Filmsite Movie Review
Sleeper (1973)
Pages: (1) (2) (3)
Plot Synopsis (continued)

Miles - His Recapture and Reprogramming-Brainwashing by the State:

Miles was re-captured, put into a morgue-like drawer, and informed by Dr. Nero (Marya Small) about his initial phase of "assimilation" into society - in other words, he would be brainwashed (or re-programmed) into becoming a complacent citizen with a "new life" in which all of his "needs and desires" would be fulfilled.

During the first phase of brainwashing in the lab - to purge him of his absurd past, he was projected into a simulated, mock 1970s-era Miss America beauty pageant with a Bert Parks-like emcee (Lou Picetti). He competed as Miss Montana against four other shapely finalists wearing one-piece blue bathing suits. During the personality phase of the contest, Miles was asked about his goals for mankind, and responded (in a whispered female voice) with a typically-banal speech:

"I would use my title to bring peace to all nations of the world, be it black, be they white, be it colored, be it whatever."

Believing that he had won the mock contest, he began to tearfully sob. The losing contestants clothed him in a mock royal cloak and presented him with a large handful of long-stemmed red roses and a scepter.

Afterwards, he entered a clothing store, Ginsberg & Cohen, specializing in "COMPUTERIZED FITTINGS." Two elderly, heavily-accented and ethnic Jewbot tailors (stand-up comics Jackie Mason and Myron Cohen) with yamulke-like head covers fitted him for a suit. One of the robots spoke out, promising a jacket and trousers: "Whether you want jackets, we got jackets. You want trousers, we got trousers....we got simple, we got complicated." The second robotic tailor entered and the two verbally dueled, quarreled and bickered with each other. Miles entered the automated tailoring machine, where lights and labels flashed and the machine whirred and hummed during the fitting. The result was a designed garment - an ill-fitting, baggy, gray suit-outfit that popped out. Miles balked: "This is terrible." One of the robots offered to fix their failed machine product: "We'll take it in."

Next, Miles was subjected to required work at the "function complex," and shown his living quarters ("a gift from our Leader") - a private apartment (with an Orgasmatron and Orb, and a framed picture of the Leader). Conversation and discussion assemblies would be held twice a week. Eventually, he would receive his own permanent home with mechanized servants, but in the meantime, he would be provided with an electronic, computerized, blue-eyed robotic dog named Rags. The domestic pet barked and spoke: "Woof woof woof...Hello, I'm Rags..." - accompanied by Miles' joke: "Is he housebroken or will he be leaving little batteries all over the floor?" Soon, Miles was flirting with one of his pretty, long blonde-haired co-workers, Rainer Krebs (Chris Forbes), and joining together with her for mutual orb pleasuring sessions.

Miles was also subjected to a Catholic Confessional with a robotic priest, and compelled to speak into a microphone after a beep, to record his deepest sins. He humbly asked for forgiveness for his shortcomings - he mentioned various minor acts of disloyalty to the state, including making love to Rainer during the lunch hour. When his confession was accepted, the robotic priest (with a cash-machine sound) flashed its response on a screen-sign: "ABSOLVED," and ejected a Kewpie doll.

Miles ate lunch one day at a 22nd-century McDonalds (with a sign reading 795 trillions of hamburgers sold).

Luna's Indoctrination into the Group of Underground Revolutionaries - The Capture and Reprogramming of Miles by the Rebels:

While Miles was undergoing his forced brainwashing, Luna had fled into the great outdoors, where she pounded her chest, shot a bow and arrow, and swung on a vine. She was kidnapped and recruited by the leader of the underground, blond and handsome Erno Windt (John Beck), and was converted to the side of the revolutionaries. Erno taught the group of rebels about their main goal: "ELIMINATE THE LEADER."

Luna suddenly appeared in Miles' apartment, but because of his brainwashing and memory-wiping, he did not recognize her, although she tried to refresh his recollections (about his own life in 1973) and convince him of her identity:

"Luna! Don't you remember? We were outlaws. Aliens! The police captured you, I escaped. I'm with the Underground. Remember! The Western District? Miles! I'm Luna! Luna! Remember! Luna!"

Shocked that she was one of the outlaw rebels, he accused her of being an 'alien,' and commanded Rags to attack. She promised to revert his mind back to its original state: "We're going to reprogram your mind. We're going to free it." Erno emerged from the Orgasmatron, and with the help of a third rebel, Miles was rekidnapped. After his capture, he was taken to the rebel hideout in the woods in the Western Sector, and again re-programmed to assimilate him back into society as a rebel. The revolutionaries planned to induce a hypnotic state via injection, and force him (through old computer files) to re-experience some of his major life traumas in order to "shatter his recent personality and allow the old one to emerge again." Their reverse-brainwashing had the same goal as the government's reprogramming - to have him relive a traumatic, unusual or difficult circumstance from his past.

The first deprogramming attempt was the psycho-dramatic simulation of an overwrought Jewish meal with his family - one of Miles' Sunday dinners at his parents' home in Brooklyn in 1962. Under hypnosis, Miles confessed to his very-Jewish, Yiddish-speaking parents (play-acted by Gentiles Luna and Erno) that he was divorcing his first wife Arlene: "She thinks I'm a pervert because I drank our waterbed." [Note: Waterbeds were invented in 1968, and became a fad in the 70s and 80s.] To revive Miles' individual personality, Erno attempted to recreate his Jewish heritage: "What will them Goyim say?...Stop whining and eat your shiksa." The rebel leader feared that Miles' brainwashing treatment by the state had forever altered his brain: "His brain is locked somewhere else. He believes he's another person....He's like a sleepwalker. We can't upset him or it could be fatal."

They suddenly realized that Miles mistakenly believed he was playing the role of Blanche DuBois (Vivien Leigh's character) in a rendition of a scene from Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) - Luna was encouraged to "play along with him" as his brother-in-law Stanley Kowalski (Marlon Brando's role):

Miles (as Blanche): "Don't let in the light. Oh, cover those lights, please. Please, don't get up. I was just passing through...I'm Blanche. Blanche Dubois. It means 'White Woods.'...Physical beauty is passing. A transitory possession. But beauty of the mind and richness of the spirit and tenderness of the heart, and I have all those things. Aren't taken away, but - but grow, increase with the years. Strange that I should be called a destitute woman, when I have all these riches locked in my heart."
Luna (as Stanley): "I been onto you from the start. I seen how you try to sprinkle this place up with them powders and those fancy French colognes. Well, I say, Ha! You hear me? Ha! Ha! I-I-I think. I- yeah."
Miles: "Why, why you're not the gentleman that I was expecting....Whoever you are, I've always depended upon the kindness of strangers."

With his old personality and memory partly restored, Miles awoke and began to remember his attraction to Luna, but also admitted to experiencing "sexual nightmares." She told how she had lived "like a wild animal" in primitive conditions with the rebels for six months. She enthusiastically gushed about the future and her rebel training under Erno - who was planning to lead a revolution and start a Marxist regime:

"While you were being a pawn in a capitalist society, Erno's been teaching me the beauty of Karl Marx....Government by the workers and the downtrodden masses."

Miles became confused and thought that Luna resembled an ex-girlfriend: "Lisa old girlfriend of mine from the Village. A Trotskyite who became a Jesus freak and was arrested for seling pornographic connect-the-dots books." She briefly sang a song about the revolution while strumming a guitar: "Rebels Are We."

"Rebels are we! Born to be free! Just like the fish in the sea!" [Note: The same lyrics were sung in Allen's earlier film Bananas (1971).]

Miles kissed Luna, but then his jealousy was aroused due to her enamored feelings about Erno, especially after he caught them kissing in a tent.

Miles and Luna - Impersonating Surgical Doctors in the Enemy's Medical Facility:

Erno's strategy to foment a revolution was for Miles and Luna to proceed to the Western District to destroy the counter-revolutionary Aries Project. Erno described using a one-channel radio and a "phony thumbprint" to allow Luna to pass through the security's scanning device. The goal was to have them impersonate medical doctors. As they entered a government hospital facility, Miles was the one who was nervously "shaking like a leaf." The 'shaking' became contagious, and Luna started shaking too. She told him: "Would you get a grip on yourself?" They also bickered over Luna's love for Erno as they walked down a long corridor. She enthusiastically espoused her belief in free love, but he felt that she had become a tramp:

Miles: "You'd probably feel a lot safer with Mr. White Teeth back there...The Rebel Chieftain with the wall-to-wall muscles on his chest...Yeah, Erno. It's a great name, if you happen to be the star of a vampire movie....He couldn't be with us today. He's got to go take his handsome lesson."
Luna: "Are you jealous?"
Miles: "Jealous? Are kidding, honey? With a body like mine, you don't get jealous."
Luna: "Certainly you don't expect me to tie myself down to one man. My love is a free gift to all the Bolshevik Brothers."
Miles: "Do what you want. You're over 21. Little Tramp!...Free love. I created a Bohemian monster. Next thing you know, she'll wanna have group sex with the robots...Give her a couple of books to read, and right away, she's Miss Pseudo-Intellectual, Neo-Fascist, Hegelian, Freudian Monster."

Further inside the facility, they blamed each other for anticipated screw-ups, when Miles added: "I don't know what the hell I'm doing here. I'm 237 years old. I should be collecting Social Security." Inside a control room, he instructed her about the functions of various buttons to direct a massive computer tape-recording machine, but worried: "I wanna make sure you got it. I'm the guy that's going out the window. A long drop to the pavement. I'm liable to bruise my smock." She assured him that she was listening, but was obviously distracted and confused.

Miles wrapped himself in thick computer tape, in order to descend from an outside ledge on the outside of the building to a different floor below. [Note: The scene was reminiscent of Chaplin's Modern Times (1936) and Harold Lloyd's Safety Last (1923).] However, she hit the 'fast-forward' button and propelled him off the side of the building. She frantically pressed more buttons, jerking him up and down. While she was becoming entangled in tape herself, he was able to steal two white doctor's uniforms, and walked them back into the control room - where he found her completely enveloped by the tape. He joked: "For a minute, I thought you didn't know how to work the machine."

Wearing their authentic doctor disguises, they proceeded through the facility, but didn't know which direction to take:

Luna: "Erno said to take the north escalator."
Miles: "I'm running this. Not Erno. We're going my way."
Luna: "It's Erno's plan. He knows what he's talking about."
Miles: "Why does he know what he's talking about? 'Cause he's handsome so he knows everything? He's got capped teeth. Did you know that about Erno? He's got capped teeth. Every one. He's got capped gums."

He jealously insisted: "We're going my way." They fooled a team of physicians with their disguises ("We're not imposters"), who believed Miles was Dr. Temkin accompanied by a female assistant. They infiltrated into a top-secret Aries Project meeting of the powerful elite to view a slide-show presentation (incorrectly spelled AIRES on the projected computer screen). There, they inadvertently learned a major secret - the national 'Leader' had been killed in a "horrible accident" by a rebel assassin's bomb planted in his home ten months earlier. The society was now leaderless - and the government was suffering a "major crisis." All that was left of the 'Leader' was his nose which was preserved and kept alive in the Delta laboratory - the present building - for nearly a year.

The ruling class was planning to clone the Leader from the single remaining part of his body - a benign, disembodied Nose - "to reduplicate the entire Leader again," although there had been only "limited experimental success" with the cloning procedure. After Phase One (a successful cloning of the 'Leader'), the reborn 'Leader' would then initiate Phase Two - to "exterminate all dissident factions." Rather than communicate with Erno to initiate a strike upon the hospital, Miles suggested that they could steal the Nose from the surgical operating theatre using diversionary tactics. As they approached the operating room, Luna pulled out her long-barreled Magnum given to her earlier at Dr. Melik's home - she surprised Miles who wondered: "Where were you hiding it? Don't tell me." Miles alerted a guard at the entrance to the surgical theatre with a Bob Hope-style joke: "We're here to see the Nose. I heard it was running."

Cloning the Leader's Nose in the Surgical Operating Room:

The two disguised doctors ended up in the middle of the domed surgical operating theatre - shocked that the other doctors were observing them from a viewing area above. Miles observed: "I like to be watched while I clone. The more the merrier, you know. I never, I never, never clone alone." A Bio Central Computer 2100, Series G (voice of Douglas Rain who famously vocalized the HAL-9000 computer in Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)), with two large green eyes, was assisting in the cloning procedure. Miles introduced Luna as his assistant Dr. Spock. Luna delivered a malpropism: "I believe this is going to be a very difficult croning job." Miles had to correct her: "Cloning, you idiot. Not, croning." He suggested: "After looking at the nose, I get the feeling that what we ought to do, perhaps, is postpone the cloning." The computer spoke up and disagreed: "Excuse me, Doctor. But that would be a tragic mistake." Miles explained: "You see, I- I think what the computer is failing to take into account is what I call the Pinocchio effect, which states that the square root of the proboscis is equal to the sum of the sinuses over seven."

After faking and stalling for as long as possible and arguing amongst themselves, Luna and Miles began the procedure. They planned to clone the Leader directly into his garments (shoes, gloves, and suit) - positioned properly on the operating table: "We're gonna make an attempt to clone the patient directly into his suit." Miles turned his back to his audience and hid the Nose under his surgical mask, in order to kidnap the 'Leader,' but his deception failed. When guards rushed into the operating room, Miles held the Nose hostage with Dr. Melik's gigantic Magnum and threatened: "Nobody move or I shoot your President!" As they raced into the hallway, Miles also brashly cautioned the group of doctors: "Don't come near me, I'm warning you, or he gets it right between the eyes." When Miles was accused of bluffing, he pulled the trigger - revealing that the gun was only a trick "BANG" flag-gun.

When a chase ensued, Miles tossed the Nose under a nearby road-roller in the driveway to assassinate the leader - it thinly flattened and steam-rolled the Nose beyond recognition. A Federation Security vehicle drove up, and this time (the third and final instance of the running gag), when the police aimed and fired the bazooka, the backfire blew up the entire van.

The Romantic Conclusion:

The two escaped in a bubble-topped vehicle, and both were astounded that they had eliminated the Nose:

Luna: "Miles, I cannot believe! I cannot believe it that we actually did it."
Miles: "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, and a nose for a nose. I don't know what the hell that means, but it sounds brilliant."

She credited Erno with the success of their plan, causing Miles to become jealously enraged about Erno - he complained that he was beginning to suffer from "a hostility ache" and a migraine headache. He also quipped: "And I haven't seen my analyst in 200 years. And he was a strict Freudian. And if I'd been going all this time, I'd probably almost be cured by now." She repeated her faith in rebel leader Erno to head the new government, but the non-political Miles was skeptical about the future and all political leaders - he sarcastically stated his long-held doubts about how political solutions would never work:

"In six months, we'll be stealing Erno's nose. Political solutions don't work. I told you that. It doesn't matter who's up there. They're all terrible."

Luna guessed correctly that Miles' jealous rant about Erno was because he loved her: ("I think you really love me"). He agreed: "Of course I love you! What, this, this is what this is all about. And you love me, I know that. And I don't blame ya, honey." But then, he turned critical of Erno: "I'm not knocking Erno. He's great if you happen to like a tall, blonde Prussian, Nordic, Aryan Nazi-type." She attempted to convince Miles that science had proven long-lasting and meaningful relationships were impossible between the sexes and would never last (due to chemical incapabilities between the genders). Miles dismissed her argument, claiming he didn't believe in science:

Luna: "But Miles, don't you see? Meaningful relationships between men and women don't last. That was proven by science. You see, there's a chemical in our bodies that makes it so that we all get on each other's nerves sooner or later."
Miles: "Hey, that's science. I don't believe in science. I'm, I'm, you know, science is a, an intellectual dead-end. You know, it's a lot of little guys in tweed suits cutting up frogs on foundation grants."

Realizing that she was unconvincing in her argument, Luna pointed out that in addition to science, Miles also didn't believe in God or political systems. She amusedly asked, then, about what he did believe in:

Luna: "Oh, I see. You don't believe in science, and, and you also don't believe that political systems work, and you don't believe in God, huh?... So then, What do you believe in?"
Miles: (in a deadpan tone) "Sex and death. Two things that come once in a lifetime -- but at least after death, you're not nauseous."

Following his famous "sex and death" line, the two kissed passionately as the film ended.

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