12/15/06

415 The Beatniks

(1960, Teen Drama/Musical, b&w), with:

General Hospital
(1963, Soap Opera, b&w)

I killed that fat barkeep!

Rating: ***

In a nutshell:

Short: Off-duty hospital staff members attend an awkward engagement party.
Film: A reformed delinquent tries to start a singing career.

Short Summary:

The romantically desperate staff members of General Hospital kick back on their off-duty time with an intimate engagement party for four. Bad sound and a smothering organ track obscure most of the dialogue, but I think the party-giving doctor is still in love with the party-receiving nurse, despite her recent engagement to another taciturn medical practitioner. This leads to some rather awkward if unintelligible moments with raised voices and refused toasts. The whole thing breaks up when the party-receiving doctor gets called back to the hospital for a medical emergency.

Film Summary:

The most clean-cut beatniks ever.Lousy, no-good, rotten, delinquent, good-for-nothing hoodlums (supposedly beatniks, though not a single one of them sports a goatee or a beret) go on a well-rehearsed crime spree in kabuki skull masks. They head back to their favorite hangout at a relative’s diner, crashing an agent’s car en route. The molested talent agent is mad until he hears their leader, Eddie, crooning his soul out for his gratingly shrill girlfriend. He offers Eddie a contract immediately, only to be shouted down by the gang’s obligatory psycho, Mooney.

They show up at the agent’s place the next day anyway, where Eddie is immediately smitten with the bright smile of the toothy secretary, Helen. She gets him and his delinquent entourage a hotel room and buys him some respectable clothing. They confess their undying love for each other just before he performs on television. He’s got a record contract within minutes of his live performance, and celebrates by breaking up a bar with his friends.

The barkeep gets angry and pulls a gun, shooting one of the hoodlum friends in the arm. Mooney knocks him out and then kills him after everyone else has left. They sit in the hotel room and fret, causing a lot of damage and trying to take care of their wounded friend. Eddie goes ahead with the record deal to keep the hotel room, almost confessing his trouble to his new girlfriend and agent.

The agent shows up at the hotel room to see if there’s any trouble. Mooney knifes him and proudly proclaims his fat barkeep-killing prowess. He flees down the fire escape (hunted killer escape?) when the hotel rent-a-cop arrives. Eddie records his album, beats up the drunkenly psychotic Mooney, and turns himself in to the police.

Introduction:

Good Luck Troll Mads.Joel plays “Rock, Paper, Scissors,” with Tom and Crow. Since their hands are fixed in position, Crow is always scissors and Tom is always paper. Joel punches them every time he wins, until Gypsy finally charges in to the rescue.

Host Segment One:

The Mads have invented the Good Luck Troll Doll costume, complete with floppy hands, frizzy hair, and large plastic buttocks. Joel has invented Pocket Pool; he plays it by shoving a pool cue into his pants pocket.

Host Segment Two:

Quoth Tom, “Carousel had more beatniks than this movie.” They compile a list of items and qualities that disqualify the people possessing them from beatnikhood, including but not limited to: polo shirts, night ranger albums, and the tendency to say things like “Please pass the spring rolls.”

Host Segment Three:

Gypsy, Tom, and Crow make each other up, do each other’s hair, and talk about boys. They’re especially fond of Tony Travis (Eddie from the film). Joel wanders through and mentions that he still has Tony Travis on speed dial. They call him up and get a long message from a Tony Travis (probably not the Tony Travis) about how he got called in to work at a taco place, before giving a long list of roommates.

Host Segment Four:

Joel overhears Tom singing into his Superman comic book and makes him a star! Spinning newspapers are employed to illustrate his meteoric rise to fame. Sadly, as the original star of Daddy-O, Tom could not perform the apple-slapping scene properly with his inarticulate arms, and was replaced by Dick Contino. He fell from grace and drunkenly performed his only hit song in hotel lounges forever after.

Host Segment Five:

Crow chases Gypsy with a rubber knife and then stabs Tom when he tries to intervene. When asked why, Crow proclaims, “I did it for you, man,” in a psychotic, Mooney-esque whine. Tom delivers a long litany of post-mortem instructions to Joel, ending with, “take my step aerobics class every Tuesday.” Down in Deep 13, the Mads try to push the button, but are impeded by their huge trollish hands. TV’s Frank finally removes his glove and presses the button with one of its oversized fingers.

Stinger:

Mooney froths at the mouth and chews the scenery.

Thoughts:

Shut up, Iris.Like the other segment of General Hospital in Episode 413 (Manhunt in Space), I don’t know what’s going on, and don’t really care much either. I think one of the characters’ names was Jesse, but I’m not sure which one.

The Beatniks is the heartwarming tale of two very special young men who flower in their own unique talents while learning to accept themselves for who they are. Particularly tear jerking is the scene where Mooney confesses jealousy of Eddie’s singing talents, and expresses his own determination to become famous through his own natural ability to go on psychotic, murderous rampages. This touching moment sets up Mooney’s later triumph when he joyfully proclaims “I killed that fat barkeep,” to the world and then basks in his moment of glory by knifing a helpless old man. Inspiring, to say the least.

At this point I could mention that these ballad-crooning, clean-shaven, and sensibly dressed young hooligans could not be considered beatniks by any real definition of the word, but Joel and the ‘Bots covered the subject very adequately in Host Segment Two, so I will forbear.

Speaking of the host segments, they did well in this episode. All of them are funny and well paced, pretty much equally so, in fact. The segment where Tom Servo rises to fame and fortune demands a working knowledge of Daddy-O, but that’s a pretty good episode, so watching it as preparation wouldn’t be too much of a chore. The part where Crow knifes Tom is a little scattered, but it goes by quickly and Tom’s subsequent list of demands is hilarious.

There’s plenty to laugh at in the film segments. Tom starts it off by saying, “clamp, suture, sponge,” while the engagement cake is cut. During the standard teen heartthrob songs that permeate the film, Crow says, “Beatnik music is really square.” When Mooney spazes in a particularly goofy way, Joel says, “He’s an evil Gilligan!” When Eddie wanders despondently through the city at night, Tom delivers film noir-ish voiceover that says, “There are a million stupid stories in the naked city, and this is the stupidest.” The episode is in the same vein as Daddy-O, and almost as much fun. It’s worth watching.