12/19/06

503 Swamp Diamonds

(1955, Drama-Crime, color), with:

What to Do on a Date
(1951, Educational, b&w)

Hey guys, what’s a weenie roast?

Rating: **


In a nutshell:

Short: Socially awkward teen Nick finally asks Kaye for a date, but what will they do?
Film: Hot convict women escape from jail and search the swamp for stolen diamonds.

Short Summary:

Watch as the awkward human youth uses his lengthy reach to secure himself a mate.In What to Do on a Date, the lanky and clumsy Nick hangs out with the older and wiser Jeff, who bullies him into asking out his secret crush—a bob-haired fellow teen named Kaye. She’s not interested in seeing a movie, but she jumps at the chance to help set up a scavenger sale. They banter good-naturedly at the sale, and Nick reaches high to impress her with the prodigious length of his arms. Behind his pleasant façade, however, Nick secretly despairs for ideas of what to do on their next date. Fortunately, the narrator directs him to a handy bulletin board with a list of local youth activities. He and Kaye settle on attending a weenie roast the following Friday, saving their fledgling relationship.

Film Summary:

In Swamp Diamonds, Louisiana oil tycoon Bob Matthews (“Touch” Connors, a.k.a. Mannix) wanders through the festive streets of St. Louis during a dispirited Mardi Gras parade with his overly clingy fiancé. She begs him to take him out to see his latest swamp land purchase while he fends off a pint-sized pickpocket.

Meanwhile, sexy police lady Lee goes undercover with sexy convicts in prison to recover stolen diamonds. She helps the female gang (the stern, bossy Josie, the flighty platinum-blonde Billie, and the homicidal redhead Vera) escape in exchange for a cut of the loot when they recover it.

Their boat breaks down partway through the swamp, and they wait on shore until another boat comes along, piloted by the cool and handsome Bob, his clingy fiancé, and a random guy. Vera (Beverly Garland) shoots the random guy and whacks Bob with an oar. She tussles with Lee for a bit, and they decide to take Bob and his fiancé as hostages instead of killing them.

The alligator-related death of the clingy fiancé in a swimming pool many miles away is the only relevant piece of their long swampy journey. Finally, the hot pants-clad beauties find the diamonds and wrestle for no apparent reason. On the way back, Vera steals the diamonds and guns, and kidnaps Bob, hoping to lure the others to their deaths. (This, of course, begs the question, why didn’t she just shoot them in their sleep once they were weaponless, but no matter.) Josie fells her with a homemade spear while Vera selflessly shoots a snake to death to save Bob.

When they’re almost back to civilization, Josie tries to get Lee to kill Bob, but she refuses. Josie and Billie suspect something and try to kill her. Lee and the partially bound Bob fight back, knocking the last two convicts out cold. Lee unties Bob while they confess their undying love—despite his determination to turn her in to the authorities, and despite her stubborn refusal to admit to him that she’s an undercover cop.

Introduction:

Tom anxiously awaits Gypsy's call.Tom dons a blond wig while Crow wears Vulcan ears to reenact the Star Trek Episode, “This Side of Paradise.” Quoth Crow, “I’m not going back, Jim.” Joel tries to make him angry in a halting Shatner impersonation.

Host Segment One:

The Mads have invented the U-View, a television with a picture in picture feature that shows, not another station, but what the viewer would be doing if they weren’t sitting on the couch watching television. Dr. Forrester and TV’s Frank settle in for an episode of Baywatch while Frank watches the smaller picture of himself invited to join a touch football game with Holly Hunter, Debra Winger, and Michelle Pfeiffer. Later, Elvis Costello invites him over to help him with his new album. Dr. Forrester sees himself having lunch with Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger. Joel has invented the Andrew Lloyd Weber Grill, specifically designed to reduce loud, overblown scores to ash.

Host Segment Two:

Tom works himself up to ask Gypsy for a date. Joel’s not so sure it’s a good idea. Crow thinks she’ll say yes—there’s such a thing a mercy date after all.

Host Segment Three:

Joel has agreed to set up a scavenger sale so that Tom will have an event to which he can ask Gypsy. Quoth Crow, “Isn’t that a little weird?” “Well, yes,” Joel replies. Tom calls Gypsy, she has trouble remembering who he is at first, and then says no. She changes her mind after Tom threatens to say “please” ten thousand times in a row.

Host Segment Four:

Tom blathers on about himself to Gypsy at the scavenger sale. He leaves to get cokes and comes back to find Crow horning in on his date. Gypsy demands to go home when Tom chases him away. He insists on walking her the ten feet to her room.

Host Segment Five:

Tom regales Joel and Crow with a highly idealized version of the date and calls up Gypsy to ask her out again. She has trouble remembering who he is at first, and then says, “Let’s just be friends.” Tom burst into tears while Joel reads a letter about a wedding. Down in Deep 13, TV’s Frank sees himself on the U-View taking Michelle Pfeiffer out for a date. She invites him upstairs afterwards, but he refuses; he has to be home in time to watch Baywatch.

Stinger:

Billie pushes the clingy fiancé down and says, “Shut up!”

Thoughts:

I wish every Corman film had Beverly Garland.I don’t recall dating much. My wife-to-be and I just kind of hung out at her place a lot. I guess I took her to a movie once, and Subway afterwards. There was also that one time she borrowed her ex-boyfriend’s car so that I could take her to a museum. She says that our first date was the time I invited her over to eat ice cream and watch cartoons, but I never really thought of that as a date. We never really went to restaurants that much until after we had kids. I guess my point is that dating dilemmas like Nick’s are most easily solved by not going on them. Considering the previous sentence, I suppose it’s a miracle that I somehow wandered into a happy marriage.

Speaking of marriages (happy and otherwise), Bob didn’t shed many tears when his fiancé became alligator chow. He and Lee both dived in to save her, and they had barely pulled themselves back up on the shore when they started gazing deeply into each other’s eyes. In their implied future marriage I imagine a recurring argument that goes along the lines of, “Well, you let my fiancé get eaten by a alligator,” “Well, you were going to turn me in to the police,” “Well, you weren’t going to tell me that you were the police,” and so on.

The U-View scenes are my favorite parts of the Host Segments. The idea that you would be doing something more constructive if you weren’t watching T.V. is pervasive and probably correct, but the U-View takes it to a ridiculous extreme. The Andrew Lloyd Weber Grill is good too, but, to be honest, I don’t really hate Andrew Lloyd Weber that much. His scores are a tad unsubtle to be sure, but he fills a need. His musicals are like the brainless action films of Broadway. The rest of the host segments focus on Tom’s dating ordeals, and work very well.

During the short, the SOL crew has a great deal of fun with the term, “weenie roast.” As for the film, Roger Corman movies mean lots of walking scenes, and this movie has plenty of them. This sometimes leaves the SOL crew with very little to say aside from a Tom’s frequent “As we left the clam flowage, I knew we would return someday…” The unenthusiastic Mardi Gras parade (complete with listless clowns) leads Joel to remark, “This looks like home movies of my parent’s wedding.” The short and the host segments made it worth watching, but the dragging movie means I probably won’t watch it again.