Pairing wine with movies! See the trailers and hear the fascinating commentary for these movies, and many more, at Trailers From Hell. This week, we let our freak flag fly with three movies set in the turbulent times of the late 1960s – when pot was a protest, music was magical and all California wine was from Napa.
The Magic Garden of Stanley Sweetheart was released in 1970, a year which may have said “70s” but really was still “60s.” The movie is about a New York City college student – Stanley Sweetheart – who is trying to navigate the confusing road of sex, drugs and getting along in the late ‘60s. Stanley rambles around in his druggy way, bouncing from one meaningless relationship to the next. You remember how it was in college, right? Don Johnson got his first lead role in the movie, years before he wore his jacket sleeves pushed up in Miami Vice.
Critics almost universally panned the film and the public stayed away from it as if it was contagious. The only person who apparently went on the record with a positive review was Andy Warhol, who called it the best studio film ever made about 1960s counterculture. The theme song – “Sweet Gingerbread Man” – was performed by elevator-music-specialists the Mike Curb Congregation, not exactly a group with counterculture bona fides.
Sounds like it’s time for a wine pairing for Stanley Sweetheart. If you were in college when Stanley was, you may have a passing acquaintance with a little thing we called Boone’s Farm. They still make it – “they” being Ernest and Julio Gallo. If you went to college in the ‘80s, just go grab a four-pack of their Bartles & Jaymes Wine Coolers. Those are back on the shelves, too.
1970 also brought us Zabriskie Point, directed by Michelangelo Antonioni. This movie takes us on a wild ride of student protests, racial friction and the sexual revolution, with the awesome spectacle of the Mojave Desert as a backdrop.
Some of the scenes were shot in Death Valley, the place called Zabriskie Point, where a sort of outdoor orgy takes place in the film. The film features sex, violence and music that sounds a lot more counterculture than the Mike Curb Congregation. The soundtrack fares better than that of Stanley Sweetheart, with some genuine counterculture figures like Pink Floyd, the Rolling Stones, Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead. As with Stanley Sweetheart, everybody hated the film at the time, but it has grown a following over the years, largely because of the cinematography and Antonioni’s direction. Oh, and the Grateful Dead.
How about pairing a desert wine with Zabriskie Point? That’s d-e-s-e-r-t, not dessert wine. Skip over to Nevada, to dear ol’ Pahrump. Pahrump Valley Winery has a Riesling that’s great on ice, but in the desert, anything is great on ice.
F.T.A. is a 1972 documentary featuring Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland – now we’re getting somewhere with this counterculture thing.
The movie follows the FTA Tour, a response to Bob Hope’s USO shows. FTA was defined by the U.S. Army in its recruitment material as “Fun, Travel and Adventure.” The movie presents the initials the way G.I.s defined it – F*ck The Army. Say it loud, they’re bitter and they’re proud. “The FTA Song” ended with the words – not the letters – in its title.
F.T.A. was no doubt seen by the USO crowd as anti-American, but the American military men who saw the shows gave it their full-throated approval when the performers of “The FTA Song” gave them their chance to shout out the last line with them. There’s little doubt that the soldiers meant those words.
A wine to pair with F.T.A. should be one with a protesting attitude, and we happen to have one right here. At least the maker of Protest, Sonoma County’s Chateau Diana, says it shows a bit of a ‘tude. It is made from Syrah, Zinfandel, Merlot and just a splash of Cab, so it already sounds like a handful. It could be one of those rare wines which display a whiff of a burning police car on the nose.