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By Phil Hall | April 20, 2003

All is not gold that glitters, and the unexpected emergence of the 1972 underground indie comedy “Gold” is not exactly a glittery discovery. This small, strange film was never theatrically released and seems to have been laying around in oblivion before being dug up and given an overdue chance to shine by Bob Levis, who created the film with Bill Desloge (the men were billed as “organizers” in the credits).
“Gold” is basically an endless (or seemingly endless) stream of jokes, sight gags and caustic political commentary tied to the oddball plot of a crooked cop (improv comic Del Close, inexplicably dressed like an Al Capone-era gangster) who coerces a hippie ally (Garry Goodrow) into some sort of unclear plot involving a train full of flower children (some dressed in 19th century clothing) who are on their way to a field where gold has been discovered. There is also a pretty blonde woman who gets to take off her clothing every now and then; her exact function in the scheme of things is never quite clear, but the distraction created by her magnificent mammaries is more than welcome.
The film makes absolutely no sense and its sole value today comes as a cracked-open time capsule providing a warped peek into what constituted underground filmmaking three decades ago. “Gold” is also crudely made to the point of being near-amateurish, with large chunks of dialogue out of sync and a second-rate folk-rock soundtrack constantly filling long stretches while the camera pans and scans in a vain search of something happening. There are some mildly funny bits of business, including a man on crutches who tries to jump on top of the moving train from a water tower, a love-in where a woman waves an American flag from a stick inserted in her rear end, and a humorous acid trip version of an Abbott and Costello routine where Goodrow keeps reminding Close’s lawman of his history of miscreant behavior (he dismisses an arrest for b********y in Laramie, Wyoming, as merely being “an experiment that went wrong”). There are also some unintentionally funny citations in the films opening credits, including a Production Assistant with the introverted name of “Shy” and a man named Roy Aubrey who is grandly credited as the film’s “Gag Advisor.”
In its own weird way, “Gold” was a primitive forerunner of the 70s genre of anarchist sketch comedies that included “The Groove Tube,” “Tunnelvision” and “Kentucky Fried Movie.” Today, however, it seems more quaint than cutting. Cineastes eager to unearth obscure alternative movies are advised to seek this out; everyone else should please keep moving.

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