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Film / Wild in the Streets

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Wild in the Streets is a 1968 satirical film directed by Barry Shear and adapted from a 1966 short story by Robert Thom.

Johnny Fergus (Hal Holbrook), who is running for the U.S. Senate on a platform to lower the voting age from 21 to 18, asks rock star Max Frost (Christopher Jones) to endorse his campaign. However, Max quickly gains political power of his own, leading the young people of America in a campaign to lower the voting age to 14 and eventually getting elected President of the United States.

Also in the cast are Shelley Winters, Diane Varsi, Millie Perkins, Richard Pryor, and Ed Begley. Barry Williams (aka Greg Brady) plays the younger Max Frost in the prologue.

Wild in the Streets contains examples of:

  • Adults Are Useless: Subverted. Max grew up without many positive adult role models, and all his friends seem to be doing well without adult help. But his revolution doesn't look like it'll make things any better.
  • Agitated Item Stomping: After a young girl calls 24-year-old Max "old," he takes out his anger by stomping on a crawdad.
  • And Starring: Also starring Hal Holbrook, Millie Perkins, co-starring Richard Pryor, Bert Freed, Kevin Coughlin, Larry Bishop, with May Ishihara, Salli Sachse, Kellie Flanagan, Don Wyndham, and Michael Margotta as "Jimmy Fergus" and guest star Ed Begley.
  • Big "NO!": When the voting age is lowered to 14, an LSD-addled Fergus yells "NOOOOO!" over and over again.
  • The Cameo: Several, including Dick Clark, Bobby Sherman, and Walter Winchell.
  • A Child Shall Lead Them: 24-year-old rock star Max Frost becomes President of the United States with an administration staffed entirely by peers in his age-group.
  • Couldn't Find a Pen: One of Max's first acts of teen rebellion is writing "MAMA PAPA SCREW OFF ME" in lipstick on a mirror.
  • Disappeared Dad: At age 22, Max has at least four kids, only two of whom he even knows, and none of whom appear in the movie.
  • Famed In-Story: Even before Max gets involved in politics, he's a massively successful multimillionaire rock star who owns 14 interlocking businesses.
  • Former Child Star: Max's girlfriend, Sally LeRoy (Diane Varsi), is a child star turned nude model.
  • Founding Day: Max is conceived on the Fourth of July, while fireworks go off.
  • Friend to All Children: Max starts out as one, and even prefers the company of three-year-olds to people his age. By the end, he's become Drunk On Power and lords his status over the children he meets, causing one of them to vow, "We're gonna put everyone over ten out of business."
  • Full-Circle Revolution: Max's regime devolves into a Police State along the lines of Logan's Run. And the film ends with Max realizing that kids even younger than him are plotting a revolution of their own against the "old" twentysomethings.
  • Godiva Hair: Sally, during her topless or nude scenes.
  • Government Drug Enforcement: Max's regime forces all the grown-ups into concentration camps to take LSD.
  • Handbag of Hurt: When Max's mother tries to force her way backstage, she hits a security guard with her handbag. It doesn't make much difference.
  • Hook Hand: Max's aptly nicknamed horn player, Abraham "The Hook" Salteen (Larry Bishop), has a hook for a left hand.
  • Impairment Shot: When Senator Fergus drinks water spiked with LSD, all shots from his perspective are tinted with different colors and shot through a fish-eye lens.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: While fighting with his rebellious son Jimmy, Fergus shouts, "You could drive a man to drink!" Jimmy replies, "See? You're part of that alcoholic generation, Dad. You need to drink."
  • Maligned Mixed Marriage: It's implied that Max's mother's parents disapproved of his father's religion.
  • Meaningful Rename: Max Frost was born Max Jacob Flatow, Jr.
  • A Minor Kidroduction: The movie opens with Max's conception, followed by scenes from different parts of his childhood.
  • Minor Living Alone: Max left home while still in his teens.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Sally spends most of her scenes in very skimpy outfits.
  • Only Known by Initials: Max's drummer Stanley X (Richard Pryor).note 
  • Poster-Gallery Bedroom: Senator Fergus's children have decorated their rooms with posters of celebrities, including Max. Once Fergus realizes his children have turned against him, he drunkenly rips the posters down.
  • The Precious, Precious Car: Before Max leaves home, he blows up his father's brand-new '58 Chrysler, which his father loves more than any human being.
  • Single Tear: After twelve unarmed protestors are shot by the police, Max sheds a single tear during his next concert. He breaks down into Manly Tears while giving a speech afterwards.
  • Technicolor Science: The basement drug lab Max creates as a teenager is full of differently-colored test tubes. He identifies a green substance as LSD.
  • Teenage Wasteland: Max brings about a society where the young rule by forcing everyone over 30 to retire and putting anyone over 35 into reeducation camps where they are dosed on LSD.
  • Teen Genius: 15-year-old Billy Cage isn't just Max's guitarist, he's also his business advisor and the youngest ever graduate of Yale Law School.
  • Water Source Tampering: Max and his followers pour LSD into the Potomac River. All the politicians trip through the next day, allowing them to be easily led into voting to lower the voting age to 14.
  • What Have I Become?: At the end of the movie, Max tells a young girl that he's 24, and she replies, "That's old." Horrified, Max spends the rest of the day flashing back to her words.