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Ensign Pulver (1964)
OK, I understand the sentiments regarding this vs. Mr.Roberts, BUT....
....you have to give credit to whomever scripted the "movie show on deck" scene early in the film. The movie being shown (titled "The Walking Dead," decades before
AMC came up with that title ) features a mad scientist character played by none other than Boris Karloff. The coordination between him and the fireworks chaos that breaks out on deck is a brief but hilariously brilliant exercise in comedy..
Sexy Shorts (1984)
A dated glimpse of the early "Wild West" era of rock video
Produced by Picture Music International, and distributed by Vestron video to the home/rental market in late 1984, this is a collection of eleven "unrated" (ergo, "R") music videos circa that time. The group of artists represented is rather random, reflecting the fact that the sole criteria for inclusion in the compilation was the presence of nudity, not the artist or performance.
What one therefore experiences is a rather arbitrary collection of now dated "peek-a-boo." Production values range dramatically, from rather slick (Duran Duran's "The Chauffeur," a coolly stylish albeit meaningless little film noir, and Queen's "Body Language," a tight, artsy presentation that perfectly complements the song) to "hack-artiste-with-a-camcorder" (Peter Godwin's "Images of Heaven" a classic, pounding synth-pop anthem which is unfortunately ruined by cheap, boring treatment).
Dwight Twilley -- a talented artist whose career has consisted of almost-but-never-quite breaking through -- comes off as an appendage in "Girls," a textbook example of early thin-storyline music video (football players staring through locker room peepholes at the cheerleaders next door). Frankly, that comes off as art compared to the two videos from O'Bryan ("Lovelite" and "Breakin' Together,") both woefully dated examples of generic R&B from a now forgotten footnote of the late 70's "Soul Train" era.
Actually, the early 80s element is best represented by "Screaming In My Pillow," the clip by SSQ (a short-lived synth pop group of the period). Vocalist Stacey Swain (a.k.a. Stacey Q) sings vapidly on a pastel set, as the editing cuts back and forth between that and her writhing in soft-focus, soft-core form with an anonymous partner. The two pieces by the Tubes ("Sports Fans" and "Mondo Bondage") are stereotypically Fee-Waybill-over-the-top, and leave the viewer wondering exactly what the market for such videos -- featuring full frontal male nudity --were back then; certainly not MTV, VH1 or NBC's "Friday Night Videos."
The tape culminates with "Gimme, Gimme Your Lovin" by Helix, an overblown, tacky set piece for a forgettable metal band which uses a very thin "Miss Rock Fantasy" pageant storyline as an excuse for a massive display of gyrating topless models (apparently recruited from the porn industry; I've heard that the cast of women in this piece apparently consists of a literal "whos' who" of stars from that sector circa 1983). Watching this, one is less titillated and again more left wondering who on earth wrote the check to produce it. Then again, given the smarmy grins of the band as the women bump and grind around them, one suspects this may have all simply been about assuaging certain egos.
Celebrity Party (1963)
A wonderfully entertaining time capsule of the era
On the surface, this grainy old kine scope (copies of which are hard to find, firms specializing in vintage TV videos are one's best bet) might seem to be nothing more than residue of an extended commercial for Dr Pepper.
But don't let that fool you. Beneath the surface lies a wonderfully entertaining shadow of a lost era in America. This forty-five minute long television special -- sponsored by Dr Pepper and originally broadcast on ABC on November 30, 1963 (somewhat awkward timing, being just a week after the J.F.K. assassination) -- is an absolutely fascinating time capsule of the early 60's.
Set in an unnamed "home in Hollywood," (which was actually Frankie Avalon's house in Bel Air), the show is hosted by Dick Clark and Dr Pepper's newly-hired beautiful 16-year old "spokesmodel," Donna Loren.
The guest list crams in a choice sample of the teen idols, Hollywood stars and pop icons of 1963. In attendance are many cast members of the AIP "Beach Party" series, including Frankie Avalon, Annette Funicello (who sings "Promise Me Anything" from Beach Party), Dick Dale, John Ashley and then spouse Deborah Walley. Shelley Fabares and Paul Peterson show up, as do Wayne Newton, Connie Stevens, George Hamilton, Jan and Dean (who are at their high water mark here, enjoying the popularity of their recent #1 smash "Surf City"), Bobby "Boris" Pickett ("The Monster Mash") and even "Miss Teen America," who appears complete with her crown.
Over the course of the program, Dick does his usual brief, well-intentioned but transparently promotional "interviews" with all these people; both Avalon and Funicello buzz a bit about the "upcoming sequel" to Beach Party, Annette intriguingly reinforcing to Dick "I'm still under contract to Mr. Disney, but non-exclusively." Dick Dale makes the most insightful comment of the evening when Clark asks him "Dick, are you still with the surfing craze, and the wild and wonderful sound California music?", to which Dale responds "oh, you better believe it Dick, I'll never give it up."
One other short but interesting "interview tidbit" occurs when Dick briefly interviews Jackie DeShannon about her singing role in an upcoming new film called Surf Party. Jackie seems almost apologetic when responding to Dick's questions about the movie, which was one of the first "clones" of Beach Party. That's not surprising, given DeShannon had limited musical numbers and screen time in this low budget, comparatively weak attempt by MGM to jump onto the emerging "pop surfing musicals" bandwagon.
In addition to Annette's musical number, we're treated to performances by April Stevens and Nino Tempo ("Deep Purple"), the Challengers (who play "Albatross," an impressive surf instrumental), Dick and Dee Dee ("Turn Around") and Trini Lopez ("Kansas City").
Host Donna gets to perform twice during the show, her first piece being a little ditty called "I Can't Make My Heart Say Goodbye." While the genre of the song a Tammy-Wynette-ish, tear-jerker country ballad is somewhat dated even by 1963 musical norms, the number is still a striking demonstration of the impressive vocal and stage technique of the sixteen year old ingénue, one that attains a standard far above her years. Later on in the show, we're treated to a second performance, where she sings out by the pool (on a unusually cold L.A. night; the poor girl must have been freezing, you can see her frosty breath with every note) while playing the piano, backed by the Challengers, in a soulful, rockin' version of "Bill Bailey." Throughout the whole program she's at her giggly adolescent best; one can only imagine the thrill the young beauty was feeling during her first true "starring" appearance on national TV.
Texas Lightning (1981)
See Maureen McCormick slum beyond belief!!
There's nothing funnier (or perhaps sadder) than watching a grade D movie containing a once-famous actor who is only in it because they have come way, way down on their luck. Such is the opportunity afforded while watching Maureen McCormick (a.k.a. `Marcia' from `the Brady Bunch') doing her thing in `Texas Lightning.'
At one point in the film, Mcormick's character (a tarty, chain-smoking barmaid named `Fay') delivers the line `they don't pay me to be stupid,' which literally led me to yell back at the tube `oh, they most CERTAINLY do' (anyone who goes from a starring role in a network TV hit to this sort of grade D trash is definitely guilty of selling out).
Poorly written, directed, filmed and edited, laughing at McCormick's pathetic attempt at serious acting (including a rape scene which is so poorly done that it comes across as tasteless comedy) is just about the only entertaining thing to do while watching this boring, slow-moving `coming of age' story. None of the other principal characters in the film (who are all fat, ugly or just plain messed up) warrant any mention.
But wait - there's even more in this excursion into the realm of truly high camp: the bad performances and tiring storyline are enhanced by some of the worst production values and editing you'll EVER see. Seriously. This thing truly looks like it was shot for less than $100. The `sets' consist solely of residential dumps in drab neighborhoods, a tired roadhouse, a tacky motel and desert backwaters, and the editing feels like it was done by a drunken chimp with a machete.
And just when you think it can't get any worse, the film ends with McCormick performing a musical number, in a truly laughable preview of what would eventually become her last `career,' that of grade Z country singer.