Monday, August 23, 2010

“I've never seen so many trying to cover so much with so little.”

Movie trends are an interesting thing to consider. (For about five minutes. Once every twelve years) You’ll have a period of time where a genre will be incredibly popular for a span of time, then fade. Science Fiction & Fantasy bounce back quickly from slumps, but other genres just shrivel up. If they’re lucky like film noir, they’ll spawn periodic revivals and remixes (like Chinatown and Blade Runner) or like westerns there’ll be a trickle of them as various bankable directors give it a shot. The unlucky ones dry up and blow away like tumbleweeds. Like the Teen Beach Movie genre!

Which segues into today’s little exercise in badness, 1967’s Catalina Caper, one of the last Beach Movies made.


Well, we’re on/around Santa Catalina Island in sunny Southern California, and some fat guy sneaks into an art gallery and with ridiculous ease steals an ancient scroll. The next morning, two teenage students (our heroes) arrive on the island with the stated goal of finding chicks. Looks like the two plots are setting a collision course for 84 minutes of wackiness in this Catalina caper (DUN DUN DUN)!

Don Pringle: Tommy Kirk (who starred in several beach movies and was also, get this, the kid Travis in Old Yeller) plays our hero. Not much to the character aside from he’s from someplace like Arizona and this is the first time he’s seen a body of water as big as the Pacific.

Charlie Moss: Brian Cutler plays Don’s blonde buddy. He’s a native of Catalina Island and pretty much has three girls surrounding him at all times.

Katrina Corelli: Ulla Strömstedt plays Don’s love interest. An attractive girl traveling to the Island to see her jerk boyfriend Angelo (Lyle Waggoner) who is of course working for the bad guys. She’s a hottie, but has a kind of creepy monologue when first introduced. On the island, she seems to have the uncanny ability to turn every guy’s head when she walks by, which I guess makes her the film’s badass.

Tina Moss: Venita Wolf plays a friend of Charlie’s that also takes a liking to Don.

Arthur & Anne Duval: Del Moore & Sue Casey play a couple of “gentleman thieves” (well, more or less). They arranged for the theft of the Magoffin, but then decide they don’t want to hand it over to their client for…some reason.

Larry: Jim Begg plays the chubby henchmen of the Duvals. He actually does the stealing in the beginning and aside from wearing a stupid hat loves him some baseball.

Tad Duval: Peter Duryea plays the Duvals teenage son who is curiously oblivious to their shady careers.

Lakopolous: Lee Deane plays our, for lack of a better term, Villain. He’s bald and has henchmen in scuba gear.

Fingers O’Toole: Robert Donner plays a tall, gangly Monsieur Hulot-like character spying on the Duvals. (see, this project taught me useful film connections!). Turns out he’s an undercover investigator trying to find the missing Magoffin, but is so ridiculously clumsy that he takes a pratfall in every scene he’s in.

Directed by Lee Sholem, there’s really no substance to this movie. It’s competently shot and aside from a few physical gags and an underwater fight scene, pretty much all that the movie has going for it are bikini clad women, which all things considered, isn’t so bad.

Original story by Sam Pierce and screenplay by Clyde Ware. The initial idea of the heist plot on a warm, touristy island isn’t a bad one, but it gets relegated to sublot status hard and we get Don & Charlie hanging around with chicks for the most part.

Original music by Jerry Long which is a standard 60s kind of soundtrack. There’s also a number of on-screen musical numbers from The Cascades performing “There‘s A New World” Carol Connors singing “Book of Love” and Little Richard (who looks a little…“medicated”) singing the “timeless” classic “Scuba Party.” Then there’s the movie’s theme song “Never Steal Anything Wet” sung by Mary Wells over the beginning and end credits.

There’s no real substance to Catalina Caper. None. It’s light and fluffy and pretty much mindless. Not unwatchable but certainly not a good bad movie either.

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