Monday, July 21, 2008


Just the other day, a friend asked me if I thought I would ever run out of "old movies" to review on this blog. I said no. Why then, you might ask, am I reviewing a mid-60's ski-bunny teen comedy with no stars and very little comedy? I've run out of "real" classics? Dementia has set in? I could say that it was over 90 degrees yesterday and I needed a movie that might cool me down. I could say that I'm interested in the way genres get reworked, deconstructed, and received from generation to generation. Well, it was over 90 degrees and I am interested in genre theory, but the real reason I stuck with the movie to the bitter end: two handsome leading men. But you would have figured that out soon enough. Actually, as teen comedies of the era go, this one is perhaps a smidge better than the average beach party movie which it emulates. William Wellman Jr. (yes, son of the respected director of films such as The High and the Mighty and Battleground) has inherited a dilapidated ski lodge which he and his buddy, James Stacy, are determined to turn into a going concern. They hire a small group of attractive and energetic guys and gals to help out and are soon doing well, until an villainous local businessman hires two goons to break up the fun.

I have rarely stuck with a 60's beach movie to the end, I think because, despite the eye candy, the plots of most of them are ridiculous, with weird inventions, stolen gems, mistaken identities, and characters named Eric Von Zipper. This ski resort variation dumps most of that stuff and sticks with romantic maneuvers and a basic good guy/bad guy conflict. Wellman's secretary, Beverly Adams, pines away for him, Stacy pines away for any girl in a bikini (yes, they wear bikinis even in the snow), and a foreign-sounding rich lady, Jill Donohue, is stalking any man in a ski sweater, trying to forget her ex-boyfriend, who it turns out is one of the not-so-menacing thugs. There are songs, two written by Monkees songwriters Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, and others by Norman Greenfield, who was Neil Sedaka's songwriting partner, which are just a tiny notch better than most beach movie songs; the catchy title track is by the Hondells, of "Little Honda" fame. There's a fun brawl, a midnight pajama "square dance," and a couple of tedious skiing scenes. Stacy is very cute in a clean-cut way, Wellman only a little less so (though he looks adorable in green velour); Nancy Czar, as the booty-shaking Jonesy, is very sexy; Adams only a little less so. There's a running joke about the bar only serving Cokes (early product placement?), and another one about an electric-eye device set to catch the horny Stacy when he tries to sneak into the women's rooms at night. The waitresses wear outfits that make each one look like Wonder Woman if she worked at Santa's Toyshop. The negatives: Stacy and Wellman, though adequate actors, don't have the chemistry or energy that would have made them a fun team; the chef (H.T. Tsaing) is an obnoxious Chinese stereotype; I didn't give a darn about any of the romantic pairings. Still, I did stick with it to the very end, a ski lodge wedding with "Here Comes the Bride" played as a surf instrumental, and I didn't feel too bad the next morning. [TCM]

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