|Index||4 reviews in total|
When i tuned into this unfamiliar film on TCM today, i had not planned
on sticking around long for at first glance it appeared to be your
run-of-the-mill 50's boring Leave It To Beaveresque high school
Love/Crush romp. And besides it only scored 2 out of 4 stars on the
cable film guide but what i found is that i never wanted to change the
I must say it was pretty cool seeing Tom Laughlin in an early role as i was a big Billy Jack fan when i was a kid (still am). He showed the same raw intensity in this film as Carter Breed the 3rd, steely eyes and gritting teeth, as he did in his 1971 landmark part Indian role as the karate sheriff/punk ass kicking Billy Jack.
The film is filled with entertaining and memorable cameo musical performances by entertainers of the era. Seeing Ed Sullivan in his small cameo presenting an award in a seemingly half scripted, half ad-libbed sort of way brought a smile.
I made my entrance expecting to mill about for a short time and quickly depart for more exciting filmdom adventure but found the atmosphere quite appealing and cozy so i stuck around longer than was expected to the happy end. All around good natured light hearted fare to pass a little time.
"Senior Prom" is a real movie musical comedy. It is nothing like the
early Rock 'n Roll movies made by Columbia, as well as other studios,
during this period. There is a Broadway quality score with music by Don
Gohman and lyrics by Hal Hackady. Hackady was a good theatrical writer
who never seemed to be able to hit it big on Broadway. His work
compares well with other Broadway writers of this period. The film is
filled with integrated musical numbers performed by Jill Corey, Jimmie
Komack, and Barbara Bostock. The plot isn't much. Singer Paul Hampton,
in his first real acting role, has recorded a song, but it hasn't
received much of a push. For a subplot, Tom "Billy Jack" Laughlin is
trying to get Louis Prima and Keely Smith to appear at his prom.
Hampton is a bit stiff as an actor and weak as a singer. Jill Corey, as
his romantic interest, sings well (as always), and is quite natural as
an actress. It is a shame that she did not appear in any other film.
Jimmie Komack, who was a hit as the Alfred E. Newman look-a-like in
"Damn Yankees", has the major comedy role. He is quite good, even
though he doesn't have the best material to work with. Komack later
became a successful producer-director-writer, especially for
television. Somewhere in the film there are incomplete cameo musical
appearances by Bob Crosby, Toni Arden, Mitch Miller (playing the oboe),
an older Connee Boswell, and Freddie Martin and his orchestra. Here we
are cheated. I only wish these performers had been given full numbers.
During the show sequence, Jill Corey sings a new pop song by Lee
Pockriss and Peter Udell that should have been a hit, but they did
better with "Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikinis Sealed
with a Kiss"!
The strangest aspect of the film is its time and music. It should be using early Rock 'n Roll, but luckily for us, we get a Broadway style score with big band style pop interpolations. The setting of the film seems more like 1948 than 1958. However, it is a pleasant way to spend 85 minutes.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
....with his amazing piano skills and he really wows the crowd at a
concert with "El Cumbanchero"!! Top stuff. This movie reminded me more
of the type of "youth musical" they were making in England at the time
eg "Jazz Boat". Maybe this movie jinxed the careers of the two star
singers, pretty Jill Corey who as the rich girl, Gay Sheridan, was
given the romantic ballads (of which there were many) and the very
talented Barbara Bostock as the wacky Flip who handled the upbeat
novelty songs. Her songs were standouts - "Now is the Time" and "I Hear
Music" which took place on a beach and where Flip and Dog kidded the
love scene in "From Here to Eternity". I thought "whatever happened to
Barbara Bostock?" but when I went researching, the answer was not much.
Either way there was small pickings for Bostock and Corey after this
film, an uneasy blend of teen movie and musical comedy which had the
players bursting into unforgettable songs at the drop of a hat. I
thought surely Bostock had a Broadway career because she didn't do many
films or television work, but all I could find was "Silk Stockings"
where she was buried as a dancer. Such a waste of her talents.
The film could have gone with a dramatic theme but that was passed over in favour of lightweight entertainment. Rich, beautiful Gay Sheridan loses her heart to humble singer, Tom Harper (Paul Hampton), part of a combo that is hired to perform during the intermission of a sorority party. Tom, an aspiring singer, who has already cut a forgotten (but not for long) single when he was struggling in New York, is at college on a scholarship and runs up against snooty rich kid Carter Breed Third ("you mean there are two others like him running around"!!) (Tom Laughlin, in a very intense performance). Carter has promised a stellar lineup of performers for the Senior Prom but finds he cannot deliver.
One of the problems is that the lead singer is just not that great and it is also pretty hard to believe that he bests husky Carter in a fight which finishes in the Sheridan pool. And Mrs. Sheridan (Frieda Inescourt) is not impressed - she had hopes that Gay and Carter would someday be married and Tom's poverty and lowly status do not find favour. I remember Frieda Inescourt from the golden age of Hollywood, usually playing shy, refined types (she was just terrific with Lucille Ball in "Beauty For the Asking") but in this she was so stilted - as if she'd rather be anywhere than on this particular set.
In fact it is Tom who comes through with the stars - Bob Crosby, sounding very much like Bing, Connee Boswell proving she could still belt out a song after 30 years in the business ("When the Saints Go Marching In") and the hit of the Prom, the irrepressible Louis Prima and Keely Smith make memorable "Old Black Magic".
An interesting experiment, the young talent were good but the songs weren't that memorable and there were too many. Also the big name guests (apart from Louis Prima) only sang portions of their songs, giving one the feeling that they were filmed separately and that they weren't at the Prom.
Yeah, I can see the producer pitching this one..."And there will be
none of that damn Rock and Roll in MY picture...we'll feature REAL
music!" Of course the "real" music is hammed-up show tunes with warmed
over melodies and lyrics, sung by actors(?) that came straight off of
Hollywood's D list.
Now they did have Louis and Keely, but you had to suffer through to the bitter end to see them. And who the hell were all the other "big names" that appeared at the prom? I was in High School in '58 and didn't recognize many of them...maybe Ed Sullivan.
And the biggest curse of all in this lame little loser? Tom (Billy Jack) Loughlin getting his butt whipped by some fair-haired fairy dude.
How did MST3K miss this one?
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