The Crazy World of Julius Vrooder


1h 38m 1974

Brief Synopsis

After returning home, a Vietnam veteran lives in the psychiatric ward on the V.A. hospital, because he cannot cope with the craziness of the world.

Film Details

Also Known As
Crazy World of Julius Vrooder
MPAA Rating
Release Date
Jan 1974
Premiere Information
not available
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 38m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (DeLuxe)

Synopsis

After returning home, a Vietnam veteran lives in the psychiatric ward on the V.A. hospital, because he cannot cope with the craziness of the world.

Film Details

Also Known As
Crazy World of Julius Vrooder
MPAA Rating
Release Date
Jan 1974
Premiere Information
not available
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 38m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (DeLuxe)

Articles

The Crazy World of Julius Vrooder


By the mid-1970s, the United States was dealing with the fallout of the Vietnam War. Vets returning home struggled to readjust to civilian life. Many dealt with PTSD, which was then still not fully understood and categorized as "psychiatric impairment." The Crazy World of Julius Vrooder (1974), directed by Arthur Hiller and starring Timothy Bottoms, explored the emotional trauma of war through a comedic lens. It tells the story of a Vietnam War vet who pretends to be crazier than he is as a means of coping with his emotional wounds.

Journalist Daryl Henry, who reported from Vietnam from 1966 to 1967, witnessed firsthand the struggle soldiers faced. Henry said in an interview, "for some time after returning home, I pondered how best to illuminate the insanity.... Could the solution be horror, camouflaged as comedy?" Driving up Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles, Henry observed that the on ramp of Interstate 405 was flanked by a VA hospital on one side, the Los Angeles National Cemetery on the other and a wooded area in the middle. The location seemed ideal to tell a story, part comedy, part drama, of a rebellious young marine who builds a hooch, a military-style bunker, as a temporary refuge from the VA psych ward to which he had been admitted.

Henry's script caught the eye of Hiller, who had recent success with the box-office smash Love Story (1970). A war veteran having served in the Canadian Royal Air Force during WWII, Hiller made an attempt to buy the rights to Henry's script but was outbid by publishing tycoon Hugh Hefner. Playboy Enterprises had recently gotten into the movie industry with their own independent production company. After producing The Naked Ape (1973), Playboy was eager to find more film projects to develop and saw potential with The Crazy World of Julius Vrooder. They partnered with 20th Century-Fox for production and distribution, and Hiller was soon hired as the director.

There was much disagreement about the film's original title: Vrooder's Hooch. Studio executives felt that audiences would confuse the term hooch with alcohol. According to Henry, a survey was conducted and the target audience of 18 to 24 year olds mostly agreed that hooch was slang for hut. Executives were still nervous about potential misunderstandings, so they moved forward with the title The Crazy World of Julius Vrooder, piggybacking on the success of the hit comedy sketch show The Wacky World of Jonathan Winters.

In casting the lead role of Julius Vrooder, Fox insisted on Timothy Bottoms, the breakout star of The Last Picture Show (1971). Bottoms had played a war vet in Dalton Trumbo's Johnny Got His Gun (1971) but for the most part had been playing different versions of his mild-mannered persona. Fox wanted to capitalize on his star power while giving him an opportunity to branch out into different roles.

Barbara Hershey was cast as Vrooder's love interest and psych ward nurse Vannie. Hershey had recently changed her professional name to Barbara Seagull. A curious choice, Hershey was motivated after an incident during the production of Last Summer (1969) resulted in the death of a seagull. At the time, Hershey was deep into her hippie phase and felt that the name change would pay tribute to the bird's spirit. Her new name didn't have the same box-office pull and Hefner insisted that her salary be cut as a result. Hershey had a recent connection to Playboy Enterprises, having appeared in an issue of their magazine with her then romantic partner and co-star David Carradine to promote their film Boxcar Bertha (1972).

The Crazy World of Julius Vrooder, the lead character is the protege of two older psych ward patients: WWI vet Corky and WWII vet Splint which were played by George Marshall and Albert Salmi respectively. Marshall was mostly known for his prolific career as a director but occasionally took on acting roles. Hiller thought he'd be perfect for the role of Corky, and Marshall was eager to take on the part. For the role of Vrooder's peer, Michael Cristofer was cast in his film debut as pyromaniac and Vietnam vet Alessini. Screenwriter and associate producer Henry wrote a potential cameo for himself as the truck driver who saves the day in the final scene. In an interview he noted, "the Screen Actor's Guild objected to a non-actor taking away a union actor's job and promised to fine Fox $250 if they cast me. I was summarily sacked. But when I learned a day's pay for the truck driver was exactly $250, I prevailed upon Fox to pay the SAG fine with my salary-- and I got to deliver my one line, "Sure, hop in the back."

Production took place from October to December 1973. Exteriors were shot on location at the VA hospital and Los Angeles National Cemetery on Wilshire Boulevard. Some scenes were filmed off the San Diego Freeway and interiors were shot at Fox's sound stages. The studio spent $125,00 building Vrooder's hooch. According to the AFI, the hooch was 11 feet long, 7 feet tall and "was constructed on hydraulics so it could be lifted for lights and camera visibility." To get the structure of the hooch just right, the production design crew dug a cave, created a plaster mold, transported the mold to the studio and the hooch was held together with a wooden frame to make it structurally sound for filming.

The Crazy World of Julius Vrooder was released on October 18th, 1974. Unfortunately, the film failed to capture the nuances of Daryl Henry's script. The marketing, which positioned it as the next smash hit starring Timothy Bottoms and featured him on the film's poster in a hot dog bun drenched in mustard, hurt more than it helped. Reviews were mixed with critics drawing comparisons to thematically similar films The King of Hearts (1966) and Catch-22 ('70). The New York Times wrote that The Crazy World of Julius Vrooder "drowns its antiwar theme in a cataract of cuteness." After its release, the film had fallen by the wayside and has mostly been forgotten. This offbeat story about the emotional wounds of war and the freedom of spirit had potential that was never truly realized.

By Raquel Stecher
The Crazy World Of Julius Vrooder

The Crazy World of Julius Vrooder

By the mid-1970s, the United States was dealing with the fallout of the Vietnam War. Vets returning home struggled to readjust to civilian life. Many dealt with PTSD, which was then still not fully understood and categorized as "psychiatric impairment." The Crazy World of Julius Vrooder (1974), directed by Arthur Hiller and starring Timothy Bottoms, explored the emotional trauma of war through a comedic lens. It tells the story of a Vietnam War vet who pretends to be crazier than he is as a means of coping with his emotional wounds. Journalist Daryl Henry, who reported from Vietnam from 1966 to 1967, witnessed firsthand the struggle soldiers faced. Henry said in an interview, "for some time after returning home, I pondered how best to illuminate the insanity.... Could the solution be horror, camouflaged as comedy?" Driving up Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles, Henry observed that the on ramp of Interstate 405 was flanked by a VA hospital on one side, the Los Angeles National Cemetery on the other and a wooded area in the middle. The location seemed ideal to tell a story, part comedy, part drama, of a rebellious young marine who builds a hooch, a military-style bunker, as a temporary refuge from the VA psych ward to which he had been admitted. Henry's script caught the eye of Hiller, who had recent success with the box-office smash Love Story (1970). A war veteran having served in the Canadian Royal Air Force during WWII, Hiller made an attempt to buy the rights to Henry's script but was outbid by publishing tycoon Hugh Hefner. Playboy Enterprises had recently gotten into the movie industry with their own independent production company. After producing The Naked Ape (1973), Playboy was eager to find more film projects to develop and saw potential with The Crazy World of Julius Vrooder. They partnered with 20th Century-Fox for production and distribution, and Hiller was soon hired as the director. There was much disagreement about the film's original title: Vrooder's Hooch. Studio executives felt that audiences would confuse the term hooch with alcohol. According to Henry, a survey was conducted and the target audience of 18 to 24 year olds mostly agreed that hooch was slang for hut. Executives were still nervous about potential misunderstandings, so they moved forward with the title The Crazy World of Julius Vrooder, piggybacking on the success of the hit comedy sketch show The Wacky World of Jonathan Winters. In casting the lead role of Julius Vrooder, Fox insisted on Timothy Bottoms, the breakout star of The Last Picture Show (1971). Bottoms had played a war vet in Dalton Trumbo's Johnny Got His Gun (1971) but for the most part had been playing different versions of his mild-mannered persona. Fox wanted to capitalize on his star power while giving him an opportunity to branch out into different roles. Barbara Hershey was cast as Vrooder's love interest and psych ward nurse Vannie. Hershey had recently changed her professional name to Barbara Seagull. A curious choice, Hershey was motivated after an incident during the production of Last Summer (1969) resulted in the death of a seagull. At the time, Hershey was deep into her hippie phase and felt that the name change would pay tribute to the bird's spirit. Her new name didn't have the same box-office pull and Hefner insisted that her salary be cut as a result. Hershey had a recent connection to Playboy Enterprises, having appeared in an issue of their magazine with her then romantic partner and co-star David Carradine to promote their film Boxcar Bertha (1972). The Crazy World of Julius Vrooder, the lead character is the protege of two older psych ward patients: WWI vet Corky and WWII vet Splint which were played by George Marshall and Albert Salmi respectively. Marshall was mostly known for his prolific career as a director but occasionally took on acting roles. Hiller thought he'd be perfect for the role of Corky, and Marshall was eager to take on the part. For the role of Vrooder's peer, Michael Cristofer was cast in his film debut as pyromaniac and Vietnam vet Alessini. Screenwriter and associate producer Henry wrote a potential cameo for himself as the truck driver who saves the day in the final scene. In an interview he noted, "the Screen Actor's Guild objected to a non-actor taking away a union actor's job and promised to fine Fox $250 if they cast me. I was summarily sacked. But when I learned a day's pay for the truck driver was exactly $250, I prevailed upon Fox to pay the SAG fine with my salary-- and I got to deliver my one line, "Sure, hop in the back." Production took place from October to December 1973. Exteriors were shot on location at the VA hospital and Los Angeles National Cemetery on Wilshire Boulevard. Some scenes were filmed off the San Diego Freeway and interiors were shot at Fox's sound stages. The studio spent $125,00 building Vrooder's hooch. According to the AFI, the hooch was 11 feet long, 7 feet tall and "was constructed on hydraulics so it could be lifted for lights and camera visibility." To get the structure of the hooch just right, the production design crew dug a cave, created a plaster mold, transported the mold to the studio and the hooch was held together with a wooden frame to make it structurally sound for filming. The Crazy World of Julius Vrooder was released on October 18th, 1974. Unfortunately, the film failed to capture the nuances of Daryl Henry's script. The marketing, which positioned it as the next smash hit starring Timothy Bottoms and featured him on the film's poster in a hot dog bun drenched in mustard, hurt more than it helped. Reviews were mixed with critics drawing comparisons to thematically similar films The King of Hearts (1966) and Catch-22 ('70). The New York Times wrote that The Crazy World of Julius Vrooder "drowns its antiwar theme in a cataract of cuteness." After its release, the film had fallen by the wayside and has mostly been forgotten. This offbeat story about the emotional wounds of war and the freedom of spirit had potential that was never truly realized. By Raquel Stecher

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1974

Released in United States 1974