Taking place over 48-hours in 1968 as Richard Nixon becomes President, Shampoo echoes Peter Fonda’s sentiment from Easy Rider: “We blew it, man,” though in this case, that phrase takes on various shadings. Although it plays its sexual politics as farce, this frothy comedy of Beverly Hills manners views its hairdresser hero’s bed-hopping with a certain sadness. The character was inspired by Jay Sebring (see Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) and producer-cowriter-star Warren Beatty’s own (surely well-deserved) reputation as a “ladies man”. George (Beatty) isn’t really a stud, he’s servicing rich, bored clients who can’t get enough sex – or affection – any other way. He’s more than happy to let Jack Warden’s wealthy businessman (a prospective investor) assume he’s gay if that means he doesn’t suspect he’s jumping in the sack with his wife (Lee Grant), his mistress (Julie Christie), and his daughter (Carrie Fisher). But what George really wants is to settle down with his girlfriend, Jill (Goldie Hawn). Or so he says.
Is it about anything more than the perennial itch? Well, that may be subject enough, but this boudoir comedy feels panoramic. As Pauline Kael noted, quoting a line from Max Ophuls’ The Earings of Madame de…., “It’s only superficially superficial.”
Made with all the awareness of hindsight, Shampoo offers a sharp sexual satire and a mature statement on both America and Hollywood in 1968… Everyone is shown to act out of the same fatal expediency, s the country elects Nixon for President while Beatty’s chic Hollywood hairdresser tries to sort out an increasingly disshevelled sex life, a campaign against the Establishment via its wives and mistresses that’s subversive only by default.
Chris Peachment, Time Out
Frivolous and funny, it carries a sense of heedless activity, a craze of dissatisfaction. Shampoo is light and impudent, yet like the comedies that live on, it’s a bigger picture in retrospect.
Warren Beatty, Goldie Hawn, Julie Christie, Lee Grant, Carrie Fisher, Jack Warden
Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Lee Grant), Academy Awards 1976
Robert Towne, Warren Beatty
Robert C. Jones
W. Stewart Campbell