Frivolous, silly, unrealistic, take your pick, any of those adjectives could fit The Pleasure Seekers (20th Century Fox, 1964). However, if you like escapist fare, if you like films that offer nothing more than pure entertainment, and if you like films that feature incredibly beautiful actresses, then this film is definitely for you, and for me.
I've probably seen The Pleasure Seeker at least ten times; it's truly one of my cinematic guilty pleasures. However, this is the kind of film that made me love movies. Its Hollywood at it's superficial best. It's mesmerizing Ann-Margret breaking out in song and dance accompanied by that invisible orchestra. It's beautiful cinematography, capturing magnificent Spanish landscapes and romantic old towns. It's gorgeous people having sex, without taking off their clothes.
What it's not is a great movie; don't get me wrong it's not a bad movie, far from it. It's just pretty predictable, and slightly unbelievable, yes, a little sexist, but it's fun to watch and well, it has Ann-Margret breaking out in song and dance in bikinis and tight dresses. But I digress. So what is the movie about? It's about the romantic adventures of three delectable girls who share an apartment one summer in Madrid, Spain. Ann-Margret plays a struggling nightclub singer and dancer, who's been unlucky in love. Her roommate, super sexy Carol Lynley is the efficient and smart secretary her boss can't do without, literally, They are joined by the scrumptious Pamela Tiffin, who plays Lynley's naive but adorable friend visiting from America, and on the prowl for a husband.
The film progresses through each girl's roller coaster relationship with their prospective love interest. Ann-Margret falls head-over-heels for a Spanish doctor (handsome Andre Lawrence) whose dedication to providing medical care for the people of his village threatens their relationship. Tiffin's adorable dingbat character falls for a smooth talking gigolo (Tony Franciosa, Hollywood's favorite 1960s cad) who of course, manages to break her heart, and finally, Lynley has the most-complicated situation of the three, as she finds herself in a love triangle between her boss (older gray fox Brian Keith) and a slacker journalist (Gardner McKay). If she chooses Keith, she could find herself as his permanent mistress, but if she chooses McKay, does she really love him, or is she merely settling?
Thanks to cinematographer Daniel L. Fapp (West Side Story, Let's Make Love, Our Man Flint among many others) The Pleasure Seekers is a vivid feast, and the three gorgeous actresses are the main course. There is one particularly awesome shot, where the girl's entire apartment can be seen, as they frolic about in various stages of undress going from one bedroom to another (sort of reminiscent of Jerry Lewis' revolutionary open apartment shots in 1961's The Ladies Man).
Veteran director Jean Negulesco (How to Marry A Millionaire, Johnny Belinda, three Coins in The Fountain, of which this film is a remake) takes the simple plot and creates an enjoyable quickly paced film that takes advantage of the witty dialog, and his stars, (male stars included), good locks and sex appeal. One-time screen heartthrob Gene Tierney has a cameo role as Brian Keith's neglected wife. Still a beauty, this would be Ms. Tierney final film as she was suffering through the early stages of Alzheimer's disease.
I'm so glad vintage film channels such as Turner Classic and Fox Movie Channel have resurrected this film Its a slice of American film history, and an example of how movies don't always have to teach a lesson, or expose the dark side of life. Sometimes we just want to escape into our fantasies, our dreams of romance, and that's where The Pleasure Seekers succeeds. Oh, and did I mention that Ann-Margret dances and sings in a bikini?
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