Tag Archives: Anjanette Comer

Banning (1967)

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 4 out of 10

4-Word Review: Golf pro seeks revenge.

Mike Banning (Robert Wagner) was at one time an up-and-coming golf star, but then his promising career came crashing down when he was accused of trying to rig a game by bribing his competitor. In reality it was his competitor Jonathan Linus (Guy Stockwell) who did the bribing and when Mike refused to go in on it Jonathan tabbed him for the crime. Now Mike has returned to the golf club that Jonathan and his rich wife Cynthia (Susan Clark) own. He demands to be given a job or he’ll tell the truth about what happened, but after securing a position at the club Mike then must deal with the mob who bankrolled his initial PGA run and now demand repayment, which forces Mike into the type of scheme that he had earlier avoided.

This is the type of film that could be deemed ‘dead-on-arrival’ as the characters  are so painfully cliched in the most soap opera-like extreme that it’s almost laughable, but strangely it’s still captivating. Most likely this is because we as regular people still get-off seeing the rich and powerful self-destruct by not only eating up each other, but many times themselves as well. Realizing that people with a lot of money don’t really ‘have-at-all’ and in many cases can be even more miserable is sort of satisfying and to that extent this movie succeeds admirable.

Unfortunately the sets are not as gaudy and over-the-top as they needed to be. When the characters are excessive the backdrop needs to match it and in this case it doesn’t. The golf club appears to be just some set piece created inside a studio and this visual sterility defeats the campiness by ultimately stymieing the melodrama into a formulaic programmer.

Wagner though is what really kills it by performing his role like he were sleepwalking. He shows no energy or nuance and simply goes around with this perpetual irritated look on his face and nothing more. How can a movie stimulate any interest when its lead has no panache? Even Jill St. John who Wagner later married in real-life buries him with her presence to the point that he doesn’t even seem worthy enough to share the same screen with her.

In support Howard St John (no relation to Jill) is fun as a conniving elderly rich tycoon who pretends to be drunk when he really isn’t as well as Anjanette Comer playing in a rare straight role. Her career has been marked with so many cult movie parts that seeing her play someone who is normal becomes genuinely diverting. Unfortunately Gene Hackman, who is miscast as an aging golf-pro even though he was in reality the same age as Wagner, gets wasted.

The climactic golf match manages to be surprisingly captivating and proves that the game can have a certain cinematic flair if done right, but some of the film’s other stabs at action don’t work so well. The car chase is a particular problem as it becomes painfully clear that Wagner really isn’t driving a vehicle, but simply sitting in front of a green screen instead, which pretty much helps to cements this as a dated relic.

My Rating: 4 out of 10

Released: June 30, 1967

Runtime: 1 Hour 42 Minutes

Not Rated

Director: Ron Winston

Studio: Universal

Available: None at this time

Quick, Before it Melts (1964)

quick 1

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 2 out of 10

4-Word Review: Stuck in the cold.

Oliver Cannon (Robert Morse) is a lowly newspaper reporter who gets sent to the Antarctica by his boss Mr. Sweigert (Howard St. John). Sweigert not only dislikes Oliver, but also wants to keep him away from his daughter Sharon (Yvonne Craig) who intends on marrying him. To his surprise Oliver accepts the assignment feeling that the South Pole is the ‘last great frontier’ and wanting to expose the harsh environment of the region to his readers who may not otherwise realize quite what it is like. Yet once he arrives he quickly wishes to leave, but can’t. He then concocts a plan with Peter (George Maharis), who is  another  American stranded  there, to fly in a planeload of beautiful women, so at least their time there can be enjoyable and sexy.

The script is virtually plotless and amounts to nothing more than broadly written, flatly comical scenarios loosely tied into the Antarctica theme. It’s basically just another contrived, generic ‘60s sex comedy that lacks bite or imagination. The only mildly amusing part about it is the real-life penguin that acts as a carrier pigeon by delivering mail and messages to the various residents.

I was surprised that Maharis chose to be in this as he was a strong, highly underrated dramatic actor who was one of the main reasons for the success of the acclaimed TV-series ‘Route 66’. In fact he left that show before the end of its run mainly to take advantage of all the movie offers that were coming in, but choosing to do this silly thing as his first one especially when he isn’t even the star of it is baffling. His career ultimately was ruined when he was caught having sex with a gay hairdresser inside the men’s bathroom of a gas station during the mid-‘70s, but appearing in fluff like this certainly didn’t help it.

Morse on the other-hand seems well suited for the material and performs admirably. This film also has, in her film debut, Anjanette Comer who later had roles in many interesting cult films. In fact both Morse and she later reteamed to star in The Loved One just a year after doing this one. That film is far superior and a movie you should definitely see while avoiding this one at all costs.

My Rating: 2 out of 10

Released: October 5, 1964

Runtime: 1Hour 38Minutes

Not Rated

Director: Delbert Mann

Studio: MGM

Available: DVD (Warner Archive)