Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The Love Statue (The Love Drug) (1965) The Beat Turns On

Dig this. There's this struggling loft dauber in The Village named Tyler, he's kept in bread by this angel, Lisa, a leotard dancer grooving her stuff at The Bitter End Café down around the corner.

Tyler is a snagged stag. This chick Lisa is jazzing it with Tyler, playing hide the sausage whenever she makes the scene at the loft. This arrangement of lustful convenience with no real love, has both Tyler and Lisa blowing their jets.

Tyler's creativity is not the only thing he's struggling with apparently his sex life with Lisa is also sputtering. They have another row. Things get rough and Lisa hits him over the head with a vase. Lisa tends to his wounds, sticks a wad of bills in his hand, puts on her rags and splits. Tyler runs up to the roof and screams that he doesn't want her money. He throws the wad of cash down to the street. Lisa struts back and picks it up out of the cobblestones and tells Tyler to pick her up after her set.

Tyler (Ratray) and Lisa (Seay)
"You're not much of a lover, you're not much of anything."

"I don't want your filthy money"

"Pick me up at the club"
Stan, Tyler's crazy sculptor buddie drops by schlepping buckets of clay. He's a sort of cheep creep. He got evicted from his studio and needs a place to crash. Tyler gives him shelter from the storm.

Stan (Goldenberg)

"Tyler you're getting some style."
After helping him carry in his clay, Tyler heads down to The Bitter End Café. At the cafe he catches Mashiko (actually Hisako "Choco" Tsukuba - was in 1964 "Big In Japan") a Japanese torch singer doing her number.

Mashiko (Tsukuba)

Tyler, Buddy and Josh
The Beats are cool with her and her song thinking she's The End even though they can't dig a word. Tyler is spotted by some of his friends and waved over to their table.

Bitter End Buddy: What's the kick?
Tyler: Hey you know same old thing.
Josh: Lisa huh? Our little sex symbol putting you down?
Tyler: Nothing seems to be going right. I can't paint, I can't do anything. I feel Like I'm being smothered, you know what I mean?
Josh: Yea I'm hipped man you're bugged, and I know what you need.
Tyler: What's that?
Bitter End Buddy: Nothing, Josh was just jiving, aren't you Josh?
Josh (to the stage): Hey Mashiko come over here.
Bitter End Buddy: Why don't you cool it man.
Josh: Buddy don't sweat it. Come over here honey, Mashiko I'd like you to meet Ty. Honey you were groovy. Honey our boy Ty here has a problem, you think we could sort of help him out? Guide him up the path to eternal freedom.
Bitter End Buddy: Why don't you lay off.
Josh: Why don't you lay off Batman, I'm just looking out for Ty's welfare. Ty's got problems and we're all concerned right, ain't that right Mashiko? He needs a release and it's up to us to show our brothers the light. Dig me.
Tyler: Come on cut it out.
Josh: You need a new dream right? New revelations, put yourself in old Daddy Josh's hands.
Mashiko: You wish to experience new horizons make you feel the power of the earth and of the sky.
Bitter End Buddy: The sky above and the mud below.
Tyler: Hey what is all this jive?
Mashiko: In my world dreams become true.
Josh: Anamorphic images.
Bitter End Buddy: Dig my man Webster.
Josh: Mythic revelations.
Tyler: Hey ah, maybe I'm drunk but I don't get what you're rapping about at all.
Josh: LSD
Tyler: LS what?
Mashiko: LSD it's the newest thing in dreams.

LSD the newest thing in dreams
Bitter End Buddy: Instant psychoanalysis babe.
Tyler: Aaay, if you're talking about what I think you're talking about, no you got the wrong pigeon, I like my nightmares just the way they are.
Josh: Man you don't know until you get (snaps fingers) turned on yourself.
Tyler: Ah you're pushing Josh, I said forget it.
Mashiko: If you should change your mind. You can reach me anytime (gives him her card).

Josh with LSD sugar cube
Tyler splits the table, content on being a just a juicehead. He orders a double from Arnie a waiter. Lisa comes on doing her "leo-tart" dance shaking her buns of steel booty hypnotically for the beats. Tyler, now drunk, stops the dance and asks the audience "now that you've seen the merchandise do I have any bids." Lisa kicks him off the stage and walks right over him.

Lisa's "leo tart" dance

These heels are made for walkin'

Tyler, stumble/stomps out of the café, later, sloppy drunk he's passed out along an iron fence on a Greenwich Village street. In what may be the first depiction of a predatory gay pick-up, a homosexual man tries to take advantage of Tyler offering him a tar bar/kick stick and asking him if he'll let him "help" him back up to his apartment. It's sort of an attempted date rape without the date. Tyler's not that drunk figures it out and begs off.

The Predator Gay Pickup

Later Lisa drifts up to the loft and she and Tyler, after an attempt at sex, have another war of words. Lisa verbally castrates him and Tyler throws her out.

 Lisa (Beti Seay) 
Frustrated, Tyler remembers Mashiko's offer, and finds her card and the address to her pad. He runs out of the loft passing Stan on the stairs who is bringing a model up to pose. At Mashiko's there's an acid party going on, there Tyler makes it with Mashiko and drops acid he turns on, tunes in, and drops out.

Acid Party

Tyler drinking water with a dissolved sugar cube of acid

Three days later at the loft Stan has finished a sculpture of a goddess in clay. Lisa is desperately questioning him frantic about Tyler's disappearance, thinking she should call the fuzz. Stan tells her not to worry.

Where is he?

Tyler has been on a three day acid trip. Mobile again, but still tripping, he stumbles out of Mashiko's into The Village and he hallucinates his way back to the loft (accompanied by a crazy bongo leitmotif) where he imagines that Stan's clay sculpture comes alive, and that he has made love to her.

Tyler tripping through The Village

the statue

The dream sequence

He finally comes down when laying on the floor of the loft, Lisa pokes him awake with her high heel. Lisa tells him that she has been terribly worried, then she tries to embrace him, but Tyler rejects her, telling her that "it's over Lisa." He takes off out of the loft and heads up to Central Park free from manipulating Lisa and high on life. Lisa is stunned and incensed.

"It's over Lisa."
Lisa comes back down to the loft later while Tyler is still out traipsing about Central Park and destroys everything even Stan's precious sculpture. Stan arrives back at the loft sees all the destruction and totally freaks out killing Lisa with his knife. When Tyler finally gets to the loft he finds Lisa's body amongst the wreckage. He panics and flees into the city.

Lisa - gonesville

Wandering about lower Manhattan slightly dazed, he spots Stan's model and follows her down into a subway station, onto an uptown train. Desperate he finally convinces her to help him, telling her to call if she hears from Stan.

Tyler finds Stan's model

When Stan finally calls she sets up a rendezvous at Central Park. When Tyler confronts Stan, he pulls his knife and abducts his model, dragging her into his lead sled and taking off upstate for a little dam in Noirsville.


Tyler (Ratray)

Denouement at the New Croton Dam

The Love Statue is an interesting and curious melange of Breakfast at Tiffany'sThe Man With The Golden ArmStakeout On Dope Street, and Lost Weekend. Capturing that curious that fraction of fringe time between the end of The Beats and before everything went Mod or Acid Factory Freaky/Hippie at the beginning of The Age Of Aquarius. A non union film, The Love Statue was shot guerilla style on the streets of New York, it also captures nicely the Greenwich Village Art Scene and NYC circa 1965.  Durston informs us that the films original title "The Love Drug" could not be used because theater managers would not put it on their marquees. It's a "C" picture throughout showing some humorously pathetic attempts at some "European" style but it's a film with a lot of heart. Some of the performances and sequences are well done others are lacking in ability or clunky, but it's still a fun watch.

Directed by David E. Durston, written by David E. Durston and Robert A. Poore. Cinematography was by Amin Q. Chaudhri, Music by Sandy Barnett (musical director), and Rudy Traylor (music editor).  The film stars Peter Ratray as Tyler, Tyler, Beti Seay as Lisa, Harvey J. Goldenberg ...
Stan, Nancy Norman as The Model, Gigi Darlene as The Statue, Hisako Tsukuba as Mashiko, Coleman Younger as Nick, Mario DeRosa as Gay guy on street, and Liz Otto as Loud woman at bar.

Peter Ratray reminds me of Matt Damon, his performance is excellent. Harvey J. Goldenberg has an aura of Woody Allen, he's quite funny when he's critiquing Tyler's work. Beti Seay's Lisa gives off a Laura Petrie, Mary Tyler Moore vibe, but it's her evil twin. The uncredited actor who plays Josh the pusher is quite good also. Hisako Tsukuba couldn't speak a word of English so her lines are all done phonetically, but it adds to the overall "spaciness" of her character. Director Durston in the extras on the DVD tells us that he did indeed drop acid prior to directing the film in order to give it authenticity.

Apparently the film had some added sexploitation scenes inserted once The New York State censorship laws were declared unconstitutional, it was originally more of a drug-ploitation film. The Secret Key DVD October 13, 2009 Release (where the screencaps are from) has restored the film to it's original premier version. The Love Statue, according to Durston had a two week original run. A curious artifact 6/10.

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