60'S FOCUS : CAN HEIRONYMUS MERKIN EVER FORGET MERCY HUMPPE AND FIND TRUE HAPPINESS? .. 1969 ..
CAN HEIRONYMUS MERKIN EVER FORGET MERCY HUMPPE AND FIND TRUE HAPPINESS? Starring
ANTHONY NEWLEY as Heironymus Merkin JOAN COLLINS as Polyester Poontang SASCHA NEWLEY as Thaxted
TARA NEWLEY as Thumbelina
MILTON BERLE as Good Time Eddie Filth
CONNIE KRESKI as Mercy Humppe
GEORGE JESSEL as The Prescence
BRUCE FORSTYH as Uncle Limelight
PATRICIA HAYES as Grandma
STUBBY KAYE as Fat Writer
RONALD RUBIN as Skinny Writer
ROSALIND KNIGHT as Penelope
VICTOR SPINETTI as Sharpnose
JUDY CORNWELL as Filigree Fondle
MARGARET NOLAN as Little Assistance
YOLANDA as Trampolena Wham Bang
LYNDA BARON as Baby Boobala Salesgirl
JOYCE BLAIR as Oat-O-Rinos Girl
Muriel Young as Liz Harper
Assistant Director - Roy Frift Director of Photography - Otto Heller B.S.C Music by Anthony Newley
Lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer Art Director -William Constable Edited by Bernard Gribble
Written by Anthony Newley & Herman Raucher Produced & Directed by Anthony Newley
Heironymus Merkin is going through a midlife crisis and in the presence of his wife Polyester and his two children, he replays the story of his life, from a child puppet actor, to a film/pop idol. His marriage is falling apart as he cavorts with buxom Mercy Humppe, egged on by his agent Eddie Filth and a presence who may or may not be death! With nine original songs, a bevy of beauties and spectacular dance numbers, the question still remains.... Can Heironymus Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe And Find True Happiness?
(c) 1969 .. (Re-released 1972) .. UNIVERSAL ... 107 MINS ... Color .... Rated X ......
"Heironymus Merkin" was a labour of love for it's star Anthony Newley, who also wrote, produced and directed the film, which is almost biographical, as it tells it's story as a movie within a movie. Joan who was married to Newley at the time, plays his wife Polyester, with their children Tara and Sacha playing the children. Newley who performs six of the nine songs in the film, described the production as...
" A potpourri of entertainment on a very wide canvas in which for once, I'm the painter, instead of one of the daubs of paint!"
Publicity cited the film as...
" A free wheeling kaleidoscope of fantasy, reality, the past, present and ultra modern future..all fused in oppulent colour!"
The cast and crew spent ten weeks on the island of Malta, with some location work in Gozo and final production in London. Joan at the time praised the role of Polyester...
" The role was more enjoyable than anything else I've ever played.I understand the character."
She also commented on the film itself as....
" It's full of the subtle tongue in cheek humour I adore!"
At the time of shooting, Malta a strict Catholic country, frowned upon certain aspects of the filming. Co-star Judy Cornwall commented that they were not allowed to enter any churches and even wearing mini skirts was frowned upon. She said even the local peasant women spat on them! But the film was savaged by the critics..
" For pretentiousness and vulgarity, not to say tedium, "Heironymus Merkin" would be hard to equal!"
THE ILLUSTRATED LONDON NEWS...
" The kindest thing for all concerned would be that every available copy should be quietly and decently buried!"
THE NEW YORK TIMES...
" Newley so overextends and overexposes himself, that the movie comes to look like an act of professional suicide!"
"It is a movie that sags under the weight of too much invention, rather than too little. The miracle is that Newley is able to keep all the pieces somehow related. He also is able to get them to add up to a statement or at least a feelin about the nature of life. The result is more of a juggling feat than a directorial triumph, but it's a good act while it's onstage!"
But although shooting the film in sunny Malta. on an idyllic beach probably sounded like a dream gig, according to Joan it was hell! She was tormented with the heat and dust, not to mention the flies and a hurricane that howled the whole time, she was there. Although the film was a total flop, it did win the 1970 Writers Guild of Great Britain Award for Best Original Screenplay for Newley & Raucher. The collaboration between Joan and Newley proved to be the final nail in their matrimonial coffin. Before it's release Joan sat in a Soho screening room and came to the conclusion that their marriage was over. The film is hard to find today, but it is on occasion is screened by the British Film Institute. A screening was recently held there as a tribute to Newley along with some rare TV work of his. It has been screened on cable TV in the USA, but in an edited R rated version, minus 15 minutes of footage and three of the songs. The original version of the film received an X rating in the USA, which is usually reserved for adult films. In keeping with the rating in the USA, Playboy magazine devoted ten pages to the film in it's March 1969 issue. The film did star one of the magazine's centrefolds, Connie Kreski, who was Miss January 1968. Apparently Newley bumped into her in the elevator at London's Playboy Club and offered her the part!! All in all it is one of a kind film and it certainly will not easily be forgotten!!