Filmsite Movie Review
Bananas (1971)
Pages: (1) (2)
Plot Synopsis (continued)

Fielding's Return to the US as a Castro-like, Latin-American Guerrilla Leader:

Now as the accidental revolutionary guerrilla leader and El Presidente (disguised by wearing Castro-like fatigues and a ridiculous fake red beard), Fielding returned to the US to attend a high-society dinner fundraiser for upper-class dignitaries. As he deplaned, a heavily accented translator-interpreter (Eulogio Peraza) was (unnecessarily) provided for his introduction to the US President, even though Mellish - of course - was American and responded in English:

- "Did you have a good flight?"
- "Yes I did."
- "We hope your stay in our country..."
- "...will be delightful."
- "l am looking forward to it..."
- "...with great anticipation."

At the event, Fielding opened his speech with a grossly inappropriate parental incest sex joke: "l'm reminded tonight of the farmer who had incestuous relations with both his daughters simultaneously..." Then he continued with a stuttering, outrageous keynote speech at the event - a desperate plea for money in which he haplessly drew attention to his country’s worst parts – locusts, loose women, hernias and STDs:

Although the United States is, uh, a very rich country and San Marcos is a very poor one, there are a great many things we have to offer your country in return for aid. For instance, there, uh, there are locusts. Uh, we have more locusts than...uh, locusts of all races and creeds. These, these locusts, incidentally, are available at popular prices. And so, by the way, are most of the women of San Marcos...despite the tiny size of our nation, few people realize that we lead the world in hernias. They also fail to realize that before Columbus discovered your country, he stopped in San Marcos and contracted a disease which today can be cured with one shot of penicillin...

CIA government officials feared that the Latin American leader was an imposter who was threatening to overthrow the United States:

This all smacks of conspiracy, if you ask me. You realize what a Communist missile base in San Marcos would do to us? Plus he has a history of subversive acts, demonstrations, and peace marches. This man is attempting the overthrow of the United States government from without and within.

A decision was made to pick up the "hepcat" and "throw the book at him" as a "subversive imposter."

Fielding was also reunited with Nancy (who at first didn't recognize him and thought of him as wonderful compared to her previous "idiot" boyfriend - "He was just this little stupid clown"); she described how she was impressed by his tremendous leadership qualities: ("l think that you are terrific. Really terrific...l'm awestruck...Would you mind if l kissed you... once?"); after a cut to black (and Nancy's words: "That was wonderful. lt was practically a religious experience"), the two appeared in bed where Fielding removed his disguise and revealed his true identity; she was aghast: "My God, I knew something was missing."

Fielding Mellish's Trial For Treason:

News stations (including newscaster Roger Grimsby as Himself) reported Fielding's upcoming trial for treason: "Fielding Mellish, the President of San Marcos, goes on trial tomorrow for fraud, inciting to riot, conspiracy to overthrow the government, and using the word ''thighs'' in mixed company."

During the scene of his US trial (The People vs Fielding Mellish) after his arrest for treason, Fielding immediately objected to the Judge (Arthur Hughes): ("l object, Your Honor. This trial is a travesty. lt's a travesty of a mockery of a sham of a mockery of a travesty of two mockeries of a sham. l move for a mistrial. Do you realize there's not a single homosexual on that jury?"). When informed there was one homosexual on the jury, Fielding asked inquisitively and hopefully: "ls it the big guy at the end?"

Character witnesses were called to the stand to testify. Prejudiced Police Officer Dowd (Ted Chapman) testified to the prosecutor (John Braden): "He's got a record. He was always being picked up at one demonstration or another. He's a bad apple, a Commie. A New York Jewish intellectual Communist crackpot. l mean, l don't wanna cast no aspersions." Fielding acted as his own defense lawyer and cross-examined Officer Dowd with an unusual question:

Fielding: Officer Dowd, have you ever had sexual relations with a girl with really big breasts?
Dowd: Yes, sir. l did.
Fielding: And how did you find it?
Dowd: Very erotic.
Fielding: l was just checking.

FBI head J. Edgar Hoover (Dorothi Fox), who appeared as a fat, middle-aged black woman with an Afro hairstyle, was the next witness to take the stand. Hoover explained his disguise: "l have many enemies and l rarely go out unless l'm in disguise." [Note: The reference to the director's transvestism was inadvertent - it was not known at the time that Hoover was an avowed transvestite who allegedly participated in homosexual orgies in New York's Plaza Hotel.] When asked if Fielding Mellish was "a threat to the security of the United States?," Hoover responded: "Enough to have his phone tapped." A tape recorder played one phone call consisting of Fielding's heavy breathing on an obscene phone call. Suddenly, a gentleman raced into the courtroom tearfully confessing that he was guilty of the crime - but then realized he was in the wrong trial courtroom, apologized, and left. [Note: The scene was reminiscent of the plot of some Perry Mason courtroom shows.]

All right, l did it! l did it! l'm guilty! But l couldn't take it any more. She kept tormenting me. Egging me on. Making a fool of me! lsn't this Epstein vs Epstein?

Another character witness testified about Mellish's character - [Note: It was a parody of the oft-repeated phrase in The Manchurian Candidate (1962) about the title character Raymond Shaw as "the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I've ever known in my life."] "I'm sorry to disappoint you, but l've known Fielding Mellish for years, and he's a warm, wonderful human being." The transcript was read back to the courtroom by the court clerk, who modified the statement: "l've known Fielding Mellish for years and he is a rotten, conniving, dishonest little rat." The next witness was Miss America Sharon Craig (Dagne Crane) who participated in the trial by singing her own beauty pageant's talent competition - an opera song. In her testimony, she claimed that Mellish was a traitor:

l think Mr. Mellish is a traitor to this country because his views are different from the views of the President and others of his kind. Differences of opinion should be tolerated, but not when they're too different. Then he becomes a subversive mother.

When Mellish was called to the stand, he cross-examined and interrogated himself - exhaustingly jumping in and out of the witness box. First, he testified that he had two nationalities and both posed and answered other non-sensical questions: ("l am an American citizen and also the President of San Marcos. I wouldn't joke with this court if I were you!" - "Wouldn't you, or couldn't you?" - "Does the codename Sapphire mean anything to you?" - "lt doesn't. l swear to God." - "You swear to God and yet you have no compunction about teaching evolution?" - "Where were you on the night of June 3rd?"). During the questioning, jury members passed a marijuana joint down the front row.

Due to the disruptive Mellish, the Judge ordered him to be bound to his chair and gagged. After a witness testified that she heard Mellish make "treasonous remarks" about the US, the bound and gagged Mellish approached the witness and mumbled at her through his mouth-gag until she reacted violently and withdrew her testimony ("Don't put words in my mouth! Yes, yes it's true, I lied!").

[Note: A few years before the film's showing, the Chicago 8 Conspiracy Trial was being conducted beginning in the fall of 1969, when eight radicals were accused of conspiring to incite a riot at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. One of the defendants, a Black Panther named Bobby Seale, who had insisted on his right to defend himself and shouted threats at Judge Hoffman such as "fascist dog," "pig," and "racist," was ordered to be bound and gagged by the Judge. Ultimately, Hoffman separated Seale from the case and sentenced him to four years in prison for contempt.]

The Judge finally ordered the jury to retire for their verdict. On the evening news, Roger Grimsby reported on Mellish's verdict, but first during an advertisement-commercial, a Catholic parishioner (Dick Callinan) received communion from a priest (Dan Frazer). He was coughing and admitted to smoking cigarettes for "sinners," and it was recommended that he should switch to the more flavorful and smooth-tasting "New Testament cigarettes" with a "revolutionary incense filter." The priest added: "Stick to New Testament cigarettes and all is forgiven." Grimsby announced that the court's ruling was that Fielding was found guilty on 12 counts of treason and would receive a 15-year suspended sentence (if he promised to not live in the Judge's neighborhood).

The Televised Honeymoon Night Broadcast - Staged as a Boxing Match:

In the concluding scene, Mellish proposed to Nancy: "Now that this whole thing is over, do you think that there's any possibility that the two of us could get married?" He told her that since she was pulling out of the Women's Liberation Movement, she would "need somebody to support you." Although he vowed that he loved her, she asked for him to define the meaning of love, and he answered with a complex philosophical response:

l want you in a way of cherishing your totality and your otherness and in the sense of a presence and a being and a whole coming and going in a room with grapefruit and a love of a thing, of nature and a sense of not wanting or being jealous of the thing that a person possesses.

Then, she abruptly asked: "Do you have any gum?"

Their televised Honeymoon Night was broadcast "live, on-the-spot" on television (on the Wide World of Sports). It was viewed as a between-the-covers, sexual boxing match - again with commentator Howard Cosell (bookending the film) providing the play-by-play action. Fielding was with Nancy as his recent marital partner after a civil ceremony in downtown Manhattan: "The bride wore the traditional virginal white, as did Mellish. Following that, they had dinner and are both now ready for the consummation of their marriage."

The two entered their gold and white bridal suite at the Royal Manhattan Hotel for their competitive bout, as Howard Cosell described their respective live fan bases and physical condition as they approached each other: "Here comes the bride and she's got a lot of fans here. They are tense, but they swell to a tremendous cheer. And, as l think is apparent, she is in very good physical condition. And here comes Mellish. Listen to that crowd roar. He is wearing a green corduroy suit, jogging and bobbing down the aisle, buttressed by his trainer and his handlers. The action has started. They approach one another cautiously. Nothing unique about that. Now, Mellish begins to make his moves and so does Nancy. The two are working together closely, the action growing more rigorous. lt is swift, rhythmic, coordinated." Briefly, a doctor was summoned to examine a cut over Mellish's right eye. At the conclusion of their fight, Cosell declared: "lt's all over. The marriage has been consummated. Nancy and Fielding Mellish, in the most real sense, are now man and wife."

After their confrontation in bed, Nancy admitted to Howard Cosell after being asked: "Was it everything you expected?" - that she believed that everything was over too quickly:

Well, Howard, it all went by so fast. I just had no idea that it would be so quick, really. I was expecting a longer bout... Well, as you know, l'm extraordinarily ticklish so l had a kind of a rough time there. l couldn't stop laughing...And you know, l thought it would really get in my way. But l really trained well for this and l think it sort of held me, so there really wasn't any time that l didn't feel in complete control.

Fielding commented how he was worried that the cut above his eye "might stop the action" and he'd have to "finish it up quick." He expressed how grateful he was that they let him "go all the way." Nancy added that Mellish wasn't in the best of shape and could use a little "seasoning" - because "the timing was a little off, but l think he'll be fine. I mean, he's not the worst l've had. Not the best, but not the worst." Fielding disagreed with Nancy, arguing and bragging that he was "in great shape" and extolling his physical conditioning: "l thought l had her in real trouble with the right hand up early. l was in good form. My breathing was good. l've been training very hard for this. And l just gave a hundred per cent."

Their next bout would possibly be in the late spring, although they seemed to disagree on a date for a future rematch. Cosell ended the interview with special hope that "they may live happily ever after and again they may not," but assured the viewers that he would be there to cover the action ("wherever the action is, we will be there..."). A special news bulletin rolled across the bottom of the screen:


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