The Corner

Face the Facts: Romney Is a Clown


Hugh Romney, better known by his stage name Wavy Gravy, is the subject of a fascinating new documentary that opens this week in selected markets. Saint Misbehavin’: The Wavy Gravy Movie tells the story of how a Greenwich Village Beat poet became a Sixties hippie Pied Piper/clown, and subsequently a venerable senior citizen. The film, which portrays Romney as a lovable, ecumenical humanitarian, is perhaps a little too celebratory to be definitive; the dark, crying-on-the-inside aspect of the traditional clown is a little too well known, and therefore its absence in the film is palpable. It may be that Romney’s personality is, as his friend Paul Krassner described it, that of “an illegitimate son of Harpo Marx and Mother Teresa”; but our age is reflexively suspicious of hagiography, and the filmmakers should have taken this into account. In any case, if you’re looking for a film that showcases the positive side of the Sixties, this film fits the bill. It may not be the whole story, but it’s a moving story nonetheless.

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