Tag Archives: Annette Funicello

Four Ways Out

Movie night!

So many odd delights on tonight’s bill.

First up; a preview of Eegah!

Yes, the legendary Eegah! – one of the 50 worst films of all time.

I’m sure we all share warm and fuzzy feelings of Richard Kiel’s poignant and teeth-flashing portrayal of “Jaws” in several James Bond films. It’s always been intriguing to me that while he played Jaws the character, he wasn’t the title character in Jaws the movie. Well, he had already accomplished that feat years earlier in Eegah!. Mr. Kiel was perfectly cast as Eegah, the last of the Incan cave men (who knew the Incans even had cave men?), which admittedly, is not as noble an accomplishment as the being the last of the Mohicans.

There is even some doubt in the film as to who IS the most credible cave man.

Arch Hall, Jr. makes his teen idol ala Ricky Nelson debut in this film. He actually rivals Richard Kiel in coarseness. Our buxom damsel in distress, Marilyn Manning, has a tough choice.

If I were her, I’d punt.

Dune buggies, sappy and soulful songs on a guitar (where’s John Belushi when ya need ‘im), cacti, and a low budget swimming party, struggle to replace surf boards, Annette and Frankie, and the Pacific Ocean…and sappy and soulful songs on a guitar.

I almost found myself rooting for Eegah.

This cinematic lagniappe is followed by Four Ways Out, an Italian film from 1951.

By the way, this double-feature beats my previous champion for weird movie combos. I believe Charles Edward Pogue was with me one afternoon at the Opera House (back when it was a dollar-matinee second-run movie house) for a double-feature of the Barbra Streisand musical On a Clear Day You Can See Forever with the historical battle-flick Waterloo. That was a jolt to the senses but this exceeds that experience.

Four Ways Out features a script co-written by Federico Fellini. The man is a god to me, but remember; this is 1951. Amarcord was still 20+ years in the future.

This is a criminous tale of the heist of a big soccer game’s receipts and the ultimate destruction of the four thieves that pull it off.

The film has several interesting things to recommend it; a thief named Guido (you can’t go wrong with a thief named Guido), a crude devouring of pasta (you can’t go wrong…), and a scene wading in a fountain (always a winner in Italian film, though frankly, Anita Ekberg did it so much better).

That’s all nice. But the reason to watch the film is much simpler; beautiful Italian women acting their hearts out. A very young Gina Lollabrigida smolders as she dials up the police to obliterate her boyfriend and a zaftig Cosetta Greco (I don’t know who she is – nor do I know the Italian for “zaftig”) giving a performance like a cross between Lauren Bacall in Key Largo and Joy Page in Casablanca.

You can probably guess…I liked it.

Creepy Times

We’re living in creepy times.

There’s the in-yer-face daily creepiness covered by breathless reporters on CNN/FOX/MSNBC/OAN/EEYI-EEYI-OH and promulgated with ghoulish delight by Mr. Trump and his how-many-fingers-am-I-holding-up swarm.

  • Life-stealing creepiness like 175,000 US citizens dead from a worldwide plague while we fret over bits of cloth — flags and masks.
  • We fret about whether professional baseball should play 60 games this year or 75, while black parents and spouses worry about whether their loved ones can even make it home alive this evening. I think that qualifies as pretty creepy.
  • We are titillated by the daily televised travails masters of hard-eyed greed like Bannon, Manafort, Stone, Cohen, and Flynn, while nuclear-equipped hard-eyes like Putin, Kim Jong-Un, Erdogan, and Xi chat with our president regularly and off-the-record about who knows what. How creepy of us and them.

But enough of all that mundane, casual life-sucking, je ne sais yuck.

Let’s talk real creepy.

Like…

…how Facebook and Amazon and Google seem to know what we’re thinking, almost before we do.

I wrote a blog about my battle with beetles on our roses and the next day an organic bug spray was offered to me by Amazon. The beetles were creepy enough, thank you very much.

I watched a Roger Corman/Vincent Price flick; The House of Usher. It was my disc, copied from a VCR tape of a local late-night TV showing (commercials intact) from the 80’s. The next day Facebook flashed a sponsored ad for a Lego Castle-Building set. I adore Lego, but my skin crawled.

Last week, Janie and I were working in the yard (our lilies are spectacular this year BTW) and we commented that the bushes had exceeded our capacity to keep up and several trees had pruning needs that were above our pay grade. That evening, a gypsy landscaper dragging his tools behind him knocked on our door. What are the odds? Two hours later, our urban farming needs were met…and at a reasonable tariff. I’m convinced that Google was somehow eerily involved.

And now, just when I was thinking there’d be no vacation for the Leasors this year and how much I might be missing an ocean (I have long believed that my beloved Lexington was pretty much heaven on Earth but for the lack of an ocean and a major league baseball team) when Turner Classic Movies read my mind.

Presto!

The next thing I know I’m watching Annette and Frankie in a yellow jalopy convertible toolin’ down a Pacific-bound highway singin’ “Beach Party Tonight” in several unrelated keys, three chords, lotsa breath, and devoid of harmony. Annette’s hair helmet and Frankie’s skinny arms are impervious to the breeze of the convertible and the demands of the curvaceous road. Soon I’m thrilled by Frankie and Deadhead and the boys challenging the fearsome one-and-a-half-foot waves on their surfboards, Annette and the girls bouncing from beach blanket to beach blanket in their hair helmets and Mouseketeer-approved one-piece swim suits (which have clearly never known dampness), and the wearisome wonder of Candy Johnson gyrating in her fringed swim suit (which has clearly never known dampness) to the sterile rockin’ sounds of Dick Dale and his Del-Tones.

I, of course, have all his albums.

There it is! There’s the missing ocean vacation, courtesy of TCM.

It’s an all-night bikini binge of beach movies from 50 years ago.

I can lose myself for a night to Deborah Walley, Tommy Kirk, surfboards, Annette, Harvey Lembeck, skateboards, Connie Stevens, Troy Donahue, ersatz mermaids, Frankie, Morey Amsterdam, chimpanzees, Tony Curtis, Claudia Cardinale, feeble motorcycle gangs, Annette, Yvette Vickers, and Sharon Tate.

How. Did. TCM. Know?

Creepy.

But it was great…

…just what I needed…

…for about fifteen minutes.

Then, insidiously, a notion crept into my head.

What if Mr. Trump had been around this frolicsome group?

  • Surfing?
  • Dancing in the sand? To Dick Dale and his Del-Tones?? With Candy???
  • Leading a motorcycle gang?
  • Getting his hair wet?

Grim…and yes, creepy.

Suddenly, the bloom was off that rose.

I drifted off to sleep, pondering what a beach flick made by Ingmar Bergman might have been like; Summer With Santa Monika, Smiles of a Summer Surf…The Virgin Summer……

Quicksand Fever

I fret.

It’s my medium.

I work with fret like potters work with clay.

It’s my gift.

I can fret about anything. If you give me a stack of $100 bills, I will fret about which way the bills are turned. What if they stick together? What if a strong wind blows? How am I gonna get change?

I’ve learned to live with it and laugh at it…and that’s good because I’ve fretted since my childhood. I was a fret savant.

I was raised on 50’s and 60’s TV. I fretted when Spin and Marty went to summer camp. I fretted when skinny Frankie Avalon tried to keep up with all those big surfers when it was clear that Annette coulda taken him two falls outta three. I even fretted about Mr. Peabody’s “Way-Back Machine.” That thing didn’t look safe.

As I grew older, such “objets du angst” proved silly.

Quicksand, for example, has not proven to be near the ubiquitous hazard that TV westerns predicted it would be. It’s good to know Chloe the Pup and I can wander the neighborhood with impunity.

One of the most worrisome fears of my youth was falling into the hands of the Communists. I had read accounts of how the Soviet government snatched their innocent citizens off the streets, held sham investigations and trials, and whisked the hapless victims off to insane asylums or Siberia…or insane asylums in Siberia. My dad and my teachers and Walter Cronkite assured me it was so.

Gulp!

I was also assured by those same people that it couldn’t happen in America. Any nascent wanderlust in me was subdued a bit. But as long as I maintained my citizenship, voted like a banshee, and kept my feet in the Land-Where-We-Do-What’s-Right, there was no need to fret.

Whew!

But wait.

Wait……

…………………………………………………………………..…wait…………

Now we have a president who asks a former Soviet country to investigate American citizens.

I’ll be asking my grass-cutting guy to survey the back yard for quicksand next week.