The Cast of the Gay Indie Rom/Com ‘Analysis Paralysis’ – BGFP Bonus Episode

In this special bonus episode of the podcast, Jeff and I talk to co-stars Jason T. Gaffney and Kevin Held about their new gay romantic comedy Analysis Paralysis. Jason is the co-writer, co-executive producer and director of the film about a gay author’s overactive imagination that sends him on a hilarious series of romantic misadventures that ultimately lead him to true love.

On February 1, Analysis Paralysis begins a two-week theatrical run at the Palm Springs Cultural Center in Palm Springs, Calif., as part of their Cinema Diverse “Best of the Fest” series. On the film’s opening night, there will be a special reception and screening as well as a post-screening Q&A with Kevin, Jason and his husband and fellow producer Matt Gorlick.

Jeff and I have seen an early cut of the movie, loved it and recommend that you check out the limited Palm Springs engagement if you have the chance!

Remember, you can listen and subscribe to the podcast anytime at

Analysis Paralysis Movie Trailer May 22 2018 from Jason T. Gaffney on Vimeo.

My Picks for Best Hallmark Christmas Movies 2018

Jeff and I are huge fans of the Christmas content the Hallmark channel creates each holiday season. We watched all of the movies (there we like a gazillion this year) and below are my picks for the best this season had to offer. Please note: “Best” is a relative term and completely subjective. These are simply the movies I personally enjoyed the most.

My Favorite Christmas Movie from the Hallmark Channel: A Shoe Addicts Christmas

The delightful Jean Smart and Candace Cameron Bure

Candace Cameron Bure and Luke Macfarlane must team up when her department store and his local firehouse throw a joint Christmas fundraiser. They of course, fall in love during the process. Jean Smart is a bumbling fairy godmother/christmas angel who tries to steer Candace into making the best life choices by having her try on different footwear. The shoes give Candace a glimpse into what her live will become if she makes the wrong decisions.

Out and proud Canadian cutie-pie Luke Macfarlane

Runners-up: Entertaining Christmas and A Majestic Christmas

Jodies Sweetin stars in Entertaining Christmas as the daughter of a famous Martha Stewart-like lifestyle expert, who must create an unforgettable Christmas extravaganza for a small-town family, despite the fact that she’s more comfortable with spreadsheets than cookie sheet pans.

Jerrika Hinton and Christian Vincent must team up to refurbish a small-town playhouse in time for the yearly Christmas pagent/show in A Majestic Christmas. Jeff and I met met doing community theatre, so the setting of this movie gave me all the warm, cozy holiday feels.


My Favorite Christmas Movie from the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Channel: Northern Lights of Christmas

Ashley Williams and Corey Sevier

Ashley Williams is a pilot who inherits a ranch in Alaska (complete with reindeer!). She enlists the help of Corey Seiver to decorate the place to entice prospective buyers, but falls in love with the ranch and him in the process. I like Ashely Williams a lot, she’s totally charming and a little bit goofy, two things I like in a Hallmark movie heroine. Then there’s Corey Seiver… GAH, sooo damn dreamy!

Runner-up: I liked a lot more of the 2018’s HM&M offerings than I thought I would, but I want call special attention to the ungainly titled, Time For Me to Come Home For Christmas

Josh Henderson and Megan Park are two travelers trying to get home of Christmas in Time For Me to Come Home for Christmas. After their on-the-road holiday adventure, she realizes he’s a country music superstar. I liked Josh Henderson from his time on Dallas and The Arrangement. He has fun chemistry with Megan Park here.

Also Worth Checking Out: Christmas Around the Corner

Lifetime is another cable channel that has made a name for itself with original programing, Christmas movies included. Christmas Around the Corner is the story of a NYC gal who comes to a small Vermont town to vacation/work in a local bookstore. She revitalizes the store and the town’s Christmas spirit. It’s wonderful and charming, and for booklovers like myself, the bookstore setting is a holiday dream come true!

Interested in what Jeff thought of the holiday TV movies on offer this past season? Check out his “Best Of” choices here.

Cool Cinema Trash: Tentacles (1977)

Cool Cinema Trash


Each year 10,000 tourists visit Ocean Beach. This summer Ocean Beach has attracted something else!

What it’s all about: Tentacles (1977) may begin with the most boring opening credits sequence ever (a prolonged close-up of a taxi cab dispatch radio does not make for scintillating cinema) but things quickly get underway as a mysterious underwater presence stalks a mother and child. Mysterious might be a bit of an overstatement. The movie is called Tentacles after all. We know exactly what’s going to happen next. While the mother is momentarily distracted chatting with a friend, the baby is snatched from the shoreline. A peg-legged sailor quickly becomes victim number two.

When what’s left of his body literally pops up, Sheriff Robards (Claude Akins) asks grizzled newspaper man Ned Turner (John Huston) to keep things hush-hush. “What happened?” the reporter ponders, “What’s happening, if you want my opinion, we’re in for a nightmare.”

After spending the night researching possible causes for the recent “accidents”, Ned is joined by his sister Tille, played by Shelly Winters. If Huston and Winters as cinema’s most unlikely siblings weren’t already crazy enough, there’s the fact that Huston plays the entire scene in a laughable floor-length sleeping gown while Winters crows about her most recent (and unlikely) romantic conquest. To top it all off, we’re told that Winters’ character has a pre-teen son.

Henry Fonda plays Mr. Whitehead, head of Trojan Construction, the company that’s spearheading a massive underwater tunnel project. Whitehead chews out lackey Cesare Danova when it’s implicated that Trojan was somehow responsible for the recent deaths. Tentacles came along during the ‘take the money and run’ phase of Fonda’s illustrious career. It seems that Fonda would appear in just about anything as long as he was paid well and his scenes could be shot in a day or two. Some of Fonda’s other notable ‘paycheck’ roles include, Rollercoaster (1977), The Swarm (1978), City on Fire (1979) and Meteor (1979).

Examination of the mutilated corpses reveal that the bone marrow was sucked dry. “There must be something monstrous out there,” Ned muses, “Monstrous… and infernal.”

Two divers are sent to the sea floor in a diving bell to examine the Trojan work site. They stumble upon the lair of the giant octopus. One of the men is quickly dispatched in a cloud of black ink. The other tries to escape to the surface in the diving bell, but a reinforced steel compartment is no match for an enraged cephalopod.

Tillie (wearing a preposterously oversized sombrero) enters her son and his friend in an upcoming Regatta. “I’m a very good sailor,” she boasts, “If I went in that boat with you, you would certainly win.”

“Then we would need a tornado to move the boat!” her son tells her. Awww, don’t kids say the darndest things? Jr. quickly tries to recant his statement, “Mommy, you’re plump. There’s more to love.”

Good ole boy marine expert Will Gleason and his wife Vicky (Bo Hopkins and Delia Boccardo) arrive in town to help with the police investigation. Vicky worries that Will’s latest assignment is too dangerous. Will insists that a man’s gotta do, what a man’s gotta do.

Will and his brother Mike explore the area near the diver’s attack, but all they find is a bunch of junk and a weird forest of dead fish floating upside down. “The Trojan tunnel company has been using high-pitch frequency way the hell beyond the legal limit.”

“That goes for the dead fish,” Mike agrees, “but those ripped up things down there, what could’ve done all that?”

“There’s only one thing big enough or powerful enough. I’m thinking… a giant octopus.”

Vicky’s sister goes boating with some friends. They unknowingly lay anchor near the octopus’ underwater lair. With a few false scares to take up some screen time, Judy’s two friends become appetizers and, after the boat is ripped apart, she becomes the main course.

When her sister doesn’t return from her trip, Vicky charters a boat and goes out looking for her. They quickly find what’s left of the boat, but none of its passengers. They leave a bouy to mark the location and head back to shore. Suddenly, something massive rises out of the water and engulfs their vessel. Vicky is tossed into the dark waters and can only watch as a giant tentacle drags the boat beneath the waves. She swims back to the buoy, but is caught in the eight-armed embrace of the giant beast. Will waits and watches the solemn parade of ships returning to port. His wife’s boat isn’t among them.

“It’s a giant octopus,” Will tells Ned and the Sheriff, “Something set this one off.”

Remembering the nearby yacht race, Ned wonders, “Would a giant squid’s range be greater than 30 miles?”

Considering the lives that are on the line, Will’s blazé attitude and apparent lack of interest in the conversation is a bit odd. He ponders the question before slowly answering, “Well, if it’s gone berserk, who the hell knows?”

“Will, it’s gotta be destroyed, that thing. Can you do it?” Yes, he can. But his plan is so cockamamie that he leaves the room without telling anyone what it is.

A chintzy local parade kicks off the Jr. yacht race. With up tempo muzak blaring on the soundtrack, the kids ready themselves for the regatta. A comedian dressed as Uncle Sam entertains the crowd once the race has started. In a weirdly edited montage, shots of the adults, the kids and the oncoming octopus are all intercut while we’re forced to listen to the comedian’s painfully unfunny shtick. Tille, resplendent in a striped sailor ensemble, remains on dry land and communicates with the boys via walkie talkie. She listens helplessly as the octopus attacks. Soon, there’s nothing left but an ocean filled with overturned boats. Did the octopus eat ALL those kids? Unfortunately, no. The Coast Guard picked them all up.

At this point you can forget about the other characters in the movie. From here on out, it’s Bo Hopkins show, as Will and his brother take on the tentacled terror. They anchor their boat in the cove near the octopus’ cave and Will’s brother puts forth the preposterous theory that, “All octopi, large or small, have a sense of foresight. He won’t come back.”

“This one’s very special. This one has tasted blood. This one thinks he’s stronger.”

The giant barge they’ve towed with them to the cove contains a pair of killer whales from the theme park where Will works. Will’s great scheme is to set the whales free and have them battle the octopus. While perched atop the barge, feeding them fish through a mail slot, Hopkins talks to the whales he’s named Summer and Winter. It’s a wonderful moment to be savored, truly one of the most absurd monologues in B-movie history.

Please note: The copious use of ellipses in the following paragraph is an attempt to approximate Hopkins’ curiously pause-filled line delivery. Whether this was a conscious acting choice, poor memorization or lousy ad-libbing is anyone’s guess.

“I guess you know now… why I brought you here. I wanted to tell you more about it. But… there have been many people that died. I’ve lost a loved one. I need your help… more now than ever. I remember the times when I was training you. People used to call you killer. They used to call me that on the streets. Doesn’t mean nuthin’. You have more… more love… in your heart… more affection than any human being I ever met. But now, I… I can’t ask anybody else. So I’m asking you to help me kill this octopus. I hope you understand that. I know I’m in your environment. I don’t want it this way. But if I release ya and you go away… I want you to know that I’ll understand. I gotta go now. I know people think we’re crazy. Maybe we are. Maybe we are.”


The next day, a mighty force rocks the boat. Will and his brother race topside to find the barge destroyed and the whales swimming away. So much for that idea. On to plan B.

That is, if there is another plan. The boys dive into the water, but since they have no weapons or explosives, it’s impossible to tell what they’re going to do. While exploring the entrance of the octopus’ cave, a shower of coral and boulders comes raining down on Will, trapping him. As the octopus moves in for the kill, Summer and Winter come charging to the rescue. Will’s brother frees him as the killer whales tear into the octopus’ spongy flesh.

The octopus retreats into its cave, but the whales are unrelenting, ripping the creature to shreds. What’s left of the monster sinks lifelessly to the ocean floor. Will and his brother sail off into the sunset with their whale friends accompanying them.

In conclusion: Tentacles is a flawed, but respectable entry in the “Monsters on the Loose” genre that flooded movie screens in the wake of the blockbuster Jaws (1975). One of the main complaints against Tentacles is that it’s dull and there aren’t enough octopus attacks. While the attack scenes are sparse and nearly bloodless (which is weird considering that this is an Italian genre picture) there is still plently to keep bad movie fans entertained. The main point of interest being the curiously A-list cast spouting absurd dialog and acting out ridiculous scenarios that are meant to give their characters “depth”. Schadenfraude thy name is Tentacles.

Tentacles is available on both DVD and Blu-ray. It was released on DVD through the MGM Midnight Movies label and is currently out of print (though still widely available). The double feature “flipper” disc also contains the Joan Collins/Bert I. Gordon Drive-In epic Empire of the Ants (1977). Both films feature several language and subtitle options and are supplemented with their original trailers. Both films looks terrific (as with most Midnight Movie titles) and are presented in their original widescreen formats (Tentacles 2.35:1, Empire of the Ants 1.85:1).

Tentacles made its Blu-ray debut in 2015. The quality is nearly identical the previous DVD release, only  it has now been paired with the Danish monster-on-the-loose epic Reptilicus (1962). Trailers for both films are the only  bonus features worth noting on the HD release.


Cool Cinema Trash: Village of the Giants (1965)

Cool Cinema Trash

220px-VOTGposterIn what may be the grooviest opening credits sequence ever, the teenage inhabitants of Village of the Giants (1965) jiggle and gyrate (in exploitative slow motion no less) to Jack Nitzsche’s catchy theme music. According to one of the first on screen credits, the movie is based (it should read “very loosely based”) on the story Food of the Gods by H.G. Wells. Village of the Giants is actually a wacky genre hybrid dreamed up by producer/director Bert I. Gordon who blends his unique love for all things big and small with teenage beach party antics. Some of Gordon’s other films have included Beginning of the End (1957) The Amazing Colossal Man (1957) and Attack of the Puppet People (1958).

What it’s all about: After crashing their car outside the city limits, a group of kids throw a dance party by the side of the road. These untamed youths are determined to get their kicks despite the torrential rain. Their impromptu party quickly devolves into an unruly orgy of mudslinging.

In nearby Hainesville USA, wholesome teens Mike (Tommy Kirk) and Nancy (Charla Doherty) are engaged in some old fashioned necking when they are interrupted by an explosion in the basement. They run to check on Mike’s kid brother Genius (Ron Howard) who’s recent scientific experiment hasn’t gone quite as planned. The result of the mishap is a mass of bubbling goo. When a neighborhood cat slips in through the basement window and eats the mysterious substance, it grows to gigantic proportions.

After the family dog chases the cat away, the kids decide to test the effectiveness of their new discovery by feeding it to a pair of ducks who also grow to enormous proportions.

“Can you imagine the problems we’re gonna solve?” Mike asks, “Unlimited food supply at practically no additional cost.” While Genius tries to replicate the formula, the family dog eats some of the goo as well. Boy, they’re going to need an industrial sized pooper-scooper.

Every small town needs a swinging nightspot. At the Whiskey A Go-Go the Beau Brummels perform while Toni Basil shakes her fringe in a cage high above the dance floor. Basil served as the films choreographer and would gain notoriety in the 1980’s with her cheerleading anthem, “Mickey.”

The bad teens arrive just in time to see the ducks literally shaking a tail feather out on the dance floor. Even though the freakishly large fowl take up most of the club space, everyone keeps on dancing. “Hey, those are my ducks!” Mike proudly proclaims. The bad kids, lead by Beau Bridges, plot to steal Mike’s “million dollar secret”.

Bridges tries to impress Nancy by opening a pop bottle with his bare hands while Tisha Sterling attempts to seduce the secret out of Mike. It’s a no go, but Mike manages to get a few kisses out of the pretty blonde.

At a BBQ the next day, the ducks become the spit roasted main course. Mike serves up mutant poultry to the hungry townsfolk, all of whom appear to be under the age of twenty-five. Girls wander around the town square in their bikinis while pop stars Freddie Cannon and Mike Cliff intermittently perform for no discernable reason. Cannon badly lip synchs his hit song “Little Bitty Corrine” and Cliff croons his “Marianne” to an appreciative crowd.

When Mike and Nancy make a quick stop by Genius’ lab to make sure that the goo is safe and sound, a giant tarantula accosts them. Mike shows some ingenuity by flooding the basement and using a live wire to electrocute the beast. After they leave, one of the mischievous teens from out of town (Tim Rooney) breaks into the basement to steal the goo. While searching the lab (which is remarkably dry and free of spider corpses) he sets off a burglar alarm. The good teens arrive in time to watch Mike and Fred engage in some suburban fisticuffs. During their “rumble”, Kirk is stripped down to a disturbingly tiny pair of short shorts. It all ends in a dog pile free-for-all.

At the abandoned theatre that serves as their base camp, the bad kids try to figure out what to do with the goo. Someone suggests that they eat it. “You always said you wanted to be a big man,” one of them taunts, “Well now’s your chance.” To prove that he’s not “all talk and no action”, Fred caves in to peer pressure and divides the Playdough-like substance between them.

In the movie’s pivotal (and relatively well done) special effects sequence, each of them eat their share, burst out of their clothes, and grow to enormous size. They may be juvenile delinquents, but modesty still dictates that they fashion new clothes out of spare fabric and theatrical curtains.

“Now maybe it won’t be so easy for them to kick us around anymore,” Tim Rooney laughs in a moment that plays into the era’s societal fear of untamed youth, “This isn’t their world anymore, it’s gonna be ours.”

As with all the other giant creatures that have shown up in town, the citizens of Hainesville remain steadfastly blazé as they watch the towering teens make their way to the center of town where they proceed to shake and shimmy to the infectious beats of Jack Nitzsche’s groovy theme. The town sheriff doesn’t seem particularly surprised to see fifty-foot teens traipsing through town either, “I don’t pretend to understand what’s going on around here. In this town, trouble is one thing I just won’t have.”

Who’d have though that the teenage revolution would include so much go-go dancing? Joy Harmon, the most curvaceous of the colossal young ladies, plucks one lucky guy out of the crowd and gives him a ride in her bountiful cleavage. He holds on for dear life as the comically oversized prop sways to the music.

At the theatre, the giants hold court. “We are going to take over this town,” Fred tells the sheriff, laying down ground rules for living under giant martial law. With the sheriff’s daughter as hostage, everyone in town is forced to obey their every command. After they’ve been supplied with endless buckets of fried chicken, the giants gather up all the firearms in town. A disturbing number of shotguns are turned in. Hainesville looks to be the birthplace of the NRA.

The kids attempt a giant round-up using their hot rods and lots of rope. One girl on a scooter weaves a figure eight between Fred’s giant legs. But just when they think they’ve got him hog-tied, the giants capture Nancy. “For the first time in my life,” Fred tells her, “I’m a big man… in more ways than one.” Woah.

With the only road out of town closed and a woefully ineffective sheriff, it’s up to the local kids to save the day. “We’ve got a problem with giants right?” Mike rhetorically asks, “Ever hear of David and Goliath?”

They might be giants, but they’re still red-blooded American boys. Mike formulates a plan that involves the diminutive Toni Basil performing a distracting dance routine while he takes a stand against the gargantuan bullies with a slingshot as his only defense.

While the biblical battle between brain and brawn is reenacted in the town square, the good guys sneak into the theatre, subdue the giant girl on guard, and free the hostages. The oversized breast prop prominently figures into the sequence. Heck, if you’re gonna go to the time and expense of building a pair of giant boobs, you might as well get your money’s worth out of them.

Meanwhile, Mike has lost the fight and is about to get squished when Genius comes to the rescue. While circling the square on his bike, Genius disperses the gaseous antidote that reverses gigantism. Once they’re returned to their normal size, Fred and his gang of teenage hell-raisers have no choice but to hightail it out of town.

Before the final credits can roll, an obvious sight gag must be dispensed with. When the teen troublemakers finally reach their car on the main road, someone off camera asks them if Hainesville is the place with the goo. When Fred answers yes, the camera pulls back to reveal a parade of little people (back then they would’ve been called midgets) on a pilgrimage to become big.

Get it? They’re little, and they want to be big so they…oh, forget it.

This final joke falls pretty flat, so more slow-mo footage of go-go dancing teens is used to bookend this kooky drive-in gem.

In conclusion: One of the things that sets Village of the Giants apart from the other ridiculous drive-in movies of the era is the cast of “rising young talent” that producer/director Gordon managed to assemble. Not only did the film include established young stars like Tommy Kirk, Ron Howard and former Mouseketeer Johnny Crawford, but also featured several young Hollywood offspring. Tim Rooney is Mickey Rooney’s son, beautiful Tisha Sterling is the daughter of actors Ann Southern and Robert Sterling and Lloyd Bridges’ son Beau (who played the villainous Fred) went on to his own successful acting career after Village of the Giants. Joy Harmon (who played the curvaceous Merrie) later found success as a pin-girl and now owns Aunt Joy’s cakes, an L.A. based bakery that supplies baked goods to Hollywood studios.

If you are interested in what the cast members of Village of the Giants are up to nowadays, be sure to check out the Unofficial Village of the Giants Homepage. It’s jam packed with more information than any human could ever possibly need to know about this cult movie favorite. Inquiring minds will find pages devoted to technical inconsistencies, behind-the-scenes info and maps to the films back lot locations. There’s even a page highlighting the memorable skewering the film received on an episode of MST3K.

Village of the Giants is available on DVD from MGM as part of their budget “Midnite Movies” series. The movie is presented full frame in it’s original aspect ratio and without special features. The Village of the Giants disc may be bare bones (not even a trailer) but like the other titles in the series, MGM has found the best available source materials. The movie looks and sounds good.

Village of the Giants is an enjoyable blend of beach party-style shenanigans and sci-fi fantasy. It’s a real piece of drive-in hokum that’s sure to please any fan of Cool Cinema Trash.

Cool Cinema Trash: The Swinger (1966)

Cool Cinema Trash

the-swingerWhat self-respecting Ann-Margret movie would be complete without a title song sung by the fiery chanteuse herself? The Swinger (1966) certainly doesn’t disappoint. It has a doozy. Clad entirely in skin-tight black, Margret encourages everyone to “Come on and swing with me!”

What it’s all about: A bouncy instrumental version of the theme finishes out the opening credits as a high toned narrator suggests that L.A. is, “always cultural, always educational… a land of enchantment.” While he pontificates, we’re shown the seedy side of Los Angeles, run down strip clubs, XXX theatres and faded landmarks.

Our narrator is Sir Hubert Charles (Robert Coote), British lecher and publisher of Girl Lure magazine. Inside the corporate offices of Girl Lure, Sir Hubert finds his daughter in the arms of editor/playboy Ric Colby (Tony Franciosa). While they proof an upcoming layout, Ric insists that, “Even for a girlie magazine there’s such a thing as good taste.” Too bad the same rule doesn’t apply to Ann-Margret movies.

Wholesome Kelly Olsson (played by Ann-Margret whose last name is, in fact, Olssen) is mistaken for a model, plucked from a bevy of beauties in the waiting room and quickly ushered into a photo studio. “I am not a nudie,” she insists, “I’m a writer.” But they’re not interested in her stories, just her body. After watching Sir Hubert chase his secretary around his desk, an idea comes to her. “Sex, flesh, hanky-panky… that’s what they want. I know how to get published.”

With an armload of pulp paperbacks as her guide, Kelly settles in front of her typewriter and begins to pump out prose that Girl Lure won’t be able to resist. Kelly lives in an L.A. mansion that’s home to a rollicking artists commune (where else would a young, naive mid-western writer live?). With her nose buried in her “research”, she dances from room to room as the camera lovingly follows every gyration of her curvaceous figure. As she shimmies and shakes, a gale force wind tosses her hair. Never mind that she’s indoors and there’s nary a fan in sight.

Kelly hands in her new story, but is once again rejected by the magazine. After sneaking into the men’s washroom, she demands to know why Ric won’t publish her article. He calls her a fraud, “Not a true moment in it.”

“The Swinger just happens to be my life story,” she fibs.

Sir Hubert is intrigued by the biographical possibilities “of a real live nymphet” and drags Ric to the commune to see just how depraved she really is. With the help of her beatnik pals, Kelly puts on a swinging show for the prying eyes of her prospective publishers. Wearing only a bikini and some body paint, Kelly creates a messy piece of modern art as she is rolled across an oversized canvas like a human paintbrush.

“I say, this looks positively degenerate.” Sir Hubert is suitably impressed when the vice squad breaks up the party. Ric then abducts Kelly with the intention of reforming her wicked ways.

On the drive to his aunt’s beach house, Kelly draws a parallel between their current situation and the story of “that Higgins cat, the stuffy john who made a lady out of a piece of garbage.” While musing on Pygmalion, Margret (whose character is supposedly from Minnesota) inexplicably adopts a Brooklyn accent.

Ric explains to his Aunt Cora (Nydia Westman) that if he can turn Kelly into a good girl, there won’t be anything tawdry for Sir Hubert to exploit. But Kelly doesn’t give up so easily and feigns drunkenness. Ric must wrangle her out of bed and into a cold shower. When the old letch and his snooty daughter arrive, they find them wrestling underneath the shower spray.

Kelly’s scheme seems to be going a little too well. At the offices of Girl Lure, she becomes the unwanted focus of Sir Hubert’s attention. With the touch of a button, his automated office transforms into a seductive James Bond-style den of inequity. “Sir Hubert likes a sure thing!” he shouts as he chases her around his desk.

Yes indeed, sexual harassment sure is funny! But Kelly outruns him. Despite his lascivious reputation, he admits that, “I’m the only non-scorer in the whole game.” She thoughtfully assures him that his secret is safe.

Before going on a shopping spree montage at Saks, Kelly comes clean to a surprisingly hip Aunt Cora. “I think the whole put on’s a gas!” she tells Kelly, “The only way to handle men is to keep them standing with one foot on the oil slick. Then, when they tumble, it’s in your direction. Dig?”

And tumble Ric does when Kelly fakes alcohol cravings later that evening. “It’s the monkey on my back!” she moans. After tucking her into bed, she launches into the hilariously impromptu song “I Wanna Be Loved”.

Never has alcoholism been so sexy as when Margret looks directly into the camera and croons in her breathily distinctive style. The wind machine is back, but this time it makes a little more sense since the patio door is open. Some carefully focused lighting draws attention to her scantily clad assets. Not that those assets needed any more attention.

Ric’s reaction to this seduction is to tire her out with a quick round calisthenics. “When I get tired,” she purrs, “I get stimulated, baby.” She finally manages to get him into bed for an all-night cuddle.

The next day, a private eye informs Ric that Kelly is indeed pure as the driven snow. He knows that she lied, but she doesn’t know that he knows she’s a fake. Got that? It’s at this point that the film tries to pass itself off as a comedic sex farce. The Swinger is quite funny, but for all the wrong reasons.

Ric plans to drive her to confession by photographing Kelly in embarrassing and scandalous recreations from her soon to be published sexposé, a plan that culminates in a turn on the burlesque stage. Covered from head to toe in ostrich feathers, Margret sings a rendition of “That Old Black Magic” as her costume is stripped away a la Gypsy Rose Lee. “You’ve been so wonderful about it all,” he tells her, “I’ve got a special treat in store for you.”

That “treat” turns out to be some hanky-panky at a local motel where Franciscus proves once and for all that he is completely incapable of playing comedy. He’s more creepy than comedic as he chases Margret around the room in rapid Benny Hill-style.

After all, everything is funnier when you speed it up.

Ric is carted away by the vice squad and Kelly escapes with her virtue intact. She arrives home to find her parents visiting from St. Paul. Director George Sidney tries to liven up the following exchange with lots of close-ups and quick cuts. “It’s just so terrible the things I’ve done,” Kelly confesses to her mother, “I was a card dealer in a gambling den and then a stripper and a street walker… then in that motel room a man tried to forcibly seduce me.”

Mom is nonplussed. “If you think these things are bad, wait till your children grow up.” When Kelly sees Ric on a live TV report, she hops on a motorbike and speeds off to police headquarters. Ric, meanwhile, steals a squad car and speeds off to be with Kelly.

Sir Hubert chimes in with some more narration. “Will they marry and live happily ever after? Or will they destroy themselves on America’s dangerous highways?” The answer turns out to be the latter. Ric and Kelly finally meet… in a head-on collision!

“Is that any way to end a tender, delicate love story?” Sir Huber asks.

Tender? Delicate? Exactly which movie has he been watching? The film literally rewinds itself and our lovers uncrash. The finale plays out again (this time without the highway fatalities) and our lovers rush into each other’s arms. With an ending like that, the only thing left is for Ann-Margret to reprise the film’s zany theme while sitting on a… you guessed it, a swing.

In conclusion: One of the reasons The Swinger is such an adorably awful piece of cinema trash is that it tries so very hard to be “hip” and fails at nearly every turn. During the 1960’s, Hollywood was woefully behind the times. The counter-culture youth movement left Hollywood filmmakers clueless as to what the American public wanted to see. Old guard director George Sidney (who worked with Ann-Margret on Bye, Bye Birdie, 1963 and Viva Las Vegas, 1964) seems at a total loss with the material in The Swinger.

Ann-Margret was at her sex kitten peak in 1966 and The Swinger takes full advantage of that. She looks and sounds sensational despite the dubious material. But the question remains, is it believable to have a sizzling Ann-Margret playing a naive and innocent anything, let alone a naive and innocent magazine writer?

With its crazy costumes, wacky musical interludes and faux bohemian concepts, The Swinger is a star vehicle that features everything a bad movie aficionado could ask for. When Ann-Margret is added to the mix, well, that’s when a movie like The Swinger truly becomes a slice of bad movie heaven.



Cool Cinema Trash: Julie (1956)

Cool Cinema Trash


What happened to Julie on her honeymoon? Run, Julie, run! Run for your life!

In the late 1950’s, Doris Day, America’s singing sweetheart, branched out from the romantic comedy genre with a handful of thrillers such as The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), Midnight Lace (1960) and the damsel-in-distress film Julie (1956), a laugh out loud, high-flying, bad movie classic.

What it’s all about: Julie begins as most Doris Day movies do, with a sappy title song sung by its star. Amazingly, the theme from Julie received an Academy Award nomination.

The first clue that this isn’t your average Doris Day picture is that the film is in back and white. It’s oddly disconcerting to see Day in anything less than vibrant Technicolor. Perhaps black and white was chosen to give the movie more atmosphere, if so, it didn’t work.

We find Day, as the title character Julie Benton, in the middle of an argument with her husband Lyle, played by Louis Jourdan. She gets behind the wheel of her convertible and berates him for his jealous outburst at their Pebble Beach country club.

“It’s unforgivable,” she scolds as she twists the steering wheel back and fourth, never once coming close to matching the moving scenery projected on the screen behind her. Suddenly, Lyle presses his foot down on the gas pedal, sending them on a wild and dangerous drive along the picturesque Monterey coastline. Julie tries desperately to control the car as they speed faster and faster, screeching along hairpin turns. Lyle finally brings the car to a stop and Julie runs for it, collapsing at a picture perfect spot overlooking the sea.

“I’m so sorry,” he begs, “So desperately sorry. Help me fight this thing. I was jealous, jealous, blindly jealous.”

“He nearly killed us both,” Day needlessly reiterates in a breathy voiceover, “He seemed so sorry, so desperately sorry.”

Later, in front of the fireplace of their beachfront home, they discuss the mysterious circumstances surrounding the suicide of Julie’s first husband. Lyle cannot stand to have any man, dead or alive, in Julie’s life. “I had to have more answers,” Day whispers.

The next day at the country club, she meets with Cliff (Barry Sullivan) her former brother-in-law. “Julie, did it ever occur to you that Bob’s neck could’ve been placed in that rope after he’d been strangled… by a murderer? Lyle was there that night wasn’t he?”

This presents poor Julie with a classic bad movie conundrum. Does he want to kiss me, or kill me?

Later, as Lyle tickles the ivories, Julie tells us that, “I’d listen by the hour to Lyle practicing.” Never mind the fact that we can clearly see she’s lying on the couch listening to her husband play. The constant voiceover narration in Julie is so wildly unnecessary that it borders on parody.

“But today there was something strangely disturbing about his music, a sort of savage fury that was almost frightening. Gradually, as I listened to him play,” she drones on, “I began evolving a plan.”

And what is her grand scheme?

“If Bob hadn’t died,” she asks in bed that night, “What would you have done? Would you have done it… killed him?”

Lyle admits to the crime. “I had to lie there in his arms, lie there in panic and wait for morning to come,” she tells us as waves crash meaningfully outside their bedroom window.

Come morning, she sends Lyle on an errand next door. Once again, though we can clearly see everything that she’s doing, Julie gives us a ridiculous play-by-play account of her desperate grab at freedom. Any normal person would simply make a run for it. Not our Julie. Though her window of opportunity is slim at best, she still takes the time to carefully pack the perfect traveling outfit and collect her make-up and toiletries from the bathroom counter.

“I had the urge to get out of that house and get out of it fast!”

Julie, perhaps a little less talk and a little more running for your life.

Lyle may be a murderous loony, but he’s no dummy. He removes a spark plug from her car, making escape by vehicle impossible. So, Julie must hitch a ride into town. She tries to call Cliff, but can see from the phone booth that Lyle has followed her. Julie evades him and makes her way to the Monterey police station. “Sergeant, I want to report a murder,” she cries.

Since her former husband’s case has been closed and she has no tangible proof of Lyle’s duplicitous nature, the police have very little to work with. When Lyle is questioned he denies everything. It’s a frustrating case of he said, she said and there is nothing the police can do. With Cliffs help, Julie checks into a San Francisco hotel under an assumed name.

It’s not long before she receives a telephone call in her room. “Julie. Julie, you’re going to die.”

“Lyle, you’re insane.”

The San Francisco PD can’t do much either, but they’re a touch more sensitive to Julie’s dilemma. “He admitted to killing my husband, he admits that he wants to kill me, and nobody can help me do anything,” she squeaks.

With two officers and Cliff standing guard, Julie tries to sleep, “I had the chilling sensation of being watched by Lyle. I could feel his presence. It was ominous. It was strangely disturbing.”

Julie is awakened in the night to the menacing notes of a tape recorder playing the same classical music that Lyle was rehearsing earlier. Desperate to remain free of Lyle’s psychotic clutches, Julie returns to her former profession as a flight attendant and stays with a fellow stewardess in her San Francisco apartment.

Meanwhile, Lyle follows Cliff home from work one night. At gunpoint, he forces Cliff to take him to Julie. Cliff leaps from the moving vehicle in a bold attempt to escape and protect Julie’s whereabouts. Lyle shoots Cliff, rummages through his pockets, and finds the address of the apartment where Julie is staying.

Though mortally wounded, Cliff stumbles to a farmhouse and finds help. He calls the police and they go to the apartment building to warn her. Julie is gone. She’s left for the airport, a last minute replacement on an outgoing commuter flight. Skulking in the shadows, Lyle watches Julie catch a cab to the airport terminal. He boards her flight and manages to keep his presence a secret by hiding his face behind a newspaper.

Midway through the flight, San Francisco homicide calls, worried that Lyle may have somehow learned of Julie’s location. The only way to know if he’s on board is for Julie to identify him. “Be casual,” the captain tells her, “everything depends on it.” She makes her way to the back of the cabin and then works her way forward, trying to remain inconspicuous and identify Lyle from behind. Sure enough, she recognizes the back of his brylcreamed head.

Considering that Julie wouldn’t shut up for the first half of the movie, this would seem to be a perfect moment for yet another long-winded dramatic voiceover, but now she’s inexplicably silent. As Julie makes a mad dash to the front of the plane, Lyle gains access to the cockpit. Unbelievably, a Wild West shootout ensues. The pilot is killed and Lyle is wounded. “I promised you it wouldn’t be easy,” he tells her, “You are going to be in this airplane, high in the air, with nobody to fly it.” With his dying breath he shoots the co-pilot.

A doctor on board proclaims the injury to be life threatening. There is only one person who can fly the plane. Guess who?

The co-pilot turns the plane around in hopes that the radio tower in San Francisco will be able to talk the plane down with Julie at the controls. He gives her a few pointers before passing out. On the ground, the macho guys at flight control give Julie instructions while constantly referring to her as “Honey.”

“I’m terrified,” she tells ground control as she brings the plane into its approach pattern. While wringing all the pathos she can out of the melodramatic scenario, she banks the plane left and then right with all the finesse of the driving skills she demonstrated earlier in the movie. Julie finally touches down… with her eyes closed!

With the plane safely on the ground, a look of relief passes over our heroines face. The orchestra swells and the screen fades to black. Not only has she saved herself and the passengers, but she has paved the way for heroic flight attendants in future bad movies about disaster-prone airliners.

In conclusion: The drama for the character she played on screen was no match for what Doris Day had to endure behind the scenes of Julie. In the book, Doris Day: Her Own Story, she admits that wasn’t particularly interested in making Julie. Both her previous husbands had been jealous of her success, so it’s easy to understand why Day would be reluctant to play a woman victimized by her husband’s psychotic jealousy. Day’s husband Martin Melcher, who also produced the picture, was finally able to talk her into taking the role.

During filming, Day experienced severe abdominal pain. Her husband insisted that she follow her Christian Science faith, forgo seeing a doctor, and adhere to the films strict shooting schedule. After the movie was completed, Day sought medical attention and found that she needed major surgery to remove an endometriotic tumor.

Despite all the turmoil, Day enjoyed shooting on location in Carmel so much that she later made the California coastal community her home.

At a time when most movies were still made on studio backlots and soundstages, the extensive use of location filming during Julie set it apart from other films of the time. Though real locations added authenticity to a film, studio sets were still considered easier to light and control. This may explain why shadows from the boom mike and camera crew can be seen in nearly every scene of the film.

Julie has all the ingredients necessary for a guaranteed bad movie classic. Take one part Sleeping with the Enemy (1991) and one part Airport 1975 (1974), add America’s sweetheart and you’ve got an overwrought, low-budget, woman-in-peril thriller that will satisfy any fan of cool cinema trash.