When I reviewed Prez back in July several folks pointed out that Joe Simon had drawn his inspiration for a story about a teenage president from a wacked out movie from AIP (American International Pictures) called Wild in the Streets. I'd never seen it but just so happened to catch it on DVR from Turner Classic Movies a week or so ago and finally got around to watching on Election Day. It somehow seemed fitting.
It's a straight-up weird movie about a self-absorbed rock singer named Max Frost with severe mother issues and boatloads of money who finds himself able to influence his fans who he calls "troops" and eventually finagles things so that he becomes President of the United States.
But that's only after we see him and his crew (Richard Pryor is the drummer in the group by the way) smoking dope and dropping acid and mostly lying about on cushions in an over-the-top mansion. They moan about how rough it is that youth are ignored in a country run by old people and when a local pol named Fergus (Hal Holbrook) decides to leverage the youth by offering to lower the voting age to eighteen Max is able to work a deal to get it to fifteen. Later things make it possible for fourteen to be the age for all members of Congress and the Presidency.
There are riots, LSD, and rock concerts (limited to one song each time and some of them not terrible), all the things associated with 60's youth. At one point Frost's boys pour LSD into the water in Washington and trip out the entire Congress and later when Frost takes power he institutes "Paradise Camps" for folks over 35, where they are fed LSD as part of an attempt to alter their attitudes.
It's pretty brazen stuff and in the end rather grim. Joe Simon and Jerry Grandenetti took the idea of a teenage President and gave us an entertaining satire with enough steam to keep it potent but never do they let the dismal nature of real politics overwhelm their adventure. This movie seemed to start in the dark, brighten a little, but end in a very grim place. I guess we're suppose to reject the vain desires of youth culture it presents, but really everyone looks really bad.
It's an intriguing curiosity with some interesting bits and some entertaining cameos (Dick Clark and Melvin Belli among others). I recommend it if you have a few hours to kill off. And anyway, a rich self-absorbed asshole who takes advantage of the Republican Party to make himself President is a story we might just have heard recently.