Showing posts with label '60s Sex Comedies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label '60s Sex Comedies. Show all posts

Monday, December 31, 2018

Strange Bedfellows (1965)

"She knew what she wanted when she saw what she wanted."

Strange Bedfellows (1965) stars Rock Hudson as Carter Harrison, a strait-laced American executive living in London. One day he meets feisty activist/painter Toni Vincente (Gina Lollobrigida). The two have instant chemistry and just 24 hours later are married. But they are as different as two people can be. She's an outspoken bohemian with a temper. He's a professional who likes to maintain the status quo. The two separate and don't see each other for 7 years. When Carter is up for a major promotion, his company's PR agent, Richard Bramwell (Gig Young), works on cleaning up Carter's image. They have two weeks to get Carter back together with his estranged wife. However Toni is already engaged to fellow Bohemian activist Harry (Edward Judd). When the two meet again, planning a divorce, they rediscover their undeniable attraction. Their physical chemistry brings them together and their personalities pull them apart. Things begin to escalate as Harrison prepares for his boss' visit to London at the same time Toni is planning to protest against censorship at the American embassy. What results is an outrageous series of events complete with Lady Godiva riding into London on a horse.

This film reunites Rock Hudson and Gina Lollobrigida after their romantic comedy Come September (1961). It's not nearly as good as their first collaboration but it does show what great chemistry and screen presence these two had. This movie is steaming hot. It puts the sex in sex comedy. There are two scenes in particular that are rife with sexual tension. In one the two meet with their lawyers about a divorce and cannot keep their eyes off each other. Toni tries to look away but can't help but steal glances and Carter boldly takes in every bit of Toni's figure while failing to light his cigarette. In another scene, Carter drops Toni off at her place and he makes this seductive walk in her direction and Toni can't help but be completely flustered. It's such a delight to see these '60s icons at their prime.

There is also a lot of gay subtext in this film. Rock Hudson frequently meets with Gig Young while in some state of undress. When Young's character Richard discusses Carter's state of affairs, he proclaims, "no more gay, married bachelor. It's got to be Carter Harrison, family man." There is a ridiculous scene in which Carter tries to communicate to Toni while she's in another cab via their two cab drivers and a radio dispatcher. Willful miscommunication has one cabbie telling another that Carter wants to have a baby with Harry Jones, Edward Judd's character. When the cabbie tells the radio dispatcher that the "husband has shown up" when Hudson enters Lollobrigida's cab, the dispatcher asks "his or hers?" And in another scene Toni invites protestors to stay at her place. Carter thinks he's going to bed with his wife Toni while the protestors sleep elsewhere. But while in bed he turns around to find that he's actually in bed with Harry.

Strange Bedfellows was a collaboration between filmmaking partners Norman Panama and Melvin Frank for their Panama and Frank Productions company. Panama and Frank met while studying at the University of Chicago and worked together for many years. Their collaboration resulted in such films as Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943), Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948), White Christmas (1954), The Facts of Life (1960), and ended with The Road to Hong Kong (1962). Strange Bedfellows was an original idea by Panama and Frank and Frank went on to adapt the screenplay with writer Michael Pertwee. Frank also directed the film. It was shot on the Universal Studios lot (not in London alas!) and in Technicolor.

The costumes in Strange Bedfellows are to die for. Costume designer Jean Louis dressed Gina Lollobrigida in the most fun and colorful wardrobe. It was a bit too sophisticated a look for her character but made for great eye candy. Rock Hudson looks chic in his professional attire and I love Edward Judd's bohemian wardrobe.

As I mentioned before, Strange Bedfellows is not as good as Come September but worth watching to see Lollobrigida and Hudson together again. The part of an outspoken and feisty artist fits Gina Lollobrigida like a glove, even if her wardrobe doesn't always quite match. And Hudson is in his element as the suave bachelor. The beginning of the film is heavy on the narration which felt unnecessary. And the final 30 minutes of the film are one ridiculous scenario after another. The script tries to be too zany and had the writers pulled back a little bit it might have been more fun with a lot less of the craziness. I wish Judd's character Harry was more of a threat to Hudson's Carter. He seems more like a plot device than an important member of the love triangle. Not a perfect film but still fun if you enjoy zany '60s comedies.

Strange Bedfellows (1965) is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Universal Studios. You can purchase a copy at my MovieZyng store.

Thank you to Allied Vaughn for sending me a copy of Strange Bedfellows (1965) for review.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Love is a Ball (1963)

And just when I had thought I'd seen all the 1960s sex comedies that I could, I discovered Love is a Ball (1963) on Netflix Instant. Love is a Ball is a delightful and fun romantic romp which takes place in the French Riviera. Glenn Ford stars as John Davis, a former race car driver (winner of the Grand Prix in Monaco!) whose down on his luck when he finds his beloved boat in desperate need for repair but he has no money to fix it up and get it back in the water. That's where Charles Boyer comes in. Boyer plays Monsieur Etienne Pimm, a professional matchmaker who takes down-on-their luck aristocrats and matches them with wealthy companions. He devises an elaborate scheme to get the two together, make them fall in love and see them off in a happy marriage of convenience and love. Boyer's latest cause is Duke Gaspard (Ricardo Montalban) who he plans to match up with American heiress Millie (Hope Lange). Millie has $40 million and Gaspard has a title but no charm, poor skills in English and desperately lacking equestrian and motor skills. Boyer hires three men: Ford/Davis who will teach Gaspard to ride horses, play polo and race cars, a linguist who will teach him how to speak English and quote great scholars and poets and a cook who will prepare fantastic meals so Boyer can wine and dine the conquest.

I usually don't like going into too much description of a film. Heck, if you just wanted the summary I would send you to IMDB or Wikipedia. However, the plot of this movie is so much fun that I just had to write it down. Because even just taking about it makes me laugh! Boyer sends his own British chauffeur to work for Millie but when a freak accident puts him out of commission, Ford/Davis is sent off to be Millie's chauffeur instead. Ahh and here is when the wrench is thrown into the works. Millie starts to fall for her new driver even though M. Pimm/Boyer and her uncle Dr. Christian Gump (Telly Savalas) have set designs on Gaspard as her future husband. And Gaspard is starting to have an eye for Boyer's assistant Janine (Ulla Jacobsson).

This is a fun film. Parts of it reminded me of Come September (1961) which was filmed in Italy. The French Riviera is definitely a major character in this film. Love is a Ball has all the classic workings of a 1960s sex comedy.  Hope Lang and Glenn Ford were in a romantic relationship in real life and you can tell there is some chemistry between them. I think Ford and Montalban were both a bit old for their parts but still believable in their roles. Love is a Ball was also spared some of the real bad dubbing that the 1960s were known for.

I highly recommend this film if you are a fan of the Doris Day-Rock Hudson-Tony Randall features like Pillow Talk (1959), or the Bobby Darin-Sandra Dee films such as If a Man Answers or Come September. It's available on Netflix Instant but the quality is so terrible on there that I recommend purchasing the DVD or renting it from ClassicFlix.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Tuesday Weld ~ I'll Take Sweden (1965) ja ja ja

On the surface I'll Take Sweden (1965) is your typical teen vs. parent '60s comedy. Yet on a deeper level this film is representative of the changing sexual mores in society, especially when it comes to youth sexuality, and how that was affecting American culture. What's interesting about I'll Take Sweden is that we get to see how Americans treat sexuality and how that differs from the looser Swedish sexuality (or at least the Swedish stereotype).

Bob Hope stars as widower Bob Holcomb who is dealing with his teenage daughter JoJo's budding sexuality. Tuesday Weld plays JoJo and her petite frame, blonde locks and little girl voice make her a sort of an alternate Sandra Dee. JoJo is head over heels for Kenny (Frankie Avalon) a young ne'er-do-well who plays the guitar, rides his motorcycle dangerously and lives in a trailer. Not quite what JoJo's father expected for her daughter's future husband. In an effort to get his daughter to give up Kenny, he whisks her off to Sweden. At the Stockholm branch of his work, is womanizer Erik who immediately sets his hooks on JoJo. In the meantime, Bob is falling in love with beautiful divorcee Karin, an interior decorator.

I could go into a full summary of the movie but I won't because I'd rather you watch the film instead. The most interesting aspect of this film is the clashing ideas of sexuality. Bob doesn't think JoJo should go off to a youth retreat alone with Erik because they are unmarried yet Bob has no qualms of taking his girlfriend Karin on a romantic outing. Also, it's made very clear that the Swedes have little interest in marriage and are okay with premarital sex. I know that the Swedes have a less Puritanical view on sexuality than Americans do, but this film is obviously playing up on stereotypes for the humor factor. No matter how exaggerated it is, it's still a nice insight into the sexual dilemma of the 1960s.

And it's got Tuesday Weld in awesome outfits!!!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Boxed Set Reviews: The Natalie Wood Collection

The Natalie Wood Collection is your one opportunity to own a solid piece of the ethereal star's legacy. It's a must-have for any Natalie Wood fan or anyone who collects prize box sets. The box set design is gorgeous with alternating colors of lavendar, white and purple and promotional images of Natalie Wood from Sex and the Single Girl. Each of the 6 films comes in it's own full-sized keepcase. Four of the films are new to DVD and Gypsy and Splendor in the Grass are remastered editions. You can purchase Sex and the Single Girl and Splendor in the Grass separately but all the other films are exclusive to the box set.

And now comes my confession. I am not a Natalie Wood fan. Like Frank with Doris Day, I am apathetic to Natalie Wood. I do now have a greater appreciation for The Face. I was really hoping that this box set could win me over, but in the end, I just enjoyed the movies more so than the actress.

Mini Reviews

Bomber B-52 (1957) - Karl Malden stars as airforce worker Chuck Brennan who has a gripe against Colonel Herlihy (Efrem Zimbalist Jr.) and will do anything to break up Herlihy's romance with his daughter Lois (Natalie Wood), even if it means leaving the job he loves so dearly.

Thoughts - This is Karl Malden's movie and Natalie Wood just looks nice in her outfits. The flight dramas with the B-52s are excellent and suspenseful. Slow start but makes up for it quickly. My favorite film in the box set by far. The aerial cinematography is stunning.

Gypsy (1962) - Story about a stage mother whose passion for show business overshadows the needs and wants of her two daughters and her fiancee. Based on the early life of burlesque dancer Gypsy Rose Lee.

Thoughts - Rosalind Russell carries the movie as the loony stage mom and she outshines both Karl Malden and Natalie Wood. The vaudeville and burlesque musical numbers are all top-notch. The film is beautifully remastered and the colors really pop! Visually stunning.

Cash McCall (1960) - A light-hearted corporate drama about greedy Cash McCall (James Garner) who buys companies only to dismantle them and make a profit out of the loss. He goes soft when Lory Austen (Natalie Wood) comes into his life. When the opportunity to by the Austen Plastics company arises, he jumps on the chance to win Lory back after a bad beginning to their romance.

Thoughts - I enjoyed this film. It's got a lot of flaws, especially the anti-climactic ending and Natalie Wood's matronly hair style. Yet it's stylish, light, fun and interesting. If you are a fan of Executive Suite or even Mad Men, you'll enjoy this film.

Splendor in the Grass (1961) - A coming-of-age story circa 1920s about Deanie (Natalie Wood) a young high school teen who is dating the captain of the football team and most popular boy in school Bud (Warren Beatty). They both must supress their lustful desires to align themselves with society's mores. Bud goes elsewhere to relieve himself and Deanie goes crazy.

Thoughts - This is an excellent study in gender roles and sexuality. Sexual repression and the treatment of sexual expression as viewed amongst both sexes demonstrates the unfairness of double-standards. An Elia Kazan classic! See my previous post about this film

Sex and the Single Girl (1964) - Self-help book fictionalized into a story of sex psychologist Helen Brown (Natalie Wood) who falls for tabloid reporter Bob Weston (Tony Curtis). He is planning an expose on her and to do so pretends he is his friend Frank Brodercik (Henry Fonda) who has significant marital problems with wife Sylvia (Lauren Bacall).

Thoughts - I was disappointed in the movie. It could have been a lot better. It was slow-paced, bizarre and silly to the point of confusing. Maybe this will grow on me, but for now I think Pillow Talk (1959) seems like a much better movie with a similar conceit.

Inside Daisy Clover (1965) - 15-year old Daisy Clover (Natalie Wood) is a foul-mouthed, scrappy tomboy living in poverty. Her talent for singing finds her in the seedy show business of 1935's movie industry. As she gains fame, her life falls apart. She leans on leading man Wade Lewis/Lewis Wade (Robert Redford), who is as equally as disturbed as her.

Thoughts - This film salvaged Natalie Wood for me. She does a superb job as a disturbed teenager and the melt-down scene in the studio is beautiful. This film is not nostalgic for the 1930's, rather it's a look at the movie business of the past in an avant-garde way that only a good mid-1960s film could accomplish!

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Please make sure you go to Sarah's Cinema Splendor blog. She is the ultimate Natalie Wood fan and will surely be posting a review of this box set soon. Watch that space!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Pillow Talk @ the Brattle

On Wednesday, some friends and I got together to see one of my all-time favorite films Pillow Talk (1959) on the big screen. My fellow co-worker Frank, a notorious Doris Day-hater, was not invited. The idea of the get-together started as far back as March of last year. That's when I had my tricked out, movie night showcasing Pillow Talk and a couple of other '60s sex comedies (see my post about that here). A few of my friends couldn't make the movie night and I was determined that I would share this film with them if it was the last thing I did! Fast forward to February 2009 and the Brattle Theater in Harvard Square just happens to be showcasing Pillow Talk as part of their fourth annual Great Romances event. Finally! Not only could I see my darling film on the big screen, but I also got a chance to drag those slackers, err friends to see it with me.

And they all came! Gina and Lisa R. were Pillow Talk virgins and H. had seen the film before. Kevin, who had been at the original movie night, came along with his friend Lisa D. One friend, Hazie, couldn't make it (we missed her!). And of course, Frank was not invited.

Lisa R., Kevin and Gina buying tickets for the show

H., Gina, Lisa R., Kevin and Lisa D. participating in some pre-show bonding.

The audience reaction to the film was better than I expected. Pillow Talk is a funny movie with lots of sexual innuendos and silly moments that make it fun to watch. The best part was seeing how much my friends enjoyed the film. They laughed throughout the movie and I was on cloud nine!

Lisa R., Gina, H. and moi after the show

One of the great parts of watching a favorite film with friends, are those little things that a friend will notice that I hadn't until then. For example, the best joke of the film is the shot of Rock Hudson carrying wood. So sly, so underhanded, so obviously sexual, yet so subtle. I went years without noticing it until Kevin pointed it out to me. Kudos to Kevin!

And a big thank you to my friends for so graciously joining me for a night of fun that only a good '60s sex comedy can provide.

Frank wasn't invited.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Palm Springs Weekend (1963)

Palm Springs Weekend (1963) is a follow-up to the classic Where the Boys Are (1960). Both explore the antics of college students on spring break. The tag line for Palm Springs Weekend pays homage to the original when it declares, It's Where the Boys Are, and the Girls Are. A college basketball team heads to Palm Springs, Nevada and much to their dismay, their grumpy coach has followed them. The captain of the team Jim (Troy Donahue) is reluctant to go on the trip at all while buddy Biff (Jerry van Dyke) is ready for the ladies! On her way to Palm Springs too is Gail Lewis (Connie Stevens) a beautiful teenager trying to pass for a wealthy 21-year-old Hawaiian student. She has two romantic rivals. First is cowboy/Hollywood stunt-man Stretch (Ty Hardin) who has a kind heart. Then there is jaded, rich boy Eric (Robert Conrad) who is on the path of self-destruction, all to get the attention of his negligent father. Meanwhile Jim is romancing townie Bunny (Stefanie Powers) whose father just happens to be the Sheriff (yikes!). The standout of the movie is Amanda (Zeme North), the plain Jane, tomboy who is just plain boy crazy. She's got her eyes set on Biff, who is both scared and intrigued by this petite little fireball. She finally snags him when she gets a full make-over (of course!).

By definition, this film is a sex comedy. It pitches girls against guys and deals primarily with sex, although there is no actual sex in the story. The differences between how men and women perceive romance and commitment are explored in a light-hearted, screwball comedy kind of way. For more information on sex comedies, I highly suggest reading the excellent three-part series on the history of this subgenre found on the blog A Shroud of Thoughts.

This is by far my favorite of the four films in the Warner Bros. Romance Classics Boxed Set. I wanted to watch it again almost immediately after first viewing. I can understand this kind of film may not be to everyone's taste, but give it a try if you can. It's supposed to be fun and silly! Once you understand that, you can open yourself up to enjoy it.

Music and it's effect on youth culture is at the center of this story. My favorite scene in the film takes place at the record store where Bunny and Jim meet. All the kids break out into dance right in the middle of the store. I wish this could happen in real life. I dream of the day that I walk into a Borders and head to the music section only to see a bunch of teenagers rockin' out to their favorite tunes. I dream of that day!

This film is not a musical, but the music in this film is notable. The title song Live Young is sung by star Troy Donahue over the opening credits. It's a fun, light catchy tune that sets the tone for the rest of the movie. Also, The Modern Folk Quartet performs Ox Driver in the scene at "Jack's Casino". Both songs are excellent and worth watching... err... listening for.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Boxed Set Review: Warner Bros. Romance Classics Collection

The Warner Bros. Romance Classic Collection is a true delight. It's a time machine that transports you to a bygone era and fills you with nostalgia. If you expect a gourmet meal you'll be disappointed, but if you expect delicious candy, you will be thrilled. This boxed set captures the youthfulness of the early '60s with films that spoke to the youth of that generation. It's the living end! Also, the films have been digitally remastered giving them a visual vibrancy that age had once taken away. I just spent a lovely weekend watching the movies in the set.

It contains 4 films starring '60s heartthrob Troy Donahue. First there is Palm Springs Weekend (1963), a hilarious madcap sex comedy geared towards the college-bound. Then it is followed by three coming-of-age stories marking the 2nd, 3rd and 4th time writer/director Delmer Daves teamed up with actor Troy Donahue, the first being A Summer Place (1959). There is Parrish (1961), a soap about a young man torn between three women in Connecticut's Million-Dollar-Mile. Then there is Rome Adventure (1962), a fun escapist movie about a young New England librarian who flees to Italy to find love. Finally there is Susan Slade (1960), a soap about an unmarried young woman who holds a secret that could destroy her romantic and social life. Posts on each of the films are to come.

I find that a lot of classic film fans don't like the movies from the '60s, which in my opinion is an utter shame. Such wonderful movies have came out of this era. It is important to regard these films within the context of the time they came from. Sex comedies and coming-of-age soap operas were escapist vehicles for teenagers and young adults in the '60s. They spoke directly to young audiences in ways that films from previous decades hadn't been able to.

I would recommend this boxed set to anyone who has an open mind and is willing to give films from the 1960s a try. They are all fun and enjoyable to watch. My only complaint about this boxed set is that all the films star Troy Donahue, someone who I've always thought was just bleh. But it is made up for with the likes of such fine personalities as Angie Dickinson, Connie Stevens, Suzanne Pleshette and Stefanie Powers.

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Sunday, March 9, 2008

60's Movie Night

I have been out of commission for a while. I caught whatever bug is going around (although I could have sworn I had some form of pneumonia).

I wanted to make sure I posted about the movie night I hosted 2 Saturdays ago. With a '60s theme, I showed Pillow Talk (1959) and Come September (1961) and some parts of If a Man Answers (1962). I tricked out my pad with designs, cooked and baked and even dressed up. I had themes galore.

Films - '60s Sex Comedies
Raquel's Perception of '60s Style - Dots and Stripes and weird shapes.
Homemade Take-Out - Because aren't people always ordering take-out or eating out in '60s films? The Apartment (1960), With Six You Get Eggroll (1968). In fact, I had 6 people over and we did have eggroll!
Chocolates and Cherries - Because it's sexy and fun. Just like the '60s!
'60s Clothes - I offered up to people the opportunity to dress up in '60s style, open to interpretation.

I put a lot more effort into this one than I did my last one, and I think it came out pretty well. Although some people did not participate in the pillow tossing portion! You know who you are!

(Spoiler alert!) The highlight of the evening was provided by my good friend Kevin. He pointed out something I had never noticed before. In Pillow Talk, when Doris Day's character Jan discovers that Rock Hudson's Rex is really the other annoying half of her party line, Brad Allen, she storms out of a cozy Connecticut cabin. Leaving Rock behind, with an armful of firewood. He was left with wood. Literally and metaphorically! I love it! I would have never noticed it unless he had pointed it out.

I'm a firm believer in the communal film watching experience. Good friends and good flicks. A perfect combination.

~ Kevin and Alicia dressed with '60s flare~

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