Movie Review: ‘Saint Misbehavin’: The Wavy Gravy Movie’

Special to the Los Angeles Times

“Saint Misbehavin’: The Wavy Gravy Movie” is an inspiring and nostalgic documentary about a true original: performer-clown-activist Hugh Romney, who was dubbed Wavy Gravy in 1969 by no less than B.B. King.

Director Michelle Esrick has crafted an affectionate portrait of a man whose eclectic, ebullient life has been devoted to peace, love and understanding — an eternal hippie who has “walked the walk” since he burst onto the Greenwich Village “Beat” scene in the late 1950s.

The film, which is packed with colorful archival footage, intimately follows Wavy from his early fame as a poet and monologist through his emergence as one of the 1960s and ‘70s more visible counter-culturists and founder of the legendary, still-running Hog Farm commune. En route, the antiwar protester, humanitarian and performing arts camp impresario worked alongside some of his generation’s most notable artists and iconoclasts including Bob Dylan, Ken Kesey, the Grateful Dead and Lenny Bruce.


Wavy and his fellow Hog Farmers’ munificent presence at Woodstock is memorably documented here as well.

In addition to spending ample personal time with the buoyant, Bozo-haired Mr. Gravy (who was in his early 70s when filming concluded), the movie features interviews with his adoring wife, Jahanara, and son, Jordan, along with briefer chats with such famed Wavy supporters as Jackson Browne, Odetta, Buffy Sainte-Marie and spiritual leader Ram Dass. Good times.

“Saint Misbehavin’: The Wavy Gravy Movie.” No MPAA rating. Running time: 1 hour, 27 minutes. At Laemmle’s Monica 4-Plex, Santa Monica.