Cast & Crew
Barry De Prendergast
While on her way to Los Angeles' Sunset Strip, Pat Hartley, a young black woman newly arrived from New York City, is accosted by a "God squad," four Bible-quoting youths intent on sermonizing. Hartley, as she is called, escapes the "squad" and later converses with a black female friend about how best to "change the system" that wages war and represses youth. Although the friend believes that "long-haired hippies" need to insert themselves into government jobs in order to change the system from within, Hartley fears that the "system" will only change the hippies for the worse. That night, while exploring the city, Hartley is caught jaywalking by two policemen, who arrest her when she refuses to answer their questions. After being released from the West Hollywood jail the next day, Hartley travels by bus and car to San Diego, where she catches a plane to Maui, Hawaii. At the Maui airport, Hartley is picked up by a hippie acquaintance, who takes her on a tour of the island in his dune-buggy. The tour includes a stop at the towering Hawaii Earth Satellite Station, which Hartley inspects with some curious Japanese tourists. Eventually Hartley ends up at the Rainbow Bridge Occult Research Meditation Center, a remote, resort-like enclave. Upon seeing her arrive, former model Melinda Merryweather, one of the Center's residents, becomes concerned, as she knows that Hartley has been sent to "check up on things" by the Center's absentee benefactor. After assuring Melinda and the Center's many other occupants that she is merely gathering information, Hartley begins to explore the compound. Over the next few days, Hartley gets to know the Center's residents, who include surfers, astrologers, elderly clairvoyant Clara Shuff, students, yoga practioners and other "seekers of truth." She learns that the term "rainbow bridge" refers to the psychic connection between the heart, where emotions lie, and the mind, where spirituality and intellect reside. Among the many topics Hartley and the others discuss at the Center are astrology, LSD, space aliens, ecology, reincarnation, sex and sexual role playing, transcendental meditation, spirituality and political activism. Hartley also attends a lecture given by Dr. Emmanuel Bronner, a scientist and concentration camp survivor, who decries the use of soluble fluoride in the country's water supply. Rock musician Jimi Hendrix then drops by the Center and drunkenly chats with Hartley about his youth, the nature of life and death, and his Cleopatra fantasy. To the delight of Center residents and island locals, Hendrix and his band perform a concert the next day at the edge of the Haleakala Crater. Afterward, Hartley visits a serious young woman who claims that extraterrestrials are currently living among humans, but are trying to make Earth a more just and peaceful place.
Barry De Prendergast
Dr. Emmanuel Bronner
The National Choir Of Samoa
Barry De Prendergast
John F. Schreyer
The working title of this film was Wave. Although onscreen credits include a 1971 copyright statement for Antahkarana Productions, the film was not submitted for copyright at the time of its initial release. A seven-reel print of the film was registered for copyright to Transvue Pictures Corp. on March 30, 1981, under the number PA-103-595. When the picture was first reviewed in Los Angeles in mid-December 1971, Hollywood Reporter and Daily Variety (which incorrectly reported a PG rating) listed the running time as 123 minutes, and Los Angeles Times listed it as 120 minutes. For the film's March 1972 San Francisco opening, however, Variety listed the running time as 108 minutes. The viewed DVD print, first released in 1996, runs approximately 125 minutes.
Onscreen spellings of many of the names in the above-listed cast and crew differ from spellings found in print sources. Director of photography Vilis Lapenieks' name is misspelled "Villis Lapenicks" and surfer/stuntman David Nuuhiwa's last name is misspelled "Nuuhueva" in the onscreen credits. Producer Barry De Prendergast's last name appears both as "De Prendergast" and "DePrendergast" onscreen. (Some print sources list it as "de Prendergast.") Clairvoyant Clara Shuff's name is spelled "Shuff" in the end credits, but appears as "Schuff" on a title card within the film. The correct spellings of most of the onscreen names have not been determined. In the opening credits, Jimi Hendrix Experience band members Mitch Mitchell and Billy Cox are listed together under the band name and are credited individually as cast members in the end credits. Concluding the end credits, which roll up from the bottom of the screen, is a long "special thanks to" list that begins with: "Electric Lady Studios, New York, For Rainbow Bridge Music." Audio and mixing engineers and second unit photographers are listed with others whose contributions to the film are not specified. Some of the names of these contributors were not readable on the viewed print.
The viewed DVD print opens with a three-and-a-half-minute prologue, spoken by an offscreen narrator over a black screen. The narrator first describes the film as "a living view of the harsh and sometimes beautiful truth of what tomorrow May bring to humankind" and claims it is an answer to Alvin Toffler's 1970 book Future Shock, a treatise about the impact of technology on modern society. The prologue then poses a series of questions regarding space aliens ("Space Brothers"), "the Mystical Population," "the New Young and the New Old," war and peace and other metaphysical concepts.
Although the narrator states that the picture was "not made from a script," the opening sequence, which was shot in and around Los Angeles and San Diego, was staged. According to the Daily Variety review, the Rainbow Bridge Occult Research Meditation Center in Maui, HI, was an invention of the filmmakers. No evidence that a place with that name existed prior to the film has been found. Most of the scenes shot at the Center were filmed cinema verité style and were improvised. Interspersed throughout the picture are colorful special effects shots, black-and-white newsreel footage of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, black-and-white stills of famous political leaders, surfing footage and brief, seemingly random dramatic scenes. In a pre-title sequence, for example, three cowboys on horseback, filmed in a process the picture's pressbook calls "solarization," shoot down a surfer as he rises out of the ocean. In another scene, Jimi Hendrix is shown assassinating a politician (played by one of the Center's residents dressed in a suit and tie) with a rifle shot. The end title sequence appears over shots of an erupting volcano.
According to modern sources, the concert performed at the end of the film was hastily put together and took place at the volcanic Haleakala Crater, on the Island of Maui, HI, on July 30, 1970. Approximately 17 minutes of the concert was used in the film. Hendrix, who performed in a scheduled concert the next day in Honolulu, died of a suspected drug overdose in London on September 18, 1970. The Maui concert was the last known recorded Hendrix concert in the U.S., according to modern sources. Michael Jeffery, who is credited as the film's executive producer, was the manager of the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Some of Hendrix's above-listed songs are heard offscreen, as part of the film's score. Although a pre-production Variety news item stated that Hendrix would write the picture's score, all Hendrix music heard in the film was written prior to the film's conception. In some cases, only portions of songs, including "Purple Haze" and "Dolly Dagger," are performed.
In addition to the songs listed above, two acoustic songs are performed in the film-one onscreen and one offscreen-but their titles and composers have not been determined. The group Air performs the onscreen song, and The National Choir of Samoa, who are credited only in publicity material, sing the offscreen number over the pre-title cowboy sequence. Jimmy and Vella Cameron sing "Old Men" onscreen, during the Los Angeles sequence.
Actress Pat Hartley made her motion picture debut in the film, which also features director Chuck Wein, De Prendergast and surfing photographer Michael Hynson in the cast. News items and publicity for the film noted that the picture was originally conceived as a surfing film by director Wein. Harvard graduate Wein, whose previous films included My Hustler (1965), which he co-directed with Andy Warhol, was known as an underground filmmaker.
According to a June 1970 Daily Variety article, Warner Bros., which was to distribute the film, entered into an unusual deal with De Prendergast and Jeffery when it agreed to finance the production in exchange for rights to release the film's soundtrack. Warner Bros. guaranteed it would finance an under-$500,000 budget in a negative pick-up deal. (Various contemporary sources list the film's final budget at approximately $1,000,000.) According to a November 1972 Hollywood Reporter article, as part of the negative pick-up deal, the filmmakers were granted the right to buy back distribution rights provided they repaid the studio its costs within a stipulated deadline. As noted in the Variety article, because of Warner Bros.' participation, the production worked with an experienced union (IATSE) crew. One of the Rainbow Bridge filmmakers admitted to Variety that in the past "we always tried to work with our turned-on friends handling the equipment, and it didn't work out. It was spiritually a beautiful scene, but technically the results were disastrous." The Hollywood Reporter article claimed that the picture was "astrologically cast" by Wein.
At the time of production, Hendrix was signed with Warner Bros.' record label Warner Bros.-Reprise. Hendrix's first and only live album released during his lifetime, Band of Gypsys, was a big-seller for Capitol Records, and according to the Variety article, Warner Bros., which had distributed the 1970 hit concert film Woodstock , gambled that the Rainbow Bridge soundtrack would sell well enough for the studio to recoup its expenditures on the film's production. Warner Bros. executives admitted to Variety that the studio was prepared to shelve the picture if it proved too "way-out" for release. The Variety article stated that the Warner Bros.' deal was "believed to be the first example of a picture being financed primarily on the basis of potential sound-track sales."
By the time of the film's first public screenings in late 1971, Warner Bros. was no longer involved in its distribution. According to the November 1972 Hollywood Reporter article, the filmmakers, in an attempt to find another distributor before the Warner Bros.' buy-back deadline, rented the Aquarius Theater in Los Angeles in December 1971 and paid for publicity and 35mm projection equipment rental. The film grossed $125,000 in seven weeks. The filmmakers then launched a series of successful midnight screenings in Denver, Houston and St. Louis. As a result, they were able to persuade wealthy ex-surfer and restaurateur Alfred "Buzzy" Bent to invest $250,000 in the project, enough money to enable the producers to buy back distribution rights. According to the Hollywood Reporter article, Bent's agreement occurred only a few days before the Warner Bros. deadline. In June 1972, Hollywood Reporter announced that Transvue Pictures was releasing the picture. Although Transvue is credited onscreen, reviews list only Alcyone Releasing as the film's distributor.
In late 1972, Canadian entertainment company Moon House International announced that it was in negotiations to re-release Rainbow Bridge, but no evidence that the film was re-issued at that time has been found. In 1976, Transvue sued Playboy Enterprises for $600,000, claiming the company had violated its exclusive distribution agreement when it screened the picture at its Los Angeles Playboy Theatre. Playboy Enterprises had apparently secured an agreement with De Prendergast's Antahkarana Productions to show the picture at a cheaper rate than Transvue would have charged. The disposition of the suit is not known.
An unidentified, circa 1986 news item announced that Hendrix's father, James A. Hendrix, had filed a $5,000,000 lawsuit against Transvue Pictures and Active Home Video, alleging that Transvue had issued an invalid license for the distribution and marketing of a videocassette version of Rainbow Bridge. Hendrix's father was the sole heir to his son's estate and, at the time, owned the rights to his performance in the film and video. James Hendrix claimed that co-plaintiff Bella Godiva Music owned all copyrights for the music used in the picture and that Transvue and Active Home Video never obtained those rights prior to distributing their video version. The disposition of that lawsuit is also not known.
According to modern sources, a best-selling bootleg copy of the recording of the Hendrix Maui concert, called Incident at Rainbow Bridge, circulated in the early 1970s. Modern sources also claim that Wein allowed experimental filmmaker Duff Hendrickson to shoot a silent, 16mm version of the Hendrix concert. Duff later combined some of his silent footage with the soundtrack of three songs from Hendrix's live album Band of Gypsys to make the underground film Strange Day on Maui, according to modern sources. The DVD Maui 1970, released on the Apocalypse Sound label, combines footage from Hendrix's concert and other material from Rainbow Bridge with footage from Strange Day on Maui. A restored version of Rainbow Bridge was re-released in theaters in 1996.
Released in United States on Video January 1988
Released in United States on Video January 1988