Psych-Out

Austin Chronicle

DIRECTED BY: Richard Rush

REVIEWED: 03-23-98

In Psych-Out (D: Richard Rush, 1968; with Max Julien, Susan Strasberg, Jack Nicholson, Dean Stockwell, Bruce Dern), deaf 17-year-old waif Strasberg makes her way to summer-of-love San Francisco to look for her long-lost brother and recruits Nicholson, Stockwell, and Julien to help her search. Along the way she discovers the allure of the hippie lifestyle, tunes in, turns on, and drops out, all the while developing a crush on heel Nicholson. Nicholson, as guitarist for his band Mumblin' Jim (seeing a ponytailed Nicholson fake his way through a bad "Purple Haze" ripoff is worth seeing by itself; "Stumblin' Jim" would have been a better name), is a callous jerk, ignoring Strasberg's feelings for him. Stockwell, however, sees through him like a Ziploc bag half full of "maryjane" and pledges his help in the search for Strasberg's sib. The brother turns out to be an LSD-addled Bruce Dern (surprise!), dressing in white robes and fancying himself a sort of brain-damaged mystic from all the acid. Poncey psychedelic rockers the Strawberry Alarm Clock play a song or two, as well as seminal garage punks the Seeds. It's not as cheesy as it sounds; the screenplay lends real depth to the characters, and Laszlo Kovacs' imaginative camera work gives it an appropriate Sixties-psych look.

--Jerry Renshaw

Other Films by Richard Rush
The Stunt Man

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