A Safe Place (1971)

Directed by Henry Jaglom

Cinematography by

Richard C. Kratina

A young woman named Noah lives alone in New York. She is a disturbed flower child, who retreats into her past, yearning for lost innocence. She recalls her childhood, searching for a “safe place.” As a child she met a magician in Central Park who presented her with magical objects: a levitating silver ball, a star ring, and a Noah’s ark. She is romantically involved with two totally different men. Fred is practical but dull. Mitch is dynamic and sexy, her ideal fantasy partner. Neither man is able to totally fulfill her needs.

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Surprising

28 May 2004 | by laffinsal (California) – See all my reviews

This experimental piece of work, from Henry Jaglom, is actually something of a gem, if not for it’s unique direction, for the typically stunning performance from Tuesday Weld. Weld is wonderful in her characterization of a simple, juvenile young woman, caught in the limbo between innocence and adulthood. This film is from the period which I consider Weld’s peak. She is beautiful, charming and completely earnest in her delivery.

Others in the cast are interesting at best. Orson Welles is good as the father figure in Weld’s life. Philip Proctor is not much acting wise, but at least he has a pleasant voice. That seems to have helped his career in the years following this film. Jack Nicholson is his typical cocky, slimy character in this one. I didn’t feel his acting was anything new here, but his presence makes for an interesting triangle relationship.

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The editing is choppy, utilizing audio and image clips flashing by, altered, and repeated again. It would seem to get old after a while, and it does to some degree, but it’s effective nonetheless. There are some good vignettes here and there throughout the film, namely a scene where Weld describes to Proctor the importance of telephone exchanges. Not every actress could pull this off well, but Weld does so with empathy and charm…brilliant! The Ouija board scene also stands out, as do the ones of Weld and Welles in Central Park Zoo.

A fascinating and surprisingly engaging film. If for no other reason, it’s worth watching for Weld’s performance.

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Jack Nicholson appeared in this film mainly as a favor to the director, Henry Jaglom. Nicholson did the film for no pay, his only demand was that he be given a new color television set.

This film was originally a play written by Henry Jaglom in the 1960s and had a few performances starring the film’s lead actress Tuesday Weld. Offered a debut in cinema by BBS Productions (governed by Bob Rafelson, Burt Schneider and Steve Blauner), a subsidiary of Columbia Pictures, Jaglom decided to give his play the cinematic treatment. Currently, it is being re-realized as a play. After meeting Tana Frederick, Jaglom dusted off the original manuscript for “A Safe Place” with the intention of having Frederick play the part of Susan/Noah.

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A beautiful relic of its time

Author: lcrews from USA
27 September 2003

Only in the post-“Easy Rider” early 1970s could a film like this be made by a major Hollywood studio. Totally devoid of anything resembling a plot, “A Safe Place” will probably seem incomprehensible to most. But if you already have an appreciation for the 1950s-1960s works of Fellini, Antonioni or Godard, come on in. You’ll feel right at home in this “Safe Place.”

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Henry Jaglom was the unsung hero amongst the circle of friends that brought us “Head,” “Easy Rider,” “Five Easy Pieces,” and several other lesser-known classics of the era. Jaglom is more responsible for the success of “Easy Rider” than Dennis Hopper, as he took Hopper’s three-hour cut–a mishmash of flashbacks, flash-forwards and art- damaged nonsense–and shaped it into the legendary film it is today. His close relationship with Hopper, Jack Nicholson, Bob Rafelson, Bert Schneider, and others gave him a chance to write and direct his own movie for Columbia Pictures.

Jaglom in turn delivered this dream narrative starring Tuesday Weld as a young woman who copes by retreating into isolationism and fantasy. Orson Welles pops up here and there as a magician who represents a physical emodiment of her retreat from the world. Or does he only exist in her head?

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It’s best not to ask questions like that. Free your mind, sit back, and take in the feeling and mood. Where Hopper failed with his cut of “Easy Rider” and “The Last Movie”, Jaglom effortlessly succeeds with such lofty and artsy ambitions. “A Safe Place” coasts by like a gentle dream in an afternoon nap–full of beautiful, detached imagery, illogical but comforting.

“A Safe Place” is a beautiful relic of a brief time in American cinema. Even Jaglom– always on the fringe of mainstream cinema–would never make anything like this again, as he later developed the documentary/verite style which has become his trademark.

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One of the worst motion pictures ever made

1/10
Author: (jauritt@comcast.net) from Warrington, PA
23 December 2015

The title of my review is no exaggeration. The only saving grace to watching this movie is that it’s only about an hour and a half in length, even though it seems at least twice that long to view. The screenplay (assuming there really was a screenplay to begin with, because the dialogue feels totally improvised…not because it sounds “real”, but because it’s strained and ludicrous) is annoying to the nth degree, unless you like hearing profound voice-over comments such as “I love you from New York to Rome..from Rome to Madrid, etc. etc. etc. over and over and over again. If I was on a deserted island with a DVD player and this was the only DVD I had with me, I’d break it in a hundred pieces with a coconut because, otherwise, I’d end up searching for a shark to eat me as soon as possible. If I had a choice between being water-boarded and being forced to watch this movie repeatedly, I’d have a VERY tough decision to make. But, other than that, the movie was great.

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Think “Annie Hall” crossed with “Magical Mystery Tour”

10/10
Author: rooz from MN
1 June 1999

Wonderfully bizarre and experimental piece of work for which Jaglom should be very proud. Welles and Nicholson are great in this head game. Let yourself go when you watch this–experience it–this is not a “movie”–this is a trip!! You will get as much out of this as you allow yourself to take.

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