“Head,” the now titled Monkee movie that used to be “Untitled” is crazier than you could ever imagine! But even zanier than the film itself were the crazy behind-the-scenes “happenings” that went on while “Head” was being made.
First, though, what about the title? What does it mean? Just like the movie itself, the title has several meanings. First of all, part of the film takes place in the head or mind of Victor Mature. During those scenes, the Monkees actually shrink and you even see them caught up in Mature’s hair! Another meaning for their way-out title is that you’ll have to use your head to figure out exactly what the Monkees are trying to say—their message. They admit there is a definite point of view, and it’s up to you to figure it out.
Filming the picture, for the Monkees, was hard work, but more fun than any TV show they ever did. Why? Because there were so many different roles and characters to portray, they finally had a chance to show off the many sides to their talents. Also, the movie took them out of their TV roles and into very different and new surroundings.
Their first on-location filming was done in Palm Springs. Between shots, they had a chance to lay in the sun, swim, ride dune buggies through the desert hills and enjoy their friends who were invited along to keep them company for the week they spent there. This opportunity to combine work and pleasure was one the Monkees welcomed, since they had just finished their TV series when they began work on the movie.
Another reason the Monkees were so excited about their first movie is that the way the script had been written (with the Monkees contributing many, many ideas) they had a chance to have many of their friends and people they admired in the film. For example, Mike is a big fan of The Mothers of Invention, so he asked if Frank Zappa, the Mother’s leader, couldn’t have a bit part. The others said “We can dig it,” and presto, chango Frank Zappa walks into the film pulling a huge steer behind him.
Micky ended up contributing to the story-line quite by accident. One day in his dressing room, he was joking with friends and he got an idea and acted it out for his friends. He said, “Wouldn’t it be funny to have a war cheer, like at a high school football game? (Micky gets up and pretends he’s a cheerleader). Give me a W, give me an A, give me an R, what does it spell, WAR.” And as he throws his arms up and makes the sound of an explosion, everyone breaks into laughter. Later they made this satirical joke fit into the movie.
On the set
As if it wasn’t enough to film underwater and fly through the air, Mike Nesmith wanted to have some fun on his own. One day coming back from a lunch break, everyone was gathered around the Columbia Ranch swimming pool waiting to begin filming again. Mike, feeling adventurous, began to drive his jeep right into the pool! Luckily he stopped right on the edge, but everyone’s heart skipped at least one beat as they watched dare-devil Mike.
There were many more crazy stories that happened during the making of this way-out film, but once you’ve seen “Head” you’ll be too busy trying to understand it to worry about those.