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This is like a short version of the old "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In" program, with a touch of Americana thrown in. What makes this work for me is the clips of all the movie and television stars doing their thing to sell U.S. Bonds. A very entertaining little short film. If you have the chance to see it, then do--a bit nostalgic for those of us who were lucky enough to remember "Laugh-In"!!!
"Laugh-In" TV hosts Dan Rowan and Dick Martin arrive at the studio
("2001: A Space Odyssey" is showing) to film a short promotional film.
They want you to buy US Savings Bonds. This is done in the style of
their comedy show, with writer Paul Keyes helping to give it the "sock
it to me" appeal. The comic duo have a rapport and are genuinely funny.
They wouldn't make it, today, without ditching Dan's cigarette smoking
and Dick's female conquest stories. Several celebrity clips are show.
Most appear to be recirculated from other sources. This is the case
with the memorable clip of Mr. Martin kissing Doris Day (from "The
Glass Bottom Boat"). Funniest is probably Don Knotts. He and co-star
Andy Griffith are likely clips from the "Laugh-In" series. Best musical
interlude, from Barbara McNair, is unfortunately cut short.
**** Rowan & Martin at the Movies (1968) Jack Arnold ~ Dan Rowan, Dick Martin, Doris Day, Don Knotts
I was a big fan of Laugh-In, even though I was just 5 or 6, and half
the jokes sailed over my head. Which means I'm old enough to remember
PSAs pitching the payroll savings plan, which went into US Savings
Bonds. But this one is striking, as it mentions the troops (in
Vietnam), and that this is a way to show them your support. It was made
in 1968, well before public sentiment turned against the war.
It's a pretty soft sell, mentioned in passing, but it's notable in light of our more recent wars. During the World Wars, bonds were heavily pitched, and everybody with a little extra change at the end of the week was encouraged to contribute to the war effort.
These days, we're not asked to give up anything, at least not by our government. I think it's kinda sad.
This was a great short, with more laughs in 10 minutes than you'll find
in several hours of television today. I'm just glad I got the chance to
finally see this. I really don't understand how nobody can get Rowan &
Martin's humor-perhaps it's too quick for some.
They take the Laugh-In formula and create a unique piece with information about savings bonds along with some brief but funny cameos by Andy Griffith and Don Knotts among others.
I only hope that one day, if their film "The Maltese Bippy" is ever released on DVD, someone will have the presence of mind to include this short as a bonus feature.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Oh, it starts out well with the boys sneaking onto the MGM lot and as the credits roll, you're wondering how they got all those stars to sign on.... Well, they didn't. The one "star" that shows (for an unfunny walk-on) on the day R & M stood on an empty MGM stage reading the script -- with canned laughter added later -- is Herb Alpert.
Everyone else -- with a few exceptions -- appears in 2-second clips from previous savings bond PSAs, all jammed in near the end of this mess. The exceptions are also in clips: Martin applies lip music to Doris Day from one 2 films they did together (beats me what this has to do with buying bonds); Barbara McNair in a USO clip, singing to (I guess) US troops in Vietnam; Andy Griffith & Don Knotts (appearing separately) in brief clips maybe directly connected to this (or not) and then there's a bizarre, truncated clip of the Young Americans singing......inserted to placate Nixon? (Now THAT's funny.)
Worse than all of above: the PSA's message gets lost! Another reviewer here says R & M are plugging WAR bonds. Not for Vietnam in 1968, they weren't. It's SAVINGS bonds and the new savings notes (AKA freedom shares, issued from May 1967 to October 1970). But because Paul Keyes' script rigidly requires the boys stick to their act -- that this come off as another version of their show -- Martin's jokes get in the way of Rowan's explanations. R & M were hot back in '68; I can see why the government jumped at the chance for them to do this PSA. But Keyes' script puts "entertainment" (for lack of a better word) ahead of the message. This thing probably created more protesters than buyers.
Yes, I'm viewing this 40 years later. But I was a teen back then and thought R & M were very funny (still do today). This is NOT.
Rowan & Martin at the Movies (1968)
*** (out of 4)
Rowan and Martin show up at MGM studios and try to tell folks why they should buy U.S. Savings Bonds. The two actually have a pretty funny little stand up act but the real highlight here are the various stars that pop up in cameos. The stars include: Carol Burnett, Doris Day, Kirk Douglas, Charlton Heston, Andy Griffith, Bob Hope, Don Knotts, Dean Martin, Michael Landon, Barbara McNair and MPAA head Jack Valenti. Directed by Jack Arnold (Creature from the Black Lagoon, Tarantula and various others).
Basically a very silly short feature to sell US Savings Bonds. The
hosts of "Laugh-In" host this. They offer real lame jokes and the whole
movie is much in the style of a "Laugh-In" episode--fragmented bits and
pieces of people saying nonsensical things (like "Sock it to me"). None
of this is even remotely funny although all the "guest stars" that pop
up are kind of fun. And there is a VERY short musical number from "The
Young Americans" that was kind of cool. But, all in all, I though it
was just silly (if interesting).
Now, I HATE "Laugh-in" so maybe this wasn't for me. However if you love "Laugh-In" you might like this.
This is an odd pitch for buying U.S. Savings Bonds with some unlikely
choices of material from the team featured on LAUGH IN several decades
ago. Maybe fans of the show will find some amusement in the rather
stale jokes and stand-up comic routines of Rowan & Martin, but don't
expect too much if you're from the younger generation and unfamiliar
with the show's running gags.
Clips showing various film and TV personalities go by quickly, with recurring shots of Martin kissing Doris Day (clips are from "The Glass Bottom Boat") which is supposed to be hilarious.
Sorry, but this one doesn't even lead to the promotion of bonds until the last few minutes.
Strange, and not really worth watching unless you're die-hard fans of the LAUGH IN show.
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