VARIETY  -  Mon., July 31, 1967

Mondo Hollywood

Cohen, with such documentaries under his belt as ... "Inside Red China," plus "Inside East Germany" and "Inside Castro's Cuba," calls feature a ''flippy, trippy psychedelic guide to Hollywood," which he sets out to prove.  Flip approach settles on as  wacky (some not so wacky) a group of characters as screen has seen, each claimed to be the real article - who acts, speaks, cavorts - some a genuine part of Hollywood with their accomplishments. 
To this footage, Cohen adds flashes of many screen names, such as celebs attending first-nights,  etc.   

...Not all the characters are odd-ball. Topic of LSD is given attention through shots of Dr. Richard Alpert, dismissed  from  Harvard for his experiment with drug; sculptress Valerie Porter is limned as she practices her art; and Rudi Gernreich, who invented the topless fad, is shown at a parade of his attire for moppets.  There are others, too,
but Cohen focusses primarily on what he sees as the Hollywood the public does not know.  For what is perhaps one of the first times on the screen Cohen takes his cameras into a topless joint where waitresses are serving bare to the waist.  Productionwise, film is virtually a one-man project.  Cohen handles quadruple chores of producer-director-photographer-editor, and also does the music editing.  Most of the technical aspects  are expertly executed.  Interesting freefall photography of a parachute sequence is done by Doyle F. Fields and Mike Curb does a good job with musical direction.  Narration is handled by  various characters seen on-screen, and there are 19 song numbers socked over by 12 singles and combos for background music.
COUNTERPUNCH - March 4, 2006


Long considered a cult classic, Mondo Hollywood captures the underside of Hollywood by documenting a moment in time (1965-67), when an inquisitive trust in the unknown was paramount, hope for the future was tangible and life was worth living on the fringe. Musical Direction by Mike Curb -- later elected Lt. Governor of California (1978), despite being falsely accused of "singing falsetto in a bathtub scene in the film with two lesbians." The sound track is performed by Davy Allen & The Arrows along with The Mugwumps (including Mama Cass and Zal Zablonsky).

In retrospect, the unwarranted reactions against the film by authoritarians, ranging from the French Commission of Control to the CIA (which labeled it, along with all of Cohen's other films, as "pro-communist") indicate Mondo Hollywood had struck a nerve - and questioned myths that seemed essential to those who attempted to control our minds. Originally denounced as a "bizarre prophecy" by the critics, today the film reveals itself to be far more prophetic than "bizarre."

(Hammond Guthrie)


Mondo Hollywood