(1959, Teen Drama/Musical, b&w)
(1951, Educational/Children, b&w)
Q is for the queer, queer pelican.
In a nutshell:
Short: An odd recitation of the alphabet.
Film: Accused of his friend’s murder, Daddy-O goes undercover, sings, and gets the girl.
Alphabet Antics goes through the alphabet one letter at a time, associating letters with standard children’s alphabet fare (Z is for zebra) interspersed with various abstract concepts (F is for fun), extra-national excursions (H is for Holland), and bizarre adjectives (Q is for the queer, queer pelican).
A middle-aged teen truck driver named Phil (a.k.a. Daddy-O) engages in a road duel with a snooty blonde girl (Jana) in a convertible. They exchange angry words and go their separate ways. Later, they both show up at the same nightclub for a song and some drinks, so I guess they’re supposed to be over 21. They exchange angry words again, and she challenges him to a race. They race for pizza and Jana wins by running him off the road. About the same time, Daddy-O’s weird bug-eyed friend tries to run from a sinister fat guy, but the sinister fat guy runs him off the road, killing him.
A night watchman has jotted down Daddy-O’s license plate number during race and reports him the cops. The cops arrest him and charge him with reckless driving and manslaughter for the bug-eyed friend’s death. They drop the manslaughter charge since the evidence points elsewhere.
Daddy-O thinks that Jana did it, and slaps an apple out of her hand, but evidence doesn’t point to her either. So she gives him rides in her convertible while his license is suspended. He has a gym locker key that the bug-eyed kid gave him, but Bruce, the nearsighted gym manager, won’t let him in. Daddy-O and Jana sneak in, Nancy Drew-style, and listen as Bruce gives the locker’s mysterious contents to the sinister fat guy.
The sinister fat guy owns a nightclub and hires Daddy-O to sing and run drugs for him. Jana gets a job there as a cigarette girl, upsetting Daddy-O’s sensibilities. He gets revenge by violently kissing the fat guy’s sleazy secretary during a song. After a failed drug run and getting beaten up by anonymous rival gangsters, Daddy-O figures out that his bug-eyed friend was running drugs for the fat guy and tried to double-cross him, provoking the vehicular homicide.
The fat guy gets in trouble for the lost drugs and sends Daddy-O with Bruce to go get some money. When Bruce tries to take the money and run, Daddy-O beats him up and drives away. Upon learning these events, the fat guy tries to kill Jana by locking her in a sauna. He then hunts Daddy-O through the wine cellar. The double-crossing Bruce rescues Jana and forces her to drive him out to pick up the money again. They run into a police roadblock, and Jana brakes quickly, bonking Bruce’s head on the dashboard. Back in the wine cellar, Daddy-O drops a cask on fat guy’s head, stunning him.
The police arrest all the bad guys, Daddy-O gets the girl, and one of his fans asks him for a song. He declares that he’s never felt more like singing in his life, but the movie mercifully ends before we have to listen to it.
“Marketing mad dogs” Joel, Tom, and Crow stand around a water cooler and ogle their female coworkers (Gypsy and Magic Voice).
Host Segment One:
Joel invents the deodorant mobile (a mobile that you hang, not a mobile that you drive) to stimulate baby’s brain and mask the odor of his bowel movements. Dr. Forrester invents the Alien Teething Nook, which is a pacifier shaped like a face-hugger from Ridley Scott’s Alien. He demonstrates it on the Miracle Growth Baby from Time of the Apes.
Host Segment Two:
Joel and the ‘Bots don high-belted trousers and sing “Hike Up Your Pants” to the music of Dick Contino’s “Rock Candy Baby.” “Hike up your pants / Higher than Corey Haim.”
Host Segment Three:
Tom and Crow reenact the midnight race for pizza, with footage from the movie in the background. They run over Joel multiple times.
Host Segment Four:
Joel insists that the ‘Bots tell him surprising things so that he can demonstrate various spit-takes. Quoth Tom, “Joel, I’m pregnant with your child.” Gym manager Bruce runs his ship into the satellite and demands their locker key.
Host Segment Five:
Joel practices slapping apples out of Crow’s hand. Tom shows up in a fruity Carmen Miranda hat and Joel slaps away each piece of fruit, individually. He reads letters and violently kisses Gypsy. In Deep 13, Frank offers Dr. Forrester an apple. Dr. Forrester slaps it out of his hand. They push the button. Miracle Growth Baby spills his strained carrots all over the control panel, stopping the credits, so Frank has to hold the button down until it can be fixed. Frank walks away at least half-a-dozen times, stopping the credits each time, to get a glass of water, get a pizza, and so forth. Finally, Dr. Forrester fixes the button and the credits roll without interruption.
Bruce says, “Couldn’t help you if I wanted to, fella. Gym policy.”
Alphabet Antics is weird. How did they ever come up with those words to relate with those letters? Quilt and queen have served alphabet books for generations, so why on earth did they pick “queer, queer pelican?” Couldn’t they have used the pelican for the letter P? It’s not like they used porpoise or penguin for that letter; P was freakin' “pool for the hippos.” As puzzling as I found the short, my one-year-old daughter thought it was hilarious. Surreal children’s films like this no doubt paved the way for such modern juvenile acid trips as “Teletubbies” and “[insert the title of the googly-eyed Nickelodeon cartoon of your choice here].”
Looking at the “hip” Dick Contino as Daddy-O, I can’t believe that it was ever fashionable to belt your pants above the navel. But then, my kids may look back at pictures of my generation and doubt that it was ever fashionable to belt your pants below the crotch. Such is fashion, I guess.
The film’s editing is horrible. The car chases make no sense, and sometimes the jump cut happens in the middle of a word. At least the cops were intelligent and sympathetic. In the teensploitation films (early twenty-something-sploitation films?) of this era, the cops are often portrayed as stupid and vindictive. The cops in this movie quickly figure out that Daddy-O wasn’t the one responsible, give him probation, and suspend his license for the admittedly stupid midnight drag racing. Though they seem to let him off the hook for the drug running at the end, they still don’t give him back his license.
The host segments are all very solid in this episode. The inventions, the water cooler, and the drag race work very well. Mike Nelson shows up for an odd cameo as Bruce. The “Hike Up Your Pants” song is hilarious, as is Joel’s frantic fruit slapping at the end. Some of my MST3K-watching companions found the end credits' multiple false starts frustrating, but I laughed so hard I could hardly breath.
The wisecracks really fly during the film segments. When Daddy-O starts throwing Jana around someone says, “I can get this kind of abuse at the Kennedy mansion.” When Daddy-O and the fat guy stalk each other through the wine cellar, Joel says, “This is just like when you’re shopping and you see someone you don’t like.” Of course, they add all kinds of goofy lyrics to the movie’s numerous musical numbers. With good host segments and strong riffing in film segments, I’d watch this one again.
(1959, Teen Drama/Musical, b&w)