Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Taking Off (1971)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Taking Off (1971)

In Czechoslovakian film-maker Milos Forman's first American film - an insightful, charming, witty and comedic satirizing of the adult middle-class, with extremely creative editing; it examined the supposed generation gap from the parents' perspective - and was inspired by the Beatles' song "She's Leaving Home":

  • the wavy opening credits sequence - intercut with young female singer-songwriters at an open-microphone for folk-music auditions
  • the episodic film's main dilemma: teenaged 15 year-old daughter Jeannie Tyne (Linnea Heacock) had run away ("taken off") from her suburban home as a fugitive, leaving her distraught parents behind in Forest Hills, NY: balding, bespectacled, misguided and overworked Larry (Buck Henry) and overwrought nagging Lynn Tyne (Lynn Carlin), who were trying to understand what had happened
  • the sequence of the parents' frantic search for Jeannie in neighborhood bars in NYC's Lower East Side (Greenwich Village) and then during a wild goose chase to upstate New York
  • the Tyne's attendance at a black-tie dinner meeting in a ballroom with other like-minded, middle-aged adults in a self-help group - the Society for Parents of Fugitive Children (S.P.F.C.) - and the offbeat hilarious sequence of experimenting with smoking pot for the first time at an "Intro to Smoking Pot" class painstakingly led by expert Vince Schiavelli (as Himself in his debut film) who delivered step-by-step instructions: ("Now the other thing that you must remember, is that after you inhale, you take the joint and you pass it to the person sitting next to you. Do not, repeat, do not hold onto the joint. This is called bogarting the joint, and it is very rude. So you take it and you pass it to the person sitting next to you until the joint gets passed around and it's very, very small. That is called a roach... - and I will collect those. Now are there any other questions before we light up?"); although most of the adults claimed they felt nothing, he was amused that they began acting strangely and letting go (dancing, touching, singing, and feeling vibrations)
  • the cutaway scenes from the main story - of youth exploitation by counter-cultural judges as many hopeful, talented (and untalented) young female singers and songwriters were auditioned (film debuts for Carly Simon singing "Long Time Physical Effects", and Kathy Bates as Bobo Bates singing "Even the Horses Had Wings"), including sweet-faced, long-haired Mary Mitchell's (as Herself) melodious folk song played very sincerely with a lute - "Ode to a Screw" with dirty lyrics: "You can fuck the lilies and the roses too. You can fuck the maidens who swear they’ve never been screwed. You can fuck the Russians and the English too. You can fuck the Germans and every pushy Jew. Fuck the Queens. Fuck the Kings. Fuck the boys with the very small dings. Fuck the birds, fuck the pigs, fuck the everything with a thorny twig. You can fuck the Astros and all nurses in white. You should fuck the uglies just to be kind and polite. You can fuck the Moon and June and the Sea. But before you fuck them, first you must fuck me"
Adult Strip-Poker
  • the sequence of the Tynes at their home with other support-group parents, Ann (Audra Lindley) and Ben Lockston (Paul Benedict), playing a hilarious drunken game of strip poker - Texas One Card Showdown; part way through the game, Lynn had to remove her top, and Ben complimented Larry with the quip: "My compliments to the chef"; soon, she was topless and trying to cover up; eventually, Larry was completely stripped down, standing on the table and singing an Italian opera song aria from Verdi's La Traviata (Libiamo ne' lieti calici); to his surprise, he looked up and saw his awoken and shocked daughter Jeannie looking down from the upstairs balcony at her drunk and stoned parents; after the guests left, Larry asked Lynn: "Do you think we ought to talk to her?"
  • the concluding awkward and mostly-silent dinner sequence of Jeannie introducing her wealthy long-haired, leftist-minded song-writing boyfriend (looking like Charles Manson) to her parents; during small talk, he surprised them with how lucrative the hippie music business could be: "Last year I made $290,000. Before taxes. It's a very funny thing. You see a lot of things that the government is doing that make you kinda angry, so you write some songs about it. You try and reach as many people as you can. In the end, you end up paying for those very same things that made you angry in the first place. I guess I accept contradictions"; the hosts then insisted on having show-off Larry entertain them (Lynn accompanied him on the piano) with his musical rendition of a show-tune song from their generation (Stranger in Paradise from the 1953 Broadway musical Kismet); the film ended with a freeze-frame on Jeannie as she impassively watched her embarrassing parents performing
Dinner-Time Audition

Opening Credits

Joint-Smoking Instruction

Bobo Bates (Kathy Bates)

Carly Simon

"Ode to a Screw"

Jeannie Tyne (Linnea Heacock)


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