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Milos Forman's TAKING OFF: a true rarity

Posted: Sun Feb 21, 2010 4:14 pm
by Wallingford ... los+forman

I really wouldn't be going all out to recommend a movie this way if I didn't feel thoroughly engaged with it myself. At the end of the sixties, Czech director Milos Forman, upon settling in the US (on the strength of his last Czech feaetures, Loves Of A Blonde and The Fireman's Ball), was contracted by Paramount to do this movie (and with scarcely any mastery of English). The company had him agree that he would take no money up front but be paid a percentage of the royalties.

The critics and the few people who went to see it did handstands; the rest of the world turned a deaf ear, and Forman despondently holed up in a New York hotel room (managed, apparently, by an arts lover aware of the man's reputation). After extensive therapy--done via a comrade intermediary--Forman reemerged and was given the duty of directing One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest (Michael Douglas' dad gave him the movie rights after the latter was done doing the stage version). Cuckoo's Nest's big Oscar sweep may have given some the notion that it really was an "apology Oscar" (for what Forman suffered in the wake of the present film), but that's an absurd notion, the latter picture standing more than well enough on its own merits.

But see here: without a Taking Off, there might've been no Cuckoo's Nest.

A SPECIAL ADDED NOTE: This film's been forever absent from home video....apparently there are royalty share squabbles involved (Carly Simon, perhaps, a key culprit? She's seen as one of the auditioners in the movie).

Now: sit back, enjoy.