This has been the busiest couple of months I’ve had in quite some time. A rational person would point out that I’m working two part-time jobs and am in the middle of a time-sensitive writing contract, which works out to, at best, the equivalent of two full-time jobs. But then the lie to that is that the part-time jobs take more than the hours clocked in, what with research, rehearsing, learning lines, etc. Well, the hell with all that rationalizing and quantifying hoorah. I’ve been busy. I needed a break. i needed crap.
So the last Sunday in January, I was determined to be free and ramrodded a Crapfest into everybody’s schedule. I was not able to attend this year’s B-Fest, neither financially nor time-wise (we opened a show on that Saturday). Just as well, since there was apparently some plague going around, and if the plague did not get you, the scheduled showing of Skidoo would.
So we gathered at Dave’s, who had been largely incommunicado, or at least uncommunicative, due to household projects (and, truthfully, Fallout New Vegas). Most of us made it on time, remarkable for us; with only the Other Dave missing, we started the pizza and, for warm-up, put on one of my recent acquisitions, Raquel Welch’s 1970 TV special, titled, with elegant simplicity, Raquel.
This went a long way toward verifying my discovery of Dave’s Achilles Heel: 70s variety TV. Nobody likes Pink Lady & Jeff, it’s impossible, it’s like saying you like having your gonads repeatedly smashed with a meat tenderizer. No, the real clue was Dave allergic reaction, a few Crapfests ago, to The Paul Lynde Halloween Special, which even (for Pete’s sake) featured KISS, one of Dave’s favorite bands. I do believe this was immediately after Dave tried to harm everyone with Battlefield Earth. Piffle. He was dismayed that I harmed him more with Paul Lynde than he had harmed me with John Travolta (again, piffle). This has begun a fearsome rivalry.
Raquel is shot on film, and they want you to know it was on location all over the world. The first segment is Raquel walking around Paris in a gorgeous red cape and singing California Dreaming. Oddly, the lyrics have been rewritten, and once she stops into a church along the way, she does not get down on her knees and began to pray. Nonetheless, you have a gorgeous woman wearing gorgeous clothes in a gorgeous city, and all Dave can do is groan and bitch. Even when the screen blurs into some odd animation and suddenly things get interesting. Did I say Interesting? I meant awesome:
And what does Dave spend the entirety of the dance number doing? Wondering what the guys are wearing on their heads. “You’re looking at the guys?” is the rational response to that, so that is what I said. By the time Dave had figured out what they were wearing, we were back to Paris and the odd, rewritten California Dreaming, which was cause for more complaints. Not that he wanted to run it back.
This only means that next time I’m bringing my disc of the 1967 Nancy Sinatra special Movin’ With Nancy, complete with RC Cola commercials. It was the taste of a New Generation, you know.
The definite high point of Raquel! is the “Age of Aquarius” number, in which Raquel capers about with various signs of the Zodiac, including Leo, Cancer, Scorpio, Cthulhu, and the Baphomet Demon.
Rick: “Those dancers aren’t moving very much.”
Me: “I don’t think they CAN move.”
Raquel’s a good dancer. Her voice is pleasant but untrained. After the Aquarius number, we watch her try to rock out with Tom Jones (which leads to most of us agreeing that Tom Jones is still amazing 40 years after this twaddle), and then… Raquel teams up with Bob Hope to do “Rocky Raccoon”.”Do” in the sense of “hold it down and make it squeal like a pig.” Raquel had already done a few Beatles songs, but this one, which serves as the final number in the special, brought a special form of agony to the proceedings. Here it is, because I hate you:
(or here it would have been if some joyless a-hole hadn’t taken it down)
You would have noticed that version of the song was longer than the Beatles’ rendition by several years. Lucky, lucky lucky…
I will admit that this special has a special place in my personal history, because along with Diana Rigg in The Avengers, Raquel Welch was responsible for quite a few stirrings in my young loins, and the special was… well, special indeed, in that respect. Dear sweet Lord, that woman was gorgeous, and she is still gorgeous. That’s some good genes, right there.
After this, Dave put on something he’d picked up from TCM or something, a comedy from 1951 called Kentucky Jubilee, starring Jerry Collona. Little comedy and littler Jublilee on display. We finally gave up and watched my new copy of the remastered Kid With the Golden Arm, ’cause who don’t like kung fu?
I love flicks with lots of different weapons. It’s also nice to finally know that the banners that the bad guys keep leaving simply say ” Kill kill kill kill kill kill.”
After that, shit got serious. And the next two movies were so extraordinary, they deserve their own column. I’ve made you suffer enough for today.
Hey! Is Ann-Margaret’s 1968 TV special available? What? Why the hell not?
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