Thursday, April 17, 2008

The generation gap again

Yesterday, I briefly made mention of the idea of the "generation-gap" movie; that is, movies planned by old guys in suits thinking they could get their finger on the pulse of the youth of the day simply by putting the right young people in the cast, and coming up with a plot about things they thought would be relevant to the youth of the day. For the most part, the movies now are badly dated, and I wouldn't be surprised if they were dated at the time they came out.

But in doing a bit of research, I was a bit surprised to find that some of them are available on DVD:

Where Angels Go, Trouble Follows. This 1968 movie is a pale sequel to the earlier The Trouble With Angels. In the original, Hayley Mills plays a teenager at a Catholic boarding school who, under the stern tutelage of Mother Superior Rosalind Russell, grows up into a woman. It's a nice movie for Catholics with daughters, as the situations seem reasonably realistic, and everybody is handled with respect. However, it was decided that with the success of the movie, the best thing to do would be to make a sequel. Hayley Mills wasn't involved, and so the plot becomes laughable: a group of Catholic school girls led by the aforementioned Russell, and a much more "liberated", post-Vatican II nun played by Stella Stevens, set out on a cross-country trip to a religious retreat. It's the best (or worst) of post-Vatican II schlock: as part of a drive to make Mass more "relevant" to modern people, in addition to reasonable reforms like Mass in the local language, we Catholics got such crap as Peter, Paul, and Mary-style folk music at Mass, and spreading our germs around by "giving each other some sign of Christ's peace". The girls are the producers' warped view of what 1968 adolescents were like, and the situations are little more than vignettes at best. The theme music, too, is really bad and dated.

I'll Take Sweden. This is the sort of movie poor Bob Hope was reduced to doing by 1965. Hope plays a father whose daughter, played by Tuesday Weld, is smitten with Frankie Avalon (who repeatedly shows up in these movies). Hope is aghast, and so responds by taking his daughter with him on a business trip to Sweden. Of course, the producers immediately went for all the stereotypes that we still think of when we think Sweden: blond Amazons (and their male counterparts) who are so sexually liberated that it would make the staid Bob Hopes of the world faint. I don't think I've seen this movie since it showed up on one of the old independent TV stations 20 years ago, and frankly, that one viewing might have been more than enough. Perhaps the only reason I'd want to see it again is to see if it's just as bad as I remember.

Now, if Paramount could just figure out a way to release Otto Preminger's Skidoo to DVD....

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