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Shampoo is a 1975 satire that is directed by Hal Ashby and stars Warren Beatty, Julie Christie, Goldie Hawn, Lee Grant, Jack Warden, Carrie Fisher and Tony Bill. The film is set in 1968, the night before Richard Nixon was first elected to the White Housemarker, and was released as the Watergate scandal was reaching its messy conclusion; the political atmosphere of the setting therefore provides a source of dramatic irony, since the audience, but not the characters, are aware of the direction the Nixon presidency would eventually take. However, the main theme of the film is not presidential politics but sexual politics; it is renowned for its sharp satire of late-1960s sexual and social mores.

The lead character, George Roundy, is based on actual hairdresser Jay Sebring and on Jon Peters, the film producer, who is a former hairdresser.


Shampoo is set in a 24-hour period in 1968, on the eve of the presidential election which would result in Nixon's ascension to the American presidency. George Roundy (Warren Beatty) is a successful hairdresser, whose charisma has provided him the perfect platform from which to meet, and bed, beautiful women, including his current girlfriend Jill (Goldie Hawn). Despite this, George is dissatisfied with his professional life; he feels that his current position, in which he plays second fiddle to a mediocre hairdresser, is beneath him, and dreams of setting up his own hairdressing business. Lacking the cash to do so, George turns to his wealthy mistress, Felicia (Lee Grant), and her unsuspecting husband, Lester (Jack Warden). In a further twist, George learns, upon meeting with Lester at his office, that Lester, too, has a mistress - Jackie (Julie Christie) - with whom George has previously enjoyed a sexual relationship.

The tangled sexual politics come to a head when Lester invites George to an election night party, at which George finds himself in the same room as a number of present and former sexual partners, including his current girlfriend, current mistress, ex-girlfriend, and various other previous conquests. The night quickly descends into drugs, alcohol and sexual indulgence. In the film's dramatic climax, Lester and Jill catch George and Jackie in the throes of very active sexual intercourse on a kitchen floor. While Lester sees that sexual intercourse is taking place, Lester speaks the memorable line "Now, THAT'S what I call fucking!" Immediately afterwards, a refrigerator door comes open, with the light from the refrigerator revealing to Lester's astonishment that Jackie is the woman George is having sex with. At that point, George realises that Jackie is his true love, and proposes to her. By then, however, it is too late; Jackie announces that Lester is divorcing Felicia and taking Jackie to Acapulco. The film thus pairs sexual revelation with George's deeper moral development, but ends bleakly for the protagonist, despite his epiphany.



Upon its release, the film generally received positive reviews from critics who lauded its talented cast and sharp, satirical writing. However, the praise was not universal; some critics, including Roger Ebert[78211], pronounced it a disappointment.

Commercially, Shampoo was a great success, taking $49,407,734 at the box office in 1975. It was the fourth most successful movie in 1975 by box office takings, beaten only by Jaws, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

American Film Institute recognition


Academy Awards

Shampoo received an Academy Award in 1976 for Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Lee Grant). It was nominated for three other Academy Awards:

Golden Globes

Nominated for:
  • Best Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy)
  • Best Motion Picture Actor (Musical or Comedy) - Warren Beatty
  • Best Motion Picture Actress (Musical or Comedy) - Julie Christie
  • Best Motion Picture Actress (Musical or Comedy) - Goldie Hawn
  • Best Supporting Actress (Motion Picture) - Lee Grant

Other awards

  • 1975 National Society of Film Critics' Award for Best Screenplay
  • 1976 Writers' Guild of America Award - Best Comedy Written Directly for the Screen


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