Made in 1969 but never released to theaters, Albert Finney and Yvette Mimieux star in THE PICASSO SUMMER, a fairly disastrous attempt to make an arty European-style love story for an American studio, mixed in with some animated sequences.
After attending a party at an art gallery, San Francisco architect George Smith (Albert Finney) and his wife Alice (Yvette Mimieux) return to their apartment, whose walls are covered by Picasso paintings. Depressed over his artistically-stifling job, George is suddenly seized with the urge to
visit Europe and meet Picasso so that he can thank him for creating such inspiring art. Alice agrees, and they fly to France in search of the great artist. While touring a cave in which Picasso has painted a giant mural, the pictures come to animated life. Initially unable to locate Picasso's
villa, George and Alice eventually find it, but Picasso doesn't answer his doorbell, and their calls and letters also go unanswered.
Dejected and frustrated, George and Alice quarrel, and George goes off alone to continue his search. At a bar, he gets drunk and meets a man who claims to know bullfighter Luis Miguel Dominguin, Picasso's longtime friend. The man gives George the address of Dominguin's ranch in Spain, and he goes
there without Alice, who stays in France. George meets Dominguin (Himself) and asks for an introduction to Picasso, but Dominguin tells him he first must get into a bullring and fight a bull, which he does, after being trained by Dominguin.
Meanwhile, Alice tours the French countryside and meets a blind painter (Jim Connell) and his wife, with whom she has lunch. George eventually returns to France and reconciles with Alice. They go for a swim in the ocean, and as they're leaving the beach, an elderly man nearby draws giant
Picasso-like pictures in the sand with a stick, but George and Alice don't see him.
Despite a typically fine performance by Finney--reminiscent of his role in 1967's TWO FOR THE ROAD (in which he also played an architect and feuded with his wife as they toured Europe)--it's not surprising that THE PICASSO SUMMER was never theatrically released, since it's a meandering mishmash of
pseudo-European artiness and sub-psychedelic animated fantasy sequences. The very slim plot is padded out with endless travelogue scenes of George and Alice swimming, walking, and bicycling through France, as well as an irrelevant bullfight scene, replete with a bloody bull being stabbed to death
in slow-motion. It's also surprisingly inept from a technical standpoint, with wild zoom shots, out-of-focus handheld camerawork, cliched flash-cut editing and freeze-frames, cheap-looking split-screen montages, and sound that's frequently out-of-sync.
The three animated sequences, which are done in the style of Picasso, are not badly drawn, but are needlessly protracted, and have the effect of trivializing Picasso's art, particularly during one tasteless segment where actual newsreel footage of children being bombed during WWII is mixed in with
dancing cartoon figures. The ending is sort of cute, if not really satisfying, since it's never definitively established whether or not the man on the beach is actually Picasso. Although the film was directed by Serge Bourguignon (SUNDAYS AND CYBELE), the television print carries the pseudonym of
"Robert Sallin" as director, and a curious credit states that the film was "Conceived and Animated" by Wes Herschensohn, who also co-produced. As an example of a swinging '60s Hollywood attempt to assimilate hippie attitudes about dropping out and finding oneself, the film is somewhat interesting,
but as a film itself, it's an aimless and uninvolving misfire. (Sexual situations.)
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- Review: Made in 1969 but never released to theaters, Albert Finney and Yvette Mimieux star in THE PICASSO SUMMER, a fairly disastrous attempt to make an arty European-style love story for an American studio, mixed in with some animated sequences. After attending… (more)