Shampoo is a 1975 American satirical romantic comedy-drama film written by Robert Towne and Warren Beatty and directed by Hal Ashby. It stars Warren Beatty, Julie Christie and Goldie Hawn, with Lee Grant, Jack Warden, Tony Bill and in an early film appearance, Carrie Fisher.
The film is set on Election Day 1968, the day Richard Nixon was first elected as President of the United States, and was released soon after the Watergate scandal had reached its conclusion. The political atmosphere provides a source of dramatic irony, since the audience, but not the characters, are aware of the direction the Nixon presidency would eventually take. However, the main theme of the film is not presidential politics but sexual politics; it is renowned for its sharp satire of late-1960s sexual and social mores.
The lead character, George Roundy, is reportedly based on several actual hairdressers, including Jay Sebring and film producer Jon Peters, who is a former hairdresser. Sebring was brutally murdered by the Charles Manson family in 1969. According to the 2010 book Star: How Warren Beatty Seduced America by Peter Biskind, the screenwriter Towne based the character on Beverly Hills hairdresser Gene Shacove.
In 1968, the eve of a presidential election ends with Richard Nixon's election to the American presidency. George Roundy is a successful Beverly Hills hairdresser, whose occupation and charisma have provided him the perfect platform from which to meet and have sex with beautiful women, including his current girlfriend, Jill.
Despite this, George is dissatisfied with his professional life; he is clearly the creative star of the salon, but is forced to play second fiddle to Norman, the "nickel-and-diming" mediocre hairdresser who owns the place. He dreams of setting up his own salon business, but lacking the cash and other financial matters to do so, he turns to wealthy lover Felicia and her unsuspecting husband Lester to bankroll him. George's meeting with Lester supplies a second secret for him to keep from his would-be benefactor, Lester's current mistress, Jackie, who is George's former girlfriend, perhaps the most serious relationship he has ever had.
Lester, who assumes George is gay, invites him to escort Jackie to a Republican Party election night soiree, at which George finds himself in the same room as a number of present and former sexual partners. The principals adjourn to a posh the counterculture party, and the night quickly descends into drugs, alcohol, and sexual indulgence. Later on, Lester and Jill happen upon George and Jackie having vigorous sex on a kitchen floor. Just before their identities are revealed, an impressed Lester exclaims: "That's what I call fucking! Am I right, or am I right?" When Jill recognizes the writhing couple, she throws a chair at them; as George backpedals, trying to placate Jill, Jackie sees him for the cad he is, and flees.
George realizes that Jackie is his true love and proposes to her. By when it is too late, Jackie announces that Lester is divorcing Felicia and taking Jackie to Acapulco. With Felicia, Jill, and Jackie gone, sexual revelation occurs with George's deeper moral development, but ends bleakly, despite his epiphany.
The soundtrack includes songs from bands of the era: The Beatles (Yesterday, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds), Buffalo Springfield (Mr. Soul), The Beach Boys (Wouldn't It Be Nice), Jimi Hendrix (Manic Depression), etc.
Upon its release, the film generally received positive reviews from critics who lauded its talented cast and sharp, satirical writing. Praise was not universal; some critics, including Roger Ebert, pronounced it a disappointment. From reviews compiled retrospectively, review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 63% based on 30 reviews.
Commercially, Shampoo was a great success. Produced on a budget of $4 million, the film grossed $49,407,734 domestically and $60 million at the worldwide box office. It was the fourth most successful film of 1975 by box office takings, beaten only by Jaws, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
The year after its release saw a blaxploitation send-up, Black Shampoo.Academy Awards
-WinsBest Actress in a Supporting Role: Lee Grant
-NominationsBest Actor in a Supporting Role: Jack Warden
Best Writing, Original Screenplay: Robert Towne and Warren Beatty
Best Art Direction: Richard Sylbert, W. Stewart Campbell, and George Gaines
-NominationsBest Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy)
Best Motion Picture Actor (Musical or Comedy) – Warren Beatty
Best Motion Picture Actress (Musical or Comedy) – Julie Christie & Goldie Hawn
Best Supporting Actress (Motion Picture) – Lee Grant
1975 National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Screenplay
1976 Writers' Guild of America Award – Best Comedy Written Directly for the Screen
The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:2000: AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs – #47
2002: AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions – Nominated