany and felliniesque yet sadly neglected cult classic.
montyadam1 February 2000
Anthony Newly stars in this musical comedy about the life of Hieronymus Merkin, a sex obsessed writer/singer/director/actor/ and a truly perverse character. It seems like a drug induced dream filled with bizarre sequences, crazy songs, erie cinematography and racy exploitations which seem shocking considering it was made it 1969. The whole picture is shot on an island as it cuts between the actual film and Hieronymus screening the film while in production along with the crew, producers, and the critics. The basic plot is that Hieronymus a fatherless boy meets up with a manager (Milton Berie) who turns him into a superstar. Thousands of women line up in front of his bed waiting to make love to him. He marries a former lover of his and she gives birth to a child defected with a huge hole in its back. The baby soon after dies in hospital and Mrs. Merkin leaves Hieronymus. Hieronymus despite the objections of the writers, critics and everyone else insists on telling about the raciest most shocking part of his life. His immoral affair with the child beauty Mercy Humppe. He remarries to Polly (Joan Crawford) and switches off between Polly and Mercy and finally leaves Mercy.

The film is an absurd X rated romp though a land of sexual excess and unconventional perversion that portray women as only a 1960's film can. Although this film is not for all tastes, exceedingly fine performances, unpredictable twists, and uproarious humor make this film a true cult classic that reminds one of A Clockwork Orange at times. An R rated version also exists.
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8/10
Strangely affecting
vlvetmorning9827 September 2004
After watching this film, I wondered if Anthony Newley thought that this would be his sole chance to direct a major film (which turned out to be true), so he decided togo on a binge with every idea he had at that point . It's in equal parts a mockumentary, a musical, and an homage to Tex Avery cartoons. Newley is the ringleader, Hieronymus Merkin, and he invites us to watch his carnal accomplishments and rise as a singer.

This movie features some fascinating production and costume design, and the beach sets are very unique. The jokes often hit sour notes, but the enthusiasm is contagious. I mean, really, what's better than seeing Joan Collins portray a character named " Polyester Poontang"? If you ever come across this movie, give it a chance.

:)
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9/10
A Magickal Overview
loredenizen29 January 2010
This is an extraordinary film. But it's not for everyone, and it must be viewed in it's context.

There was a time when Anthony Newley was one of the biggest stars in the world. With two hit Broadway musicals and a slew of movies under his belt, and songs STILL being covered by today's artists ("Feeling Good" is currently enjoying a popular resurgence courtesy of Michael Buble'"), Universal Studios gave him carte blanche to make any movie he wanted. Newley had already established a proved track record of using his own life as source material. Making this kind of film was a logical next step for him.

In many respects, this film is a masterpiece. It is utterly unique; visually beautiful, it looks like a lucid dream. Newley was a master of symbolism, and the way he illustrates different levels of reality and different states of consciousness is nothing short of brilliant. Highly "Jungian", this film is meant be viewed and interpreted like a dream. Many reviewers have lambasted "Heironumus" for it's use of symbolism, but on the contrary, that is the beauty and magic of the film. Anyone familiar with the Western Hermetic Tradition will delight in the eloquence with which this movie speaks. It cannot be an accident that "Heironymus" was filmed in Malta, the home of the Knights Templar. It makes one question how deeply into the occult Newley must have been.

PLOT SUMMARY: Heironymus Merkin, a major star, is making a film about his own life, told as a fairy tale/epic myth. He is screening it for his mother and two toddler children. It is his intent that his children know the truth about who their father is, warts and all. The film-within-the-film is still in production, and Heironymus battles with the studio, writers, and critics for the integrity of his personal truth.

The film is:

about mid-life crisis

an exposition of internalized toxic shame

an examination of the repetition compulsion

A confession

a cry for help

a treatise on the unreality of life

a rare look at celebrity-hood from a celebrity's point of view

a self-portrait of a sex-addict

a dissertation on erotic mania

AND it's a musical-comedy.

The movie is many things, confusing, because Newley was himself confused. Then again, aren't we all to some degree? The greatest thing about "Heironymus" is all the questions it brings up. It inspires deep process, and that is what makes it Art, and a true gift to the world.

I am committed to helping this film finding it's audience.
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8/10
Breathtaking images make this overly ego-centric film a treat.
NateManD17 February 2006
"Can Hieronymous Merkin ever forget Merci Humppe and find true Happiness?" has to win an award for being the strangest title for a film ever. Partially semi autobiographical comedy in the vein of Fellini and Woody Allen. "Hieronymous Merkin" throws away conventional narrative to tell the story of a director making a film about his life; not to mention it's also a musical. Some parts are dated and hard to follow. Director Anthony Newly was married to Joan Collins. Collins also appears in the film. Collins has a certain expression like, how did I end up in this film? All criticism aside, "Hieronymous Merkin" is quite funny and breathtaking with it's amazing surrealist imagery. If Woody Allen, Fellini and Jodorowsky were to of collaborated on a musical with Jacques Demi, it may be something like this film. Newly can get annoying at times with his inflated ego and sex drive. He tells about marriage, infidelity, having kids, being in show business and his various sex-capades. Memorable dream like images include the Merry go round sequence, Merkin as a string puppet, his bed which lies in the ocean on the beach side and a crazy sequence with a nude girl who is a human wind up toy like object. I sure wish they would release this film on DVD. There are not many films like it. Love it or hate it, it's completely original; especially the super catchy song "Picadilly Lilly". Must be seen to be believed.
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5/10
…Can Heironymus Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe And Find True Happiness? (Anthony Newley, 1969) **
Bunuel197630 June 2006
Little seen ego-trip for the resistible talents of writer/producer/director/composer/star Anthony Newley (featuring his then-wife Joan Collins) which, due to its copious and gratuitous nudity (including its creator!), is surely the most notorious production ever to be filmed in Malta – and, consequently, something of a holy grail for local film buffs! Given its unavailability, then, I wasn't overly disappointed in the poor (but certainly not unwatchable) quality of the print – and the film itself, possessing a certain sense of style, wasn't as worthless as its reputation would have it!

In itself, a flashy and pretentious semi-autobiographical piece obviously inspired by Fellini's 8½ (1963), it's largely set on a beach where the protagonist is apparently mounting a film based on his own life (how self-indulgent can you get?). In fact, what plot there is resolves itself into a music-hall revue with plenty of rather quaint musical numbers (one of which is reprised ad nauseam throughout) by Newley and others. These, however, are often interrupted by the surprising presence of legendary American showmen George Jessel (as a wise-cracking, white-clad Angel Of Death figure, dubbed "The Presence") and Milton Berle as the Mephistophelean Goodtime Eddie Filth.

Newley's choice of character names is, if anything, admirably Fieldsan: indeed, here, Heironymus Merkin is torn between Collins' Polyester Poontang and Playboy playmate Connie Kreski's Mercy Humppe (hence the film's unwieldy title). Occasionally, too, Merkin is able to step out of character in order to observe his own actions enacted, in the interim, by a blank-faced dummy! Also incorporated is an irrelevant adult-oriented fairy-tale, entitled "The Princess And The Donkey", involving the intimate relationship between one Trampolena Whambang and a mule (which then turns into a dwarf!); amazingly, this infamous sequence was filmed in Malta's Presidential Palace!! The cast includes other familiar faces such as Stubby Kaye as Merkin's long-suffering scriptwriter and Victor Spinetti as a bewildered film critic who, perhaps justly, blames Fellini for Merkin's (and, by extension, Newley's) folie de grandeur.

There's a possible goof, too, in the appearance of a religious statue in the background during one of the beach sequences; this was supposedly removed for filming purposes and, consequently, has been the cause of much consternation locally to this day! I'm also confused by the film's actual running time: the X-rated version I watched, which one would assume to be uncut, ran for 107 mins. (with the trimmed R-rated version being 106 mins. long)…but the BBFC gives its complete length as 117 mins.!
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10/10
CHMEFMHAFTH - longest film title?
rluedeka21 June 2005
I saw this film during its original release at the Pearl Art Theater in Denver, Colorado. I was amazed by the film's originality (the premise... not the humor) and the convoluted script (very self-serving for Newley). Just the same, I loved the film and wanted to see it again - if for no other reason than to jot down the jokes... why not, the script writers got them the same way. So, last February, to my surprise, my wife presented me with a video copy of the film.(I had been searching for it for more than 30 years.) On second viewing, it is now very dated, but still just as delightful and wacky. As the Late George Gessel crooned... "When ya gotta go, ya gotta go. Even though you'd like to stick a round a while." - I remembered that line for 30 years.
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10/10
A Movie to Remember
jeff-98630 June 2005
My wife and I saw this film in its original run at the Playboy Theater in Chicago. We fell in love with it and bought the soundtrack album. Still have it. (Remember records?) We loved Anthony Newley. Even saw him in "Stop the World" in 1963 in New York on our honeymoon. (Yes, we're still married!) This film was so innovative and provocative. It dealt with subject matter that had not been seen before. It also had a cast of oldtime comics and actors that was good to see. The music is great, especially the song "I'm All I Need". Wish there was a way to see this movie again to bring back those memories of long ago. For those who have given bad reviews, you must not have understood the meaning of this movie or of his great triumphs "Stop the World" and "Roar of the Greasepaint". A film ahead of its time.
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9/10
A lost gem
wdbrown7 January 2002
I saw "Hieronymous Merkin..." when I was senior in high school, and a again a few years later when I was in the navy. It is truly one of those remarkable films that never leaves you.

It has a beautiful score. True, there are hits and misses. "Chalk and Cheese" is hokey and was remarkable only because Joan Collins seemed to seductively purr it more than sing. But there are several hits. "I'm All I Need" (I'm all I need/If I succeed/I'll Thank No one/Who gives a damn?/What I am is what I'm meant to be)is a defiant statement to an unseen,uncaring God. "Lullaby" (Lull-lullaby/Go to sleep/my little one) is as touching a song as I have heard. In fact I often sang it to my daughter, but more than that it expresses a father's fears and his determination to protect his child. The biggest hit of the show has to be the "Fairytale" (Once upon a time/when the world was greener/Princess Trampolina/Daughter of a king/Rode around the land in her royal carriage/Pretty as a princess ought to be/Suitors by the score sought her hand in marriage/None of them was quite her cup of tea). My personal favorite is "Oh What a Son of a Bitch (I Am)" (Oh, when I think of those overheated/Vestal virgins I've mistreated/Well, it's obvious I don't give a damn/Kid if you're wondering who your dad is/Look at the last of the big time baddies/Oh, what a son of a bitch, I am.

The movie' biggest drawback is its disjointed construction. There is no smooth narrative, but then how many movies exhibit smooth narratives today.

"Hieronymous Merkin..." was under-appreciated when it opened and now largely forgotten. I continually search the internet for a copy of the movie without any luck. I guess I will have to content myself with the record which I came across at a yard sale.

"Hieronymous Merkin..." wasn't necessarily ahead of its time, but it managed to capture the feeling of an era in a way with vision, humor, and music that deservingly make it a cult classic, or it would if someone had courage enough to re-issue it.
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9/10
Mecca for Newley fans!
musical-24 April 1999
Very odd ball, very sixties and in 1999 very cult! This film was Newley's 8 and a half! A very over ambitious project that even Newley admits is flawed, but for fans of the man a marathon film. The score is one of Newley's best. The highlight being "I'm All I Need" sung by Newley in a kaftan on a mountain top, when God decides not to give Merkin a reply to his questions on life. Incidently Connie Kresi who played Mercy Humppe, was the Playboy girl of the year (69) and the magazine featured over 10 pages of preview pictures and interviews. A very rare movie but definitely worth a visit!
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5/10
Remember when this was made.
Harlandis10 April 2005
I've read some raves and some scathing reviews of this film. The reviewers seem wildly opposed.

What one should remember when viewing this work is the era when it was made. The world was a little different in the late '60s; the war in Vietnam was beginning to be opposed vehemently, nudity and profanity were being more tolerated in films, and a new era of permissiveness was dawning. Films that came out at this time were taking more "avante garde" chances, and there were as many misses as hits.

This film was a mixture of good and bad scenes, but never-the-less an interesting work. The humor in it is somewhat crude, and the music has neither enough polish, or conversely, edge to work completely.

I do remember being entertained by the film, and isn't that the bottom line? Trying to compare it to today's standards is not a valid comparison. No one would try to compare Chaplin's films with Eddie Murphy's. This work is one that will probably stay obscure, because it was more of an experiment than an expression.

Bottom line: A mixture of good and bad comedy, music and philosophy. See it for yourself and see if you can eke out a valid point of view.
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10/10
one of my all time favorites
avnerkam9 March 1999
It's been probably 25 years since I saw this movie (3 times), and I still have not forgotten it. It juggles ego, intellect, sex, myth, camp and humor in a shamelessly personal way. I have read some horribly hateful reviews about it--this movie is obviously irritating some unhappy people. Good.
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6/10
What Kind Of Fool Was He...
Mrswing11 September 2014
Warning: Spoilers
One-of-a-kind is the correct description for this musical/autobiography/therapy session/emotional strip-tease. Much has been made of the self-aggrandizement which permeates the picture, but actually, it mainly reveals how much Anthony Newley despised himself anno 1969. It's basically the story of a young man who gets into show business, is seduced by the devil and becomes a narcissistic, substance-abusing sex addict who hurts everyone around him and is incapable of finding lasting happiness.

Much has been said about the film: it looks good (in that typical zany late-sixties way), many performances are atrocious and the jokes are weak, though it's never sexually explicit, it is very perverted (Newley admitting to being what would now be called a pedophile, and capping the movie off with a fairy tale fraught with bestiality). In 1969 the nudity would have been very risqué, now it's fairly run-of-the-mill. The songs aren't Newley's greatest, though the 'Picadilly Lily'-song is repeated in totally different styles as Hieronymus/Newley's career progresses. Including spot-on impressions of Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra (in saloon singer mode).

What really boggles the mind is how Newley admits on-camera to hating women, with every seduction being a kind of symbolic murder. I've never seen a major star bare his soul, warts and all, like this before. It's unsettling and fascinating, and both brave and very foolish. I mean, the plot is basically Newley telling his real kids (and fake mother) that he's been cheating on their real mother (Joan Collins) with an underage strumpet. How he ever thought this was going to have a happy ending for all involved is beyond me. Especially as at the very end, he already shows his marriage imploding, right after he reprises his egocentric anthem 'I'm All I Need'.

And that's really the film in a nutshell. An entertainer who's monstrously self-obsessed realizes that this self-obsession will (and does) cost him everything and everyone he holds dear in life - and yet he's unable to change or overcome his inner demons. Though he does cast them out in a way (the icky Frozen Freddy-segment), and they no longer scare him.

A good film, no, a brave and unique film, yes, and despite the flaws, it remains mesmerizing. And too bad no other celebrity has ever had the guts to be as open as Newley about their inner life. Just imagine Sinatra or Martin indulging in this type of therapeutic exercise!
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1/10
Oh, The Pain! The Pain!!
Hamlet2326 January 2002
When 'friends' dragged me to Spice World a few years back, I was convinced I'd never see anything worse. Sadly, I've been proven wrong. This is the most torturous, pretentious, incompetent mess of a movie I have ever seen. Don't believe the reviews that suggest this film is visionary or a classic. The songs are ridiculous: the groans at the beginning of each one were deafening. The "Piccadilly Lily" song must have been done 15 times. There is nothing visionary (or even mildly interesting) here, only a long string of poorly-done Fellini ripoffs -- actually, that's the whole movie. It was like a train wreck. This was by far the longest hour and 45 minutes of my life. The movie made me long for death. My fellow audience members screamed and screamed as minute after endless minute and song after horrible song beat us into the ground. People were pleading for other audience members to kill them. Other kind-hearted viewers tried to distract the crowd by juggling and reading Moby Dick. Some, like myself, simply attacked the screen. Watching this self-obsessed piece of garbage was like having sharp nails scraped along the chalkboard of our souls. I can understand why one other poster joined the Navy after seeing this movie, and also why the Navy showed it: it destroys your soul and leaves you with a desire to kill everything on earth. I am very opposed to capital punishment, but better to be put to death than live 2 hours to watch this movie: it shows that people have a seemingly endless capactiy for torturing each other. The dialogue is terrible, and the movie is so VERY talky. There is virtually no action aside from singing and lusting. Mostly, Merkin is reflecting on his life and what an amazing genius he is -- we can only wonder in horror at what period of human history would regard the man as anything but an egomaniac who should never have been allowed near a stage or a camera. As one character comments of the film Merkin is making (the movie is best described as a cross between "8 1/2" and "Lolita" made by Andrew Lloyd-Webber loving monkeys on LSD), "It's the end of Western Civilization!" We couldn't agree more: after being subjected to Hieronymous Merkin, I no longer fear hell.
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10/10
Seen it in the 60's, but can't remember lots of it.
There is one scene where Newley lines up lots of girls, but one is a boy, and he didn't care. That was the first time I'd had ever seen such honesty on screen. I love women, the bane and the bare of mens lives, but occasionally - a boy? Yes, no complications.

I'd like to see this film again, if only for Newley himself, but also to see Brusey boy back then. And to remind myself that I HAVE TO LIVE IN A WORLD FULL OF FOOLS!

Fools, dumb people, the people you meet every day. Take my girlfriend, I gave her 1984 to read. The most important book in political history. The first week she read the first page. The second week she read the first page again. The next day she moved the book from the living room into her bed room. That's progress!

Newley was bright. As a new born pin!
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1/10
*Decides Emo is the way to go and ends life*
geracimaclover14 March 2006
Now, I did view this film at a bad movie festival wherein all are encouraged to join and appreciate the horrors that have arisen. This film went overboard.

Keep in mind that this event, B-fest (as in B movies), has a hardcore following of fans at Northwestern University and many people come from all over the country to have fun. These are people, myself included, who watch terrible films and come mentally prepared for the ordeal. The 24 hour event seemed to be going well until in the 9th hour Merkin began playing.

The innocently short film gives no impression of the horrors that await the viewer. We had come here for bad films, but not a single person's psyche in the theater was able to handle Merkin. Usually people poke fun at the film, pointing out foolish lines or simple mistakes and making jokes. This film caused an eruption of noise. People were threatening violence it was so bad. I recall the scene where Merkin is singing while in a white robe on the edge of a cliff, the ENTIRE audience began chanting JUMP! and didn't stop until the end of the song by which our throats were sore and Merkin was still alive, having paid no heed to our pleas.

This film caused so much anger and rage that the the people running the movie actually had to stop the film in the middle, and put on a short so we could all have a breather. The groans and screams were unbelievable as the film was put back on after the ten minute short was over.

I would suggest seeing this film with several friends who have no idea what they are in for, another requisite for this would have to be that you are a sadistic person who enjoys watching others suffer. If you do not match these requirements then DO NOT SEE THIS.
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2/10
One-of-a-kind adult musical, killed by self-indulgent handling and uninteresting subject matter.
barnabyrudge30 October 2013
Warning: Spoilers
During the 60s, especially the latter half of the decade, studios were going through a phase of bank-rolling some very personal, very unusual and often very experimental films. Some of them were quite wonderful in their refreshingly offbeat way, while others were grotesque and horrible beyond words. Can Heironymous Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe And Find True Happiness? falls into the latter category – an indescribably self- indulgent muddle of a film, a seemingly interminable ego-trip, which manages to simultaneously capture on film the career suicide of its writer/director/producer/star Anthony Newley while remaining oddly boring. The similarly disastrous Candy, released a year earlier, may well have been tasteless, self-indulgent and muddled but at least it was lively. This one is anything but… the word 'tedious' seems almost too mild, too kind, for Newley's gargantuan fart of a film.

40 year old performer Heironymous Merkin (Newley) assembles a small stage and a good deal of personal bric-a-brac on a beach, and begins to recount his life story to his children (Alexander & Tara Newley) and mother (Patricia Hayes). His story is told in a deliberately fragmented, theatrical and metaphorical manner, always symbolic, never straightforward. Led astray by the tempting voice of Goodtime Eddie Filth (Milton Berle), Merkin is quickly seduced into a lifestyle of promiscuity and gross self-indulgence, loving and leaving women as frequently as most of us have hot meals. But amid the army of female admirers, two women in particular make a lasting impression on his unfeeling heart – the beautiful Polyester Poontang (Joan Collins) whom he impregnates and marries, and the adolescent Mercy Humppe (Connie Kreski, of Playboy) with whom a forbidden love affair leaves him emotionally scarred for life. From time to time, Merkin steps out of his own life story and looks in on it almost like a member of the production team, arguing with the unseen director (Newley again, seen only in silhouette) about the portrayal of himself, while two producers (Tom Stern & Louis Negin) and a trio of scathing critics (Ronald Radd, Rosalind Knight & Victor Spinetti) look on in consternation.

Can Heironymous Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe And Find True Happiness? is certainly a one-of-a-kind film and, heaven knows, how often do we movie-lovers spend our time complaining about films that are overly familiar, unoriginal and derivative? At least this one has a go at being something totally new and different, a unique voice singing courageously against the masses. Alas, it is, despite a mammoth effort to be quite unlike anything ever made before, an absolute failure. Beyond Otto Heller's entertainingly off-kilter camera angles and the impressive set and costume design (which earn the film an extra star… just), there is virtually nothing else in the entire thing which actually works.

Merkin/Newley's troubled sex life - his personal demons about commitment, women and relationships - certainly offer nothing interesting or amusing. The musical numbers are spectacularly dull; the humour is mostly wide of the mark; the narrative becomes wearisome in its endless quest to be as deliberately offbeat as possible. Male and female nudity is thrown in periodically, but its purpose is as obscure as everything else about the film. Ultimately, the whole thing comes across like an attempt to make an 'adult' erotic musical about the pitfalls of being famous (and therefore 'desirable')… sadly it is too muddled in conception and self-indulgent in style to really work. A curiosity of its time for sure, but a dead-loss as a film.
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1/10
Junk
I saw this film as a freshman at the University of Hartford way back in 1972. I remember that it was highly touted by the Campus Center as being a spicy, x-rated film. Needless to say, because of this, the lines were extremely long to the auditorium; people were anxious to see nudity and were practically clawing their way in to grab a seat. What a disappointment! This pseudo-musical, with a slight touch of nudity and simulated sex acts, was a bomb and too long to bear. Thinking of it now, I can't believe that I sat through this stinker. The film was so bad that, in one scene, the "hero" (if you want to call him that) was standing on the edge of a cliff singing and the entire audience was yelling "Jump! Jump!!". In a way, I hoped that he would so he could put this awful train wreck out of it's misery!
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Wow - that was weird!
Wizard-818 November 1999
People complain that studios don't take chances anymore. Well, although sometimes when they did take a chance they made a masterpiece, they also came up with movies like this! This movie is a mess, so...weird. For much of the running time, it's fascinating to watch its insanity, though eventually it becomes tiring. The only really funny bit is the hilariously tasteless "The Princess and the Donkey" number.
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Hooo Boy
shark-4313 April 2003
What a pretentious load of crap. Made in the late Sixties, Newley must have drugged everyone's food at the studio to get the okay on this. From the opening scene where he and his two children are wearing incredibly Over-sized sunglasses - you know there will be no subtlety at all. He shove so much symbolism into this mess - the sad clown with the heart on his chest, the image of himself with no face, the virgin on the merryground, I mean - pleeeease! My bizarre cinema group can watch ANYTHING and I do mean anything, usually the more awful the better, but this film is in a class by itself - it's so bad, it's just....bad. Yes, you can laugh at the Swingin' Sixties camera work and clothes and horrid cameos by Milton Berle and georgie jessel but really, Ed Wood's worst are more entertaining this. Whew!!!
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2/10
Merkin of the Movies
moonspinner5525 July 2017
As a performer (musical or otherwise), Anthony Newley has always been an acquired taste. His cabaret-born stylings and exaggerated delivery (again, while singing or acting) can either be interpreted as heartfelt or preening. Newley had done nothing on the screen up to this point to justify the jaded, indifferent, Felliniesque "Heironymus Merkin", an autobiographical jumble of vaudeville skits, sex and songs. Newley directed and has the lead; he also co-wrote the script with Herman Raucher, scored the music and produced. Obviously, this project meant a lot to him, but it was shunned upon its release (the ungainly title was most likely no help). The film gives off bad vibrations, as well as the puzzling impression it was made by somebody who hoped to get out of show business. A musical-comedy star reflects on his life upon turning 40 (the age, Merkin tells us, when men's bodies begin to decay); he's guided along his journey by George Jessel (dressed in all-white) and Milton Berle (dressed in suit jackets and shorts, like a leering carnival barker). Newley cavorts with a bevy of women (a handful of whom were featured in a nude Playboy layout, which figured in the advertising), but Merkin/Newley views sex cheerlessly. The women are sex objects to be ogled and then cheated on--until they get pregnant, which leads to the ultimate trap: marriage. While Newley is anxious to show off the bare breasts of his actresses (minus those of wife Joan Collins, who is turned into a shrew), he stops short of celebrating their bodies; in Newley's world, a sex scene is included only to showcase his prowess as a ladies' man. He's not only the star of his own movie, he's the leading man in each of his lovers' movies (the ladies have no personalities--only lascivious names). This self-adoration is probably the reason the film was taken to task by the critics, who called it a megalomaniacal disaster. Is it truly wretched? I would say Newley adopts a certain style from the Masters, which is unfortunately hindered in the end by the lenient editing. There are far too many shots of Newley with his shirt off, or with his shoes off, allowing the camera to admire him. He primps, he sticks out his bottom lip and looks boyish, he dresses as a life-size marionette and collapses, hoping to grab our hearts. The picture isn't a personal triumph because it has been shaped and styled to reveal Anthony Newley as a sad puppet, a crying clown, and the image is so false that nobody--least of all of Newley--could get away with it. *1/2 from ****
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9/10
Comedy at its best
itsronnie28 April 2019
Underrated and unappreciated in it's release time has aged this into a classic
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7/10
Mr Newley was aiming for "Citizen Kane"but hit "Myra Breckenridge"
ianlouisiana27 March 2018
Warning: Spoilers
The greatest stage performance I ever saw was Mr Newley in 1962 in his tour - de - force "Stop the world - I want to get off". Seven years later his star was so far in the ascendant that he was given the keys to Hollywood and told "Help Yourself". An offer he took very seriously. The result was what can only be described as extraordinary . Now whether this is a good "extraordinary" or a bad one is very subjective. What is certain,however,is the warts and all portrait of the artist that is revealed. He is by turns crude,witty,self - relevatory,secretive,charming and unpleasant. And so is the film. Fifty years ago it might have shocked a pre Harvey Milk America. Today it merely represents the overindulgence of a huge ego. But it's a "Big" film with a big budget and big themes already explored by cleverer reviewers than me. I still admire Mr Newley's work and can indulge his childish ambition to make a T and A picture dressed up as "Art". The film's main saving grace is that in parts it is very funny. As a satire on the so - called "Permissive" society and its pernicious after - effects it is unmatched.
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8/10
Newley Discovered
ricknorwood2 June 2011
At last the great song from this movie is out on CD. Buy Newley Discovered if only for the song "Once Upon a Time".

As for the film itself, uneven is the best word for it, but memorable also comes to mind. I only saw it once, when it first came out, and I still think about it often. There is no DVD -- there was one in a non-US format years ago, but it is long out of print.

Is it a "good" movie? No. If there were a vote for movies in bad taste, it might come in #1. Is it worth seeing. Oh, yes!

The self-indulgent life story of a self-indulgent singer, songwriter, actor clearly based on Newley himself. You could make the case the Newley never wrote about anyone else, and his most famous song, "What Kind of Fool Am I?", says it all. But he had great talent, and the misfortune to obtain fame as a small child, and then lose it.
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1/10
Need a nap?
Tito-829 October 1998
Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner! This atrocity is without a doubt the absolute worst film that I have ever seen. I was literally in pain watching this mess. It is one of those rare movies that manages to combine endless boredom with sheer stupidity, and that all adds up to an experience that would make a nude hike through Siberia in winter seem preferable. I'd bad-mouth this film some more, but the mere thought of it is making me nauseous...
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2/10
Only special films of a bad nature get a bomb.
mark.waltz13 July 2018
Warning: Spoilers
In rating this, I decided that in this case, 2 was worse than 1. It is without a doubt the worst musical film ever made, making "Lost Horizon", "And Long Last Love" and "Can't Stop the Music" the best of MGM in comparison. Hopefully the legendary Joan Collins has learned to get over singing about getting chalk with her cheese, featured as part of a raunchy production number that looks like it was cut out of "Barbarella", and I'm sure she's grateful that it's not a cult classic like "Valley of the Dolls" and "Mommie Dearest". I can't see this as part of any gay cult festival either. In fact, if I wanted to break up with my lover or end a long term friendship, all I'd have to do would be to put this on. They'd change their phone numbers and emails immediately. Others might harass me in the middle of the night for giving them nightmares as a result of seeing this film

So what is so bad about this outside the ridiculously long, confusing title? Its star/writer/director, Anthony Newley, for one thing, predating the Broadway musical "Nine" by thirteen years, and giving off a vibe of such ego that it does nothing but a disservice to the charms he had showed in his live stage appearances. Unfortunately, unlike his two Broadway hits ("Stop the World, I Wanna Get Off" and "The Roar of the Greasepaint, the Smell of the Crowd"), this analytical musical reeks of meglomania and not in any charming, comical way. Each musical number gets exceedingly worse, culminating in a truly tacky number where one of the leading ladies is seen cavorting, believe it or not, with a donkey! No wonder showings of this film end up with near riots.

Newley is surrounded by an all star cast of comic legends and centerfold beauties, but all you can do is feel sorry for Milton Berle playing the God of Sleeze and George Jessel as a more wise deity, with Stubby Kaye wasted in a useless part. Otto Preminger did better with Groucho Marxx, Jackie Gleason and Carol Channing in the same year's disaster, "Skidoo", which is at least fun to laugh at. There is no entertainment value here, no moral lesson to be learned, and certainly not a master class on how not to make a movie. Research showed that this made a profit, making me wonder if Newley had the Max Bielestock idea of creating a huge flop yet failed. Even "The First Nudie Musical" (which this proves not to be the case) has more redeeming elements than this piece of filth.
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