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Gogo, a Martian teenager, is sent to Earth to prepare the way for an invasion. The first Earthling he meets, one Aunt Wendy, is a rich widow who runs a dress shop catering to teenagers. Her nephew, Big Lunk, is a volleyball-loving guy with little interest in romance, which causes frustration for his girlfriend Connie. Naturally, Gogo meets Connie and they fall in love. Meanwhile, Aunt Wendy's shady neighbor and his gang concoct a scheme to part Aunt Wendy from her cash. Also meanwhile, the local motorcycle gang wants revenge on the volleyball players for... getting footprints on their beach. Somehow all the subplots come together at the pajama party. Written by
George S. Davis
While none of them would qualify as brilliant film-making, this is easily the best of the drive-in "beach" movies produced by American International Pictures between 1963-67. This is the only beach movie I've ever sat all the way through without looking at my watch, and the IMDb rating of 3.0 it has as of today's date is unduly harsh.
One of the reasons Pajama Party is more enjoyable than the rest is the absence of Frankie Avalon. We only see the back of his head throughout the film, his character only being revealed in the closing segment. For once, Annette (I believe her character is called Connie is this particular outing) is not subjected to Frankie's rather sexist treatment; in the other films he expects her to be chaste and faithful to him alone while he looks at other women and studiously avoids any kind of committed relationship until the finale'. In Pajama Party, the Frankie character has never existed, and Connie instead falls in love with Go-Go, with the biggest obstacle in their relationship presented by the fact that Go-Go is a Martian sent on a scouting mission to precede the invasion of earth by Don Rickles and some other Martians up to no good. Tommy Kirk does pretty well with the awfully shallow part of Go-Go, his only weak point being the unfortunate ballad he has to sing in the convertible with Connie (driving down the highway with the top down, yet there is no wind or noise !).
The entertainment value in these films today is their ability to provide us with escape into an easier, more innocent time. Those of you familiar with my Mrs. Astor reviews here on IMDb know this is usually my primary objective with any old movie. This film is one non-stop romp through an endless carefree teenage summer. The kids must fight for their right to party against invading Martians, con-artists, and of course quasi-Nazi Erick von Zipper and his Rat Pack, who in this film are outraged that the teens have left footprints on "their" beach (our writers must be running out of reasons to justify Von Zipper's existence by this point).
Guest stars Dorothy Lamour and Buster Keaton add much to the movie. Ms. Lamour is wonderful as the manager of the local dress shop. Mr. Keaton frequently appears in these films as an Indian, he has a brilliant scene here with the perfume counter girl, which can be attributed more to his fifty years of comedic work than any fit of genius that might have been borne by the writers of 1960's beach movies. The real spark of life in Pajama Party is brought by guest star Elsa Lanchester, always an absurd delight, here she is the aunt of the Jody McCrea character he's always named Chunk or Hunk or Junk, in this one he's named Lunk. Our third set of bad guys, headed by the Maytag Repairman, are out to steal Aunt Wendy's millions, and she is a delightful airhead who manages to continually foil their plots without ever really being aware of their presence.
The film is further populated by the usual band of teens, all of the American International beach films have more or less the same cast, including Donna Loren, a singer far more talented than the material she is given, and Candy Johnson, who must surely be the most violent go-go dancer in the history of the world.
TRIVIA NOTE: It's interesting how a bit of trivia can get out into the movie fan community and be repeated by dozens of folk who apparently don't verify it first. While numerous sources credit Teri Garr's first movie appearance as being in the 1968 film "Head" starring The Monkees, she does in fact appear in 1964's Pajama Party. I recently heard TCM Host Ben Mankowitz state that Ms. Garr "appears just to the right of Annette Funicello in every major scene", a comment that I have also seen repeated verbatim on other IMDb reviews. Interesting, but untrue. Ms. Garr plays the second model in the fashion show sequence (which begins approximately 37 minutes into the film), but the character of Connie does not even arrive at the dress shop until the fashion show is over. Teri Garr can be seen dancing to Annette's right in the final musical number, Pajama Party, but this is hardly "appearing to Annette's right in every scene of the movie".
You may also spot Toni Basil. She is the girl in the red bikini in the first dance sequence, and the girl in the silver bikini at the fashion show. Slow it down, you can tell it's her pretty easy by the shape of her face.
In summation, if you're interested in beach movies or just want some fun post-Camelot escapist entertainment, Pajama Party is the best of the lot. It will keep you smiling and tapping your foot and rooting for those clean wholesome kids. I wished I could just hop into my giant yellow convertible and tool down to the beach for the summer without a care in the world.
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