The Monkees-Head (1968) (NTSC)

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Released 12-Nov-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Audio
TV Spots-3
Theatrical Trailer-4
Featurette-Cameos
Music Highlights
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1968
Running Time 85:27
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Bob Rafelson
Studio
Distributor
Raybert Productions
Warner Vision
Starring Peter Tork
Davy Jones
Micky Dolenz
Michael Nesmith
Annette Funicello
Timothy Carey
Logan Ramsey
Abraham Sofaer
Vito Scotti
Charles Macaulay
T.C. Jones
Charles Irving
William Bagdad
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI ? Music Carole King
Michael Nesmith
Ken Thorne


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Pan & Scan English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
German
Spanish
Japanese
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, stick around for the end of the credits

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    The Monkees were America's answer to The Beatles, but manufactured for a television series. This probably was more unusual in the 1960s than it would seem today. Originally the members of the band were selected for their acting ability and their appeal to what network executives thought was the youth of the day, and they simply lip-synced to music recorded and written by others, for example Neil Diamond. Later they attempted to be a real band, writing and recording their own songs, though still filtered through the sieve of television. They were immensely popular, and made a lot of money for other people.

    The series was co-created by Bob Rafelson, who later went on to a distinguished if sporadic directing career, most notably with Jack Nicholson. And this film is directed by Rafelson, based on a script he co-wrote with Nicholson. You can see both Rafelson and Nicholson appear briefly in this film, along with a very hirsute Dennis Hopper. The Monkees comprised Davy Jones, Michael Nesmith, Mickey Dolenz and Peter Tork.

    This is a very strange film, and quite unlike the TV show that spawned it. There is no real story or narrative as such, just a series of disconnected episodes on various themes, mainly played for laughs. The film takes swipes at Vietnam, films, television, politics, drugs, The Beatles, westerns, Eastern mysticism, Get Smart and Victor Mature. Just what is Victor Mature doing in this movie, apart from laughing maniacally?

    The film is full of cameos, with everyone from Annette Funicello to Sonny Liston to Frank Zappa (a very amusing bit). Choreographer Toni Basil dances with Davy Jones, Abraham Sofaer does a Mahareshi Mahesh Yogi impersonation, Percy Helton has a bit as the "heraldic messenger" and there is a waitress played by a female impersonator who sounds just like Bette Davis. A young Teri Garr also has a small role, and Timothy Carey plays his usual crackpot.

    Apparently Head was not a major success in 1968, as Monkees fans hated it. However, it has a sort of mesmeric fascination despite the lack of narrative, and is quite entertaining. The film was obviously influenced by Fellini, a fact acknowledged by giving the Italian tank commander character played by Vito Scotti the name "I. Vitelloni". The scene where a helicopter carries a black box is reminiscent of the scene with the statue of Jesus in La Dolce Vita. The black box also reminded me of 2001: A Space Odyssey, though as the films were released in the same year it is probably just a coincidence.

    This is probably the fifth or sixth time I have seen Head, though the first in many years. It was good to see it again, but I doubt whether I will dig this disc out again in a hurry.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The film is described on the case as being "remastered in full frame format". I think that is marketing-speak for "we've made a digital transfer of a projection print in the wrong aspect ratio". The aspect ratio on the disc is 1.33:1, but the original aspect ratio seems to have been wider, probably 1.66:1 or 1.85:1. It is not 16x9 enhanced. It is also in NTSC format.

    The transfer is nicely sharp and clear. There is a fine level of detail visible through the debris, and I had no issues with shadow detail. Contrast levels are very good as well. Colour is also fine, with realistic flesh tones and some bright and vivid colours on display. This helps with the more psychedelic sequences. Both black and white levels are satisfactory.

    I did not notice anything in the way of film to video artefacts. However, the film itself has numerous artefacts, such as scratches, lines, white flecks, dirt and reel change markings.

    Subtitles are provided in English, in clear white text that is close to the dialogue. There are also subtitles for the songs, which is a good feature as some of the lyrics are a little hard to decipher.

    The movie comes on a single-layered disc, so there is no layer change.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The sole audio track is Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, though the case says it is 1.0 mono.

    The audio is a little thin-sounding, with very little in the way of bass response. Dialogue is clear for the most part, though as mentioned the songs are sometimes a little hard to understand, and Timothy Carey's dialogue is also a little mangled. This would have been present in the source material. There is little in the way of other audible problems.

    The music score is comprised of songs by the band and a few other bits and pieces of music not original to the film. The music comes across quite well despite the limitations of the soundtrack, and will satisfy all but the most demanding listener.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    A few extras are provided.

Main Menu Audio

    A song from the film is played under the menu. Navigation to the submenus displays a brief animation.

TV Spots (3:52)

    Four TV spots of various length that must have mystified TV viewers in 1968.

Trailers (5:36)

    Three original trailers, one of which is in Portuguese.

Cameos

    This is basically a submenu that takes you to the various cameos in the film.

Music Highlights

    Like the Cameos, this is a menu listing the musical numbers that allows navigation to them.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This release appears to be identical in all regions.

Summary

    A strange film that may appeal, though not necessarily to fans of the original series.

    The video quality is disappointing in some respects.

    The audio quality is satisfactory.

    The extras do not amount to much.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Tuesday, November 09, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony TA-DA9000ES
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
They sang their songs. -