Based on Terry Southern's satirical novel, a send-up of Voltaire's Candide. Young Candy is a high school girl who seeks truth and meaning in life, encountering a variety of kookie characters and humorous sexual situations in the process.
***Zany, sometimes amusing, but dreadfully dull late 60’s curiosity with Burton, Starr, Coburn and Brando***
Released during Christmas in 1968, “Candy” is a satirical interpretation of a classic of literature and thus producers could argue that it had redeeming social value and avoid being judged pornographic, as it was touted in order to draw men to the theater. But it bombed and deservedly so.
The titular character of the story (Ewa Aulin) is basically a feminine, swinging 60s version of Voltaire's Candide, who encountered all sorts of abhorrent and deceitful characters in the course of his wanderings but somehow managed to preserve his innocence. Writers Terry Southern (book) and Buck Henry (screenplay) morphed the character to a nubile girl and augmenting the episodes to be sexual in nature, which is what caused the uproar at the time. The "encounters" she experiences involve various stars of the period.
Basically, Candy is an innocent & winsome adolescent continually seduced by several institutional isms: romanticism (Richard Burton), patriotism (Walter Matthau), professionalism (James Coburn) and mysticism (Marlon Brando); I’m not sure what ism Ringo Starr’s character falls under (ethnic-ism?). There is also intimidating manipulation, pity and the promise of fame. The institutions and corresponding positions on which every society is based are dubious and misused for men to seduce women.
At the end of the day this is a picaresque farce that rides the wave of the excesses, errors and magic of the mid-late 60s. It’s a campy, kitschy, what-were-they-thinking late 60’s flick that’s wannabe magical, but epically fails in that it’s dreadfully dull despite a few moments of genuine amusement, the stellar cast and the protagonist’s naïve beauty (who looks like a melding of Tuesday Weld and Britt Ekland).
Brando’s entertaining guru in the last act might be worth the price of admission though. Marlon was fit and never looked better, before he progressively got fat in the 70s-80s. As for the rumor that the movie was pornographic, there’s some wacky titillation and a little tame nudity, but nothing to decry as diabolically pornographic. It’s pretty harmless really.
The movie runs 1 hour, 55 minutes and was shot in New York City and Rome, Lazio, Italy.