Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's BĂȘte Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Friday, February 16, 2007

I got Where the Boys Are from the library and watched it last night after reading in Ken Emerson's book on the Brill Building era (which I reviewed a few weeks ago) that Neil Sedaka and Howie Greenfield had written the title song. I always liked the song without thinking about it, but after hearing it in the movie, and coincidentally on a compilation of old "rock" songs, I've grown to like it a lot, particularly Connie Francis's sob-sodden vocal. A great singer.

The movie surprised me with its seriousness -- even heaviness. All about the wages of sex for the single girl, 1960. Major Plot Point about to be blown: one of the four main college girls, on their spring break in Fort Lauderdale, gets date-raped by a man she has previously had sex with and then lost interest in, and in that day and age, there is Nothing she can do about it, she has No recourse, and it is a stigma she will have to bear forever. And her life is pretty devastated, and her best friend grieves intensely for her. End blowing of plot point.

Aside from that heavy subplot, it's mostly a fizzy comedy, sometimes actually funny and usually but not always charming. Connie Francis is the rare pop star who, in her film debut, plays the "plain" person for comic effect. And her charm jumps off the screen.

Dolores Hart is wonderful as the main character, serious and human and warm and intense and deeply loyal to her friends. After the video my beloved spouse & I looked her up, and not only did she play opposite Elvis in '50s movies, but not too long after Where the Boys Are she became a cloistered nun. As it happens, a good friend of my beloved spouse's is a nun at the same abbey, so my beloved spouse is three people away from the King. Catholicism's gain was Hollywood's loss -- Dolores Hart was terrific.

The movie made fun of the pretensions of modern jazzmen, but they hired serious modernist Pete Rugolo (who's still alive at 91) to score the jazz combo, and it was the real deal -- dissonant cool nimble modern jazz, called "Dialectic Jazz" in the movie. Between Sedaka's gracefully longing theme and the dialectic jazz, the film provides a surprisingly tasty sampler of two contrasting musical subcultures circa 1960. The movie had two additional songs, both forgetable.

1960 -- the year my parents married as college kids 21-years-old, exactly the age of the characters and performers in the movie, exactly their milieu (though my parents weren't road-trip-to-Florida-for-spring-break types). It made me miss my dad. I had been grieving him less intensely in the last few weeks, after a friend sent me a eulogy-for-father's-funeral that a friend of his had written and read, but now whenever I hear that aching Connie Francis / Sedaka tune, I may have to fight back the tears for a while.

* * * * *

She sang a song about him, but it's really hard to imagine him in love.

* * * *

We had our first Chuck E. Cheese experience tonight, and I really did think I would enjoy it, and after the distressingly bad floor show, in which a person in a Disney-style Chuck E. costume clapped off-beat to a garishly loud recording of "Oh When the Saints Come Marching In," tooled out with new words, "Oh When the Band Comes Marching In," and then to a garish disco "Happy Birthday to You" (thereby enriching some thieving publishing company -- see the most recent post), and it was all in the American style of frantic-ness that entertainment providers have frequently mistaken for actual entertainment (really, even most of the kids were lukewarm about the deal); after all of this was over, we went into the arcade area, and while it remained overstimulatingly noisy, the games were amusing, nonviolent, and cheap, and the event as a whole, hosted by the parents of a pre-school classmate of the 4-year-old's for a birthday party, was very nice.
Sue Cargill wrote a play about Dolores Hart called "Paramount Girl" that Beau O'Reilly directed at Live Bait a few years ago. I really liked it. She tried to get in touch with Hart, but they didn't communicate, so she's not sure if Sister liked the idea or not. Probably not.

Interesting that our old friend Beau directed something about my spouse's friend's friend. Small world!

Dolores Hart is actually a Reverend Mother now.

Must recommend, in this context, "Change of Habit," the late '60s Elvis movie in which inner-city Dr. Elvis woos Sister Mary Tyler Moore away from her nun's vows and into his arms, as liberal cop Ed Asner makes wise cracks and quasi-Black Panthers make rapprochement with the tough young African American nun.
I know yer kidding, but Rickie Lee's song was actually about her and Tom Waits's sidekick, Chuck E. Weiss, who's a musician in his own right. (Well, not exactly - more like a duller version of Waits's old 70s Beat-mimicking boho.) Chuck E. also appears by name in Waits's great "I Wish I Was in New Orleans": "Deal the cards, roll the dice/ There's that old Chuck E. Weiss/ Clayborne Avenue, me and you/ Sam Jones and all." Not sure whether "Sam" is actually "Rickie Lee" or not - that song might pre-date her arrival in that milieu - but they all hung out around the Tropicana motel, living large and unhealthily, and making a scene, along with other LA musicians and actors, characters like Rockets Red Glare.

Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?