DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

THE BIG CUBE (director/writer: Tito Davison; screenwriters: based on the story by Edmundo Baez/William Douglas Lansford; cinematographer: Gabriel Figueroa; editor:  Carlos Savage; music:  Val Johns; cast: Lana Turner (Adriana Roman), George Chakiris (Johnny Allen), Richard Egan (Frederick Lansdale), Daniel O'Herlihy (Charles Winthrop), Karin Mossberg (Lisa Winthrop), Pamela Rodgers (Bibi), Carlos East (Lalo), Augusto Benedico (Dr. Lorenz), Victor Junco (Delacroix), Norma Herrera (Stella), Pedro Galvan (University Dean), Regina Torne (Queen Bee); Runtime: 98; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Francisco Diez Barroso/Lindsley Parsons; Warner Bros.-Seven Arts; 1969)

"Trashy idiotic hippie psychedelic thriller."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Trashy idiotic hippie psychedelic thriller, whose uninspired groovy story by Edmundo Baez and screenwriter William Douglas Lansford futiley tries to blend together Hollywood melodrama with the swinging new drug culture and in the process the inept pic gives both recreational drugs and silly soap opera movies about the drug scene a bad name. Chilian-born director Tito Davison ("The White Sister"/"Island for Two"/"Song of the Soul"), also a co-writer, shot the pic in Mexico, his home base. The unintentionally laughable pic is another example of a Hollywood film failing when trying to cash in on the emerging hippie and LSD markets. It's a dumb exploitative film  like the following druggie films: The TripPsych-Out, The Hallucination Generation, Riot on Sunset Strip, The Hooked Generation, Free Grass, Wild in the Streets, and the completely ridiculous Blue Sunshine.

The title is slang for a sugar cube dipped in LSD, used to kill off Lana.

Veteran Broadway actress Adriana Roman (Lana Turner) retires from the stage to marry the wealthy industrialist, the widower Charles Winthrop (Daniel O'Herlihy), who has a spoiled teenage daughter Lisa (Karin Mossberg) he does not know very well since she's been away to exclusive private schools in Switzerland. Lisa resents stepmom sight unseen, and attends with ditzy hedonist girlfriend Bibi (Pamela Rodgers) a hipster party at a club called The Trip, where the stoners drop acid served in a drink and one trippy party-goer goes berserk and dies when he runs out into the traffic and gets hit by a car. Drug dealer Johnny Allen (George Chakiris), Bibi's smarmy gigolo boyfriend, is attracted to Lisa's enormous wealth and moves in on the naive brat by acting as Mr. Perfect around her. Meanwhile Charles accidentally drowns in his yacht during a storm and his will stipulates that the stepmom will control the inheritance, as Lisa can't collect her share until she turns 25 and can get the inheritance if not 25 by marrying only someone approved by her guardian stepmom. The manipulative Johnny convinces Lisa that the stepmom killed her dad and that she needs to immediately act to collect her inheritance. Lisa feeds her stepmom daily small amounts of acid dipped in a sugar cube in her medicine. The result has Adriana in a psycho hospital, as the acid brings back horrible hallucinations of the death of her husband and she becomes declared incompetent to look after Lisa because of her amnesia.

The overwhelmed director has a mess on his hands trying to make this absurd tale coherent, but can only manage to keep the drivel going with some terrible acting by all parties, a stilted presentation and scores of phony hipster drug scenes. It's geared primarily for lovers of bad kitsch films. The risible pic also comes with a ridiculous moral lesson on the evils of LSD, as it results in the corrupt former medical student and LSD dealer Johnny getting his comeuppance in the conclusion by deliriously trying to talk to an ant as he has become an acid head living in squalor, while the confused Lisa comes to her senses by learning from her mistakes and Adiana returns to normal by getting rid of her traumatic amnesia through role playing a second-rate play written especially for her condition by her long-time old friend Frederick (Richard Egan). He gallantly waits for the love of his life at home when she's released from the mental hospital.

The revolting movie tries to cash in on the headline stealing scandal incident from some ten years back when Lana's 14-year-old daughter, Cheryl Crane, fatally stabbed mom's abusive, mob-connected boyfriend, Johnny Stompanato.

REVIEWED ON 1/21/2014       GRADE: C-

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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