Friday, June 6, 2014

Back at the "Camp"ground...

Well, here we are again, looking at some photos that tickle our funny bones thanks to their campy qualities. (We went down this road once before here.) What is camp? I probably don't even define it right. To me, it's something that was never intended to be amusing, but is, or something that's sensibilities have passed through time in a way to make it funny (or funnier than it was beforehand.) Thus, you are in store today for some glitzy awkwardness and a dollop or two of the bizarre. Our cover girl is Miss Joan Crawford in Torch Song (1955), warning you not to "spoil that line" with your clumsiness! Whether you regard these items as "camp" or not, I hope you enjoy the pictures!

Something about the way Miss Jane Russell is contorted here in a shot from The French Line (1954) gives me a snigger, too! The gnarled expression, the spread legs and ill-chosen angle of her rear-end make me scratch my head.

Did you know that Frank Gorshin and John Astin were not the first ones considered to play The Riddler on Batman (1966-1968)? It looks as if Yvette Mimieux did a wardrobe test as well. Ha ha!  To paraphrase Bette Midler, I never miss a Yvette Mimieux musical.

Hungry? How 'bout something from the world famous restaurant The Brown Derby? Anita Ekberg is serving up exactly that in this hooty publicity photo. (But, hey, she looks very trim and svelte! Something she wouldn't be able to claim several years after this...)

Until the moment I saw this publicity still, I never associated Thanksgiving with Liza Minnelli. Somehow she has managed to infuse the holiday with a sort of tragic wistfulness that, again, had not previously been associated with the occasion before!

There are probably eight to ten things I could point out about this hysterical shot of Jayne Mansfield. The heaving pose isn't unusual for her at all, but how about the poor little guy caught in-between her bosom and the tiger-skin rug? How about the expression on the tiger's face under the buxom body of Miss M.? What about that red trim on the rug that makes it look as if it's blood and viscera are being squeezed out of it along the entire perimeter?!

This one I'm turning into a "Guess Who!" Do you know this roller-skating mama with beach-blown tendrils and the perky bosom?
Take a look and see if that enigmatic half-grin rings a bell at all, though her notoriety is primarily limited to a baker's dozen appearances on a major-league cult TV series from the mid-1960s (and later some of the movies it spawned.)
Yes, our curvaceous cupcake above is Yeoman Janice Rand of Star Trek (1966), Grace Lee Whitney. I've remarked before at how awestruck I was as a kid looking at Whitney's ornate, basket-weave beehive on Star Trek and here she is out scouting the universe with her state-of-the-art flashlight.

Everything about this shot of Valerie Perrine from Superman (1978) is off. The pose is dreadful, the "dress" tacky and ill-fitting, the hosiery too dark, and the lighting wretched. (I happen to have an abject hatred of any portrait in which the catch lights are only hitting one eye and not both...) 

There's an awful lot of frost going on in this static portrait of Connie Stevens (from The Sex Symbol, 1974?) There's the frosted hair, the frosted eye shadow, the highlighter under her eyes, the shiny pillow and sheets....! (And, to boot, an oddly manly set of arms.) 

In this awkward looking wardrobe still from The Poseidon Adventure (1972), Carol Lynley was trying out different uses for her macrame belt, which thankfully remained slung around her hips in the finished film. Why is she tugging at the hem of her shorts? They shrank even shorter once filming began and they were repeatedly exposed to heat and water!

Get a load of Miss Ann-Margret in this pose for one of her song and dance spectaculars. She's wearing something akin to the Chrysler Building on her noggin! Not sure about the French cut on that costume paired with tights that allow her tan line to show through...

Stand back, lest you become caught in the ferocity of sultry song & dance gal Joey Heatherton!

This gaggle of glitz contains Miss America Lee Meriwether posed alongside Knight Rider's Patricia McPherson, a very un-The Waltons-like Judy Norton-Taylor, CHiPs' Randi Oakes and Riptide's Ken Olandt during the 1984 installment of Circus of the Stars.

Buxom B-movie queen Sybil Danning is seen decked out in a typically tacky 1980's sci-fi get up (from Battle Beyond the Stars, 1980.)

There's something so stiff and staid about Erin Gray in this portrait from Silver Spoons (1982-1987.)

Enjoy the lunacy of this seductive shot of Cheryl Ladd, taken for one of her television specials. I only wish it were in color, so we could truly taste the rainbow of those flowing streamers!
We adore Fay Wray, in and out of King Kong (1933) and enjoy this overwrought glimpse of her freaking out after apparently having had the big ape rip her dress to kingdom come (or should that be kingdom kong?) 

While we're talking about simians, take a look at these two hooty shots of Tarzan Lex Barker and his chimpanzee companion Cheeta. First, Cheeta accepts a gift from Barker upon his arrival via airplane.

Then the two pals pore over the latest script that will pair them up again, Tarzan's Peril (1951.)

In this publicity shot, Barker is held at bay by a native who is likely meant to be grimacing in fury, but who - if you look at him long enough - seems like he is about to burst out laughing!

If that native seems at all amusing, get a load of Joel McCrea's cohort during Bird of Paradise (1932.) Paging Jane Russell to bring a case of Cross-Your-Heart Playtex bras to the island IMMEDIATELY!

Since we've managed to segue over to the arena of beefcake, let's examine this magazine spread featuring several Hollywood hunks in the water. The humor here is gleaned from the copy as this article explains what these gents are looking for in a girl...  "George Nader: Just be yourself-- that's what I like.  Cary Grant: Don't chatter-- listen to what he has to say, too.  Hugh O'Brien: Be cool-- make the boy think he's chasing you.  Tony Curtis: Keep him guessin'-- like Janet did to me.  Rock Hudson: Gals who play hard to get are not for me."
We always enjoy looking at Ty Hardin (of Bronco, 1958-1962) in his prime, but this picture is more than a little awkward. He seems to be climbing into a lifeguard chair, but his position is heinously contorted and uncomfortable looking (and it almost looks like a child's highchair, to boot!)
Fellow TV western star Dale Robertson (of Tales of Wells Fargo, 1957-1962)  has a situation on his hands. He's trying to burp a baby that I doubt is going to cooperate in the end!
One-time figure strap model turned actor Gary Conway (of Land of the Giants, 1968-1970) poses with his family in what has to be one of the most unintentionally creepy portraits of an ostensibly happy clan ever! His expression doesn't help, nor do those of his enigmatic-looking spouse, Miss America Marian McKnight, the strangely morose daughter or even the displeased baby!

Here's what Mr. Conway looked like back in his posing strap days (as Gary Carmody.)
He posed semi-nude for Playgirl years later (and it happens that I prefer this type of body, personally, to his chiseled one of before.) This photo isn't necessarily campy, this is :::cough::: supplemental research!
Land of the Giants, with its over-sized props and situations, lent itself to some campy publicity portraits like this one with the band of lost travelers camped out on a plate.
But it gets worse! Look at this one in which the ladies are all set to become a sandwich for a giant!
But we aren't completely finished looking at some (tacky) beefcake. Here's a shot of John Travolta in Staying Alive (1983), which we took an in-depth look into once before (just click on the movie's title.)
Another craptastic movie from that same year is A Night in Heaven, which starred Christopher Atkins as a college student/stripper who carries on an affair with one of his teachers, Lesley Ann Warren.
Joan Collins certainly has her hands full with this assortment of specimens, one of who is Jon-Erik Hexum, from The Making of a Male Model.  Um... this was from 1983, which makes me think that must have been a banner year for guys on parade!
Can you imagine how gooey this book must be by The Lawrence Welk Show's Tom Netherton? I don't think I've ever fully recovered from sitting in front of the TV set as a tot, watching him sing and thinking that he was the human embodiment of Malibu Ken, the male ideal to my preteen eyes. Then having my bubble burst as my mother strolled through, got a look at the television and exclaimed, "Now that's what my friend Wanda would call 'a fag!'" I did get over my crush on Netherton, but I still like to get tan and blonde in the summer.
How stiff and awkward is this promotional photo of talk show legend Merv Griffin, in anticipation of the new year?
What could be campier than having Gloria Effing Swanson playing your mom on Broadway?! This still photo shows David Huffman and his "mom" Glo, overseen by none other than Pamela Bellwood in the kooky neighbor role. Huffman, who vaguely resembled Keir Dullea in the part, was very tragically murdered at only age thirty-nine by a teenage punk wielding a screwdriver after Huffman caught him robbing a motor home.
Why does it look as if boxing actor Leon Isaac Kennedy (from Body and Soul, 1981) has only a little bit less makeup on than his wife Jayne Kennedy?! Jayne was everywhere in the late-'70s/early'-'80s and I was mesmerized by her for some reason. They split up shortly after this movie and are now married to different spouses.

In more makeup than either one of them is Grandpa Munster, Al Lewis, of The Munsters (1964-1966.) We rarely got to see him in color as the show was filmed and broadcast for its two-year run in black & white.

Check out this horror magazine called "Thriller" in which a lustful female vampire hovers over her handsome prey. The title of one of the articles is "Lay Me in My Grave!"
There's something funny about Maurice Evans relaxing on the steps of his trailer during filming of Planet of the Apes (1968) in full orangutan drag except for his little plaid hat!
Likewise, this trio of apes is amusingly planted on the streets of the Fox back lot, where seedy hotels and strip joints proliferate and a studio carpenter/painter relaxes on a stoop.
Now we're going to finish out the home stretch of this post with a passel of pics from one of my favorite camptastic movies, the disaster epic Earth-quake from 1974. This cracked film has been a part of me all my life (I was seven when it came out.) I've seen it countless times, can recite lines from it and have read about it in depth. Similarly abstract as the Apes photo above is this one of director Mark Robson and producer Jennings Lang casually chatting amidst a street-full of rubble!

In this hooty pic, Robson instructs the divinely scenery-chewing leading lady, Miss Ava Gardner, on how to approach a part of the film in which her husband Charlton Heston abandons her and her dying father in order to go out and scour a decimated Los Angeles in search of his mistress.
Here we see the delicious results of his coaching as Gardner bursts away from doctor Lloyd Nolan and secretary friend Monica Lewis to chase after Heston's SUV!
Miss Lewis, by the way, suffered one of the movie's most hysterical indignities when she was barked at to "Take off your pantyhose, dammit!" in order to create a suitable seat-belt for those being lowered from one level of a damaged building to another in an office chair rigged up with a firehose!
Gardner's papa in the film, and the one giving Lewis the pantyhose directive, was Lorne Greene, with critics stumbling over themselves in order to find ways to poke fun at the fact that he was not even eight years older than her himself!
Now if you look at the photo above and at this one below of Miss Gardner, you will see the magic of movie-making when it comes to makeup and lighting. She was fifty-two at the time and while not necessarily a staggering example for a woman her age, she still had that amazing face.
But take a look at this photo of her, snapped ON HER WAY to makeup. With this snapshot, women everywhere ought to breathe easier knowing that the Ava Gardner they saw on their movie or TV screen didn't just wake up that way! She had to have her face and neck tugged up under a wig and be polished and shellacked by the technicians on hand.

But all these reflections about Earth-quake and Ava are merely foreplay for the "camp" that is to come. I just wanted to include them because it seemed like a good place to. If you look at this composite (which makes me drool, by the way.  I LOVE "box movies" and collections of stars all aligned together this way), you will see portraits of ten of the top stars from this movie. (For years, the one of Ava hung on the wall of the "Earthquake" attraction at Universal Studios Florida. I was staring at it intently just before getting to be part of the hilarious demonstration there, though I understand it's all been changed to something else now...)

I've seen countless photos from this movie over the years, but somehow these final ones escaped me until just now. How, I'll never know because I am obsessed with 1970s disaster and can never see or read enough about those movies. I came upon this shot of Richard Roundtree and I thought, "Hmmmm... I guess they wanted to shoot one of him looking worried during the title event (and Earthquake was billed right on the posters as " Event!")
Then I saw this one of Oscar-winner (and disaster movie fixture) George Kennedy! I thought, "Wow, that's weird... they had him pose as if taking in the seismic occurrence as well..."

So even though hers is far more hysterical, I wasn't all that surprised to then come upon supporting player Victoria Principal screaming in horror at a nonexistent bit of destruction.

Even "serious actress" Genevieve Bujold, who only did Earthquake in order to excise herself from an unwanted contractual commitment, was compelled at knife-point (out of frame, ha!) to partake in this exercise...
Still numb to the idea that Universal would put these people through photo shoots in which they were instructed to look up and behave as if something was falling apart or falling upon them, I really didn't expect to see anymore of them, but lo and behold, there in all his glory was the STAR, Oscar-winner Chuck Heston, struck petrified by the happenings around him! (Wouldn't these make an uproarious framed arrangement in a rec room or maybe even a bedroom! LOL Young people who don't know what the actors are reacting to would be dumbfounded by it all.)
But you know what's coming. The parade of hysteria was not complete. Though I never did see shots like these of Marjoe Gortner, Barry Sullivan or Lorne Greene (and you know I tried!), I did at last unearth one with Ava Gardner giving her best rendition of experiencing a tremor. 

What's more, she's in her second of three costumes, one which only appears in the movie momentarily because the scene in which she (at fifty-two, mind you!) informs Heston that she has recently aborted his baby was cut from the final print. She gives better face in the film itself, but it's still a campy riot to see her and these other folks enacting their own little versions of Earthquake... and Event!  Till next time, loves...  Poseidon!


A loyal reader of Poseidon's Underworld was kind enough to e-mail me additional photos of the cast of Earthquake, shaking in their boots! We are eternally grateful for this generosity of spirit and proudly attach these pics to the tail end of this post:

Barry Sullivan looks more intrigued than frightened.
Lorne Greene is startled, but maybe he just saw the shooting script...
...and finally Lloyd Nolan seems to be having some sort of physical or medical episode!


joel65913 said...

Love the reaction shots though I think Victoria Principal's look of outright horror is from a mirror out of camera range where she can see how horrendous she looks in that wig!

Speaking of wigs that one on poor Valerie Perrine may not be as hideous as Victoria's but it's terrible just the same.

That would have been some pool party with Cary, Rock, George, Tony and Hugh!! I don't know that women would have been welcomed necessarily, at least by some of the guests.

Narciso Duran said...

Lots of truly awful things here, Poseidon. I think I liked the shot of Joey Heatherton the best. She has that aggressive "poke-me-in-the-chute" look on her face that makes the pose so stanky-dirty. Valerie Perrine smirks like a sneaky feline, as if she left a puddle or a pile on the floor after striking that pose; she even seems proud of it. And poor Liza -- what the heck was that all about? Was she even a "name" at that point that people would want to look at a seasonal publicity shot, especially one in which she is dressed as drably as a chestnut husk? And Carole Lynley, OMG all that macrame; she looks as if she is swathed in a 1970s potted plant hanger. And I can relate to your Tom Netherton story all too well.

Poseidon3 said...

Joel, it wasn't too long after this that Victoria Principal decided she should ditch her acting career and become an agent! Circumstances led to her sticking it out (and landing "Dallas"), but for a time, anyway, she shared your despair about the way things were going. ha!

Narciso, great to see you again. It's been too long. It always fascinates me the way Liza Minnelli transformed herself, pretty much permanently, from a girl with long hair and a variety of clothes to a woman with a perennial pixie 'do and sparkly red or black pantsuits for decades on end! The two seem very disconnected to me. I was just re-examining the Tom Netherton book and had to chuckle that the title of the book is printed partly BEHIND his hair, rather than over it, lest something mess up that perfect tress!

EricSwede said...

Another great post. BTW the apes behind the barricade are standing on the San Francisco street set dressed for Neely to stagger down in Valley of the Dolls, shortly after she utters my all time favorite line from the movie: "Who's stoned? I am merely traveling incognito.".

Poseidon3 said...

Oh my gosh, Eric! I imagine VOD was all wrapped up by the time Apes began filming, but had a photographer snapped Patty Duke in her Act Two costume ("Then we'll jush do the seccon' act firsh!") alongside these simians, I would have rolled over dead on the spot! LOL

Knuckles Girlyskirt said...

Let's see, where do I begin:

That shot of Liza might just be the most un-Liza-ish photo of her ever.

I actually own an 8 x 10 of that Jayne Mansfield shot. I had picked it up in NYC years ago at a store called Jerry Ohlinger's. Apparently, it's still around.

I LOVE Sybil Danning...particularly in "Chained Heat" (w/ Linda Blair, Tamara Dobson, and Stella Stevens)...and "The Howling 2" The shot here doesn't do her justice. But the get-up she's wearing does!!!

John Travolta's nausea-inducing ensemble may just be the WORST costume design of all time!!! Of course, the hair and sweatband don't help!!!

As for "Earthquake", I think I'm due to watch it again, with the sound turned up really loud, for that true Sensurround experience. I should add, as a child, I had a jigsaw puzzle of the movie poster, along with one of "Airport 1975" Wish I still had them.

In any case, thanks for the GREAT post. Lots o' fun!!!

NotFelixUnger said...

To echo Knuckles, I LOVE Sybil Danning! I swear those are the breasts that keep on giving. (Even after all these years!) There's just something genuine about her. I honestly believe she really is that tough in real life. Secret confession time: I LOVE that outfit she is wearing too. I mean "I l-o-v-e it."

Of the others, my favorite is Christopher Atkins from "One night in heaven." He has grown into quite the hunk I might add. He was always to cutie pie for me but I find he has turned into a very ruggedly handsome and sexy man.

Finally, "Earthquake" is probably my favorite disaster film of all time. I still remember seeing it in theaters at the time. Charlton Heston and Richard Roundtree just created all these urgings in me. The fact my seat was vibrating might have added to the overall sensation, too.

I still hate Ava Gardner in that movie to this day. She had to go and drown and kill Mr. Heston along with her. Had he lived he would have been much happier with Genevieve Bujold. To this day I still skip the last 5 minutes to avoid her dragging him through the sewer system as she floats away.

Poseidon3 said...

Wow, Knuckles, I would LOVE to have those puzzles you mention! I recall going to see John T. in "Staying Alive" with my sister, who loved him. At the time I liked him okay. Now, not so much. What a crazy ass costume scheme that show-within-a-show had, though!

NotFelix, we agree on so much it's always a little startling when something comes along on which we don't! I used to think Ava's character was just terrible in "Earthquake" and I guess she still is, but somewhere along the line I turned a corner and began to love, love, LOVE her! Opposite of your own reaction, I always appreciated that Chuck would risk his life to save his wife, even if she was a shrew, and was always mortified that Genevieve seemed to turn away from the manhole opening and give up before it was really certain that he and Ava were truly gone!!! LOL Probably just an editing issue. I'm sure you're aware that your preferred ending is the one that was scripted. It was Heston himself who came up with the idea of nobly drowning rather than surviving with his mistress. ;-)

Knuckles Girlyskirt said...

I tried to find pictures of the 2 puzzles in question, but couldn't.

However, here is one of the movie "Midway", which was part of the same series.

torresongs said...

Is it just me or does Joey Heatherton look like she's being attacked by a gorilla?

Poseidon3 said...

Ha ha!! Now that you mention it, I can TOTALLY see it!