A while back, I bought the book Lana: The Memories, The Myths, The Movies by Cheryl Crane and while reading it, I came across something about a movie Lana was in called The Big Cube. The book didn’t say much about it, but all I knew is that there was a movie about Lana Turner on LSD. And since I love crazy drug movies from the 60’s, I knew I had to see this movie. I was in luck, because not too long after reading about it, TCM played it as part of TCM Underground. I told my friend Nikki about this movie and she was equally intrigued by the idea of a movie about Lana Turner on acid. Next thing I know, it’s 2:00 AM on a Friday night, and Nikki and I are having a blast on Facebook making fun of this completely insane movie. It’s chock full of bad acting, strange accents, inexplicable stripping, questionable fashions, and loads of crazy psychedelic goodness. At times, I felt like I was watching an episode of Dragnet. I kept waiting for Friday and Gannon to come barging in and for Friday to start making one of his famous speeches. So all in all, The Big Cube was everything I could ask for in a 60’s drug movie.
In The Big Cube, Lana Turner plays Adriana, an actress who marries Charles Winthrop, a wealthy tycoon. Charles has a daughter Lisa, who is not at all pleased with her new stepmother and she starts hanging around with the wrong crowd. Lisa’s closest friend is a woman named Bibi. Why Lisa hangs out with her is beyond me, since it seems Lisa and Bibi have nothing in common. One night, Bibi brings Lisa out for a night at a psychedelic club and she meets Johnny, a med student and fan of LSD. Johnny knows Lisa comes from a rich family and gets close to her to get her money. Shortly after Adriana and Charles are married, the two of them go boating and in an accident, Adriana suffers a concussion and Charles dies. When the will is read, Lisa finds out she can only inherit her entire estate if she gets married to someone Adriana approves of. Of course, Adriana doesn’t approve of Lisa marrying Johnny so they do what any normal young couple would do and plot to make everyone think Adriana is crazy by spiking her medicine with acid and making her think they are trying to kill her. Sure enough, their scheme works and Adriana is deemed mentally incompetent and Lisa and Johnny are free to marry. But the marriage is short-lived and Lisa discovers Johnny actually did want to kill Adriana. Lisa starts trying to help Adriana recover and when all is said and done, the two end up becoming friends. Johnny, on the other hand, doesn’t fare as well. The last we see of him, he’s in his apartment high on acid, putting an ant in his pocket and descending into madness.
When I was in school, I had to go through the D.A.R.E. program, so I already knew all about why drugs are bad. But I think The Big Cube taught me a few new valuable lessons about why drugs are bad and why you should stay away from people who do them:
Lesson #1: If you do acid, you will paint a spiral on your face like this guy.
Lesson #2: Drugs will impair your fashion judgment and cause you to wear bright green pantsuits and…whatever it is this guy is wearing.
Lesson #3: If you hang around with hippies, your wedding reception will consist of binge drinking, motorcycles in the pool, and the bride on the cake topper will be wearing a bikini.
Lesson #4: Don’t be friends with someone perpetually high like Bibi because they will try to make off with your husband on your wedding night and your marriage will be over in less than a day.
Lesson #5: Don’t do drugs or you will put an ant in your pocket and go crazy.
Lesson #6: If you’re producing a movie, make sure the hairstylist you hire isn’t on drugs or they will come up with hairstyles that would make even Lana Turner look bad.
It’s pretty hard to make Lana Turner look bad, but this movie’s hairstylist sure managed to pull it off. She wasn’t even 50 years old when she made this movie but her hair in this movie made her look much older than she was.
I recently read Lana Turner’s autobiography and not surprisingly, there is absolutely no mention of this movie. Gee, I wonder why.