Wondering what became of our High School Chum, Michael Barry, I googled his name and found perhaps the worst movie ever made that Michael directed, and his famous father, Gene Barry, starred in. ‘The Second Coming of Suzanne’ is about a “Manson-like filmmaker Jared Martin” who hires a beautiful woman to play a female Christ! WHAT!!!!!!?
In 1972 I began a short story titled ‘Golden Girls of The Corncob’ that was about the search for Rena in the sand dunes of Nebraska, she kidnapped by Amazons who believed she was the female Christ. I was living with Peter Shapiro at the time, and did my infamous painting of Rena that Christine beheld and took up art. My friend, Michael Harkins, and I talked about taking his white Bentley to Nebraska and do a documentary about the search for the Female Redeemer.
It was going to be an Art Movie. Michael had just become a Private Investigator. Oliver Stone’s people wanted his antidotes about his good friend, Jim Morrison. Michael was a good friend of Beat Poet, Michael MacLure. Harkins would do investigation work for Bruce Perlowin ‘The King of Pot’ who became his good friend when he married Bruce’s ex-wife. There is a movie due out about Bruce.
Bryan, Michael Barry, and myself, sat together at a art class when we went to University High School. After, Ryan O’Neil, we were the coolest dudes in school. Bryan introduced me to Ryan who sat alone way out on the playing field. He was a ultra-loner. Bryan and Michael were very witty, cut-ups, who were close with Hollywood stars. At seventeen, we were grown men stuck in prison-school. Our pretty teacher was a young Preppy who favored the head cheerleader and her boyfriend the quarterback. They wore their letters to class. They had no talent, but got much attention from our art teacher who we deduced was feeling sexy again with this blonde couple that were allowed to fornicate. It was school policy, we concurred in front of our fourth tablemate, a girl who we made blush for fifty minutes. She hardly said a word, but, we got to know her signals, know when we really blew her mind. I am sure she still talks about us. We were very handsome.
Our teacher avoided coming to our table, because we would mentally undress her, or, so she thought. We were bad boys, even though Bryan and I were the best artists in school. Bryan drew and did watercolors of Beach Bunnies, cute surfer girls with freckles and pouting lips. I had to tell them they looked like him. This is when Bryan titles me ‘The Painter of Trucks’. I had done a watercolor of the Jack London Produce Market that was chosen to tour the world in a Red Cross show. It looks like Barry made a psychedelic Art Movie, not like the one being made about Thomas Pynchon’s novel ‘Inherit Vice’ which I predict will be the second worst movie ever made. For Christ’s sake, who did the wardrobe?
So, my ex had her group at Cornell that consisted of Pynchon and Richard Farina. I suggest a double-feature, while folks, drop!
When the film ‘Magic Trip’ was being made here in Eugene, rumor has it one of the producers introduced a lot of LSD to the area that Marilyn and Kenny Reed ended up taking. Marilyn went to Uni and then to Europe with Jeff Pasternak, another Uni Alumni. For sure Michael Barry got good and dosed, which prompted his father to try to bring his down to reality, the only reality he knew.
The nude scene with art gallery is….Rosamondish! The crucifixion scene was shot on Mount Tamalpias where Rena and I camped in 1970.
The Second Coming of Suzanne (also known as Suzanne) is a 1974 film directed by Michael Barry. It stars Jared Martin as an obsessed San Francisco indie film maker who hires a beautiful young woman called Suzanne (played by Sondra Locke) to star as a female Christ in his next film. Richard Dreyfuss appears as a member of the crew who becomes concerned at the increasingly weird antics of the rest of the ensemble, which culminate in the crucifixion of Suzanne on a local hill. The film was inspired by the lyrics of Leonard Cohen’s song “Suzanne”, as heard on the soundtrack. The director’s father Gene Barry is also featured, as a TV presenter, in a somewhat opaque sub-plot.
This appears to be Michael Barry’s only known film as a director.
The film music was recorded by Touch.
The overall mood of THE SECOND COMING OF SUZANNE (1973) is melancholic. Even though we’re told well in advance that a Jesus-obsessed filmmaker plans to crucify the new Redeemer (Suzanne), when the actual moment finally comes we’re still not prepared for bleached-out Sondra Locke’s agonizing screech as Jared Martin pounds a shiny spike through her right wrist while she hangs by ropes from a mounted crucifix.
Of all the excessive, bizarre and psychologically deranged films that came out of the early 1970s, this is truly one of the weirdest. It’s little surprise that writer/director Michael Barry (son of Gene) helmed no other movies. (They don’t allow you to get near electrical equipment at the Funny Farm, you see.) That he called upon his famous dad to appear in this morass should’ve brought something positive but alas, Gene was clearly ailing in 1973. Bloated to an enormous size, he had to wear suspenders with suit trousers, the beltline of which rode about 4 inches below the poor man’s armpits. (Barry slimmed down again sometime after this atrocity escaped from the bad movie dust bin and assaulted the sensibilities of unsuspecting film patrons.)
I LOVE Leonard Cohen’s “Suzanne” (it opens and closes this film) and the classic debut LP that it came from. Sadly, I’ll never be able to hear that song again without thinking of a goshawful picture about a female Messiah who’s spaced out from peroxide fumes.
On every DVD you see of “Suzanne,” Richard Dreyfuss is speciously represented as its star. While his character was the only one who wasn’t totally insane here, his sobriety is probably why Dreyfuss gets maybe 90 seconds of screen time. He complains that a freaky tribal gathering is not his idea of a business meeting and later screams “No!” as Martin is about to drive the first spike home. That admonition is the only answer anyone who wonders if they should see this claptrap will get from your reviewer. It’s a cinematic herpe.
Based on a song by Leonard Cohen, this peculiar experimental film set in late-’60s San Francisco was executive-produced by game-show mogul Gene Barry, the director’s father. It concerns Suzanne (Sondra Locke), who gets crucified in a film-within-a-film which receives much of the screen time. Suzanne is meant to be a Christ figure, and the story focuses on her use as a doomed symbol for the beliefs of Manson-like filmmaker Jared Martin. Richard Dreyfuss and Paul Sand are among the cast of this offbeat, grungy little film which deserves points for originality if nothing else
Four years ago I became friends with Rick Cobian. He picked my brain for various reasons. He was amazed. When he told me he was in contact with the producers of a new movie about the Pranksters, I told him they are heading for The Cliff.
“Watching a film about someone on acid is the most boring thing ever invented, even more boring then watching some dude floss his teeth!”
“How so?” asked Mr. Cobian.
WE all have something inside of us that needs to get out – is what I should have said – and then kept my mouth shut. After giving Rick an interesting answer, he said maybe he should put me in touch with these guys – before they start filming. I knew that was not going to happen, because folks had already got in line and were blowing a lot of sugar up each others ass. No one wants to hear the truth from someone who might know something – at this stage!