Friday, May 23, 2008

Holiday Weekend Viewing

A few cinematic suggestions to help usher in Summer.


A stuttering aristocrat (David Niven) invites nine guests to a weekend in the country, where he plans to shave their heads and force them to wear soiled potato sacks at salad fork-point. However, he doesn't know that three of the guests (Britt Ekland, Joey Heatherton, and Marty Allen) are Martians disguised as stewardesses, and have some devious plans of their own. Numerous complications arise, some of which include an irate, always hungry chimpanzee (Bessie) sporting a turban and a monocle, as the weekend culminates in an outdoor presentation of "The Fantasticks," performed as a Cherokee birth ritual. (With Dean Jones, Bob Crane, and Ronnie Schell.)


Conjoined twins (Kirk Douglas and Edward G. Robinson) rise through the professional tennis rankings, and soon find themselves in the U.S. Open semi-finals against a Soviet-built robot (basketball legend George Mikan) that eats its opponents after defeating them in straight sets. Just before the match occurs, the twins receive a telegram from their eccentric Uncle Lester (Oscar Levant) who demands that they immediately drop everything and join him on an African safari. It turns out that Uncle Lester lied, and simply wanted the twins to lay new carpet in his Manhattan penthouse. Enraged by the deception, the twins go on a week-long shopping spree, encountering weird characters in abnormal situations until the film runs out. (With Audrey Meadows, Kim Hunter, and Hume Cronyn.)


A desert hippie collective (Jerry Lewis playing 12 characters) discovers the secret to a fulfilling and happy life, only to lose it when reaching for a can of beans that causes an entire pantry to collapse. Struck by simultaneous amnesia and speaking in Cockney accents, the collective goes on a cross-country magic bus ride in search of a talking cinnamon bear prophesized by an unemployed carny (Charlie Callas) who claims to see the future in reverse. Several underground nuclear bomb tests later, the collective ends up at a llama farm run by two grad school drop-outs (Slim Pickens and Mickey Rooney), and trade in their bus for a septic tank. It is only during a solar eclipse that the collective learn about proper dental care, their oversized front teeth becoming a popular tourist attraction. (With Jaye P.Morgan and Bobby Short.)


Daredevil pastry chef Erskine Bratwink (Bill Cosby) turns his back on formal wear to embrace a regimen of heavy book throwing and slow-motion gymnastics. This brings him in direct competition with Cedar Collins, Jr. (Richard Crenna) whose deal to purchase Pike's Peak falls through, causing Collins to believe that he's become a giant porcupine who composes catchy disco songs. When Regina Hurtz (Shelly Winters) wakes up from a decade-long coma to embrace the gold standard, all hell breaks loose in the tiny Swiss village at the foot of an active volcano. It is only after the pop group Sassafras (played by The Knack) settles their creative differences that emotions begin to cool, and everyone comes together for a weekend toga party, not knowing that they are actually microscopic germs in a petri dish, being studied by a pair of extremely intelligent yet socially awkward biology students (Donny and Marie Osmond), who can't decide what to buy their mother for Christmas. (With Scatman Crothers, Jim Nabors, and Kay Lenz.)


Pretty much the same story as the original film, only set on a tropical island where Charles Nestor Kane (Jackie Gleason) lives in a large sand castle named Sandadu, ordering around crabs, pelicans, tree spiders, and whatever fish he manages to catch and domesticate, always dressed in a tuxedo jacket, grass skirt, with a bamboo crown on his head. His stubborn attempts to make a hula dancer out of his wife (Martha Raye) lead to much domestic turmoil as Kane tries to maintain his empire. Joseph Cotten reprises his role as Jed Leland, but apparently was too embarrassed to finish the film, and was replaced in matching shots by Shemp Howard. (With Kay Kyser and Lon Chaney, Jr.)