Skip to Content

Head by Bob Rafelson []



Head is a psychedelic, non-linear motion picture starring… THE MONKEES. While not participating in a traditional narrative, the film retains a cyclical structure. Cyclical, in this instance, by that one can take nearly any scene, rearrange it and the action will still relate and have meaning in its new place. Bob Rafelson, a co-creator of the Monkees television series, made his feature directorial debut with 1968’s Head. He co-wrote the film with the then obscure Roger Corman school B-movie actor Jack Nicholson.
Rafelson and Nicholson sought to tell the Monkees story and the complexities of instant fame in an abstract fashion while also exploiting as many genres as possible. It poses the question, “well, what is Head?” A musical? A western? A horror film? A comedy? A boxing story? A Vietnam war protest? A sprawling adventure film? It’s safe to say these are all correct answers. The director uses esoteric dialog and cutting edge technology (i.e. the process of coloring film… which was essentially only explored in avante-guarde cinema up until this time) to collect these disparate elements and house them in a single story.
What also works in this film’s favor is that we have a collection of some of the Monkees best recorded material. Mickey Dolenz sings two lazing and beautiful Carole King compositions along with the Eastern flavored “Can You Dig It”, a song by Monkey Peter Tork. Peter’s other writing credit comes with the groovy freakout “Long Title: Do I Have to Do This All Over Again”. Davy Jones performs a dance scene with Toni Basil while singing Harry Nilsson’s Tin Pan Alley inspired “Daddy’s Song”. Michael Nesmith writes and sings “Circle Sky”, what we shall only consider as a psychedelic, ramshackle ho-down.

Although, in 1968 the film proved to be an immense commercial failure, Head has become a cult classic and an excellent artifact in the colored history of the Monkees. Rafelson continued his maverick approach to cinema and is now considered one of the most revered directors and producers of the “New Hollywood” generation.

Tagged: , ,