the finest line-up of talent in any 1960's country music film AND the reunited Bowery Boys--don't miss it!
If this film ever gets any distribution on video or DVD, it should become well-known as it features the one and only reunion of Leo Gorcey and Huntz Hall in their Bowery Boys characters AND the most incredible line-up of talent I've ever seen in any 1960's country music film, and I've seen (and reviewed some here) most of them. Country music fan Arnold Stang (who is very funny here--kind of in the Harry Langdon vein)'s wife, played by the lovely Pamela Hayes, hates country music and plans to put on a big opera benefit for her snooty friends. At the last minute, the opera company can't make it, so she turns to Arnold to put together a country music show in its place, and of course she gets converted to country music. Gorcey and Hall play the stagehands at the theater and get a lot of comic scenes in before the concert starts, and then they do comic relief backstage after every few acts. Reuniting Gorcey and Hall would be enough to get me to own this film, but it has an incredible country music show that lasts almost 90 minutes and features wall-to-wall REAL country music, with steel guitar and early 60's echo. I wrote down the names so I wouldn't forget any. Many of the artists do TWO songs, not just one: Little Jimmy Dickens, Carl and Pearl Butler (I hope their amazing clothes are in a museum somewhere--their music is especially good, so it's a shame they are not that well-known anymore), Lefty Frizzell, Bill Monroe, Dottie West, George Hamilton IV, Pete Drake and his infamous "talking steel guitar", Sonny James, Minnie Pearl (who does comedy AND sings a version of "Careless Love" that I won't soon forget!), Billy Walker (fantastic!), Connie Smith, Homer and Jethro, Johnny Wright (of Johnnie and Jack fame), Kitty Wells (Mrs. Johnny Wright, of course), fiddler Buddy Spiker, Del Reeves (whose second song after Girl on the Billboard is a parody of Heartbreak Hotel sung in a Walter Brennan accent!), Faron Young, and Webb Pierce, with a final singalong on "When The Saints Go Marching In" led by Sonny James. The whole show is hosted by Merle Kilgore, best known to those under 40 for his relationship with Hank Williams Jr.'s business empire. Kilgore's speaking voice is so rich and musical, I just wish the producers had had him sing. He made many great records in the 50s. By the way, the musical director for the film was Audrey Williams, but don't worry, she doesn't sing! This is a gem of a little film, shot in vibrant color. Any country music fan or Bowery Boys fan should track down a copy.
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