Greaser’s Palace (1972)

Greaser's Palace (1972) movie poster

director Robert Downey
viewed: 11/23/2017

Less avant-garde than Chafed Elbows (the only other Robert Downey film I’ve seen) but absurdist up the you-know-what. Greaser’s Palace is comedy-cum-acid Western, with less head-trip an a little more giggle.

I was like, “Who is that gorgeous, topless Indian girl on horseback?” and the internet was like, “Toni Basil!”

Greaser’s Palace would be an interesting counterpart to El Topo (1970) as they are both bizarro renderings of Christ via whacked-out Western. Perhaps Greaser’s Palace is in some way a response to El Topo ? I’m spit-balling here.

“I was swimming with billions of babies in a rainbow. And they was naked. And then all of a sudden I turned into a perfect smile.” This is said more than once by a revivified dead guy.

A pretty young Hervé Villechaize shows up.

The Christ figure is a zoot-suited Allan Arbus (best known by me as psychiatrist Dr. Sidney Freedman in TV’s M*A*S*H). I have to say, I always kind of liked his mellow humanism. But some dots that I never connected until watching and researching Greaser’s Palace is that he is also the Allan Arbus who was married to Diane Arbus! This fact kind of blows my mind.

How much you might like Greaser’s Palace is apt to be very hard to anticipate. I actually thought it was pretty funny, though in smallish bursts and slow burns, and mostly unconventionally.

“I can crawl again!”

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