Thursday, May 16, 2013

How I Met Your Mother: “One Ticket to Farhampton, Please” Wrapping up Season 8 of How I Met Your Mother.

How do you feel about the Season 8 Finale of How I Met Your Mother. I wrote somewhere a few days back that if there wasn't at least a glimpse of Ted's future wife, I would be very disappointed.   I am not disappointed.  I am as far away from disappointment as one can be.

It had become obvious over the past week or so in the show previews and in the episodes leading up to the finale that Barney and Robin's wedding wasn't going to happen this season. It also meant that HIMYM was going to be deviating from their usual timeline.  This also meant that we would not witness Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor), meet the girl of his dreams this season. 

I have to admit that when I finally realized it wasn’t going to happen  I was disappointed.  If they delay the event out until the very end of Season 9, you’ll undoubtedly be on here reading about how pissed I am.  But I don’t think that’ going to happen.  Let’s hope not.  For now, all is well.

For the most part, much of Season 8 has been kind of just so-so cakes for me and didn’t really begin to find it’s way until The Time Travelers episode.  As I wrote several weeks ago, it was the first solid hint we just might meet the mysterious girl with the yellow umbrella.  Every story line since the end of that episode has been a set up for Something New.

As you’ll recall, in Romeward Bound, Lily was offered a job by The Captain to work for him in Rome for a year as an art advisor.  The Bro Mitzvah was Barney’s bachelor party which could be viewed as a throw away episode by some but not by me.   I’ll explain that momentarily.

In Something Old, Robin (Colby Smulders) was looking for a locket that she had buried in Central Park and Ted blew off an interview to help her search.  And by the end, it was obvious that Ted still hadn’t come to grips with the fact that his best friend was marrying a girl he still had strong feelings for. 

In the finale, all the plot points that happened in those episodes collided. 

When Lily (Alyson Hannigan) and Marshall (Jason Segal) had decided to move to Rome for a year, I surmised that before the season was over Marshall would be offered a judgeship.   He had interviewed it at the end of Episode 8, Twelve Horny Women.  Many times over the past 8 seasons, little incidents that happened at the end of certain episodes more often then not play a significant part in the season finale. Now the question is will Lily and Marshall go to Rome or will they stay in New York?  Or will Lily go to Rome while Marshall stays in New York and his mother comes to look after Marvin?  That’s a possibility, although I wouldn’t think that compromise is one that would last very long.

I have never felt that Barney and Robin could ever build a lasting relationship despite their impending marriage.  I’m not sure Barney can build a long term partnership with any woman.  But in the Bro Mitzvah, it became apparent that maybe Barney was right.  That Ted really doesn’t know Robin as well as he thinks he does.  I think Ted is so desirous of finding the right someone that he often sees Robin through rose colored glasses.   By that I mean, he see her the way he wants Robin to be, not the way she really is. 

It was Robin’s idea for the whole devious plan of making Barney’s bachelor party a complete disaster.   In Something New, the scenes between Barney and Robin trying to one up another couple, was the first time that I ever felt that this odd couple really might belong together. 

Consider this.  When Ted said that he would do anything to make Robin happy, that may be true.  Didn’t he blow off an important interview just to help her look for that locket? 

But let’s not confuse the willingness to always be there to do whatever you can to help someone you care about as being the same thing as knowing everything about that person or loving that person or even being compatible with that person.  Ted and Robin realized this years ago, in Season Three and although he now seems to regret it, it was probably the right choice for both of them.  But Robin was Ted’s first real love, and since each of his relationships since Robin have been disastrous, he’s trying desperately to recapture something that is undoubtedly gone forever.  But don’t blame Ted entirely.  Hasn’t Robin at times hinted that she was in love with Ted as well and when moments such as the one that took place in the park at the end of last week’s episode, Something Old, take place and she does little to discourage him?  The timing of these two has always been abysmal.

But I’ll go out on a limb and say that I don’t think Barney and Robin’s marriage will last if it does take place.  Despite their seeming compatibility they are also very much “me” type of people.   Everything is always more about themselves than what they can give each other.  Again we saw this last week when Barney continued to play laser tag and tuned himself out completely from Robin’s immediate needs.  And frankly, manipulation and practical jokes doe not exactly scream at me that either person will be there for the other during tough times.   And with marriage, there is always tough times ahead.  Barney is just too self-centered for a lasting relationship. 

So we didn’t get to the wedding, but how did I feel about the episode as a whole?  I loved it.  Each and every second of it.  Producers/Creators/Writers Carter Bays and Craig Thomas simply outdid themselves.  I can find absolutely not one thing wrong with the finale.  In fact, it ranks up there at the top as far as season finales I’ve seen of any series.

It is easily the best finale this show has ever had, even topping last year’s wedding surprise.   From the moment Ted said “I guess I’ll take the train” and we were instantly transported to the train station and “Farhampton” was spelled out on the departure/arrival board, I began to get chills down my spine.  As we saw the young girl’s boots traveling across the train station depot, you just knew this was going to be different.  And it was.

And in those brief seconds that she appeared on camera, you knew instantly that yes, this is the kind of girl Ted would want to live his life with.  And checking the internet and checking out other videos of actress Cristin Milioti, Carter/Bays may have pulled off one helluva casting coup for the 9th and final season.  Why don’t we just skip the summer and head right into September? 

Looking ahead, there are so many questions yet to be answered.  How will Lily/Marshall resolve the Rome/Judgeship dilemma.  It’s obvious Lily really wants to go to Rome.  But if Marshall doesn’t accept the judgeship, there’s a distinct possibility he may not get another chance.  And then again, maybe he will.   My prediction:  Look for Lily to find out at the last minute about Marshall’s job offer, but it won’t be from Marshall. 

We already know that Robin and Barney get cold feet on their wedding day.  Will they ever make it to the alter?  That’s a pretty big question still left unanswered.  It could go either way.  And will it be Ted playing the part of spoiler by giving the locket to Robin?   I’ll make my prediction with the caveat that I don’t feel very strongly about it but it’s what I came up with.. 

In order to get them down the altar, Ted will do what Ted always does and make a sacrifice.  He will either give the locket to Robin and tell her that it was Barney who helped locate it, or he will just give it to Barney to give to her.  So I guess they’ll tie the knot, but don’t be surprised if it doesn’t happen.

And will just meeting this girl stop Ted’s trip to Chicago?  I don’t know.  It’s still possible he could leave and come back quickly. 


Another unanswered question is that in the episode “Farhampton” that started season eight, we see Ted at the train depot with an injured hand.  Some of the speculation is that he gives the locket to Robin and then gets in a fight with Ted.  The best foreshadowing of this event came in an episode when Ted tried to give advice to Barney regarding Robin, and Barney flat out told him that he might not know Robin as well as he thinks he does.  Maybe he grows tired of Ted’s inability to move on.  All this is a possibility but I’m not buying into it.

There’s a lot to look forward to in Season 9.  The only way it could be mucked up is if Carter/Bays uses the 56 hours before the wedding and stretches it into weeks and weeks till seasons end.  I hope they put that rumor to rest real quick.

I would hope that once Ted and the mother finally meet, that we get to be with them as their relationship grows and is resolved to its inevitable conclusion to end the series with perhaps a flash forward to the future to fill us quickly in on what happened in the ensuing years.  I mean, just because he meets the mother doesn’t mean the path to lifelong happiness with her will be an easy one.   Reading some prognostications elsewhere, has everybody already forgotten that The Mother already has a live in boyfriend?   See there.  With this show, small details are always important.

What I read on one site is that they may just go back and begin telling the story from the mother’s viewpoint.  I think that would be a huge mistake and at this stage very unnecessary.  But the foundation has been laid for what could turn out to be one of the greatest final seasons of any series.  The rest is up to Carter and Bays.  Is it September yet?   


Amazon Prime announces new exclusive with NBC/Universal

This is definitely someothing for the better if you’re a fan of these series.  It’s been a long while since Netflix has added any really new releases besides their three made for Netflix exclusive series.  Most of the time, all we see is Netflix losing more and more content in both streaming and even more so in discs.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

For What It’s Worth: Need a loan? Maybe Melissa Joan Hart should hit up one of these guys or gals who make up the list of really rich celebrities.

I was browsing around over at Huffington Post and ran across a couple of items.

So if I was that bored, why didn’t I just write something for the blog?  I’ve posted several lengthy articles in the past few days and you really don’t want to risk getting yourself burned out.  I just have to wait until I’m ready.  I guess I’m ready.  So fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy night. 

As it turned out, one of the stories I read was an update.  If you read my post last week about Clarissa the Teenage Witch Who Explains It All, you know that poor Melissa Joan Hart was out there pounding the pavement trying to drum up support using Kickstarter to finance a film for herself to star in. 

If you read that article, then you obviously remember my comments about Ms. Hart and that I found it hypocritical for her to be begging for cash from the peasants after she supported Mitt Romney for the presidency.  You remember Mitt don’t you?  He’s the guy who was Yale’s top quote of the year with this gem.

There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what … who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims. … These are people who pay no income tax. … and so my job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.

Now there’s a reason why I highlighted that last sentence.  Apparently Ms. Sabrina/Clarissa Hart feels that taking responsibility means asking for handouts from all of us useess victims out here who want nothing from the government except handouts.   But if the government is where (according to Mitt) is where all of us get our money, wasn’t she asking for a government handout by proxy?

I say “was” because all of this is now in the past tense.  It seems that when donations weren’t forthcoming, Ms. Hart decided to give up on the idea and will have to settle for another season of slumming with Joey Lawrence.  She had hoped to raise two million, but only raised $51000 from just over 300 donors.  So either those who donate money to Kickstarter Projects thought she had absolutely no potential as a leading lady on the big screen, thought that making a movie solely to jump start your never was movie career wasn’t a good idea, or even possibly like me they remember that she supported Mr. 47 per cent.

But hey, as I said last week, there’s always that tell all book she’s got waiting in the wings.  I’m dying to find out all the inner secrets of Salem Saberhagen just as I’m sure you are.  Well, maybe not that.   I’d rather take a chance on Alison Arngrim’s Prairie Bitch book. 

Let me clarify something here.  How many movies Ms. Hart makes or where she gets the money does not matter to me one bit.   I only felt that if she was going to go the handout route, her hypocrisy should also be mentioned so everybody could make an informed decision of their own before opening their pocket book.

That being said, should the book not work out though, there’s one other avenue Ms. Hart can travel down in an attempt to secure her two million.  Below you’ll find a list of some of the highest salaries in the entertainment industry.  I’m sure one or two of them could be looking for a good investment.  Maybe she can hook up with another Romney supporter named Clint Eastwood and even convince him to direct the thing. 

He’s worth $375 million so conjuring up $2 million for what will obviously be an epic unlike any we’ve seen in recent years should be no problem.  Just don’t leave any empty chairs sitting around.  He might get distracted and start carrying on a conversation with them. 

Then there’s J.K. Rowling.  She wrote all those books about wizards.  Ms. Hart played a witch.  Isn’t that pretty close to being the same thing?  Or maybe not.

Anyway, good luck to you Ms. Hart.  Give my regards to Joey and the Cat.  Here is the celebrity value chart, which is the real reason we’re here.  All the Sabrina stuff was just a distraction to get you here.


Monday, May 13, 2013

Meet The Mother: Cristin Milioti

CBS has confirmed that the actress shown in tonight’s episode is indeed the mother of “How I Met Your Mother.”  I’ll be writing more about this later (much more).  Congratulations to all involved for doing a great job of keeping it a secret.

From The Hollywood Reporter:

Identified only as "The Girl with the Yellow Umbrella," the actress playing the mother and set to figure prominently in the series' final season in Cristin Milioti. Speculation about who would be cast in the role has come up with nearly every female guest star to join the series -- though this is a first appearance for Milioti.

Red herrings have been par for the course since the series first started teasing the big mystery, but a CBS rep confirms to The Hollywood Reporter that Milioti is indeed the actress playing the future bride of Ted (Josh Radnor). No other details about her addition were available at the time.

Milioti is likely best known for her Tony-nominated performance in the stage production of Once, though her TV credits are many. She recurred as Johnny Sack's daughter Catherine on The Sopranos and became a top Google search in 2011 when she played a foil to Tina Fey's Liz Lemon in the 30 Rock episode, "TGS Hates Girls."

And while How I Met Your Mother may have introduced Milioti's character at the tail-end of the episode, at the conclusion of a montage showing the series' core five cast members en route to Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) and Robin's (Cobie Smulders) wedding, the show held of on introducing her to anyone more than the audience. Milioti and Radnor shared no scene in the episode.

Co-creators and executive producers Craig Thomas and Carter Bays have previously confirmed that official meeting of Ted and The Girl With the Yellow Umbrella will take place after the wedding, as the season eight premiere teased.

The Mother

Clyde's Movie Palace: Beach Party (1963)

Written by Lou Rusoff
Directed by William Asher

I’m not sure if there’s any real purpose to revisiting the Beach Party movies.  I don’t remember them as being very good, and in most cases my memory banks have been implanted with the recognition that they were a terrible way to spend about an hour and a half.  But then again is it fair to write about them as if they were any other film of any other genre you might watch at the movies or on DVD?   The Muscle Bikini Beach Blanket Party Movies were strictly a product of their time.   Approaching them in that manner may be the only way one could possibly give them a fair trial.
Beach Party, and it’s four follow ups and endless  imitators, had one single minded goal:  Entice  hot blooded American teens out of their homes and downtown to the theater, or out to the drive-in movie so that the studio could make a quick profit on films that gave new meaning to the words, “shoestring budget.”   

They did achieve their stated purpose for a while until even teenagers and young adults began to tire of the repetitiveness, lack of originality, and because there were other more pressing things to worry about from the mid sixties to the early seventies.  There was a party of a different kind going on over in Southeast Asia known as the Vietnam War, and you never knew when Uncle Sam was going to give you an invitation to pack your gear, grab your gun, and head over to become one of tens of thousands lambs to the slaughter to come home in a body bag.  And believe me, it weighed heavily on a lot of kids, including myself as the death toll climbed endlessly upward with no end in sight.  Kind of hard to be interested in Frankie and Annette frolicking on the beach with that hanging over your head.

I’m also a firm believer that if you are a true film buff, you should watch at least one of these films, maybe two because they are part of a bygone era and in a way are their own commentary on the times from which they sprung.  So not having seen Beach Party in probably thirty or more years, and with one of its stars, Annette Funicello having passed away recently, I decided to make use of my Amazon Prime Membership and take another look to see if aging like a fine wine would make me see it in a new light. 

Frankie “No Last Name” (Frankie Avalon) and Dolores “No Last Name” (Annette Funicello) two clean cut All American Kids (ages 24 and 21 respectively) head to the beach to spend some quality alone time together.  Dolores appears to be brimming with anticipation.  But appearances can sometimes be deceiving. 

Dolores:  It’s just you and me.  All alone. Frankie:  Exactly.
It’s just like we’re married.Frankie:  Exactly

Frankie is a man who expresses himself in as  few  words as possible with as few syllables that he can get by with.  It also does away with the Shakespearean theory that brevity is the soul of wit.  But I’m not sure that Frankie’s “exactly” is on the same page as Dolores.  Reading between the lines, one can sense she’s hinting at something a little more substantial than a quick rendezvous between the sheets. 

Frankie literally swoops Dolores off her feet to carry her across the threshold as if they had  just tied the knot for real at the Elvis chapel in Vegas.
Dolores:  Like there’s nobody else in the whole world.
That’s right.  Nobody else. 
Just you and me.  (and as they cross the threshold) just you and me.
Frankie:  Exactly.
Where have I heard that conversation before?  Oh yeah, about a minute and a half ago.  At this point Frankie plants a big wet one on Annette then proceeds to tumble and stumble over the other great big bunch of nobody else’s laying around the cabin.  The other nobody’s are beach creatures and cretins named Deadhead (Jody McCrea), Ken (John Ashley), Tommy (Bob Payne), Big Boy (Duane Arment), and a few miscellaneous muscle bound meat heads laying wrapped around each other on a mattress on the floor.  No, this isn’t a 60’s version of Brokeback Beach Bums.   Get real.

Not that it wouldn’t have been such a bad idea.   And honestly, who knows what was REALLY going on before Dolores and Frank arrived for their pretend almost like being in holy dreadlock honeymoon.   
It doesn’t take long for Frankie to put two and two together and figure out that it was Dolores who invited every surfer east of Hawaii along for the pretend honeymoon after the pretend wedding.  No, she isn’t into share and share alike.  This is Annette in the 60’s we’re talking about so get your mind out of the 21st century gutter. 

“I didn’t want you to get lonely,” she tells Frankie.  So much for Frankie’s “Exactly” but you didn’t  have to be a clairvoyant to figure that one out. 

Frankie thought the main summer course would be a giant serving of Dolores, while she considered herself no more than an appetizer at best. 

“You know it’s more fun with the whole gang,” she tells him. 
“Not for what I had in mind,” he retorts. 

Dolores views the extra companions she invited as protection because “when we’re alone, I just don’t trust myself with you.”  Being left alone could lead to all kinds of problems down the road, such as a little Frankie Jr. running around with his little
Frankie Jr. surfboard wearing his little Annette mouse ears.  My suggestion would have been to dispense with the surfer dudes,  head over to the nearest pharmacy and say hello to Mr. Trojan.  And just to be a bit safer than only having a few safes, they could have requested that their doctor scribble a prescription for those new fangled birth control pills put on the market just three years before this crowd headed to their ocean front property.

Oh wait,
Annette was Catholic.  Just strike everything out of your mind all the way back to where I wrote “My suggestion.”  I guess what it boils down to is whether or not any of those options would be a whole lot cheaper and easier than the care, feeding, and beer drinking of every surfer dude  on your party list.

Frankie chases Dolores around the room threatening to put an end to the surfer sleepover when he stumbles through some blankets hanging on a rope that are hiding…yep, you guessed it.  A mattress and bed full of
pajama clad shapely females.   These would be the surfer dudettes.

Later everybody heads out to the sand and the surf.  The guys grabbing their surfboards to capture some tasty waves, while some of the girls sit around not doing much of anything except reading.  
It’s also obvious to anybody that a major crack has developed in the Dolores and Frankie’s relationship.  They will spend the majority of the rest of the movie glaring and scowling at each other, their friends, and anybody in between.  

We finally do get to see some real life honest to goodness surfing.  And like all of these movies there’s the real kind, and the studio in front of a blue screen kind.  The latter being the method of choice for young Frankie which helped keep American International Pictures insurance premiums to a minimum.

Interestingly, there actually are some real lady surfers in these scenes.  There are even girls and guys on the same surfboard catching a wave or two together.  So why were Dolores and her friends left to stagnate on the Beach?  I don’t know, unless producers Arkoff and Nicholson couldn’t find any stunt doubles that resemble Annette.  After all, Ms. Funicello was one of a kind and there are no substitutes.  It doesn’t explain why they didn’t put her in front of a blue screen along with boyfriend Frankie though.  Oh I forgot.  They’re in full blown contemptible glare and stare mode.  Still, maybe another blue screen set up just wasn’t in the budget. 

Unbeknownst to the surfers, surfettes, and girls on the beach, they are all being photographed, filmed, spied on, and eavesdropped on by one Professor Sutwell (Bob Cummings with a ridiculous shaggy beard).  He is aided by his assistant, Marianne (Dorothy Malone), who may be the only sane person in this film.  Sutwell claims he is studying Developmental Biology in Human Beings.  Marianne thinks he is just a peeping tom getting his rocks off from watching females get their tan on.   
Sutwell wants to write a book with the title The Behavior Pattern of the Young Adult and It’s Relation to Primitive Tribes.

I suppose so, but that’s a lot of words to get on the cover of one book.  I like Marianne’s idea better.  Her title is “Teenage Sex.”  Eventually they’ll settle on The Sutwell Report, a best seller if there ever was one. 
Sutwell:  You know Marianne, it’s fascinating how the behavior patterns of these young people are similar to the other tribes we’ve observed.
Oh come on, Professor, these are just normal American Kids.
Sutwell:  American? Yes.  Normal? No.  Marianne, they’re a true subculture.  They live in a society as primitive as the Aborigine of New Guinea.  Now listen to this.  Quickly. (He hands her the headphones to listen to some surfer talk).
Voice 1: 
Can you dig his action?Voice 2:  His action?  He was hanging ten when he was trying to shoot the pier.  And dinged his board just when he took air.
  Maybe you’ve got a point.
Sutwell:  You bet I have.
Marianne agrees to help him under one condition.  After Sutwell writes his book on sex, he has to read it, live it, and learn it.  As for the Aborigine of New Guinea, I don’t know if they ever saw this particular Beach Bamboozle Movie, but I’m sure implying they are as primitive as the American Teenager would be a huge insult to them.  There is nothing as primitive as the American teen.  Not then.  Not now.  Not ever.  It’s in our genes to be primitive teenagers before we become primitive adults.

Thanks to Sutwell’s eavesdropping, we find out what Dolores’s real problem with Frankie is when she lets the cat out of the bag to her friend Rhonda (Valora Noland). 
Dolores (to Rhonda):  Did it ever occur to you that there’s something else in life besides getting a boy.
Rhonda:  Like what?
What’s the problem.  Is Frankie giving you the cold treatment or something?  You can’t really blame him.  He brought you down here to be alone and you turn the place into a teenage flophouse. 
Well, at the last minute I got cold feet.
Rhonda:  I wish somebody had wild times for me. 
Dolores:  I want Frankie to think of me as more than just a girl
There’s something else?
Dolores:  Yes, a wife.
A wife?  You’re not even a woman!
Dolores:  But I’m close.  And I’m not getting any closer until I’m a wife
I wonder what she meant by that?  Just how close and chummy did Frankie and Dolores get?  Second base?  Third Base?  And why didn’t we pick up on that little throwaway comment back in the 60’s?  What you’ll find out is that there are a lot of little things like that going on in this movie that seems to have gone unnoticed over the years.

Unbeknownst to Dolores, but known to us through the courtesy of some more of Sutwell’s eavesdropping, we learn that Frankie really does love Dolores more than just wanting to become her sex instructor.   With the help of the intellectual prowess of his surfing buddies, he hatches a plan to win Dolores back.  

The plan:  He’ll  lavish attention on Hungarian Goulash bombshell bar dancer, Ava, played by Marilyn Monroe wannabe but no way in your wildest dreams is that ever going to happen, Eva Six.

The gang gets together at “Big Daddy’s” to rock to the tunes of Dick Dale and the Del Tones, they are secretly joined by Professor Sutwell who wants to do some first hand undercover research, and later joined not so secretively by Erick Von Zipper (Harvey Lembeck), motorcycle gang leader of the Mice (the girls) and the Ratz (the guys).  And if you were hoping Von Zipper was the next Brando, Parks, or Fonda, you’ve just been punked.  Zip spends a lot of time telling his disciples how stupid they are, overlooking the fact that he’s the most incompetent one of the bunch.  I guess that’s supposed to be some kind of comedic irony but who would notice in a movie like this?

I’m not sure if you can say that Frankie’s mindless jealousy gambit really works.  But we do get to watch as he works up a sweat with three or four of the gals besides favored hot tamale Ava.  Dolores mostly sits at her table and fumes, but I’m not sure she is jealous so much as she is pissed off.  When she gets up to leave, she stumbles right into the lap of Von Zipper, who develops an instant crush, much to the chagrin of Dolores.  But have no fear.  Sutwell manages to rescue her simply by giving Erick the finger.  Yeah, you read that right.  See the movie for details.

And now that Sutwell has become her knight in shining armor,  Dolores develops an instant infatuation with the grizzled faced professor.  I think it’s the Florence Nightingale effect that Doc Brown taught us about in Back to the Future.  Now you know why it’s important to know your film history.  Where else can you learn about psychology in particular and life in general in such an entertaining environment? 

With the tables turned, it’s Frankie who is consumed by the Big Green Jealousy Monster when Sutwell offers to walk Dolores home.
At first, Dolores mistakenly believes the professor thinks his good deed should be rewarded by her doing more than giving thanks.  Like, maybe the almost a woman thing.
SutwellDolores, I’ve got to confess something to you.  You’ve suddenly become very important to me.  And I’m interested in finding out more about you. 
You see I’m an explorer.  (makes a motion with his hands) I explore.  You understand.
(Sarcastically)  Yes, I understand.
You’re my first contact. 
(Turning away)  Really?  At your age?
Sutwell:  Yes.  And to men of my age first contacts are terribly important.
Oh I know.  Contacts the most important thing in the whole world.
Well, I wouldn’t exactly say that. 
Dolores:  (Turning back around, surprised) You wouldn’t?
(Chuckling)  No.  Dolores:  You’re so right!  I guess old men seem to always know so much more.
There you go.  I knew there was something I really liked about Dolores besides the fact that she’s pretty when she pouts.  She hit the nail on the head.
Sutwell:  Oh, I don’t know.  We old codgers make mistakes too you know.
Okay, so what does that old coot know?  If he’s so smart, why is he stuck in a movie like this with a bunch of overage overripe teen heartthrobs instead of still working for Hitchcock?  And from the Beach the old coot will land back on TV in  a series nobody remembers to this day except that Julie Newman was a pretty hot robot in it.  

Dolores:  Not very often I bet.  You’re so distinguished and you study people.
Sutwell:  Yes, that I do.
Dolores:  Are you a doctor, like “Dr. Shootser”
Sutwell:  W..w…well when I…Dr Shootser?
Dolores:  Yes!
Sutwell:  Wait a minute.  Don’t you mean, Dr. Schweitzer.
Dolores:  Oh, is that his name?
Sutwell:  Yes, I think he’s still using it.  You see..
Dolores:  And you’re so exciting.
I’m not even going to comment on the higher educational system of the early sixties.  Unbeknownst (there’s an amazing amount of Unbeknownst in this movie) to lovesick Dolores and not so lovesick Sutwell, Frankie and friends are eavesdropping.  And no, they aren’t studying Developmental Biology in Human Beings like the professor.  They just want to make sure Dolores isn’t giving away any almost a woman free samples before Frankie has a chance to test drive the merchandise himself, thus letting Dolores graduate from being “almost” to the real deal.

Dolores agrees to help the Professor with his research.  Only I think that Dolores still believes he’s studying female anatomy, and not social behavior of primitive tribes.  Then again, when any of us get in between the sheets we can all be a little primitive at times. 

But the fact is, for most of the movie, you’ll never really know if Dolores is really smitten with the Professor, whether Sutwell is becoming Smitten with Dolores although he is adamant he is not (despite blowing her a kiss), or whether neither one of them are actually smitten with one another although Frankie is sure they have both fallen in love.  What we do know, and the only ones who seems to know what’s on their own mind are the assistant Marianne and Erick Von Zipper.  Strike that.  Erick Von Zipper has no mind so it’s impossible for anything to occupy it. 

Frankie confronts the Professor over Dolores and threatens to punch his lights out because he loves her and wants to drag her off on his surfboard.  Frankie has it out with Dolores, professes his undying love to her just seconds before she finds out that he did the same thing on the beach with the Hungarian Meathead…..I mean meatball….I mean stew….uh…Ava.  It’s also the first time and only time in the movie that I hear Frankie call Dolores, Dee-dee, so now I can dispense with that Dolores horseshit for the rest of this review. 

After this movie, the Dolores name would be dumped entirely  and it would just be Dee Dee for the sequels.  Except one time when she played in her Pajama's with Tommy Kirk and here name was Connie.   By the time Ski Party rolled around, Annette was a college professor and Frankie was chasing after somebody else. 

Dee-dee sings a duet “Treat Him Nicely” with herself in a mirror although we never see both Dee Dee’s at the same time.  No room in the budget for that special effect. 

Dee Dee continues her fling with Professor Wire Brush while trying to convince him it’s time to mow the lawn growing under his chin.   Frankie tries to escape the clutches of Ava.  Marianne overhears Sutwell and Dee Dee which kind of pisses her off.  Von Zipper seeks to extract revenge on Sutwell for giving him the finger and mucks it up.  Then thanks to misinterpreting a situation, something that has happened but ten or fifteen times up to now,  everybody becomes convinced that the Professor and Dee Dee are doing the nasty.  But wait!  There’s more!   Much more!  And we haven’t even gotten to the airplane ride yet!

But unfortunately for you this isn’t an infomercial, and you’ll have to find out how this mess finally irons itself out.  And let’s not forget the most pressing question of the whole film.  Who is Big Daddy, why is he here, and what earth shattering life changing secret will he reveal to us all?  And does any of this stuff really matter? 

I do have that answer for you and it’s a resounding no.  Not one iota.  There are half hour TV sitcoms from the sixties with more plot depth, twists and turns than this.  And if anybody should know, director William Asher would. 

Asher, whom was best known for his television career, brought the same type of good clean wholesome brainless fun to the big screen that served him well on a weekly basis.  He also brought the same kind of low brow comedy shenanigans that might have worked well on a 19 inch black and white portable TV every week with him.  Blown up on the big screen and extended to an hour and 40 minutes, sitcom sensibilities are not so hot.  

His biggest hit was Bewitched, which ran for eight years and starred his wife at the time, Elizabeth Montgomery.  His film career consisted mostly of directing the five beach movies.  He also directed Fireball 500 which was sort of like a beach movie without the beach.  These films were made fast and cheap, and that’s the real reason Asher was hired.  He didn’t really bring anything innovative or worthwhile to the Beach Movies, and if that’s a bit harsh, sometimes the truth is what it is.  The formula worked through five films:  Cheap + Fast + Mostly Stupid = Early Sixties Teens $$$$$$$. Yes, it was successful as far as that went.  But as with anything, how much more successful could they have been with just a little bit of effort?

As for Frankie and Annette, let’s be honest.  They weren’t signed to do these pictures because of their thespian abilities.  That’s not to say that either star was lacking completely in talent in that regard, it just means that these pictures didn’t require that attribute on your resume.   You  just had to look good in a swimsuit. 

However, they did bring some other things to the Beach that  some actors and actresses never achieve in a lifetime.

First, was name recognition.  Everybody knew who Frankie Avalon was, as he had already become a teen idol, and Annette was so popular in the 50’s and 60’s, you didn’t even have to use her last name.  Teens could already identify with them.  When you talked about “Annette” it goes without saying that she was one of a kind and you simply dispensed with the Funicello part.  To those of us who grew up with her, she always will be just Annette.

What they also brought to the screen was the likability factor.  As far as that goes, Frankie and Annette’s cup did runneth over.  Having just watched the film again for the first time in probably thirty or forty years, that may be it’s biggest asset.

For Robert Cummings and Dorothy Malone, this was probably nothing more than an opportunity for a quick paycheck.  The entire film shoot only lasted three weeks, and they couldn’t have been needed for more than half that time.  Malone even less as her role is much smaller. 

But they were professionals, and you never get the sense that they thought the material was beneath them.  In fact, they appear to be having as much fun as Frankie, Annette, and even Harvey Lembeck.  My biggest gripe is that the whole silly business of turning Cummings into a bearded bespectacled geek wasn’t necessary.  It gets worse when later in the movie he is forced to wear the stupidest hat ever concocted for any film since Carmen Miranda wore a fruit basket on her head.  Then to top off the indignities, they had poor Bob wear the weeniest bathing suit since Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis were in drag for Some Like It Hot.   All of this nonsense was both an unnecessary detraction and a distraction.

Here’s why.  Annette, under the cockamamie direction of Asher, spends much of the first half of the film looking sour and dour.  This of course is because she’s supposed to be feuding with Frankie, although Frankie gets to have a ball surfing, dancing, singing, and necking with Ava.  (Asher:  Frankie, you go have some fun.  Annette, you sit on the beach and look like your puppy died.)  It comes off as a double standard, but in the early sixties, wasn’t everything?  Come to think of it, it’s a problem we still have to this day and if your friendly GOP representative has his way ladies, you can count on having it etched into law.

There is almost zero chemistry between the two of them through much of  the movie, but since they made four more of them, I guess they got their act together later.  I do know after watching the first ten or fifteen minutes of Muscle Beach Party that they do let Annette finally get on a surfboard.  But, seeing as how Netflix has failed me again by removing it from streaming and not having it available on disc, I probably won’t get to finish that one.   

It’s not until Professor Sutwell rescues her from the mitts of Erick Von Zipper that she actually gets a chance to act and show that indeed, ex-mousketeers do have a pulse.  If the whole older guy good looking professor story had been exploited throughout the picture instead of waiting until the film is half over, it would have been far more interesting.  In fact, I didn’t time it, but I do believe that Dolores spends more time conversing with Sutwell than she does with Frankie during the entire movie.  And their conversations are far more entertaining then any of the other dialog stitched into the screenplay. 

So I guess that brings me to Harvey Lembeck’s Erick Von Zipper.  I suppose the whole inept motorcycle gang leader was funny in the sixties, but paint me as having missed the boat then and now.  I just wanted the whole bit done and over with.  And hey, I have nothing against low brow slapstick.  But it has to have a certain amount of surprise and innovation to it.   The whole Zipper thing has none of that and is just a bore.  Take one gag, and repeat 50 times is the philosophy at work here.  It’s not even worthy of being Larry, Curley, and Moe stuff. 

But Lembeck hung around for four more films, so there must have been something totally hilarious that I’ve missed over the years.  No, it’s just that once they had tried the formula for this film and it seemed to work, why mess with success for the sequels?  

On the other hand, there is the chance that the whole giving the finger bit was a sly double meaning thumb nosing at adults.  I have no way of knowing and since none of the participants left alive are on my doorstep for me to interview, we may never know if such a thing was intentional or unintentional.  Either way, it doesn’t make it any less dull. 

I bring this up because there were other times during the film when it seemed to be winking at the audience it was intended for.   Some of the up close and personal guy/gal surfing maneuvers like the one pictured here went on far too long to be just a coincidence.  But you watch the movie and judge for yourself, along with this picture.  

After watching the sequence several times, I don’t think he ever intended to put that girl on his shoulders although I think that was the idea.  The waves weren’t that high, and a far cry from Waimea.  But he rode her all the way to shore like that as if he was the Lone Ranger on Silver.   

Then there was the sequence of events that had me watch the following segment five or six times.   During one of the musical numbers by Dick Dale and the Del Tones, we see Frankie and his friends seated around the table passing something around.  I don’t care if it was just a cigarette, although there is no indication that it was.  What is obvious is that if you’re paying attention, they were once again either having some fun with their target audience (teenagers), or perhaps they were just trying to put one over on Asher to see what they could get away with.  I kind of hope it’s the latter, because I have this picture of the actors getting together later and going into hysterics at their “prank”.  Frankie Avalon probably knows, but I can find nothing to explain it anywhere.  The closest I got was this discussion on IMDB when some Eagle eyed  viewers caught the same thing I did when they watched the film on Turner Classic Movies.  I’ll let you decide for yourself.

There is one cast member whom I have the utmost respect for.  That’s Jody McCrea, who would play the same character throughout the series (although somehow Deadhead becomes Bonehead for How to Stuff A Wild Bikini).  Think of Deadhead as being Jethro Beaudine with 75 per cent less brain power.  Doing it in one film is bad enough, but reprising the character four more times and totally killing any chance at all of a decent acting career would have been torture if it had been me.  Along with Bob Cummings, he was the only other cast member who could actually surf, although that ability wasn’t utilized here at all for either actor.

I don’t know if Eva Six could surf but my guess would be probably not.  I don’t think surfing was a thing in Budapest back in the day.  She had starred with Avalon in a film called Operation Bikini before appearing here.  She has one more film to her credit, a small part in 4 For Texas with Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, and then that’s all she wrote for Eva Six.  What happened after that?  Your guess is as good as mine.    

Speaking of under utilized, you have one of the quickest,  sharpest tongued  comediennes and comedy writers in 1960’s Hollywood with Morey Amsterdam, and then you give him absolutely nothing to do?  To make matters worse, you then dress him up in some idiotic dipshit hats and outfits just as you did Cummings.  Why even bother putting him in the film?  Honestly, sometimes I wish I could time travel and go back and give someone a piece of my mind.  Or just find out what in the hell somebody was thinking.  Here’s a small bit of minutiae for you though:  Morey Amsterdam would later co-star in a segment of The Love Boat with Annette, along with his co-star from The Dick Van Dyke Show, Rose Marie.

Will somebody tell me what the hell was the appeal of Candy Johnson?  In this movie she is listed as “Perpetual Motion Dancer.”  In subsequent films she was given full credit as “Candy.”  And she dances.   In a go go dress with yards of fringe.  And then she dances some more.  And even after all these years I just don’t get it.  So explain it to me.  When the Beach movies were done, so was she.  Ms. Johnson passed away in October of 2012 with no other credits to her name that I can find.

But I guess that’s one of the reasons I watch this stuff.   It’s so I can give it the attention I didn’t give it way back when which enables me to correct my misconceptions and rehash some old ones.   I didn’t hate Beach Party in this viewing the way I did the first time I saw it when it aired on network television.  And despite Beach Party having graduated from the 1963 class of lameness and brainless, I got quite a bit of enjoyment watching the cast go through their paces and checking out the old pros and some young upstarts.  

It was fun seeing Cummings and Malone carry on like the troopers they were.  I especially enjoyed Malone, who won a best supporting actress award for some stellar work in Written on the Wind and played a trapped housewife in one of my favorite but mostly forgotten disaster type movies, The Last Voyage.  In the next year, Malone would helm the TV version of Peyton Place. (a book, a movie, and a series I hope to get to in the future).   Cummings,  was no slouch either, having done some good work on TV and  in Hitchcock’s Dial M for Murder.  His scenes with Annette are good, but could have been better.  Maybe he should have put the plane on auto-pilot and they could have ditched Frankie forever.  Besides Dial M, Cummings starred and co-starred in numerous  other films such as My Geisha with Shirley MacLaine, again with MacLaine in What A Way To Go, and as a smarmy embezzler in a remake of Stagecoach.

Now I’m told that Harvey Lembeck was great on The Phil Silvers/Sgt. Bilko show.  I cannot attest to that fact one way or the other at this time, but I will check into it.  It’s a series that I only have very vague memories of.  But what’s good for the army isn’t necessarily good for the beach.

I was also under the impression that Annette Funicello had never worn so much as a two piece suit until later in the series or even showed her navel.  This film proves the point that just because something becomes legend (check her out in the marquee at the top of the page), it doesn’t mean that’s exactly what happened.  But for that matter, just about all the swim suits in this film are very tame compared to some of the bikinis that would show up in future films.

And if you’re watching and waiting for the unveiling of the mysterious Big Daddy, and his big revelation, I can only say that who he is was more impressive than the words that actually come out of his mouth.

Watching Beach Party and trying to put all these half asshenanigans into their proper perspective, I enjoyed myself and would recommend any true film buff to do the same.  That doesn’t mean it’s a good film.  Far from it.  You will find a couple of handfuls of little things that will probably bring a smile to your face, and other things that probably weren’t meant to be laughed at but you will anyway.  Being a true film buff does not mean you get to sit down to Casablanca or Citizen Kane every night.  And if IMDB ratings are any indication, then this was not only the beginning, but it was also the best of a pretty lame bunch with it’s lofty 5.5 out of ten rating. 

But my rating is the only one that counts here.  All things considered, how should I rate thee?     Wait a minute.  Hold on.  Big Daddy is about to speak some words of wisdom.  And what does he say? 
Big Daddy says, C-.  I won’t argue with the Big Daddy!  And one last thing before I go.  Those who think many of these older films good and bad will always be easily accessible better think again.  Some of the Beach Party movies are already out of print.  Just yesterday Netflix pulled what they had from instant streaming, and it may be that Amazon did as well.  I’m tempted to get the Box Set, because I really would have liked to do a write up of Ski Party, which was may favorite of all these films.  But I’ll mull that over.

This trailer, as many of them do, make the film appear much better than it is.







Box Office Report 5-12-2013: Gatsby Overcomes Prognosticators Predictions of Doom & Gloom. Ironman? Do you even have to ask?

From Rope of Silicon:

For some reason I think Mamma Mia is a more predictive film, it opened around $28 million back in 2008. The lowest possible number for The Great Gatsby is something like Romeo + Juliet's $16 million opening (adjusted for inflation). The highest number is in the upper $40s, mostly due to sheer marketing might. I enjoyed the film, but it's certainly long, and it's tough to think it will spark male ticket-buying interest, especially with Iron Man 3 and Pain & Gain still on the board.
My Gatsby prediction lands at $35 million against the $40 million tracking number. Care to dream higher?

From Forbes:

Iron Man 3 isn’t remotely terrible and The Great Gatsby isn’t traditional counter-programming.  Yes it’s a literary period piece drama in a summer of fantasy adventures, but it’s also a $120 million 3D spectacle.   Correlation isn’t causation,  but history is not on the side of Baz Luhrmann’s latest adaptation. Obviously the film may very well under-perform in the states only to flourish overseas. But purely from a domestic point of view, it seems beyond odd that Warner Bros. seems to keep tempting fate by attempting to open expensive summer movies during a period where audiences have rejected their pictures in favor of the summer kick-off film again and again. If the pattern holds, The Great Gatsby is doomed.

From Daniel’s Film Reviews:

The main appeal for the young’ns, I think, is Leo DiCaprio.  DiCaprio’s movies have an average opening of $22.28M, and the rest of the cast includes Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan, Isla Fisher and Joel Edgerton; and it is directed by a man of style, Baz Luhrmann. The 3D might also help the movie make a little extra money. Similar movies open to an average $23.14 million. This hardly stands a chance at beating Iron Man 3 this weekend, but I expect a healthy opening between Robin Hood‘s $36.06M opening and Shutter Island’s $41.06M, so I’ll go with $39,198,750.
From Yahoo Movies:

When Baz Luhrmann announced that he would helm "The Great Gatsby," with Leonardo DiCaprio playing the title character, it was a buckle-your-seat-belt moment in movie history. Could the Australian director of "Moulin Rouge" finally pull off the literary adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic about the American dream, a vision that has eluded so many before him?
Well, after much delay, fanfare, and cross-promotion, it appears that Luhrmann's $104.5 million 3-D adaptation is in serious trouble. Here are the 10 reasons why we think "The Great Gatsby" may be the summer's first great disappointment.

I just love it when all the soothsayers are so so wrong, and with these predictions they didn't really come close.  In case you haven’t heard, Gatsby did come in at number two as expected, but it did so with $50 million dollars thus astounding the experts and critics alike.  Take that Michael Bay!

I especially loved that last article by some yahoo from Yahoo which gave us not one but ten reasons why Gatsby was in world of hurt at the box office and destined to fail. So instead of just being wrong, that particular writer, Thelma Adams, was wrong in ten different ways.

And now you know why I stay away from Yahoo.  Until I did my google search, I was surprised to find out they still had writers, let alone internet traffic.

But those I presented to you are only a few of a whole boat
load of wrongness out there for you to devour because both you and I knew better didn’t we?  Do a search for predictions regarding Gatsby that were made before this weekend, and they are all pretty much the same. I don't know why but I get the feeling there are a lot of people out there that just don't get Baz Luhrmann. Or don't like him. Or both.  

Not me. I love
Baz Luhrmann films because you know you're going to get hit right between the eyes with some different, something imaginative, and usually something unexpected. The first Luhrmanm film I saw in a theater was Moulin Rouge. I went in expecting to hate it, and came out loving it.  It’s one of my favorite musicals. 

His last film, Australia, didn't do well financially. But I liked it. My girlfriend liked it. But it was a film meant to be viewed on the biggest screen possible. Watching at home on a small screen, I can imagine one would just shrug their shoulders and move on. In the theater, it was magnificent.

If you've recently upgraded to a 60 inch screen or larger, and have some stellar surround sound equipment, get the blu-ray of Australia and try again.

I actually came close to seeing Gatsby today. I had to go into town to get a part for our evaporator (more commonly referred to around here as a swamp cooler), and gave serious thought to going. But I dallied with
my Annette article for too long this morning and got a late start so that pretty much put the kibosh on that.

Iron Man took in another $73 million here at home. Between that and it's international take of $664 million, it is only $50 million shy of a billion dollars. Like I said last week, Marvel and Disney better do what they can to keep Downey around for The Avengers with those kind of numbers.

The rest of the box office wasn't too rosy for the also rans. Michael Bay's Pain & Gain held onto the number three spot, but only with a paltry $5 million dollar take. I wonder what it's like for Bay to be at the bottom of the well looking up at Iron Man and Gatsby and being able to kiss Leonardo DiCaprio’s ass?  There’s a big difference between Michael Bay and Baz Luhrmann.  Luhrmann is the one that actually has talent.

Tyler Perry Presents Peeples managed to sneak into the number four spot, but only because  the rest of the top ten had already plundered the box office over the past month or so.  However, Perry didn’t star in nor did he direct Peeples.  And if he saw the same trailor for his film that I did, he was probably thanking his lucky stars.  I imagine having his name attached to that turkey makes him feel as bad as well, when Quentin Tarantino lent his name to awful The Man With The Iron Fists.

How bad did number’s three through eight really do?  Oz, the Great and Powerful hung around in the top ten for another week with less than a million dollars as it continues marching towards it’s DVD/Blu-ray release on June 11.  Order it from Amazon through here, and I might just make twenty or thirty cents for a big night out on the town.  Can’t beat that?

And Star Trek?  Like Ironman it made it’s debut overseas,
and raked in $31.7 million dollars in markets where the previous Abrams spectacle played well.  So far, it’s doing better than the original which is a good sign for Paramount, Abrams, and the franchise before Abrams packs up his bags and head to Disney to begin working on the Star Wars films.  Buy your Disney stock now. 

Scary Movie 5 has left the building this week, dropping off the chart and probably headed for a quick buck or two on the DVD circuit.

Not from  my wallet though.  Not in this lifetime, nor the next one.

Mud is hanging on, but when you consider it’s only on 854 screens, that’s not too bad. 
Here are the numbers:

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Remembering Annette: October 22, 1942 – April 8, 2013

When I made this post regarding the passing of Annette Funicello, I promised I would have more to write regarding her life and my own personal feelings about it.  It took me a lot longer than I thought to write this, because I decided to write up a review of one of her films to post with it, something I couldn’t do for Roger Ebert.  I’ll be posting that review later.

Some celebrity deaths sadden me more than others.  That was the case with Roger Ebert.  When Annette Funicello passed away just four days after Ebert, it was the second celebrity death within a week that deeply saddened me.

Annette hadn’t made a feature film since 1986, but yet I felt as if she had never left us.  She made many appearances as herself, on news shows and talk shows in the years that followed in an effort to bring awareness to the disease that inflicted her and was slowly disabling her.  That disease was Multiple Scleros

I kind of felt a kinship to her.  I was once diagnosed as possibly having that MS.  It’s a diagnoses that has never been actually confirmed, or refuted.  And that’s the problem with MS.  It’s not easily detected in its initial stages, and much of the time it is extremely difficult to pinpoint.  Those who have the disease often go years without realizing they have it because the severity of MS is inconsistent.  Annette’s bout with M.S. was one of a worst case scenario.

But that’s not the only reason her death affected me more than say Jonathan Winters who also passed away recently.  If you were a child in the fifties and sixties, and a teen in the mid sixties to the early seventies, you grew up with Annette.

The Mickey Mouse Club is one of my earliest and strongest television memories.  I can even remember my sisters trying to convince me to give it up on certain days so that they could watch the Gold Cup Matinee late afternoon movie on one of the other two channels we were blessed with.  Most of the time they would lie to me about who was in the movie they were wanting to watch by naming every one of the super hero and cartoon characters I worshipped.    A couple of times it worked, but I soon caught on to the game and then it didn’t.  I wasn’t a complete dunce, even at five and six years old.

The Mouse Club eventually disappeared, was rerun a couple of times then appeared for a while on the Disney Channel when it first made it’s debut on cable.  The show may have become dated, but I never have outgrown it.   When the Disney Channel became just another one of 500 commercial channels in the vast cable wasteland, that was the end of not only the original Mouse Club, but many of the other catalogue films from Disney’s vast TV Library sent to the vault to probably suffer a slow death from indifference.  No room for a classic Disney channel, but we do get Disney XD, Tune Disney, and Disney Jr.  Whooppee!   

There was a reason why Annette’s star shone brighter than those of the other Mousketeers who were all talented in their own way.  What attracted you to Annette was this aura of friendliness that made you just flat out like her.  She was the original Italian Santa Claus.  She was just brimming with wholesome goodness.

You may have never met her, but you just knew there wasn’t a mean bone in this girl’s body.  Annette was the gal you wanted to be your sister instead of the ones you got stuck with.  No offense to my siblings, but that’s just the way it was.

She was super photogenic, and could act, but she was  often better than the material she was given to work with.  She was good in Spin and Marty, but in her own serial Annette, she and the whole cast were hampered by a really crappy script.  I’m not talking about the storyline either.  That worked.  But those poor kids were saddled with some of the weeniest stilted dialogue ever forced upon anybody, let alone teenagers of any decade.  Uncle Walt should have known better. 

But when you’re a kid, you didn’t care about that stuff.  Probably not even the acting.  I mean, this was Annette, and she had her own serial, and that’s all that mattered.

When she guest starred on Make Room For Daddy (aka The Danny Thomas Show) as Gina Minelli and on Zorro as Anita Campillo, you made an extra effort to seek those shows out just because it was Annette.  In Make Room For Daddy, it was her first real attempt at straight comedy, and she did it beautifully.  Likewise, she was able to slightly extend her dramatic legs in her appearances on Zorro which she appeared in twice as two different characters.  When she did The Horsemasters for World  of Disney, you watched it and watched it again when they would rerun it.

I never was a big fan of the Beach Party Movies.   I guess I just expected more from my movies then what those offered.  But since they were a big part of Annette’s career, I revisited Beach Party and will offer up my take on that sooner rather than later.  Probably the worst thing about the Beach Party films, is that they put the nail in the coffin of the younger actors involved of ever being given a chance to do more theatrically.  Which is quite a shame.

I just recently caught up with  Fireball 500 and Thunder Alley.  Both were better films than the Beach Party movies, and given the chance, Annette was able to prove that she could handle a dramatic role.  But by that time, nobody was paying attention, wholesomeness was a thing of the past,  and after havin made bookoo bucks for American International Pictures, Annette was cast aside.   She was relegated from that point on to mostly guest star roles on TV series.  She deserved better.

I watched her do a rare dramatic story on The Love Boat recently, a show that was known more for it’s comedy then drama.  It reminded  me of the fact that she was a lot more talented actress than some were willing to give her credit for.  I don’t know if she minded that fact.  If Annette did, she never appeared to, but you would have to ask those who actually knew her.  Actress Shelley Fabares, who met Annette while doing a small part in her Mouse Club serial, remained her lifelong friend, and says Annette was the real deal.

I do know one thing, choosy mothers may have chosen Jif, but Annette used Skippy and that was good enough for most of us.

But her sense of humor about herself was always apparent.  She never shied away from poking fun at her image or herself.  She had fun with it when she did an episode of Growing Pains in which she played an overzealous Goody Two-shoes Uptight Repressed Teacher.  After that, both Frankie and Annette returned to the big screen to star in and co-produce the film Back to the Beach, a very under-appreciate, misunderstood satirical film that was much better than it was given credit for at the time and has now become a cult classic. 

Somebody uploaded it to YouTube, so it’s there now (as of 5-12-2013) but undoubtedly not for long which is why I don’t link to it.  I linked to the Zorro video up against my better judgment and you can find the rest of the episode on YouTube as well.  It would be well worth your time to hurry and seek out Back to the Beach along with the Zorro episode and any others you can find.  Other than that, it’s $9.99 to buy the instant viewing at Amazon (you own it unless or until the license is revoked), or you pay a fortune for the now out of print disc.  I chose the 9.99 option.

But the Annette/Frankie comeback was short lived.  It was during the filming of Back to the Beach and while doing a follow up tour with Frankie Avalon that she was diagnosed with M.S.  Three years later she would go public with the disease in an attempt to bring more awareness to MS and to help raise funds through the Annette Funicello Research Funds For Neurological Diseases.  So on top of all her other attributes, you can add bravery to the list.

Maybe I’m too old and cynical, but I doubt if today’s young audiences would ever understand the allure of someone like Annette Funicello.  I can think of no 21st Century equivalent that connects to their audience on a personal level or has a relationship with their fans in the same way. 

Many of the things Annette did early in her career are getting harder to find.  Much of the fault of that lies with the Disney Studios and current ownership, who are sticklers for copyright adherence while at the same time leaving many of their catalog titles in the vault they claim to be so fond of to waste away since there doesn’t seem to be enough profit in these films and shows for them to bother with any longer.   If you can’t mass market them to today’s kids, why market them at all is the new Disney philosophy.

I was hoping they would be part of their deal with Netflix, but that hasn’t happened either.   But that’s a topic for later discussion and I’ll leave it  for now except that it would be a crime if the early works of an icon such as Annette Funicello are left to wither on the vine.

I hope someday those who didn’t grow up with Mickey Mouse Club or saw her in the Beach Films, will take the time to understand who she was, and why she had such a lasting impact on so many of us who grew up in that era.   I only wish I could revisit her early work myself at some point, but I’m not getting any younger and when you get to be my age, you’re not in a demographic that really matters to corporate suits.

Disney placed an obituary for Annette up on this page in which they list her accomplishments.  Maybe now would be the time to do something more than just pay her lip service.  Release her World of Disney films from your library, donate the proceeds to the charity she left behind would be a start.  And yes, Merlin Jones, Shaggy Dog, and Monkey’s Uncle are all readily available, but all have also been given shabby DVD treatment as has become par for the course when it comes to Disney and their catalog titles.

The video below is a a look at Annette through the years in film and television, along with a few publicity shots and a few personal pictures.    About 95 per cent of the stills come from my own personal DVD collection, the rest come from the web.  It runs about nine minutes, but I hope you’ll watch and if perhaps get a small sampling of who she was and what she gave to so many.  The world was a better place with Annette Funicello, but it is a sadder place without her.
(Best viewed at full screen)