Original Broadway Cast Recording

Original Movie Cast Recording

Revival Broadway Cast Recording

A naive farm boy from Oklahoma named Claude Hooper Bukowski (John Savage) heads to New York City to enter the Army and serve in the Vietnam War. In Central Park, he meets a tribe of free-spirited hippies who introduce him to their environment of marijuana, LSD, free love and draft dodging.

The Tribe, led by George Berger (Treat Williams), introduces him to debutante Sheila Franklin (Beverly D'Angelo) when they crash a dinner party at her home. The group encourages Claude to go after her, but inevitably, Claude is sent off to recruit training in Nevada. Berger and his friends, (along with Sheila),Woof Daschund (Don Dacus), LaFayette "Hud" Johnson (Dorsey Wright), and pregnant Jeannie Ryan (Annie Golden) follow him.

Sheila flirts with an off-duty Sergeant in order to steal his uniform, which she gives to Berger. He uses it to extract Claude from the base for a last meeting with Sheila, taking his place, but while Claude is away, the unit flies out to Vietnam, taking Berger with them.

0 Nominations
0 Awards

Golden Globes
2 Nominations
0 Awards

2 Nominations
0 Awards

8 Nominations
1 Award
Best Revival of a Musical
“Hair”, directed by Milos Forman and written for the screen by Michael Weller, is the movie version of the Tony Award winning Broadway play written by James Rado and Gerome Ragni. Legendary choreographer Twyla Tharp masterminded the dances, which attempt to flow from the natural settings of the film. The story is simple, yet oh so complex: a group of young hippies criticize the individualist and the establishment they live in and they dare this model of society by living the free life of sex, drugs and free love. These hippies- Berger, Lafayette, Jeanie and Woof- are happy, lovely, sympathetic and try to be free in their relationships as they attempt to make an stand against the American way of life. We can see them in the parks and publics spaces, singing and dancing without a care in the world. But do they really?

John Savage is tremendous as the doey-eyed Claude doing his patriotic duty by being sent off to a war he really doesn’t understand. It’s his duty and that’s all he needs to know. Treat William’s happy-go-lucky Berger is fantastic. For being a relative unknown at the time, he bursts onto the screen with carefree abandonment. His energy and excitement carries the film throughout and really makes you care for the character.

While the rest of the cast were largely unknowns, they were superb in handling the great task of taking a fantastic Broadway musical and transforming it onto the big screen.

The plot, however, is greatly changed in the film. In the musical, Claude is a member of a hippie "Tribe" sharing a New York apartment, leading a bohemian lifestyle, enjoying "free love" and rebelling against his parents and the draft; but he eventually goes to Vietnam. In the film, Claude is rewritten as an innocent draftee from Oklahoma, newly arrived in New York to join the military. In New York, he gets caught up with the group of hippies while waiting to be sent to Army training camp. They introduce him to their psychedelically inspired style of living, and eventually drive to Nevada to visit him at a training camp. In the musical, Sheila is also an outspoken feminist leader of the Tribe who loves Berger and also Claude. In the film, she is a high-society debutante who catches Claude's eye. In the film, Berger is not only at the heart of the hippie Tribe but is assigned some of Claude's conflict involving whether or not to obey the draft. A major plot change in the film involves a mistake that leads Berger to go to Vietnam in Claude's place, where he is killed. The musical focuses on the U.S. peace movement, as well as the love relationships among the Tribe members, while the film focuses on the carefree antics of the hippies.
The songs played in the movie of the counterculture’s ideology are about racial segregation, the police, the militaries, the private lands and the traditional family. While there were 22 original Broadway songs, (with almost half being cut from the film), the film does include the more famous songs from the original play, including "Donna," "Aquarius," "Easy to Be Hard," "Let the Sunshine In," "Good Morning Starshine," and of course the title number “Hair”. The movie’s title summarizes what was the most evident of the hippie symbol: the long and uncared for hair. In a society where the men should have short hair, the fact of using this kind of hair was a way to show they didn’t agree with the rules of society, and that they were against those rules, laws and traditions, as we can see in the song:
Hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair
Flow it, show it
Long as God can grow it
My hair

I want it long, straight, curly, fuzzy
Snaggy, shaggy, ratty, matty
Oily, greasy, fleecy
Shining, gleaming, streaming
Flaxen, waxen
Knotted, polka-dotted
Twisted, beaded, braided
Powdered, flowered, and confettied
Bangled, tangled, spangled, and spaghettied!
Rado and Ragni were unhappy with the film adaptation, saying it failed to capture the essence of “Hair”, in that the hippies in the movie were portrayed as "oddballs" and "some sort of aberration" without any connection to the peace movement. They stated: "Any resemblance between the 1979 film and the original Biltmore version, other than some of the songs, the names of the characters, and a common title, eludes us." In their view, the screen version of “Hair” has not yet been produced. The reviewer for Alllmusic.com called the film a "train wreck. ... A complete misfire conceived by a screenwriter ... and a director ... who did not seem to have the slightest familiarity with hippies, the '60s, America, or even Broadway, the movie was miscast with supposedly bankable young film stars of the day”.

Years later, Forman cited his loss of his moral rights to the film to the studio as eventually leading to his 1997 John Huston Award for Artists Rights from the Film Foundation:

“What was behind that [award] was that one day I had in my contract that when the studio wants to sell Hair ...to the network but they have to have my, you know, consent or how would they...what they do with it. But I didn't have this, so what they did, they didn't sell it to the network, the sold it to syndicated television where I didn't have that right. What happened: the film played on 115 syndicated stations practically all over the United States, and it's a musical. Out of 22 musical numbers, 11 musical numbers were cut out from the film, and yet it was still presented as a Milos Forman film, “Hair”. It was totally incomprehensible, jibberish, and butchered beyond belief...”

Nevertheless, the film received generally favorable reviews. Writing in The New York Times, Vincent Canby called it "a rollicking musical memoir... screenwriter [Michael] Weller's inventions make this “Hair” seem much funnier than I remember the show's having been. They also provide time and space for the development of characters who, on the stage, had to express themselves almost entirely in song... The entire cast is superb… the film is a delight."

Frank Rich, also from The New York Times said "if ever a project looked doomed, it was this one" (referring to the "largely plot less" and dated musical upon which it was based, Forman's and Tharp's lack of movie musical experience, the "largely unproven cast" and the film's "grand budget"); in spite of these obstacles, "Hair” succeeds at all levels—as lowdown fun, as affecting drama, as exhilarating spectacle and as provocative social observation. It achieves its goals by rigorously obeying the rules of classic American musical comedy: dialogue, plot, song and dance blend seamlessly to create a juggernaut of excitement. Though every cut and camera angle in “Hair” appears to have been carefully conceived, the total effect is spontaneous.”
Having seen the Broadway revival of the musical, I can honestly say that there is NOTHING in the world better than the live musical. However, the movie is definitely worth seeing and you’ll find yourself either singing along or wanting to stand up and dance, ...or both!