Tag Archives: Sharon Tate

12 + 1 (1969)

twelve plus one 2

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 2 out of 10

4-Word Review: Money in the chair.

Mario (Vittorio Gassman) is a struggling barber who gets word that his rich aunt has left him a large inheritance. When he gets to her estate he finds the place nearly empty except for some old chairs piled up into a corner. Angered he decides to sell the chairs to a local antique dealer so he can at least make some money off of them. After he sells them he finds a note from his deceased aunt stating that there was a large amount of money sewn up inside one of them. In a panic he goes running back to the shop, but finds that they have already been sold off to various customers, so he along with Pat (Sharon Tate) who worked at the shop and wants to help him as long as she gets a part of the take go on a mad dash to seek out the chairs and retrieve them one-by-one until they can find the money.

The film is based on the classic 1928 Russian novel that has been made into several film versions including one by Mel Brooks that came out a couple of years after this one. I’ve never read the novel, but this film clearly does not do it any justice. The humor is lame and cartoonish and barely able to equal a weak Tom and Jerry cartoon or uninspired Disney flick. The budget is low and the scenes all have a perpetually cheesy, schlocky feel. The Herb Alpert-like music sounds like it was edited in off of an audio cassette recording. The whole thing is quite derivative and dull despite the wide variety of characters and locales.

The film’s biggest claim to fame is being Tate’s only starring vehicle and this didn’t get released until well after her death. She is very beautiful and surprisingly engaging and comical and her presence is the best thing about the movie. She even does a nude scene along with the equally tantalizing Ottavia Piccolo when they both go topless and then get into bed on either side of Gassman, which is the film’s one and only provocative moment.

The supporting cast is full of some old pros that get badly wasted. Terry-Thomas is one of the funniest character actors of all-time, but here he is shockingly boring and forgettable. Orson Welles hams it up in make-up as a pretentious stage actor whose play he is performing in becomes a catastrophe in the film’s only slightly amusing moment.

The color is faded and shot with no imagination or flair. Although there is some nudity the filmmaker’s would have been better served had they cut it out and aimed it solely for the kids as the humor is so broad and silly that only a three-year-old could possibly find it entertaining and even that is no guarantee.

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My Rating: 2 out of 10

Released: October 7, 1969

Runtime: 1Hour 34Minutes

Rated R

Director: Nicholas Gessmer

Studio: AVCO Embassy Pictures

Available: VHS

Don’t Make Waves (1967)

dont make waves 1

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 5 out of 10

4-Word Review: House slides down cliff.

Carlo (Tony Curtis) is a single 40-something man traveling through coastal California when he decides to pull his Volkswagen beetle over to the side of the road and get out to enjoy the gorgeous view. Problem is that Laura (Claudia Cardinale) is pulling out and her car’s bumper hooks onto his and his car goes speeding down the hill and crashes. All of his money was in the car, so Laura agrees to allow him to stay at her place for a while, but then her boyfriend Rod (Robert Webber) shows up who throws Carlo out onto the beach where he becomes acclimated with the beach bums including beautiful Malibu (Sharon Tate). He wants to date her, but she has a muscular boyfriend named Harry (David Draper). Carlo though has a plan to steal her away as well as getting a cushy job as a pool salesman and a beachfront home that ultimately goes crashing down the cliff just like his car did.

Curtis is engaging in the lead and shows great flair for frantic comedy, but his character has no backstory, which makes him generic and undistinguished. His constant conniving including tricking Harry into no longer having sex with Malibu so he can get his hands on her isn’t all that appealing since Harry is a rather nice guy and I was hoping he would give Curtis a much deserving punch in the face in the end, which unfortunately doesn’t happen.

Cardinale is sexy. Her tan, sleek figure, Italian accent and feisty temper make every scene that she is fun and sensuous. The fact that the character is at times quite oblivious to her surroundings and at other points very observant makes her interesting and quite human.

Tate’s performance is weak and her amount of speaking lines quite limited. The part was originally intended for Julie Newmar who might have been a bit better. However, the scene showing her bouncing up and down on a trampoline while wearing a bikini that even gets shown in slow-motion and freeze frame will be more than enough to satisfy most males.

The film features some impressive stunt work. The opening bit where Curtis tries to catch up with his rolling car and even gets his pants leg caught on fire isn’t bad. The part where Curtis falls from a plane and goes free falling into the air without a parachute is quite vivid even though stuntman Bob Buquor ended up getting killed during the sequence. The best part though is at the end when Curtis’s ritzy home and pool go sliding down a steep cliff during a rainstorm and subsequent mudslide. The special effects are outstanding even by today’s standards. The mud flowing through the place and the shots showing five occupants forced to survive in the home in a Poseidon-like scenario when it gets turned upside down before finally sliding down onto the cusp of the ocean is entertaining enough to make sitting through the rest of it almost worth it.

Unfortunately outside of this and the breathtaking scenery the film is quite vapid. The story is too unfocused and doesn’t seem to know what kind of message it wants to make. The scenarios and situations are trite and offer no momentum or plot progression. The theme of a middle-aged man trying to get in with the young mod generation of the time was handled much more effectively in I Love You Alice B. Toklas, which starred Peter Sellers and came out around the same time.

My Rating: 5 out of 10

Released: June 20, 1967

Runtime: 1Hour 37Minutes

Not Rated

Director: Alexander Mackendrick

Studio: MGM

Available: DVD (Warner Archive), Amazon Instant Video

Eye of the Devil (1966)

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By Richard Winters

My Rating: 7 out of 10

4-Word Review: Husband is a pagan.

Vineyard owner Philippe (David Niven) is called back to the castle of Bellenac when it is found that they are suffering from another dry season. Philippe’s wife Catherine (Deborah Kerr) and his two young children follow him there a few days later despite his insistence that they not come. Once there Catherine finds everyone’s behavior to be quite odd including a menacing brother and sister (David Hemmings, Sharon Tate) who make Catherine uneasy, but nothing prepares her for the real reason that her husband is there nor its shocking outcome.

Although several directors worked on this project including Michael Anderson the credit is ultimately given to J. Lee Thompson, who is probably best known for his frequent collaborations with Charles Bronson. Despite the different directors the film is very fluid and well produced. In fact it is the directing that makes this film high enjoyable. The lighting, editing, imagery and evocative camera work make this a near brilliant work from a visual level. Turning down the sound and appreciating it for its aesthetic style alone is more than enough and the on-location shooting done at the Chateau de Hautefort is excellent.

Tate is stunningly beautiful and the photography makes the most of it watching her sit out and get drenched by the rain is actually kind of sexy. She had bit parts in two films previous to this, but this is still credited as her official film debut.  Although her voice was dubbed she still is effective with a character that straddles the line between being sensual and creepy. The part where the Niven character viciously whips her while she wriggles around on the floor and then in the end turns around and smiles like she enjoyed it was year’s ahead-of-its-time and definitely pushing-the-envelope for that period.

Kerr came in to replace Kim Novak who was injured during filming and unable to complete the picture. Normally she always gives a superior performance, but her she seemed miscast. The only facial expression she seems able to show here is that of shock and fright and the character and scenario seems to be too much of an extension to the one that she did in The Innocents just a few years earlier. Both she and Niven seemed too old to be parents of such young children. He was already in his mid-fifties and she in her mid-forties and the film would have been better served had a young attractive couple in their 20’s been cast in the part.

Niven has always done so well being cast in likable roles that having him play someone with a dark personality doesn’t quite work and he looks uncomfortable in the part. Both Donald Pleasance and David Hemmings are underused and not given enough lines or screen-time.

The story itself is rather one-dimensional. The final sequence features some great shots and editing of Kerr running through some underground tunnels of the castle, but the outcome is quite predictable. The script lacks that added perspective or twist to make it truly memorable and is the weakest element in this otherwise visually arresting production.

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My Rating: 7 out of 10

Released: July 8, 1966

Runtime: 1Hour 32Minutes

Not Rated

Director: J. Lee Thompson

Studio: MGM

Available: DVD (Warner Archive), Amazon Instant Video

Valley of the Dolls (1967)

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By Richard Winters

My Rating: 5 out of 10

4-Word Review: The dolls are pills.

Usually when sites commemorate Sharon Tate it is on the anniversary of her murder, which is in August, but I decided to do things differently and talk about her in January when she was born. Had she lived she would have turned 71 this year and each Sunday this month I will review a 60’s film that she was in.

This one is probably her most well recognized part and it’s based on the bestselling novel by Jacqueline Susann who appears briefly as a reporter. Here Tate plays Jennifer North a woman with ‘no talent’ who must use her body and looks to get where she wants and she is constantly reminded of it by her mother who regularly calls to make sure she is doing her ‘breast exercises’. Eventually she stars in nudie films, which leads to a self-destructive downward slide. Patty Duke is Neely O’Hara a talented young singer who finds climbing to the top can be laced with drugs, alcohol and jealousy. Anne Welles (Barbara Parkins) makes up the third part of the trio as a small town girl who comes to the city looking for excitement, but finds more than she bargained for and eventually leaves.

If there is one thing that saves this otherwise trashy, standard script it is Mark Robson’s direction. Usually most directors come up with a color scheme based on the type of script that they have and mood they want to create, but Robson’s uses every color of the rainbow and more. The plush varied sets and interesting stop action photography that gets implemented from time-to-time keeps things moving at a brisk a visually interesting pace. John William’s score is excellent and Dionne Warwick’s song ‘The theme from Valley of the Dolls’, which charted at number 2 is like most of her work infinitely hummable.

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Duke is lively as the caustic Neeley. She took on the role to get rid of her ‘goody-goody’ image and does so in grand style as her angry tirades and meltdowns are entertaining. While she is attractive Tate’s acting seems limited, but her character is by far the most likable. Parkins may be the least well known of the three, but her performance is solid as the film’s anchor.

Veteran actress Susan Hayward gives the best performance as the aging acerbic singer Helen Lawson who will allow no one to push her from the top. Her confrontation with Duke in the women’s bathroom where Duke pulls off Hayward’s wig and tries flushing it down the toilet and then Hayward’s response to it is by far the most memorable scene of the whole movie.

The story itself is predictable, clichéd and one-note. The characters are cardboard and the dialogue is stale. If it weren’t for Robson’s direction this would have been a ‘bomb’. However, it has attained a high cult following for its campiness, which if you view it from that perspective isn’t bad.

This same story was remade as a 1981 TV-movie starring James Coburn and Jean Simmons.  Also, a young Richard Dreyfuss can be spotted briefly as a stagehand.

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My Rating: 5 out of 10

Released: December 15, 1967

Runtime: 2Hours 3Minutes

Not Rated

Director: Mark Robson

Studio: 20th Century Fox

Available: VHS, DVD, Amazon Instant Video, Netflix streaming