Short Film Review: When Cary Grant Introduced Timothy Leary to LSD (dir by Geoffrey Sax)

The year in 1959 and Cary Grant (Ben Chaplin) is filming North by Northwest.  From what we see of him, he’s the Cary Grant that we’ve all read about — the handsome, charming, witty, but very guarded movie star who never seems to truly trust anyone.

On set, Grant is visited by a pushy Harvard professor named Timothy Leary (Aidan Gillen).  Leary explains that he’s recently read an interview in which Grant discussed using a new drug called LSD for therapeutic purposes.  Leary believes that the drug could possible be used to help humanity evolve into something better.  He says that he wants to take LSD and he wants Grant to guide him through his trip.  Grant rather stiffly explains that LSD should only be taken under medical supervision.  Leary, however, doesn’t have time for that.

Eventually, Leary and Grant do end up dropping acid together and, as you might have guessed, that’s where things start to get strange.  First off, Leary and Grant find themselves sharing the same trip.  While Grant tries to escape from Leary, they travel through Grant’s poverty-stricken childhood and they even find themselves being chased by the famous North By Northwest cropduster.  They also take a trip to Leary’s future, where he will someday be just as famous as Grant.  Leary proclaims that LSD will be the start of the counter culture while the far more conservative Grant grumbles that Leary is a charlatan and that most people won’t be able to handle the drug.  Along the way, we go through the usual innuendos about both men.  Even under the influence of LSD, Grant remains guarded about his sexuality while Leary struggles to convince Grant that he actually is prophet and not just a con artist looking to get rich through revolution.

Clocking in at just 20 minutes, When Cary Grant Introduced Timothy Leary to LSD is an enjoyably weird little film that makes sense once you realize that Chaplin and Gillen are not actually meant to be playing the real-life Grant and Leary but instead are playing fictionalized versions who both understand that, along with being historical figures, they’re also characters in a film.  By the end of the film, they’re less concerned with dealing with each other and more concerned with convincing those of us in the audience that one of them is right and the other one is wrong.  Ben Chaplin may not look like Cary Grant but he has the right brooding quality to be convincing as a troubled man who often feels trapped by his own persona.  Aiden Gillen, meanwhile, is far more cheerful as Timothy Leary, who he plays as being a bit of a trouble-making sprite.

Interestingly enough, the film is loosely based on fact.  Cary Grant did take LSD for therapeutic reasons and Timothy Leary did later go on to become a public figure as a result of his pro-acid advocacy.  It has been rumored that Leary and Grant actually did meet, though not necessarily during the filming of North by Northwest.  In the end, When Cary Grant Introduced Timothy Leary to LSD is an enjoyably weird short film that shows up occasionally on Showtime so keep an eye out for it.

Music Video of the Day: Leave Behind Your Ego by Junkie XL, feat. Timothy Leary (2013, dir by John Pina)

It’s not bad advice, leaving behind your ego.  I don’t know if it’s something I’m currently capable of doing but who knows?  Maybe when I’m in my 50s, it’ll be easier.

Timothy Leary, of course, is a well-known name in the history of America’s counter culture.  He’s often credited as being the person who brought LSD into the mainstream, or at least as close to the mainstream as LSD could get during Leary’s lifetime.  Among Leary’s accomplishments was giving LSD to Cary Grant.  Tim Leary also once ran from governor of California.  The oft-repeated story is that John Lennon wrote Come Together to serve as a campaign song for Leary’s run.  Whether that’s true or not is anyone’s guess.  Needless to say, Tim Leary was never governor of California.  In fact, because he ended up going to prison in January of 1970, he never even got to file for the primary.

Junkie XL, of course, also did the score for Mad Max: Fury Road, which is like one of the greatest scores ever.



A Movie A Day #323: Ted & Venus (1991, directed by Bud Cort)

Strange movie, Ted & Venus.

Actor Bud Cort (you remember him from Harold and Maude) both directs and stars as Ted.  Ted is a homeless poet who lives on the beach and only has one friend, a mellow beach bum named Max (Josh Brolin).  Kim Adams plays Linda, who is the Venus of the title, a social worker who has a bodybuilder jerk for a boyfriend (Brian Thompson, who you might remember as the main villain in Cobra).  When Ted sees Linda, it is love at first sight and at first, the movie seems like it is going to be a quirky romantic comedy where Ted eventually wins Linda over.  When Linda turns down Ted’s advances, Ted does not give up.  Instead, Ted starts following her everywhere and making harassing phone calls.  Ted starts out as a nuisance and goes on to become a full-out stalker.  Everyone, even Max, tells Ted to stop bothering Linda but he is convinced that he can make her fall in love him.  He’s wrong.

Because of the presence of Cort both in front of and behind the camera, Ted & Venus sometimes seems like Harold and Maude: The Later Years.  Harold, the iconoclast that everyone loved, has grown up and become Ted, the unemployable stalker.  It’s an interesting idea and Cort pulls it off as an actor but not as a director.  You have to admire Cort’s devotion to his vision but it’s impossible to be certain what that vision was because the film’s tone is all over the place.  Cort gets a far better performance from himself than he does from the rest of the cast.

Speaking of the cast, the movie is full of familiar faces.  In fact, there are almost too many familiar faces.  It’s hard not to get distracted by all of the cameos.  If you somehow see this obscure movie, keep an eye out for: Woody Harrelson (who gets two lines and five seconds of screen time), Rhea Pearlman, Carol Kane, Martin Mull, Gena Rowlands, Pat McCormick, Vincent Schiavelli, Cassandra Peterson, and Andrea Martin.  When Ted is hauled into court, charged with stalking, the judge is played by LSD guru Timothy Leary.  I am not sure what Ted & Venus was trying to say but Bud Cort assembled an impressive cast to say it.

All Of My Love And 6 More Trailers

Hi there and welcome to another edition of Lisa Marie’s Favorite Grindhouse and Exploitation Film Trailers!  Today, we bring you 6 trailers featuring endangered streetwalkers, lost teenagers, and killer monkeys.

1) Monkey Shines (1988)

Our first trailer comes to us from director George A. Romero.  The monkey from this trailer also made an appearance in Toy Story 3.

2) Survival Run (1979)

As a film, Survival Run looks pretty bad but I think this trailer actually provides a public service.  Seriously, stay out of the desert.  Between the radiation mutants and the drug smugglers, there’s nothing good to be found out there.

3) Streets (1990)

I can imagine the tag line for a rerelease of this film — “Before Christina Applegate was keeping it Up All Night, she was keeping it up on the Streets!”  I have to give credit for this discovery to the newest addition to TSL, the Trash Film Guru.  Check out his review here.

4) Street Asylum (1990)

Continuing the theme of the streets, here’s another film about urban crime.  This one stars Wings Hauser and G. Gordon Liddy.

5) Fatal Skies (1990)

Things aren’t much safer in the skies.  This film, oddly enough, apparently star Timothy Leary.

6) The Freeway Maniac (1988)

Obviously, he’s been spending too much time on Central Expressway during rush hour.  (Yes, that’s a Dallas-centric comment.)