Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Warner Archive Instant 60s Comedy Picks: THE COOL ONES and THE GLASS BOTTOM BOAT ""

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Warner Archive Instant 60s Comedy Picks: THE COOL ONES and THE GLASS BOTTOM BOAT

THE COOL ONES (1967; Gene Nelson)
You really can't get much more 60s than THE COOL ONES as far as movies go. It's got all pop-deco stylistic flash, the music and the camp you'd expect and it's got Roddy McDowall. I may have mentioned here before that I am not the world's biggest fan of 1960s films. The 50s on down I'm fine with, even the dopey teenager stuff. And the 70s is obviously an amazing time for film so I have no problem there. Not sure what it is about the 1960s as portrayed in films that I just don't jive with. I guess there's that sense of things that one might prototypically call "hippie" that kind of turn me off. I guess it just stands out to me as something that really dates a film of this period as anachronistic in that it feels closer to the present day and yet so far away as far as the countercultural mindset of the movies. What it really is in a lot of ways is Hollywood trying to capture that mindset and their interpretation of it just comes off as corny to me. Anyway, that's neither here nor there in terms of THE COOL ONES because there's much to enjoy here. I love a movie that jumpstarts itself with a groovy tune and especially one that contains the title of the movie your watching. There's something inherently silly about that to me and yet it brings with it this idea of "hey we're putting on a show for you and we even wrote a song about it" that is kind of infectious nonetheless.  Speaking of songs, one thing that caught my eye right off the bat was the mention of songs and music supervision by the great Lee Hazlewood. He wrote not only the title song, but close to half a dozen more for the movie. That gives it a boost above others 60s fare right off the bat. 
Another thing that can be fun about 60s movies is the lingo the characters use. Hard boiled dialog from film noir is about one of the coolest things out there in my opinion, so I'm kind of drawn to any stylized-speak in movies from any period. The 60s beatnik vernacular can be cringe inducing if you let it, but for the most part it's just dopey goofiness. See this clip for examples:
Also, there's the dancing. The way I feel watching people dance in 1960s films is how I think people feel when they watch me dance now. It's really awkward and embarrassing to say the least. Oops, did I mention the plot of this thing? Roddy McDowall plays a youthful rock promoter who decides to create a new sound sensation by teaming a go-go dancer and a waning pop star as a couple. His character actually reminds me a bit of the one he played in the way aquatic classic HELLO DOWN THERE(which WAC put out recently) with a little of his 'Mollymauk' role from LORD LOVE A DUCK(which is one of my favorite 60s films btw).
THE COOL ONES' has a prophetic premise obviously and one that still resonates to this day. Not that this movie has too much on it's mind, but there is some commentary happening here for sure. It's absolutely of its time and that's cool because it is an interesting snapshot of not only of a certain kind of music scene in that era, but also of Los Angeles. For fans of L.A. in movies like me it's a neat little archeological excavation of locations that have long since disappeared from the present day L.A. that I've come to know. And yet, you can pick out a street or a specific corner and see how it is still sort of the same in some way. In the words of the prolific Dennis Hopper, "That shit fascinates me." 
As a little bonus, this movie also features Mrs. Miller!
Available to watch now on Warner Archive Instant (2 week free trial)!

THE GLASS BOTTOM BOAT (1966; Frank Tashlin)
There isn't really any equivalent director to Frank Tashlin working today (though Peyton Reed attempted to do a take on Tashlin with his film DOWN WITH LOVE years ago). His films have a lively, whimsical sense of comedy and vibrance to them that is quite charming and unique. You can feel the mix of influences (including Tex Avery ) in every colorful frame he composes. There really were never too many filmmakers that were like Tashlin and I do miss him from time to time when I come across another film of his (like this one) that I had somehow overlooked.
The cast of THE GLASS BOTTOM BOAT is a lovely eclectic mix. Doris Day and Rod Taylor up front, flanked by the likes of Dick Martin (of LAUGH-IN fame), Paul Lynde, John McGiver and Dom Deluise. These actors (with the exception of Taylor) are quite well suited to the Tashlin universe. Don't get me wrong, Taylor's pretty good here (he's good in most everything), but the others are just very capable of the cartoon-y performances that really exist perfectly in a Tashlin movie. Tashlin really brings together a lot of elements - music, production design, actors, comic tone, the use of widescreen - to give that unique flavor. These films are certainly of their time, but they are the charmingest, cotton candy confections and I always find myself getting caught up in them.
Available to watch now on Warner Archive Instant (2 week free trial)!

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