Tag Archives: Victoria Racimo

The Magic Garden of Stanley Sweetheart (1970)

the magic garden of stanley sweeheart

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 3 out of 10

4-Word Review: An aimless, carefree lifestyle.

Based on the novel by Robert T. Westbrook who also wrote the screenplay the film centers on Stanley (Don Johnson in his film debut) an underground filmmaker living in an apartment that is almost continually bombarded with the noise of a construction site next door. He has big dreams and ambitions, but at times seems awkward and unsure of himself. He meets Cathy (Dianne Hull) who he initially is just interested in for sex, but then he starts to fall-in-love with her and when she breaks up with him he finds it hard to handle.

The movie starts out well. I enjoyed the free-style direction and narrative. Cutting back and forth showing things as they are versus how Stanley would like them to be is fun, but the film deviates away from this when it would have been more interesting had it stayed this course all the way through. There is a certain element of one of Andy Warhol’s anti-movie movies here where the film tries to challenge the viewer’s conventional understanding of protagonists, plot, character development and all around narrative structure and it is no surprise that Warhol really liked this movie. It does have a strong cinema vertite approach that gives you a feeling like you are right there with the characters and to a certain extent helps bring the 60’s back to life.

Unfortunately the direction is too lackadaisical and unfocused and the story is uninteresting. Looking more at Stanley’s underground films could have given it a little more bite, but we only get a glimpse of one of his movies and then that thread is pretty much forgotten. The second half of the film centers on Stanley’s relationship and ultimate break-up with Cathy, which is too contrived and does not compliment the film’s otherwise offbeat approach. Funky and irreverent moments of humor are lost with a storyline that doesn’t seem to know where it wants to go or what to say. Tighter editing could’ve helped avoid some long stretches where nothing seems to happen.

The film though still has some interesting and unique scenes. I got a kick out of Stanley’s cluttered apartment and how he has to smell his food in his refrigerator to see what is still edible and for entertainment he stamps on cockroaches crawling across his floor. The part where he masturbates in a bathtub while reading a letter written by his mother is hilarious. His attempts at making a porno by getting his actress (Holly Near) good and drunk only to get her hornier than he is amusing. The naked body painting sex orgy that he has with two young nubile roommates has a nice sensual quality.

Don Johnson is excellent and the one thing that keeps this wandering film together and he can be seen totally nude from both the front and back. Hull allows for some diversion as a sheltered young lady who is initially shocked by the open sexuality around her, but eventually learns to embrace it. Native American actress Victoria Racimo is hot with her clothes on and off and reminded me a lot of 70’s adult film star Hypathia Lee. Brandon Maggart makes the most of his small bit as a gay man trying to come onto Stanley while inside a café. Michael Greer offers some edginess as Stanley’s slightly menacing friend Danny. His violent death that occurs near the end of the film and in front of his shocked mother does leave an impression, but we don’t know enough about the character for it to make much sense and just another thing put into the film without seemingly much thought.

My Rating: 3 out of 10

Released: May 26, 1970

Runtime: 1Hour 50Minutes

Rated R

Director: Leonard Horn

Studio: MGM

Available: None at this time.