Cleaning Out The DVR Yet Again #39: Where The Boys Are (dir by Henry Levin)


(Lisa recently discovered that she only has about 8 hours of space left on her DVR!  It turns out that she’s been recording movies from July and she just hasn’t gotten around to watching and reviewing them yet.  So, once again, Lisa is cleaning out her DVR!  She is going to try to watch and review 52 movies by the end of 2017!  Will she make it?  Keep checking the site to find out!)

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Before I talk about the 1960 film Where The Boys Are, I’m going to admit something.  Nearly a month ago, I started this mission to clean out my DVR.  I had 52 films to review and I said that I’d have it all done by Thanksgiving.  Of course, I failed to take into account that Thanksgiving is a holiday and, when you’re celebrating a holiday, that doesn’t always leave time to write 52 reviews.  So, I gave myself until the end of the first week of December.  And that’s when I realized that 52 reviews is not a small amount of work.  Especially if you want to make them decent reviews, as opposed to just posting a few sentences.  So, I’m abandoning all of my arbitrary deadlines.  I’ve got 14 more movies to review and I really hope that I’ll be done by the end of the year.  Maybe I will be, maybe I won’t…

But, seriously, I really hope that I am!

Anyway, now that I’ve cleared that up, let’s go to Where The Boys Are!

Released in 1960, Where The Boys Are was one of the first spring break films and it set the template for many films that would follow.  Because it is a piece of history, it’s one of those films that seems to regularly pop up on TCM.  It last aired on TCM on November 13th.  That’s when I recorded it.

Where The Boys Are tells the story of four girls who go to college in Maryland.  When we first see them, they are trudging across a snowed-in campus and there’s a distinct lack of handsome men around.  We listen as Merritt Andrews (Delores Hart) debates her far older professor about whether or not a girl should be “experienced” before getting married.  The professor thinks that all girls should wait for marriage.  Merritt disagrees.  What makes this scene interesting is that it’s almost totally done in euphemism.  Merritt never says sex.  Instead, she says making out and the professor has to ask her to explain what that means.

I mean …. 1960, amirite?

Anyway, it’s spring break so Merritt and her friends go down to Ft. Lauderdale.  After all … that’s where the boys are!  All of the girls have their own defining characteristic.  Merritt is the leader of the group, an intellectual with an I.Q. of 138.  Tuggle (Paula Prentiss) is smart and no-nonsense.  She’s a self-described “good girl” and her hope is to be a “baby-making machine.”  She intimidates some men because she stands 5’10.  Angie (Connie Francis) is athletic and naive.  And then there’s Melanie (Yvette Mimieux), who overcomes her insecurity and loses her virginity as soon as they arrive in Florida (though, of course, this is all handled via euphemism).

Over the course of spring break, all four of the girls meet a man or two.  Merritt meets Ryder (George Hamilton), who is not only an Ivy League student but has a tan to die for.  Ryder it turns out is very experienced (the film doesn’t seem to have the same issue with men being experienced as it does with women) and Merritt is forced to consider whether she’s really as ready for sex as she claims.  Melanie also hooks up with an Ivy Leaguer but it quickly becomes obvious that, despite going to Yale, Franklin (Rory Harrity) is a total heel.  (Oh, how you will hate Franklin.)  Tuggle finds herself competing for the attention of TV (Jim Hutton).  And Angie falls for a myopic jazz musician, Basil (Frank Gorshin).

Watching Where The Boys Are was an odd experience.  It’s an extremely dated film and it’s hard to believe that its euphemistic sex talk and extremely modest swimsuits were ever considered to be controversial.  There’s a hilarious scene where the girls are getting ready for their dates by changing into dresses that look more appropriate for cotillion than a night in Ft Lauderdale.  Needless to say, nobody is seen smoking weed or skinny dipping or doing any of the other stuff that we’ve come to take for granted as far as spring break films are concerned.  (That said, I get the feeling that both TV and Basil may have been stoned.  But definitely not Ryder.  From the minute Ryder shows up, you know he’s going to end up running a successful business and probably serving as an advisor in the Trump White House.)

There are a lot of jokes about people getting drunk, however.  It’s nice to see that, even in 1960, college students on Spring Break couldn’t hold their liquor.  I also found it interesting that not only did almost everyone in Where The Boys Are smoked but most of them looked really cool doing it.  In fact, I’d say that this film was probably the best advertising for cigarettes that I’ve ever seen.

For the most part, Where The Boys Are is a hit-or-miss comedy that’s distinguished by perfect casting.  Even though the film itself was dated, I felt that I could relate, in one way or another, to all of the girls.  Hart, Prentiss, Mimeux, and even Francis captured universal emotions and feelings in their performances and their friendship felt very true.

About 70 minutes into the film, Where The Boys Are takes a very serious turn and the film actually ends on a rather melancholy note, a reminder that not even a somewhat light weight comedy could escape the harshly judgmental morality of the time.  The sudden shift in tone took me by surprise but the film actually handled it well.  I just wish that it didn’t feel as if the filmmakers were punishing our characters for questioning the dictates of society.

On a final note, it’s interesting to note that Delores Hart, who played the sexually free thinking Merritt, later gave up her film career and became a nun.

So much for where the boys are.

Spider-Man: Homecoming Slings In With Two Official Trailers


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It’s been rumored that the Spider-Man: Homecoming trailer will appear in front of Rogue One: Star Wars Story. It’s logical considering Sony has let Spider-Man to play in the Marvel Cinematic Universe sandbox which also happens to share spot in the Walt Disney Empire with Lucasfilm. Yet, we don’t have to wait for next week’s Rogue One to see this trailer. Like all superhero blockbuster films the trailers themselves get their premiere on-line (after a live premiere on Jimmy Kimmel Live) and this is no different with the first official trailer for Spider-Man: Homecoming.

So, without further ado, here’s not one, but two trailers for Spider-Man: Homecoming.

Domestic: this one definitely focuses more on the high school aspect of Spider-Man’s life.

International: this one a bit more action-packed with a focus on Spider-Man’s heroics and more time showcasing the villains.

Danger Is Their Business: STUNTS (New Line Cinema 1977)


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With the success of films like WHITE LIGHTING, CANNONBALL, DEATH RACE 2000, and SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT (not to mention the continuing fascination with Evel Knenevel), movies revolving around stunts and stuntmen were big box office in the 1970’s. New Line Cinema took note and produced STUNTS, a murder mystery about stuntmen being killed off that gives us a behind-the-scenes look at low-budget filmmaking in addition to a good cast and well-staged action.

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When stuntman Greg Wilson’s hanging from a helicopter gag goes horribly awry, resulting in him plummeting to his death, his brother Glen arrives on the set determined to do the stunt himself and investigate Greg’s demise. Along the way he picks up B.J. Parswell, an attractive reporter doing a story on stuntmen. Glen’s fellow stuntmen start getting picked off one by one in gruesome “accidents”, and he must find the killer before he becomes next.

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This basic variation on “Ten…

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Music Video of the Day: Dancing On The Ceiling by Lionel Richie (1986, dir. Stanley Donen)


I’ve done numerous music videos inspired by movies so far. Yesterday’s Opposites Attract by Paula Abdul is based off of Anchors Aweigh (1945) with Gene Kelly. However, this is the first one that not only explicitly remade a particular film, or part of a film, but also got the director of said film. Stanley Donen actually directed this music video for Lionel Richie.

It was shot by Daniel Pearl because of course it was. For those of you counting, that makes four music videos shot by Daniel Pearl that I have spotlighted so far. That is out of his around 450+ documented music videos.

According to Wikipedia, this was shot at Laird Studios in Culver City and at the LeMondrian Hotel in West Hollywood on a budget that was somewhere between $350,000 and $500,000.

The music video’s main influence is of course Royal Wedding (1951), which Stanley Donen directed. But it also has a nod to The Seven Year Itch (1955).

This music video was such a big deal at the time that HBO aired a half-hour special about the making of it.

Michael Peters did the choreography. He also did the choreography for Beat It and Thriller as well as Love Is A Battlefield.

Rodney Dangerfield and Cheech Marin make cameo appearances. Diane Alexander, who would later marry Lionel Richie, is also in the music video as one of the dancers.

Donen and Glenn Goodwin produced the music video.

While the song did well when it was released, it still made Blender magazine’s list of the 50 Worst Songs Ever. Of course they are using WatchMojo’s definition of “ever”. That means there are only four songs that pre-date the 1980s, they had to be “hit songs”, and somehow their staff had heard every “hit song” that had ever been “released” at the time.

Judging by the songs on the list, Blender magazine thought Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go–not on the list–is a better song than The Sounds Of Silence by Simon & Garfunkel–on the list. Or if we are to take its title for what it says the list is, it means Anger Is My Middle Name by Thor–not on the list–is a better song than Broken Wings by Mr. Mister–on the list. Let that one sink it. Kudos to the trolls who came up with this list. That is unless it was meant to be a parody of these kinds of lists. That’s probably a stretch. Regardless, it is amazing when you stop to think about it. This song was #20, mainly on the grounds that it was probably written with the music video in mind. That never happens.

All that said, there are far better Lionel Richie songs and music videos out there. I just happened to stumble upon this one the other day and it paired well with Opposites Attract that did a much better job being based off of an Old Hollywood movie–even if it did imply that Abdul has sexual relations with a cat.

Enjoy!

Footnote: One of the underlying themes behind Blender’s choices is whether the song offended them in some way, such as their portrayal of minorities. That’s rich considering one of their comments on Kokomo by The Beach Boys is:

“It’s all anodyne harmonizing and forced rhymes (“To Martinique, that Montserrat mystique!”) that would have driven Brian totally nuts had he not been totally nuts already.”

They also complain about We Didn’t Start The Fire by Billy Joel this way:

“Can you fit a cultural history of the twentieth century into four minutes? Uh, no

Despite its bombastic production, ‘We Didn’t Start the Fire’ resembles a term paper scribbled the night before it’s due. As the song progresses, Joel audibly realizes he can’t cram it all in: The ’70s get four bellowed words amid the widdly-woo guitars and meet-thy-maker drums. The chorus denies responsibility for any events mentioned, clearing up the common misconception that Billy Joel developed the H-bomb.

Worst Moment: “China’s under martial law, rock & roller cola wars!”: No way does conflating Tiananmen Square with Michael Jackson selling Pepsi trivialize a massacre.”

Truly, the period between 1949-1989 is the cultural history of a century.

Yes, it is weird that a song about Billy Joel’s memories of growing up in a world that was already filled with a history of horrible things would go from fine details to jumping over decades with mentions of only a few things from them. It’s almost as if when you grow older, the things that occurred when you were a child affected you more than the ones you encountered later in your life. Specifically, his list of events start to drop off exactly when he would have turned 21 in 1960. What followed was an uprising during a frightening period most visibly shot down by civil rights leaders being murdered and then a further clampdown on that period of change afterwards. Crackdowns on freedom and living under the threat of nuclear annihilation would be relevant to kids growing up in the 1980s. After that, it makes sense that he would lose track of events and just see them as horrors that his generation has left the next one despite attempts to change things. He would also go through them fast since that clampdown did occur so fast that America went in the span of ten years from Woodstock to Reagan being the president-elect.

Oh, and he mentions Watergate, Punk Rock, Menachem Begin, Former Governor Ronald Reagan starting his bid for the Presidency, Palestine (the Israeli-Palestine conflict was still going on after Begin was elected), the airplane hijackings of the 1970s, the rise of Ayatollah in Iran, and Russians invading Afghanistan. That’s four things from the 70s, right?

I can also understand how they could misunderstand the chorus that is interwoven with the events that occurred in the world that Joel grew up with, lived threw as a young man, and is now seeing a new generation inheriting along with new problems as meaning that there’s a denial of responsibility for those events. It’s almost as if the song takes you through the life of one person who lived through a period when even with large numbers of people uprising, it still only caused changes, but not an alteration to the trajectory of the world that continues to burn and appeared to only speed up after those changes.

Finally, I am truly offended that Joel would end the song with China being under martial law and Coke & Pepsi running ads using rock & roll stars to sell soda being mentioned back-to-back. Being so confused at the end that he says “I can’t take it anymore” bothers me. Rock and Roll being a driving force in causing people in communist countries to uprise during the 80s with that same genre being used to make people think the important battle in their life is between two types of sugar-water truly is to “trivialize a massacre.” The Tiananmen Square protests were also the height of the popularity of Chinese rocker Cui Jian when his song Nothing To My Name became an anthem for the protestors. That reminds me, one of these days I’ll have to review the 1989 Soviet film Gorod Zero where Rock and Roll is portrayed as the savior of their country.

Sorry, I just had to mention that here since I already did that music video before I found this amazingly ignorant list. I also wanted to mention it because it really makes me think that this was purely intended to troll people or outright parody these kinds of lists. I would love to have an actual copy of the magazine so I would have more context than text excerpts.