Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Crazy World of Julius Vrooder

What's left of the Fox Movie Channel is showing the quirky little film The Crazy World of Julius Vrooder tomorrow morning at 7:45 AM. I can think of some crazier worlds on film, but the movie is still worth a watch.

Julius Vrooder is played by Timothy Bottoms, and is a veteran who has recently returned home from Vietnam. He hasn't adjusted back to civilian life very well, as he's living in the local VA hospital where he's being examined for his mental health problems. Amazingly, however, the hospital seems to be open enough about letting him come and go as he pleases, as he spends part of his time trying to keep up the spirits of the other patients, and part of the time in his bunker.

When I say "bunker", I really do mean "bunker". Vrooder has constructed an underground shelter for himself not too far from the hospital, in the wooded area just next to one of those cloverleaf-style highway interchanges. It's a fairly elaborate thing, too, as Julius has tapped in to the utility lines enough to get himself a bit of electricity and has figured out how to get himself free phone service too, much to the chagrin of the phone company which seems to notice every single illicit call that's made, but can't figure out where they're coming from.

Mixed up in all of this is Zanni, a nurse and girlfriend of one of the doctors (played by Barbara Hershey, who is credited here as Barbara Seagull). Julius fall in love with her, and charms her to the point that he's willing to take her to his bunker for dinner. Zanni, meanwhile, begins to feel for Julius, almost to the point that we all begin to wonder whether he's the one who's sane and it's the rest of the world that's off its rocker. And perhaps when the phone company finally finds out who's been stealing their service and where that bunker is, Zanni might just defend Julius too.

There's nothing particularly earth-shattering about The Crazy World of Julius Vrooder, but it's a charming little movie. Some of the characters and plot devices are almost stereotypes: the crazy guy who's actually saner than everybody else, and the patient falling in love with a doctor or nurse. To be fair, though, I don't know if this movie could have been made about veterans of previous wars. The plot expects us to be firmly on Julius' side, despite the fact that he's stealing electric and phone service. I think the Production Code enforcers might have had a problem with that.

The Crazy World of Julius Vrooder, being a slight little movie without really big stars or true studio backing (it was produced by Hugh Hefner and only distributed by Fox), it hasn't gotten a DVD release yet. Perhaps with the new Fox Cinema Archive it might in the future.

No comments: