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  For Those Who Think Young Ho-Daddies Meet The Beach Bunnies
Year: 1964
Director: Leslie H. Martinson
Stars: James Darren, Pamela Tiffin, Paul Lynde, Woody Woodbury, Tina Louise, Bob Denver, Robert Middleton, Nancy Sinatra, Claudia Martin, Ellen Burstyn, Louis Quinn, Sammee Tong, Addison Richards, Paul 'Mousie' Garner, Benny Baker, Anna Lee, Sheila Bromley
Genre: Comedy, RomanceBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: The phone rings in this college campus sorority house, and there is a scramble to answer it among the young ladies, all hoping it is some eligible bachelor calling. Well, it is, but he doesn't want to talk to any of them, it's wealthy heir Ding Pruitt (James Darren) and he wants to talk to Sandy Palmer (Pamela Tiffin) who stays there currently - but she doesn't want to speak to him. She sick and tired of his ways which sees him come on far too strong for her to tolerate, but is this going to put him off and back away from pursuing her? No it is not, so he and his manservant Kelp (Bob Denver) head straight over to the house to see her...

Now, all these years later Ding's behaviour looks more like harassment than good clean fun, but times change and so do courting traditions, or you would like to think so. Despite this, there is little doubt in the audience's minds that he will end up with Sandy come the end credits, and the movie had no suggestion of disappointing on that score, as this was a Beach Party clone, one of those frothy comedies aimed at nineteen-sixties teens and twentysomethings. Essentially, Darren was playing Frankie Avalon, and Tiffin was playing Annette Funicello, but while the purpose was to make money, that wasn't the whole story here.

That was down to the backers of this United Artists movie being a popular soft drinks company, which managed to put up enough of the budget to have the title as their then-current advertising slogan, and pepper the background with their drinks machines, even having Tiffin request their brand by name when she is in a nightclub crucial to the plot. The subject of underage drinking was a theme, as the age limit was twenty-one, and Sandy is nineteen, therefore the message was, hey kids, if you don't want to break the law (or don't look older than twenty-one), then drink a bottle of our product instead, it's what all the cool folks do so join right in!

Actually, such corporate shilling was not too cool, but there were some cool people in this overextended ad. Prominent among them was Nancy Sinatra, bafflingly given a supporting role (you would have thought she was famous enough for a more substantial part) and even more bafflingly given Bob Denver of Gilligan's Island fame to romance. She was fine, and had charisma to burn, but her fans would likely be even more let down that she didn't sing anything, another missed opportunity that had you questioning the producers' touch with this material. Meanwhile, another Rat Pack daughter, Claudia Martin, offspring of Dean Martin, showed up in a yet smaller role, mostly relegated to a running gag where she chats on the communal telephone.

Speaking of that famed sixties sitcom, Tina Louise also appeared as a stripper trying to retrain as a singer (don't get too excited, she takes so little off she seems more dressed after the act than before), all under the tutelage of Sandy's uncles, comedians Paul Lynde and Woody Woodbury. You may know Lynde, his acerbic wit made him a cult hero long after his mysterious death, but Woodbury is more obscure, a purveyor of party albums where he would employ blue material that quickly went out of fashion: it says all you need to know that the filmmakers thought they were onto a winner with this flash in the pan, but failed to include anything more than two or three songs, and they were more lounge lizard than surf bum. If you've seen this, you'll remember Denver's upside-down chin face act, which is a striking image, if not a pleasant one. A plot about Ding's grandfather trying to close down the uncles' nightclub passed muster, and included a young Ellen Burstyn as one of his agents, but really this was for fans of sixties ephemera, it was light as a feather but at least it wouldn't give you wind after consuming it. Music by Jerry Fielding.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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