Friday, May 26, 2023

Poseidon Quickie: Taking It All Hoff...

This really IS a quickie. Life keeps handing me lemons and I can only make so much lemonade. LOL! But I wanted to put something up before the holiday weekend. (Not to make it all about me, but in case anyone is curious... among the latest calamities is having my smartphone croak, switching home internet service and having it render my laptop useless and then a fault in my newly-remodeled bathroom shower - "Paging Mike Holmes!" There's even more, but I won't bore you with any of it.) I've had an almost psychotic preoccupation with showers these last several weeks. I wonder if somehow I telekinetic-ally broke it! But I digress... You probably ought to recognize the man above left as David Hasselhoff of Knight Rider.

Surprisingly enough, Knight Rider (which aired from 1982 to 1986) is a show I never watched beyond a time or two. And any recent attempts to do so have failed. It's just not my cup of tea. And even though 'Hoff truly had my type of physique, he was somehow so inherently campy in his posturing that I rarely could take him seriously. If you look up his publicity photos... well, it could almost form a comedic art installation!

Even though the poses on either side of this Baywatch shot are as Zoolander as ever, at least I prefer him with shorter, more manageable hair.

After playing teensy walk-ons for The Dean Martin Show and Police Story, he landed a primo gig on the daytime serial The Young and the Restless in 1976 and proceeded to a fairly consistent career as an actor thereafter.

See what I mean about the awkward pinups? "Vee are heah to pump... you up!"

Anyway, as Snapper Foster on Y&R, Hasselhoff sets hearts afire. He's pretty loosey-goosey in those white trousers! But right about the time he was making his way on TV, there was a blast from the past that popped up to embarrass him somewhat.

In 1974, Hasselhoff had taken part in a seriously low-rent (and low-down) sex/drug movie called Revenge of the Cheerleaders. It earned him his SAG membership card, though the movie didn't get released, at least not right away. It came to light in 1976 when he was riding high on Y&R.

I'm not sure what's worse... that his participation in this hoot was finally discovered or that his character's name is "Boner!" (I thought I was skirting disaster when I played a character called "Stump" in my own first movie...!) He's been drugged here. That's not his usual visage in the film.

Hasselhoff is the star basketball player (on a Hawaiian team, although the movie was filmed entirely in California.)

The 6'4" young man was very lean and gangling at this stage. As you might have guessed, there's more... The movie, which is almost completely preoccupied with sex and drugs within the confines of a wafer thin story line, offers up a variety of scenes with "teen" skin (he was 22 at the time.) About 30-minutes in, there is a pretty revealing shower scene.

Five basketball players, including the Hoffmeister, are in the high (!) school shower room when a quintet of naked cheerleaders creep in to join them.

Pretty soon there is a lot of soaping up amongst the playful kids...

I mean a LOT of soap! I half expected Lucille Ball and Gal Gordon to pop up in here. Ha ha!

My alma mater was nothing like this...

As an aside, I give you my long-ago take on this movie from imdb. Apart from the flimsy theatrical release that took place in 1976, the movie made it's way onto VHS in the 1980s in order to exploit his presence in it.

Whereas he hadn't been billed or even depicted on the film's initial poster, he was now being listed as "starring" in the opus on cheapo, blurry, second or third generation videotapes.

That injustice has been rectified as the (truly bad, but strangely fascinating) movie has now been released on Blu-Ray! This was not something lensed by Sven Nykvist or James Wong Howe to begin with, but there is nonetheless an increased visibility over previous available versions. And, bless them, Tubi has made this available so that those who wish to can get some pretty good looks at David as he and his friends take it all 'Hoff! Ha ha!!

The End! (By the way, there are four visible people here... not the optical illusion of three!!)

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Reunited: An "Adventure" in "Love."

It wouldn't take anyone visiting here too long to grasp that, of all our favorite movies, one in particular stands out. The Poseidon Adventure (1972) rocked this 7 year-old's world upon first viewing it (sadly on TV and not in a theater.) I was hardly alone in watching, though. With a 62% share, it was the sixth most-watched movie ever broadcast on TV to that time. (The rating for it was 39. Today, a network special or even a hot series is lucky to hit a 5!) Most of the stars of the ensemble movie became legends to me, part of a special fraternity which earned lifetime devotion on my part. 

In a cast already brimming with Oscar-winners (Jack Albertson, Red Buttons, Shelley Winters and Ernest Borgnine), Gene Hackman joined the club as filming was underway. His was for The French Connection (1971.) (Interestingly, his BAFTA in 1973 was for both Connection and Adventure!)

As a kid, I was ALL IN when it came to following the survivors of the capsized S.S. Poseidon. They faced continuous peril as they climbed and sometimes swam to the hull of the ship in hopes of being rescued.

As much as the cast is cemented in my mind as a group, it's remarkable that Ernest Borgnine and Shelley Winters actually share very few moments together one-on-one. Here, she makes a futile attempt to keep Borgnine and Hackman from squabbling.

Their most considerable interaction occurs as he is assisting her out of a tunnel and onto a steep set of steps in an overturned smokestack. For me, these two will forever be associated with the fateful voyage of the S.S. Poseidon. But ten years later they were back on the water again (and not in the soggy Poseidon sequel!)

Yes, in 1982, Borgnine and Winters were reunited for a two-part installment of The Love Boat!

They played a long-married couple of Italian heritage who are aboard to celebrate their anniversary. Their accompanying family members could hardly be more staggeringly random and unlikely.

In red at the far right is Candice Azzara and she I can buy as Borgnine and Winters' daughter, though she doesn't bear any physical resemblance. She's believable as the child of Italians.

The interesting thing here is that Azzara had appeared in the second pilot for The Love Boat! In 1977's The Love Boat II, a 2-hour telefilm, she played Lounge Entertainer Amy Mitchell, intended to be a regular cast member. But in the end, there was no such ongoing role in the popular show. Her role is this voyage is rather thankless. She's only around as an observer of other people's stories.

And, no, you weren't seeing things if you thought you recognized a young Marie Osmond in the photos above...! She played the couple's granddaughter. Her daffodil-hued, ruffled monstrosity sort of put me in the mind of the frock handed to Angela Cartwright to wear in Beyond the Poseidon Adventure (1979.) Osmond winds up entangled with Dynasty's John James, who is not the man her parents intended her to wed.

Their other daughter is the least likely of all... Meredith Baxter Birney! She falls for a man who was set up as a blind date, but he turns out to be a gigolo! ("Three Coins in the Condom Machine?")

Baxter had met Birney when they were cast on Bridget Loves Bernie in 1972. Is that enough Bs for you yet? The highly-rated show was pulled after one season due to controversy (interfaith marriage.) They wed in 1974 and could be found costarring or otherwise appearing together quite a bit thereafter. They divorced in 1989. (After three husbands and five children, Baxter married a woman in 2013.)

But back to the topic at hand. Borgnine (complete with a heavy Italian accent) and Winters (devoid of any accent other than her usual one!) realize that as they are celebrating their long-time marital union, they actually aren't happy with one another.

Nestled in their cabin, they determine that it might be best to divorce!

Borgnine could sometimes use a little help reining in his big personality and Winters could turn, in the wrong hands, quite hammy and more than a little shrill. There two pull out a lot of stops in order to out-act one another at times.

This Love Boat voyage didn't take place on board the usual Pacific Princess line, but instead was an Italian ship. Ironically, it was the Stella Solaris - Stella Stevens having played Borgnine's memorably sarcastic wife in Poseidon!

A tense family dinner in the salon. Shelley's dusty rose dress is something of a souped-up version of her taupe chiffon from Poseidon.

Playing a Catholic rather than a Jew, she sports a cross necklace this time out instead of the Star of David. Over Borgnine's shoulder is a waiter (also seen in the prior pic) and his gold jacket recalls the ones seen in the 1972 movie.

See what I mean? (Some of you might recall the time I was doing a rundown on The Phynx (1970) and spotted Freida Renti in that wearing this very same getup!)

At any rate, as the voyage continues, the couple keeps discovering that despite their long marital union, they just aren't happy with one-another. 

"You Don't Bring Me Flowers" anymore... (Actually, he never did!)

At times, the ham level is dialed down a notch and Winters is able to put forth some nice emotional touches. (But I couldn't help dwelling on the fellow diner behind her!)

Things finally reach a turning point for the couple outside a Roman church.

I don't think I'm ruining anyone's life too much if I tell you that they ultimately wind up sticking together and drifting along in a gondola all their own. (One hopes that with their history of maritime disaster, the thing didn't soon capsize!)

No, this wasn't Long Days Journey into Night or Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, but it was nonetheless neat and fun to see these two members of the Poseidon Adventure family acting together on a ship again.

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

My Fair "Ladykillers"

I struggled and struggled for a title on this post. I considered "My Bare Ladykillers," "Cheap- endales" and a variety of others. This 1988 TV-movie could scarcely be ranked any higher than "Fair" in a video guide, but that doesn't mean it isn't vastly entertaining for all the wrong reasons...! Ladykillers came towards the end of the wondrously tackilicious 1980s and combines bouffant and beefcake, two of our favorite things! I could never describe this project as good, but it a true guilty pleasure (recommended to me by a faithful reader who apparently knows me all too well!)  

Ladykillers is in fact a rather female-centric movie (with the typical power positions men might hold being instead filled by women), but as a result it's the men who are the most objectified. That's fine by me! We begin with Thomas Calabro awakening after a tryst with his lady love.

Said lady is portrayed by Marilu Henner. Henner can hardly take her eyes off the handsome, younger buck that she's had the good fortune to land.

And who can blame her? He's cute as a bug and has quite the physique going.

The title of the film refers to a male strip club. We're shown the work of a graphic designer who is using a claw-like tool to prepare some promotional material for the club. But this tool will soon enough be carving up more than vinyl artwork...!

The owner of this advertising firm is played by Miss Susan Blakely, sporting hair about as big as we've ever seen on her!

She's in full-on power mode as the demanding boss lady of the studio. (Her earrings are vintage. Tony Curtis fended off the enemy with them in The Black Shield of Falworth, 1954! Ha ha!)

The camera enters a, like, totally-'80s mansion and follows to the bathroom upstairs where a gentleman is showering. (He's also - badly - singing a once popular, but since practically forgotten song by Living Colour called "Glamour Boys." The soundtrack for this flick is surprisingly great!)

If you've been reading very much in these here parts as of late, you know that practically every post I've done since mid-April has involved a shower! Why stop now?!

The occupant, Gary Hudson, can sense that someone is in the home, perhaps watching him.

Sure enough, he's right! It's Blakely. It's her home and he's just finished making it with another woman in her bed!

Slimy as his behavior might be, she can hardly withstand his physical charms as he's standing before her dripping. She eventually gives into him regardless of the risk to not only her mental well-being, but also her hair!

That evening, her heavenward blow-out has been replaced by a softer, curlier 'do, perhaps a side-effect of her own impromptu trip into the shower...! Here, she's dropping Hudson off at work - with a warning not to bed down any more ladies besides herself. But where does he work?

Why, at Ladykillers, of course! This isn't he. This is a different stripper we'll call "She-Man: Master of the Universe."

This place is wild. True, they only strip down to bikini briefs, not G-strings, but the female clientele is HANDS-ON. (In the early-'90s gay bars in my area, it was a strict hands-off policy -- This is what I hear anyway! Ha ha!)

I assure you this is not Little Richard, but another of the themed strippers at Ladykillers.

He launches into a very athletic and frenetic dance.

We'll call him "The Lion Queen."

Did I say hands-on? It's also LIPS-ON!

The crowd goes wild. But who owns this establishment?

Ladies and gentlemen... I present to you the spectacularly astonishing Miss Lesley-Anne Down. There really wasn't anything that could fully prepare me for the level of '80s styling applied to Lesley-Anne and it took every bit of power in my being not to make this solely a post of screen-caps of her face!

Her role gets off to a smashing start as one of her disgruntled dancers loses his temper and slams her into a large mirror in her office!

Stunned by this burst of violence, she conducts an acting experiment in the various stages of shock and disbelief, all the while with a teeny chunk of glass resting atop her hairdo. (In all truthfulness, the Aqua Net probably took most of the brunt of this experience...)

The best way I can think of to describe Down's personal design aesthetic here is to suggest what might have happened if Alexis Carrington had produced a daughter by Prince...!

Down in the smoky, oily, hilarious dressing room, various strippers are pumping up in preparation for their big moments on stage. Don't fret over the fact that this dumbbell (the actual weight, not the man) is obscuring your view...

Soon enough it is down during a curl, affording us a glimpse of those pale purple briefs.

They wouldn't...

They would!

Among the others is Hudson, our man from the shower earlier. He's all excited to be performing the night's big finale. (Why is he in full costume for the finale when all the other dancers who would presumably come before him aren't even in costume yet? One of many probing questions from this Pulitzer Prize winning teleplay...)

After a long day of telling people that their work isn't any good, Blakely is on hand at the bar to watch her lover shake his groove thing for wads of singles.

And he obliges. (He's also set upon by a pack of voracious female clientele who are all over him!)

There's someone out there, though, who might have something to say about how the performance winds up. Despite the intense danger of a neoprene wig in the midst of all those candles, there is a nutjob preparing to cut the night short, so to speak. And he/she does just that! 

Who's on the case? It's Henner! She's a police detective who finds herself pressed into service when Hudson is slashed to death before everyone's eyes by a disguised and deranged fan.

Seen here with members of her team, including rookie Calabro on the far right, this could almost be a scene from "Cagney and Racy!"

It's a tough job, but someone's got to find out why someone is offing those who take it all off...

Henner scopes out the scene of the crime while club owner Down provides what info she can.

As garish and overdone as it may seem by today's standards, I lived for this sort of glam at the time. And within just a couple of years it would be nearly as extinct as the dinosaurs once Seattle grunge and a general lack of glitz settled in.

Probably this moment drives home the idea of "Woman are in charge - Men are eye candy" aspect of the production more than any other. In what is a story twist akin to Joan Crawford's Berserk! (1968), the attacks have not diminished attendance, but increased it at the club.

Things begin to become a bit sticky when Henner (shock of shocks) has to confront the fact that she is not only the lover of Calabro, but also his boss...!

I mean, this movie is female-forward in a few ways, but this chick has to be one of THE least professional police detectives ever. And it's only going to get worse.

Following another near-killing, Henner has a plan up her sleeve. She contacts Down to get her on board with it.

Several of the officers in her squad are called into the line-up room...

...whereupon they are all instructed to DANCE.

This is all "witnessed" by the divine Miss Down, who is more than skeptical at what she's being shown. Before we can get too complacent with the total lack of rhythm on display...

...Henner orders her subordinates to start taking off their clothes!! They do so, albeit with a sense of jocularity.

Down, who's used to specimens of incredible physical quality and possessing remarkable ability of movement, is not having it.

Just then, a latecomer arrives, presumably having actually been at work on a case unlike practically everyone else around. (Even the female police officers have put down their notepads to come and take in this display.) To Henner's discomfort, Calabro starts to shake what his mama gave him as his hapless coworkers look on.

Next comes the shirt...!

Where our rookie detective learned to dance like "Magic Mike: the Prequel," we don't know, but he's got it goin' on!

And the owner of Ladykillers is down with it, too... He's hired!

Even though it was all her idea, Henner makes a feeble attempt to get him to resist joining all the strippers at the club in order to fish out a murderer.

He's all in, though, and before long he's being given the rules and regulations set forth by the gal in charge.

This is not Calabro, but another themed dancer. So what if there's been one murder and one attempted murder at the club... The show must go on! 

Just Sheik it off!

I loved seeing his hair all slicked back... until I saw that he was sporting this rancid ponytail! But he's lookin' good nonetheless. (And fans of his owe it to themselves to see this flick.)

Somehow the newest and least-experienced dancer has been handed the much-coveted finale number...!

How this doesn't lead to mutiny from his fellow peelers I don't know, but most of them are pretty pleasant to him and even offer him oil to slather on himself (though they stop short of rubbing it in.)

Off he goes and off go his clothes... But will be survive the experience?! I'll never tell. But you may see all this and more for yourself by following this YouTube link. Due to the rather low-quality of the upload (for which we're nonetheless grateful) and the already hazy videography of the production, this might be one video that will look better on your phone!

I have to honestly reveal that I have long been immune to the charms of Henner. The costar of the popular sitcom Taxi (which I also rarely watched) was soon to land as Burt Reynolds wife on Evening Shade, another TV success. She has continued to work steadily thereafter and now has enjoyed a 45-year career on screen. It's not that she's bad in this. The role is hideously written to start with. But she's not one of "my" people. Trivia Tidbit: Henner has hyperthymesia, which is total recall memory. She can recall practically every detail of every day of her life since she was a child...! She still acts on TV today at age 71.

Model-turned-actress Blakely is a costar in two 1970s disaster movies, The Towering Inferno (1974) and The Concorde... Airport '79 (1979), so we're more than familiar with her. Once the face in so many ads, catalogs and on magazine covers, she debuted in movies in 1972, later turning to TV with the miniseries Rich Man, Poor Man, which earned her much attention. Having acted with some degree of regularity over the years, she went into semi-retirement following two appearance on This is Us in 2018. But she did return in a 2022 independent film.  She will soon be turning 75.

"I Love the '80s!"

This was a really early role for Calabro, who'd begun in New York theatre and made his movie debut in Exterminator 2 (1984.) Having made the rounds on shows like Father Dowling Mysteries, Columbo, Law & Order and a failed drama Dream Street, he was cast in the prime time soap Melrose Place in 1992. The performers went through a variety of shakeups during the series' run and he wound up being the only remaining original cast member when it was finally canceled. (He also popped up on a 2009 reboot of the show.) Today at 64 he still performs on occasion. Cute as he was in this telefilm, I think he got even more handsome as he grew older. His transformation into a villain on Melrose surely helped develop his acting muscles in contrast to the physical ones he had on display here.  

Down is someone who, for me, can sometimes come off as so ordinary (as in The Betsy, 1978, or Sphinx, 1981) and then suddenly appear fantabulously captivating (such as with the miniseries The Last Days of Pompeii or North and South, in which she perfected the stunned, put-upon heroine.) As I mentioned before, I could hardly get enough of her look here. It gave me the idea of what she'd have been like had she gotten a juicy role on a prime-time soap in the '80s. As it was, she did appear in a handful of episodes on Dallas, but by then (1990), the glory days of glitz were over and she assumed a more toned-down appearance. (Barbara Carrera was the one who occupied the over-the-top glam spot there in a season - 1985-86 - that was so unpopular it was written off as a dream!) Down later had a showy role on The Bold and the Beautiful for several years, but has not acted on screen since 2019. She is currently 69.

The End! (Or is it...?)


I offer a few other things before departing.

I said earlier that I felt Calabro got better looking with age... See if you agree!

These two pics are among several that were used to promote this TV-movie overseas. They (and others like them) show a bit more and go further than the actual content found in the movie.

We never see Blakely with wet hair in the actual telefilm.

This is not necessarily a spoiler. It's one of the first scenes in the movie, so you know that Blakely isn't killing Gary Hudson. She's just pissed. LOL This was used on video covers and so on to entice people to rent the tape.