Tag Archives: Parody

Who’s Been Sleeping in My Bed? (1963)

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 3 out of 10

4-Word Review: Carol Burnett does striptease.

Every time I get annoyed by many of today’s Hollywood comedies that seem to be nothing more than a stretched out idea for an episode of a sitcom, one only has to go back into time to find that the comedies of yesteryear weren’t always much better. Of course there were some classics, but a lot of vapid ones in the mix as well. In fact this one is so trite that it becomes almost agonizing to sit through. It was considered in its time to be a ‘sex farce’, but fails to deliver on either.

The old adage ‘it’s not what you know, but who you know’ has never been truer in this instance. I have attended many screenwriting classes and seminars and can verify there is a lot of good stuff out there that hasn’t been read unfortunately because the authors don’t have the right connections. In this case the screenplay was written by Jack Rose who had previous writing success with such films as My Favorite Brunette, Houseboat, and The Road to Rio. Judging from its lack of creativity Rose probably wrote this real quickly to make some fast cash and the studio heads gave it the green light simply based on his past success without ever looking at it critically.

The plot, if you can call it that, has to do with TV-star Jason Steel (Dean Martin) who plays the part of a popular Dr. on a TV-series.  His TV character matches all the ideal qualities that women want in a man and thus he always has women chasing after him in real-life. He even has the wives of his friends coming on to him. With so many married women telling him how unhappy they are in their marriages he begins to fear that marriage may not be a good idea and thus calls off his impending engagement to beautiful Melisa Morris (Elizabeth Montgomery).  Melisa is devastated by this, so her goofy roommate Stella Irving (Carol Burnett, in her film debut) hatches up a kooky scheme in order to get him to reconsider.

This film gets tiring right from the beginning.  Jason goes out with his buddies every Thursday night to play poker, but then during the game he always gets a call from one of his buddy’s wives telling him they have to see him.  He leaves the game and meets them at his place and then fights off their advances. This silly scenario gets repeated four different times with all four of his friend’s wives and it’s like being told the same dumb joke over and over. This triviality ends up taking up the whole first hour before it moves into the scheme portion, which really doesn’t even measure up to a weak episode of ‘I Love Lucy’.

Out of the whole ninety minutes there are only two scenes that are mildly amusing.  One is when Jason pushes everyone into a pool and they fall in like dominoes and the other is when Stella goes to a strip club and is forced to go onstage and do a striptease when she can’t pay for her drinks, which makes great use of Burnett’s ad-libbing abilities.

Burnett and Montgomery make an interesting pair. Montgomery is a good straight-man to Burnett’s zaniness and with a better script this could’ve been ideal casting. Montgomery did this film just before she started her long running series ‘Bewitched’. She looks gorgeous and gives the film’s best performance.

There is a long list of excellent male character actors here including: Martin Balsam, Jack Soo, Richard Conte, Louis Nye, and Johnny Silver. All of them are wasted with very little to do. Except for the money I don’t know why any of them took their parts.

The satirical jabs at TV-dramas are too gentle and not even good for a chuckle.  If one is considering getting married then I would definitely not suggest it as the script takes so many potshots at the institution that it is liable to give anyone second thoughts.

Although this was made as a vehicle for Martin I feel even fans of Dino will be disappointed. It really doesn’t take advantage of his persona and he seems as bored with the material as the viewer and just going through the paces. Despite the interesting cast this is an all-around disappointment.

My Rating: 3 out of 10.

Released: December 25, 1963

Runtime: 1Hour 43Minutes

Rated NR (Not Rated)

Director: Delber Mann

Studio: Paramount

Available: Netflix Streaming

Movie Movie (1978)

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 3 out of 10

4-Word Review: Two movies in one.

Initially, the unique concept for this film seems intriguing.  The idea was to recreate the movie viewing experience of the 30’s and 40’s by having a double bill feature along with theatrical trailers in between. The stories would have all the clichés, storylines, and characters from films of that era, but done with a tongue and cheek approach. The same core performers including: George C. Scott, his actress wife Trish Van Devere, Red Buttons, Art Carney, and Eli Wallach would play different characters in all the stories much like doing skits on a variety show. Legendary director Stanley Donen, famous for such films as Singing in the Rain, Royal Wedding, and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, would direct and the screenplay would be written by Larry Gelbert best known for writing Oh God! and Tootsie.

Unfortunately, it never really takes off. Part of the reason is that the parody is too restrained. There are a few funny lines here and there, but that is about it. This was released two years before the Zucker brother’s groundbreaking hit Airplane that redefined parody and still stands as the standard today. This film doesn’t even come close to that. In fact certain audiences that saw this movie in other countries didn’t get the wry, gentle humor at all and took it seriously. I got the feeling that Gelbert and Donen had gone to the theaters as kids and watched these same types of films. Their affection and nostalgia for this stuff is clearly evident and prevented them from unleashing the over-the-top, in your face farce that would have really made this hilarious and is what most audiences of today expect.

The first feature is entitled ‘Dynamite Hands’ and is a story about a young boxer from the 30’s named Joey Popchik (Harry Hamlin, in his film debut) who becomes a prizefighter in order to pay for his kid sister’s (Kathleen Quinlan) eye operation. This segment features all the expected clichés, but the subtle humor that is injected fails to make it seem fresh or interesting. It was shot in color, but I felt black and white would have been better. The one thing I did like was Hamlin who these days seems pretty washed-up as he appears almost exclusively in direct to video fare, or dumb reality shows with his fat-lipped wife. Yet here he is right on target with his portrayal of the naïve, wet-behind-the-ears, All-American kid and I enjoyed it. Wallach is also fun as the heavy.

The middle segment is a mock theatrical trailer called “Zero Hour” that features Wallach, Scott, and Buttons as WWI flying aces. This was shot in black and white, but is brief and unexceptional. I was disappointed that there wasn’t any silly newsreel footage as this was also a mainstay in theaters during the time and could’ve been a riot.

The third part is a send-up of all the old Busby Berkley musicals and is entitled “Baxter’s Beauties of 1933”.  Scott, who is nicely hammy, plays a famous Broadway producer named Spats Baxter that finds out he is dying from a very rare illness and has only a month to live. He decides to go out on top by putting on the most lavish musical show that he can. Again, like with the others, this segment is a disappointment. The musical numbers, which were choreographed by Michael Kidd, are poorly photographed and with the exception of one routine done on a giant roulette wheel fail to match the spectacular and extravagant quality of Berkley’s. Van Devere’s kitschy performance as an alcoholic, tyrannical leading lady is the only thing that saves it. Gifted actress Barbra Harris is completely wasted in a thankless role of one of the chorus girls that doesn’t take any advantage of her talents.

George Burns, who is credited as the film’s ‘host’, appears only briefly at the beginning, but I would have liked to have seen more of him.

The cast and crew clearly had more fun making this than the viewer had in watching it. The formula is followed too closely and the result is tedium.  Even if you are a fan of films from that period I would still not suggest this as the originals are far better.

My Rating: 3 out of 10

Released: November 3, 1978

Runtime: 1Hour 45Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Stanley Donen

Studio: ITC Entertainment

Available: Amazon Instant Video