Shampoo (film)

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Theatrical release poster
Directed byHal Ashby
Written by
Produced byWarren Beatty
CinematographyLászló Kovács
Edited byRobert C. Jones
Music byPaul Simon
Rubeeker Films
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
  • February 11, 1975 (1975-02-11)
Running time
110 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$4 million[2]
Box office$60 million[3]

Shampoo is a 1975 American comedy film directed by Hal Ashby, and starring Warren Beatty, Julie Christie, Goldie Hawn, Lee Grant, Jack Warden, Tony Bill, and Carrie Fisher in her film debut. Co-written by Beatty and Robert Towne, the film follows a promiscuous Los Angeles hairdresser on Election Day 1968, as he juggles his relationships with several women. The film is a satire focusing on the theme of sexual politics and late-1960s sexual and social mores.


On the eve of the 1968 United States presidential election, successful Beverly Hills hairdresser George Roundy meets with Felicia, one of his several clients/sexual partners, at his apartment. During sex, he receives a phone call from Jill, his naive, younger, up-and-coming actress girlfriend, who is suffering a panic attack, paranoid that an intruder is in her home. George rushes from his house to calm Jill, which frustrates Felicia.

George's occupation and charisma have provided him the perfect platform from which to meet and have sex with beautiful women, including his current girlfriend. Despite this, 34-year-old George is dissatisfied with his professional life; he is the creative star of the salon in which he works, but has to play second fiddle to Norman, the "nickel-and-diming" mediocre hairdresser who owns the business.

George dreams of setting up his own salon business, but cannot convince any bank to lend him the capital he needs. He seeks out Felicia and her unsuspecting husband Lester to bankroll him. George's meeting with Lester supplies a second secret for him to keep from his would-be benefactor; Lester's current mistress, Jackie, is George's former girlfriend, perhaps the most serious relationship he has ever had. Jackie is also best friends with Jill, making the situation even more complicated.

Jackie arranges for George to style her hair, which he fashions nearly identically to Felicia's. Sexual tension arises between the two, and George attempts to kiss Jackie. At first, Jackie rebuffs George, but then kisses him back. They are about to have sex in the bathroom when they hear Lester announce his arrival. As Lester comes into the room, they pretend for his benefit that George is finishing styling Jackie's hair.

Lester, who assumes George is gay because of his profession, asks George to escort Jackie to a Republican Party election-night soiree. Upon arriving, George finds himself in the same room as a number of present and former sexual partners, including Jill (who came with Johnny Pope, a film director considering her for a role in his next film) and Felicia. Jackie becomes upset, drinks too much, and behaves outrageously, so Lester asks George to take her home, but she refuses to go.

All the principals except Felicia adjourn to a posh counterculture party at a Beverly Hills mansion, where guests indulge in alcohol, other drugs, and sexual pursuits. Lester, followed moments later by Jill and Johnny, happen upon a couple having vigorous sex in the dark on the kitchen floor. Lester comments admiringly on this tryst to Jill and Johnny, who look on through the window in stunned silence. Suddenly, the refrigerator door George had failed to properly close comes open, illuminating Jackie and him. Lester, shocked, abruptly leaves. An enraged Jill throws a chair, breaking the window, and swears at George. Jackie flees as George tries to placate Jill with an obvious lie, but Jill, unmollified, runs off to spend the night with Johnny.

The following morning Jill confronts George at her home with one of Felicia's earrings, which she found in his bed. When she asks about his dalliances, George admits he sought a career in the beauty industry as a means to pursue beautiful women, and that his promiscuity, while making him feel like he will live forever, may mean he does not love her. Upon returning to his home, George is met by Lester and some intimidating men. George and Lester soon find mutual understanding. Lester calls Jackie a whore and mentions he is fed up with her. Lester promises George a business deal and he and the men leave.

George subsequently goes to Jackie's house, but she worriedly flees in her car, claiming she does not want Lester to find them together. George pursues her on his motorcycle, and the two arrive on a hilltop overlook above her house. George proposes to Jackie, but she tells him it is too late; she has arranged to go to Acapulco with Lester, who has said he will divorce Felicia and marry her. Jackie leaves George alone on the overlook, from where he sadly watches her depart with Lester.



Film scholar Emanuel Levy describes Shampoo as a critique of suburbia, comparing its self-contained Beverly Hills setting to the small towns depicted in films such as Jaws and The Stepford Wives (both also released in 1975).[4] He elaborates on the film's political themes:

Made in 1975, less than a year after [Richard] Nixon’s resignation (August 1974) over the Watergate scandal, the film suggests parallels between Nixon’s hypocrisy and cheating and similar devices among the average Americans...  The TV set is on most of the time, but no one has time to really watch, reducing the screen to a constant blur of images and sounds...  The film suggests that Americans have become slaves to their private and sexual lives at the expense of getting involved emotionally or politically. No character talks about or understands politics. Shampoo is about whoring in sex and in politics, and the price of doing it.[4]


The soundtrack includes songs from its setting of the late 1960s. Included in the party sequence are the Beatles ("Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" and "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds"), Buffalo Springfield ("Mr. Soul"), Jefferson Airplane ("Plastic Fantastic Lover" and "Good Shepherd"), and Jimi Hendrix ("Manic Depression"). Also included on the soundtrack album is "Wouldn't It Be Nice" by the Beach Boys, which plays over the opening and closing credits of the film.


Shampoo premiered in New York City on February 11, 1975.[5]


Upon its release, the film generally received positive reviews from critics who lauded its talented cast and sharp, satirical writing. Praise was not universal; some critics, including Roger Ebert, pronounced it a disappointment.[6]

Critic Pauline Kael of The New Yorker gave the film an overall positive review claiming the film is "a bigger picture in retrospect,"[7] while Walter Goodman of The New York Times said that "Ashby shows that he has a good memory for a couple of decades of cinematic clichés."[8]

Commercially, Shampoo was a great success. Produced on a budget of $4 million,[2] the film grossed $49,407,734 domestically[9] and $60 million at the worldwide box office.[3] It earned an estimated $23.9 million in North American rentals,[10] making it the third-highest-grossing film of 1975, beaten only by Jaws and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.


Award Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
Academy Awards Best Supporting Actor Jack Warden Nominated [11]
Best Supporting Actress Lee Grant Won
Best Original Screenplay Robert Towne and Warren Beatty Nominated
Best Art Direction Art Direction: Richard Sylbert and W. Stewart Campbell;
Set Decoration: George Gaines
British Academy Film Awards Best Actor in a Supporting Role Jack Warden Nominated [12]
Golden Globe Awards Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy Nominated [13]
Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy Warren Beatty Nominated
Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy Julie Christie Nominated
Goldie Hawn Nominated
Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture Lee Grant Nominated
National Society of Film Critics Awards Best Screenplay Robert Towne and Warren Beatty Won [14]
New York Film Critics Circle Awards Best Screenplay Nominated [15]
Writers Guild of America Awards Best Comedy – Written Directly for the Screen Won [16]


From reviews compiled retrospectively, review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 68% based on 40 reviews, with an average score of 6.6/10. The site's consensus reads: "Shampoo trains a darkly comic lens on post-Nixon America, aiming at—and often hitting—an array of timely targets".[17] The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment released Shampoo on DVD in January 2003.[19] On October 16, 2018, The Criterion Collection re-released the film on Blu-ray and DVD in a special edition, featuring a new 4K scan of the original film elements.[20]

Shampoo also served as the inspiration for the 1976 exploitation film Black Shampoo, directed by Greydon Clark, which is an example of the common blaxploitation filmmaking technique of intentionally piggybacking on the titles of hit films starring predominantly white casts to provide predominantly African American "alternatives" to the earlier films; Clark explained in an interview that his reason for making a blaxploitation film about a black male hairdresser's sexual trysts patterned after Ashby's film was that Clark did not want to make a film about a pimp, private detective or drug dealer, who were often the protagonists of blaxploitation films.[21][22][23]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ "SHAMPOO (X)". British Board of Film Classification. 1975-02-24. Archived from the original on 2015-01-08. Retrieved 2012-12-04.
  2. ^ a b Beach 2009, p. 176.
  3. ^ a b Box Office Information for Shampoo. Archived 2016-02-01 at the Wayback Machine Worldwide Box Office. Retrieved January 27, 2016.
  4. ^ a b "Shampoo (1975): Warren Beatty's Oscar-Winning Satire, Starring Julie Christie, Goldie Hawn, Lee Grant". April 10, 2006. Archived from the original on October 6, 2020.
  5. ^ "Shampoo (1975) Miscellaneous Notes". Turner Classic Movies. Archived from the original on May 2, 2021. Retrieved May 2, 2021.
  6. ^ "Shampoo Movie Review & Film Summary (1975)". Chicago Sun-Times. 1975-01-01. Archived from the original on 2013-02-08. Retrieved 2021-05-05.
  7. ^ Kael, Pauline (February 17, 1975). "The Current Cinema, Beverly Hills as a Big Bed". Mona Palmer Publ Co - Defunct Publisher.
  8. ^ Goodman, Walter (February 16, 1975). ""Shampoo": Farce or Freak Show?". The New York Times.
  9. ^ Shampoo at Box Office Mojo
  10. ^ Top 20 Films of 1975 by Domestic Revenue
  11. ^ "The 48th Academy Awards (1976) Nominees and Winners". Archived from the original on 2014-11-09. Retrieved 2011-10-02.
  12. ^ "BAFTA Awards: Film in 1976". BAFTA. 1976. Retrieved 16 September 2016.
  13. ^ "Shampoo – Golden Globes". HFPA. Retrieved July 5, 2021.
  14. ^ "Past Awards". National Society of Film Critics Awards. 19 December 2009. Archived from the original on October 17, 2015. Retrieved May 2, 2021.
  15. ^ "1975 New York Film Critics Circle Awards". New York Film Critics Circle. Retrieved July 5, 2021.
  16. ^ "Awards Winners". Writers Guild of America. Archived from the original on 2012-12-05. Retrieved 2010-06-06.
  17. ^ "Shampoo (1975)". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on 2021-01-14. Retrieved 2024-02-20.
  18. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs" (PDF). American Film Institute. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2013-03-16. Retrieved 2016-08-06.
  19. ^ Erickson, Glenn. "DVD Savant Review: Shampoo". DVD Talk. Archived from the original on February 26, 2021. Retrieved May 2, 2021.
  20. ^ Bowen, Chuck (November 5, 2018). "Blu-ray Review: Hal Ashby's Shampoo on the Criterion Collection". Slant Magazine. Archived from the original on May 2, 2021. Retrieved May 2, 2021.
  21. ^ Rausch, Andrew J. (2009). "Greydon Clark". Reflections on Blaxploitation: Actors and Directors Speak. Scarecrow Press. pp. 42–45. ISBN 9780810867062.
  22. ^ Strausbaugh, John (2007). Black Like You: Blackface, Whiteface, Insult & Imitation in American Popular Culture. Penguin Publishing Group. p. 261. ISBN 9780312131494.
  23. ^ Jane, Ian (April 11, 2005). "Black Shampoo Review". DVD Talk. Retrieved 2022-10-24.


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