Most coffee table-type movie books that I have encountered are extravagantly- made, featuring glorious photographs, but containing very little substance. Reading about his childhood clarifies his actions and behavior as an adult, such as his legendary insecurities and his determination not to bested by anyone particularly a co-star. As a film historian myself, my favorite part of the book is the backstory for each of the movies. The King of Cool on screen was not so beloved by many of his co-stars or directors off-screen.
It is interesting to read about the tricks McQueen employed to upstage agitated movie star Yul Brynner on the set of The Magnificent Seven.
Similarly, on Soldier in the Rain McQueen, somewhat immaturely, took out his frustrations on Jackie Gleason and director Ralph Nelson when his choice to direct the movie, Blake Edwards, walked just before filming began. The authors are correct to take him to task for his behavior here and on other movie sets.
Sans McQueen on screen, Gleason is wonderful as evidenced in his scenes with the sparkling Tuesday Weld as his dumb blond blind date, who has some surprising insights to the world. Each chapter of this book is wonderful in its own way. The standout chapters for me are those pertaining to The Sand Pebbles and Papillon, one of my favorite movies of all-time.
Some of the most iconic images from the film come from the mind of that genius satirist. Critics dismissed this Henry Hathaway-directed western in and I believed the criticism of it being below-par. And since leading lady Suzanne Pleshette is one of my least favorites from the Sixties, I really had no desire to sit through it despite my admiration for McQueen.
Not to mention the fact that McQueen is shirtless throughout a lot of the movie, though they concede that it is a stretch to believe the actor, who was in his mid-thirties at the time, as a teenage half-Indian vowing revenge on the varmints that tortured and killed his parents. The authors do a superlative job from their perceptive prose to the magnificent visuals selected to accompany each chapter.
Race to the Silver Screen has just been released. Here is the press release: Race to the Silver Screen is the fascinating backstory of the competition to get two rival film biographies both titled Harlow into theaters first that quickly turned into one of the nastiest, dirtiest feuds that Hollywood ever witnessed In , in a rare occurrence not seen before or since, two motion pictures with the same title about the same subject opened within weeks of each other.
Both movies were failures at the time but have camp appeal today. Dueling Harlows with 18 photos contains new interviews from people who worked on the movies including actors Carol Lynley, Michael Dante, and Aron Kincaid; assistant directors Richard C. Tom Lisanti an award-winning author of seven books about Sixties Hollywood.
Visit his web site www. A few films i. The best of the crop for me was Ski Party Frankie Avalon and Dwayne Hickman play two average college guys, who are losers when it comes to the ladies, so they masquerade as English lasses on a ski trip to discover why their chicks Deborah Walley and Yvonne Craig dig suave ladies man Aron Kincaid and what they really want in a guy.
Complications ensue when the pompous Kincaid falls in love with Hickman's female incarnation. Meanwhile, when not romping around in drag, Avalon tries to make Walley jealous by flirting with Swedish bombshell Bobbi Shaw.
The first half of the picture unfolds quite briskly with excellent musical numbers performed by Avalon, James Brown, and Lesley Gore though the second half bogs down a bit with a ludicrous ski jump contest and an overlong chase sequence, standard for these AIP musical comedies.
Ski Party stands out from the rest of the AIP beach-party movies not only because of the change in locale but because of the superior production values. Credit must go to producer Gene Corman and his crew. The film is exquisitely filmed on location with some awesome ski shots. Alan Rafkin also does a first-rate job of directing and keeps the action moving. He brings some originality to the musical numbers as well. Having Frankie Avalon, Deborah Walley, Dwayne Hickman, and Yvonne Craig sing "Painting the Town" while on a sunlit sleigh ride helps elevate the song with the beautiful shots of the foursome traveling through the snow-covered back roads.
The musical performances by the guest stars are the standouts of any AIP beach movie. Here it is no exception. Following the release of Ski Party, the song became a hit and peaked at No. The Hondells turn up on the beach and rock on "The Gasser" and the title song. Finally, the appearance of James Brown and the Flames who come in out of the snow to perform their Top 10 record "I Got You I Feel Good " is truly one of the greatest musical moments in beach movie history.
Frankie Avalon and Dwayne Hickman are well paired as the wisecracking losers-in-love Todd and Craig and are very believable and amusing as the peppery English lasses, Jane and Nora. As the objects of their devotion, Deborah Walley and Yvonne Craig are only okay but they look stunning in Technicolor making it perfetly plausible to the audience why the boys would go to so much trouble to win them over.
Bobbi Shaw is engaging as a sexy Swede who decides she prefers love, American style. But it is the smarmy charm of Aron Kincaid pictured above surrounded by a bevy of beauties as the pompous Freddie who flips for a guy in drag who steals the movie. Usually clad in dark sweaters and turtlenecks which were a perfect contrast to his blonde hair and fair features , Kincaid is striking looking and awes every girl on screen and every girl in the audience not to mention a boy or two.