PETER is drafted!!
MICKY gets shot!!
MIKE gets kissed!!
DAVY saves a bunny!!
Don’t be shocked and don’t faint dead away! Yes, it does all happen, but “it’s only a movie”—the Monkees’ new movie (its first title was Changes and its present working title is Untitled). Untitled is a series of 30 fast-moving, brilliant, impetuous, spontaneous vignettes—all to be ultimately linked together in a kind of uproarious, zany, spell-binding flick—the likes of which no one on earth has ever seen before!
Since everyone in the production company of the movie—including the Monkees themselves—have been sworn to secrecy regarding the “plot,” it took a sort of miracle (that only 16 can bring about!) to take you onto the locations, onto the sets and behind the scenes for on-the-spot thrills of watching Davy, Micky, Mike and Peter while they shoot their very first ever motion picture together!
The swinging pad
The first day’s shooting takes place in the Monkees’ world-famous Screen Gems Studio 7. When you enter the studio, everything seems about the same as it has always been. Gene Ashman is discussing wardrobe with Davy, and David Pearl and the rest of the regulars are helping to set things up and organize the day’s work. After a warm greeting from your Monkee friends, you look around and discover that Studio 7 is not quite the same as it used to be. It’s dark on the set, and you can’t puzzle it out.
Suddenly, there is a lot of scurrying about. It’s time for the Monkees to start filming. You are breathless when the lights are switched on, because there before you, looking more groovy than ever before, are Peter, Micky, Davy and Mike all in white—kneeling in front of a beautiful stained-glass window! This first shot of the day will probably be used as the intro to the movie—with the credits running across it.
Next, you see the guys perched on the back of a big fat couch in (according to the movie) “their swinging pad.” The crazy interior features a baby grand piano, an aquarium, the devil himself and—of all things—a barber’s chair!
A telegram from the pres
The following action sequence shot for the film will arouse plenty of comment when the movie is released. Peter answers the doorbell and an old-timey Western Union delivery man hands him a telegram. Peter opens it, begins to read it, and discovers to his dismay that it is a message from the President of the United States, complimenting him on having passed his draft board examination with flying colors and notifying him that he is now not only 1A—but also a member of Uncle Sam’s armed forces!!
After a stunning fade-out, the doorbell rings again—and this time there’s a pleasant surprise. A lovely young girl who has “lost her way” is standing there. Being too polite to turn her away, the Monkees invite her in. The girl—played by starlet I.J. Jefferson—decides that Mike is the guy for her, and in no time at all she tries to capture his innocent young heart. As the saying goes—if you wanta know what happens, you gotta go see the movie. (But please bear in mind, little darlin’s, it is just a movie—not real life).
The first day’s shooting literally seems to fly by. It’s exhilarating, but exhausting—and that night at dinner, Davy fills you in on a few facts about the film.
“I think I should first set you straight on one thing,” Davy confides in you. “It’s really true that everyone who visits the set is sworn to secrecy. You are a privileged guest, of course, and the sequences that you see and tell your friends about will be in the movie—but neither you nor I know exactly how they will be used! The reason for this is that the producers and we Monkees got together and decided that the Monkee fans would have a lot more fun if the movie ‘plot’ comes as a complete surprise.
“But I can tell you one little secret: the movie is as different from the Monkees’ TV series as day is from night. Of course, it’s in color and we will sing in it, but the resemblance stops right there. In fact, the guys and I do a complete turn-about. For instance, there’s one scene where Micky goes stark bonkers! You know, right up the wall. And then Peter goes to war. I mean, can you picture peaceful Peter in a fox-hole?”
Davy looks at his wristwatch and realizes that it is getting late. “Hey, it’s time to fold up,” he tells you. “You will find out all about the war tomorrow, cos we will be shooting it on location. I’ll see you there.”
On the battle front
Bright and early the next morning you find yourself on location with the Monkees in a place called Bronson Canyon—which is right outside of Hollywood. However, from the way things look, you feel more like you’re in the middle of some crazy war. The Columbia crew has done a fantastic job of simulating a real battlefield, and more than once that day your heart skips a beat as you see your beloved Monkees facing bomb explosions and rifle bullets!
One of the first scenes of the day is a segment in which Davy pulls the pin from a grenade and throws it. His reaction swings from curiosity to disbelief to terror. But don’t worry—his “big buddy” Mike is on hand to protect him. And there is a funny but touching scene afterwards when Mike and Davy rescue a bunny rabbit who suddenly comes hopping along the trench.
The next sequence features Ray Nitschke of the Green Bay Packers professional football team. Peter is confronted in the trenches by “something” that fills him full of fright. At first, you don’t know what it is—but you know by looking at Peter’s face that it must be the horror to end all horrors! As it turns out, the “horror” is great big Ray—who flattens Peter with a running tackle! When director Robert Rafaelson yells “Cut!” to this scene, Peter hops up and gives Ray a great big kiss! It’s so incongruous that it’s funny, and you secretly hope that this bit of “business” will be kept in the film.
Now it’s Micky’s turn, and his realistic “dying” scene has you on needles and pins. You don’t realize it, but Davy has been watching you—and when he sees how seriously you react to Micky’s getting shot, he goes and takes you by the hand.
“Follow me,” he whispers, and before you know it you are standing face-to-face with a grimy, but smiling Micky Dolenz. Micky understands your apprehension. “Don’t worry,” he says, giving you a hug. “It’s just a movie.”
Well, maybe it is “just a movie.” But right now it’s the most exciting thing that is happening in Monkee-land—which everyone knows is just a few steps away from heaven! So if you want to be heaven-sent again next month, be sure to tune in here for the Monkees’ further movie adventures. They will meet you in the July issue of 16—which goes on sale May 21st! It’s a date!!