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Sampo & Erhardt

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Visit our archives of the MST3K pages previously hosted by the Sci-Fi Channel's SCIFI.COM.

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Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett reflect on MST3K's final broadcast.

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Episode guide: 618- High School Big Shot (with short: ‘Out of this World’)

618s

Short: (1954) Industrial film aimed at keeping bread truck drivers on the straight and narrow.
Movie: (1959) A high school dweeb agrees to take part in a heist to win the favor of a hot but dumb classmate.

First shown: 12/10/94
Opening: Mike has a headache, and the bots are no help
Intro: Frank clones a dinosaur, while Crow mixes a potion that makes Tom Servo huge!
Host segment 1: M&tB have a suggestion: “specialty breads”
Host segment 2: Crow and Tom egg Mike, and don’t understand what they did is wrong
Host segment 3: Crow and Tom try to break into Gypsy’s diary
End: Mike reads a letter while the bots reenact the end of the movie, Dr. F. gives the dino something to chew on
Stinger: “A million bucks!”
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (210 votes, average: 4.24 out of 5)

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• I’d say this one is hit and miss. Admittedly, the short is strange, but it’s a little long and it feels to me like their riffing kind of runs of out of steam toward the end. The movie is just a bit too drab for me, and while the riffing is great in some places, it kind of dies down in others. The host segments are hit-and-miss as well.
• This episode will come out in the spring as part to Shout’s Vol. XXXVIII.
• Suddenly Crow’s arms work, just in time for cymbal practice.
• Mike really does suffer from chronic headaches, as he said in this New York Times piece.
• “Jurassic Park” had been out for more than a year, so a bit about a cloned dinosaur was hardly a brand new idea, but I do like Frank patiently saying “No…no…bad boy…” as Dr. F is devoured.
• Props to Jef Maynard on giant Servo. Movie bad!
• Servo sums up how the short was used with his line right at the end of the short.
• Segment 1 is sort of a state park joke of a segment. Yes, the bread truck driver was kind of a dork. We get it.
• Segment 2 gets off a cute punchline … then keeps on going for some reason.
• Callback: “Might as well have Mitchell for a dad.”
• Non-spaghetti ball bumpers: Bulletin board, book, beaker.
• That’s Stanley Adams, the poor man’s Jackie Gleason, as they wry safe cracker.
• Segment three is kind of dud, but I do like the obscure reference to the ’60s TV show “T.H.E. Cat” which I absolutely LOVED when I was kid (so of course it was canceled). Oh and props to Jef again for the great blown up bots in this segment.
• Mayhem in the theater: Tom does a “Don’t Pay the Ferryman” joke once too often and Mike hurls him out of the theater.
• That sounds like Kevin as the voice of the dinosaur at the end. Kind of similar to his killer shrew voice.
• Cast and crew round-up: I am not going to do the Roger Corman litany again. Cinematographer: John Nicholaus Jr. also worked on “Attack of the Giant Leeches” and “Night of the Blood Beast.” Editor Carlo Lodato worked on “Attack of the Giant Leeches.” Makeup guy Harry Thomas also worked on “Night of the Blood Beast,” “The Mad Monster;” “Project Moon Base,” “The Unearthly,” “Bride of the Monster,” “Invasion USA” and “Racket Girls.” Set designer John F. Burton also worked on “The Girl in Lovers Lane” and “12 to the Moon.”
In front of the camera: Malcolm Atterbury is also in “I Was A Teenage Werewolf,” Peter Leeds was also in “Girls Town.” Byron Foulger was also in “The Rebel Set.” Bobby Hall was also in “Bloodlust.” Bill Coontz was also in “The Girl in Lovers Lane” and “Bloodlust!”
• CreditsWatch: Host segments directed by Jim Mallon. It’s with this episode that Julie Walker stops being called “Info Club Coordinator” and becomes “Info Club Poobah.” Bagpipe music: Peter B. Dysart.
• Fave riff from the short: “Make sure you stock your TRUCK UP, so that you don’t … well, you know…” Honorable mention: “I’m starring in Forever Plaaaaiiiid.”
• Fave riff from the movie: “How’s the German-expressionist date going?” Honorable mention: “I hate it when his face lights up.”

133 Replies to “Episode guide: 618- High School Big Shot (with short: ‘Out of this World’)”

  1. Brandon says:

    That was an interesting article Mike wrote. I always though Mike developed chronic headaches more during the later period of MST3K, but according to that article, he’s had them since 1987! Eesh! It makes his work a little bit more impressive, having to live with that.

       8 likes

  2. Dropo221 says:

    Out of this World is one of my Top 3 or 4 shorts on MST3K! High School Big Shot..not so much.

       1 likes

  3. jjb3k says:

    @ #99: For those who enjoy minutiae, looks like 1959 trumps all others as the year that gave us the most MSTed movies – see also “Rocket Attack USA”, “Daddy-O”, “The Giant Gila Monster”, “Attack of the Giant Leeches”, “The Killer Shrews”, “The Rebel Set”, “The Day the Earth Froze”, “The Girl in Lovers’ Lane”, “The Brain That Wouldn’t Die”, “Santa Claus”, “12 to the Moon”, “Girls’ Town”, “Bloodlust”, “The Amazing Transparent Man”, “The Leech Woman”, and “The Horrors of Spider Island”. Now, counting this film, that’s 17 altogether!

    I don’t know if I was just in the right state of mind or what, but this episode made me laugh like a fool the last time I watched it. Yeah, it’s the most depressing film the show ever did, but I’ll be damned if they didn’t manage to wring a goodly amount of laughs out of it. Servo’s “playin’ nurthemaid” run is great, as is pretty much everything aimed at Depressing Dad (“Let’s see, how else can I shame him? Uh, son, you have a tiny winky!”) and Mike’s “I like this new movie better” when we meet the safecracker guys halfway through.

    The short is better than I used to give it credit for, too. Very dark riffing (“Sometimes I wanna put a bullet in my skull!”) on an absolutely preposterous little tale. I always crack up at Mike’s “I’ve been shot twice!” and Crow’s inexplicably malicious “Eat EVERY PIECE!”

    The host segments are hit and miss, but the chemistry set is a really big hit. Giant Servo is brilliant, but Servo’s little conniption fit after he drinks the potion is hilarious too.

       6 likes

  4. MJ says:

    I think this is a classic, both skits and movie riffing leave me doubled over with laughter. Great episode IMHO.

       2 likes

  5. touches no one's life, then leaves says:

    jjb3k:
    I don’t know if I was just in the right state of mind or what, but this episode made me laugh like a fool

    Ah-henh-henh-henh-henh…

    ;-)

    jjb3k:
    Servo’s little conniption fit after he drinks the potion is hilarious too.

    “I think Spencer Tracy did it better. Don’t you, folks?”

    ===

    anyone recognize that one?

       2 likes

  6. touches no one's life, then leaves says:

    Thomas K. Dye:
    I love this episode; the bread short is hilarious.The very concept of a special division of angels and devils set to monitor the salesmanship practices of delivery truck drivers is worth about an hour’s worth of riffs

    Well, remember, Heaven is infinite and, thus, its staff is infinite. They need to justify all that personnel somehow…

    MattG:
    “Beer Wine: wine made from fresh beer.”

    “Can you marry beer?”

    I’m not a medium, I’m a petite:
    even more depression, via imdb…. this was Tom “Marv” Pittman’s last film. He was killed in some kind of ‘road accident’ before the film was even released.

    “First Dean, now Pittman. Just a coincidence? I wonder…”

    Ironically, thanks to MST3K, this is now surely the film he’s most remembered for, if not the ONLY film that he’s remembered for. He did a lot of westerns and war movies, but what percentage of those remain in the public consciousness?

    There ought to be a MST3K/Cinematic/Rifftrax-type show just for westerns. There are so darned many of them.

    MikeK:
    “Specialty breads!” Whenever I hear that phrase in real life, I think of the “Out of This World” short.

    The short’s the only place I’ve EVER heard that phrase. Go figure.

    Cliff Weismeyer:
    (Frank picked the movies, but did he pair the shorts?)

    Did you do that on purpose? I think you did that on purpose. :-)

    Roman Martel:
    Now, I can’t enter a grocery without mentioning a line from this short…

    Uh…to whom? Do you tend to get odd looks from people in grocery stores? ;-)

    Trilaan:
    I sure hope our “hero”, Marv had a fulfilling and successful life after his troubles in this film.

    Yes. Yes, he did. IN PRISON!

    Nicolletta:
    Anyone else notice that during the scene when Marvin first asks Betty out, she suddenly has a black eye?

    Considering what little we’re told about Betty’s family life, I’m forced to wonder if that’s not a makeup error but the result of a cut scene…

       3 likes

  7. Sitting Duck says:

    “Better stock your truck up, so that you don’t… Well, you know.”

    No, I don’t know. At the risk of being subjected to mockery and derision, why stock your truck up?

    @ #7; It was probably a case of them catering to Frank’s tastes for his parting gift, since this is the sort of movie he seemed to have dug.

       0 likes

  8. Kansas says:

    I’d like to see Whitey team up with the Selling Wizard lady. They could travel around the country, rewarding good salesmen and stuffing bad ones in a freezer.

    While Marvin wasn’t too bright, the dumbest character in the movie was the crook who thought he could take on a gunman (with two guys backing him up) with a blackjack. Give that man a Darwin Award.

       5 likes

  9. Sitting Duck says:

    That would make a good Weekend Discussion. The Darwin Awards: MST3K Edition. I’ve done a quick search and it looks as if we haven’t done anything like it before.

    Though if there were a Doctor Who Edition of the Darwin Awards, Haydon from the Second Doctor serial Tomb of the Cybermen would be a strong contender. Consider the last few minutes of Episode 1 when he and Jamie enter a new room and this little gem is spoken:

    Haydon: So many buttons. Don’t know which to press first.
    Jamie: I wouldn’t do that.
    Haydon: I’ll try… that one.

    It’s a bad sign when Jamie McCrimmon displays better sense than you. Not surprisingly, he experiences a horrific death.

       4 likes

  10. Hotchka! says:

    The German-Expressionist Date is my favorite riff too, Sampo. The film would actually be improved by a narrator with a German accent describing Marvs hopeless, desperate existence. But the darkness of the film just drains me of hope. The girls evilness just runs through the film like a stream of stinking puss and bile. First, she ruined his chances of college (almost certainly a life-altering misfortune) with no regret or even thought about his consequences. And then when he stupidly shares his chance at a lifetime fortune, she ruins that and gets him killed in the process. At the start of the flick, Marv was on an upward track, even with the loser dad. Then that girl single handedly doomed him.

       2 likes

  11. Gobi says:

    touches no one’s life, then leaves: Ah-henh-henh-henh-henh…

    “I think Spencer Tracy did it better. Don’t you, folks?”

    ===

    anyone recognize that one?

    It’s a reference to the Spencer Tracy version of “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”.

       1 likes

  12. Gare.Chicago says:

    “Out of This World” is, with hyperbole (which I thought, when I was young, referred to a small, hyperactive mammal), my absolute favorite short. I have watched it literally 100 times if not more (I’m honestly listening to it right now, while I’m “working” in my office).

    It always makes me chuckle – there’s just so much to love, from Giant Servo to the fey acting of Red to the goofy bread displays to the fantastic riffs (“Well it’s *your* story!” “Movie GO AWAY!” “So you can bi-locate and assume animal form? – Mm-hm!” “Hey, *Whitey*!”), it’s just an absolute classic.

    One question though – this was commissioned by DuPont, ostensibly to highlight how proper packaging helps generate sales… but there was absolutely no mention of proper packaging.. just lots of droning, on and on, about how to use a Hat and a Pad to keep up with your specialty bread sales. Seems like DuPont didn’t get their money’s worth.

    Gare

       2 likes

  13. Sampo says:

    Sitting Duck: “Better stock your truck up, so that you don’t… Well, you know.”

    No, I don’t know. At the risk of being subjected to mockery and derision, why stock your truck up?

    Previously the driver told Whitey not to “let a small SLIP-UP become a big TRIP-UP.” Mike took it from there.

       3 likes

  14. touches no one's life, then leaves says:

    Gobi: It’s a reference to the Spencer Tracy version of “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”.

    Well, yes, but anyone recognize the actual “don’t you, folks?” quote?

       2 likes

  15. EricJ says:

    touches no one’s life, then leaves: Well, yes, but anyone recognize the actual “don’t you, folks?” quote?

    (holds up picture signs: Screw/ball….Crack/pot…Bats/belfry…)

    Oh, and can we get a redo of Out of This World WITHOUT the self-navel-gazing “Big Servo” riffs?
    I mean, it’s not like “Last of the Wild Horses”, where they have to bring their own host segs into the theater to keep up the gags…

       1 likes

  16. littleaimishboy says:

    Gare.Chicago:

    One question though – this was commissioned by DuPont, ostensibly to highlight how proper packaging helps generate sales… but there was absolutely no mention of proper packaging.. just lots of droning, on and on, about how to use a Hat and a Pad to keep up with your specialty bread sales. Seems like DuPont didn’t get their money’s worth.
    Gare

    It was???? Wow, DuPont sure didn’t. Does the short even mention packaging? Would’ve been easy – “I make sure to tell the store owner how our attractive packaging makes his store look more attractive.” etc etc. But no.

    I just assumed it was aimed at bread truck drivers. Or maybe salespeople in general – “Now, of course we sell insurance. But let’s discuss what can we learn from this lowly breadtruck driver. Okay – you there in back?”

       2 likes

  17. Gare.Chicago says:

    littleaimishboy: It is????Wow, DuPont sure didn’t.Does the short even mention packaging?Would’ve been easy – “I make sure to tell the store owner how our attractive packaging makes his store look more attractive.” etc etc.But no.

    Indeed it was. However, I just watched the full short out there on archive.com ( http://archive.org/details.php?identifier=OutofThi1954 ), and there *is* a brief mention of packaging.. but 99.5% of the dialogue has to do with bread, and displays, and Beerwine.

    Gare

       1 likes

  18. touches no one's life, then leaves says:

    MikeK:
    I saw a rerun of The Rifleman a few weeks ago.In it was none other than “Depressing Dad”, only this time he was playing “Angry Dad”.

    Angry Dad?!

    “HOMER MAD! HOMER SMASH! GET REVENGE ON WORLD!”

    RockyJones:
    I find myself agreeing with Betty’s enraged rant directed at dressing-down the pompous, condescending English teacher.He just seems so damned overly-obsessed with the idea that a grade received on one lousy term paper about Shakespeare is really going to have such a huge impact on ANY of these kids once they’ve graduated, and just exaults in his ability to lord it over them.

    Well, that grade determined whether they passed or failed the class. It might even have meant that Betty wouldn’t graduate (but she died and it stopped mattering). I’d say those are pretty important stakes. And “lording it over the students” is kind of part of a teacher’s job, isn’t it?

    Cheapskate Crow:
    And how does Dad know who the hot chicks are in his son’s high school?I don’t even want to know.

    If you don’t want to know, why did you ask? ;-)

    Maybe he heard a lot of gossip in bars while waiting for his girlfriend, Thimbelina Smirnoff.

    Droppo:
    And the unrelenting bleakness of the film set against Mike and the bots’ riffing cracks me up.It might be the single most depressing film ever made.And Tom Pittman’s character is so perfect for riffing.

    Oh, I think “Passion of the Christ” might give it a run for the money…

    darthservo:
    Stanley Adams also went on to great fame as TYBO the talking carrot

    “Do you realize what you just said?”

       1 likes

  19. touches no one's life, then leaves says:

    EricJ: (holds up picture signs:Screw/ball….Crack/pot…Bats/belfry…)

    Yes, exactly, thank you. ;-)

    EricJ:
    Oh, and can we get a redo of Out of This World WITHOUT the self-navel-gazing “Big Servo” riffs?

    Servo’s navel was a long time ago…

       2 likes

  20. ready steady yeti says:

    Poor Mike w/ headaches! Wonder if he ever tried propranolol or metoprolol.?.

       0 likes

  21. CatraDhtem says:

    touches no one’s life, then leaves: Ah-henh-henh-henh-henh…

    “I think Spencer Tracy did it better. Don’t you, folks?”

    ===

    anyone recognize that one?

    No, Bugs, we don’t.

       2 likes

  22. thequietman says:

    OKAY, WE’LL BUY THE BREAD!

    It seems like it’s the depressing movies that let M&TB really go to town. I found this episode hilarious and am now eagerly awaiting its release from Shout! Factory. A wonderfully, memorably goofy short is the icing on the cake. I note that last week the Deep 13 segments were pretty underwhelming while the host segments were pretty good, and this week it’s just the opposite.

    Fave short riffs:
    If she doesn’t shut up soon I’m gonna stuff her full of croutons!

    I had a Brooklyn accent and a different POIsonality!

    (Bill blathers about bread)
    Crow: I don’t care…
    (Bill blathers some more)
    Crow: …there’s not an article in this!

    Fave movie riffs:
    I won’t survive the day. Thanks a lot sir!

    Is beer booze?

    D’oh, I planned my date and my heist for the same night!

    A safe?! You said the money would be in the toaster!

       4 likes

  23. A.J. (A Jerk) says:

    this is a good episode and i simply won’t hear otherwise!

       6 likes

  24. dakotaboy says:

    Sitting Duck:
    “Better stock your truck up, so that you don’t… Well, you know.”

    No, I don’t know. At the risk of being subjected to mockery and derision, why stock your truck up?

    Movie: “Don’t let a small SLIP-UP become a big TRIP-UP.”

    Mike: “Better stock your TRUCK UP, so you don’t F*** UP!”

       2 likes

  25. Cornjob says:

    “I like this new movie better”, sums it up in so many ways.

       2 likes

  26. touches no one's life, then leaves says:

    Tom Carberry:
    But why does the strip club need bread?

    It’s a small neighborhood/town, so every address gets bread?

    It’s for the employees break room?

    It’s part of the “performances”?

    A “me sandwich,” indeed…

       3 likes

  27. Torgo"s Pizza-NJ says:

    “Out of This World”: Fav lines: “Fey acting, flamboyant prancing” Hope you accept bread in your life!” “Never put donuts next to the kitty litter.”

       2 likes

  28. touches no one's life, then leaves says:

    Slasher films often feature high school outcasts who, as adults, return to kill their tormentors. I started a line of thought about “what if” Marv did that then quickly realized that Marv can’t do that because the only person he can reasonably blame anything on is Betty and she’s already dead. Sure, Marv could kill Vince and his goons but that seems like such an empty gesture…

       2 likes

  29. touches no one's life, then leaves says:

    I’ve noticed that some commentators tend to judge films of past eras by modern standards, which isn’t a very sensible approach (yes, folks, there was indeed a time when all-white classrooms were far more common than “integrated” classrooms). Many comments about Betty clearly demonstrate this fallacy.

    It’s important (well, to the extent that anything related to a film such as “High School Big Shot” can be considered important) to consider Betty’s actions by the standards of her era. Whatever else one can say about her, Betty has no illusions. She knows that, grade or no grade, graduation or no graduation, she will NOT be going to college, and in the 1950s, prospects for non-college-educated women were even grimmer than they are now (in the 1950s, even prospects for college-educated women weren’t all that great). She knows that her best chance of achieving what she considers success will be to marry a guy whom she can reasonably expect to be able to one day support her on such a level, preferably a very STUPID guy whom she can easily manipulate.

    Yes, this is a very mercenary attitude, but the hard truth is that, in that time and place, this was in fact Betty’s most practical recourse.

    Initially, Vince seems like Betty’s best bet; he’s certainly stupid enough for Betty to manipulate, and while he has no obvious chance of going to college, either, he has a good chance of getting at least a reasonably well-paying job. Hardly an ideal candidate, but one takes what one can get.

    Then the specter of graduating high school looms near; Betty (apparently) needs a good grade in Mr. Carter’s class in order to graduate, and she’s aware enough of her own limitations to know she’s not likely to pull that off by herself, so she latches onto Marv. Although Marv’s certainly not stupid (on most levels, anyway), Betty can just as easily lead him around by the area as she can Vince, and unlike Vince, Marv has very encouraging prospects. He already has a fairly good job as a bookkeeper (a better job than Vince has a chance of getting), he’s virtually guaranteed to get into college, and Betty knows something that people like Vince almost never realize: Smart people tend to get rich more quickly than non-smart people. Thus, MARV is now Betty’s best bet.

    However, the later confrontation with Mr. Carter demonstrates to Betty that Marv not only has smarts, he has ETHICS. In Betty’s eyes, Marv has betrayed her by placing HIS ethics above HER best interests; he’s proved that she can’t count on him in the clutch. Being left in the position of having to repeat twelfth grade is bad enough, but Betty also knows something that Marv apparently does not: People rarely get rich by being ethical. In her eyes, the real world will, more likely than not, eat Marv alive, and that’s a wagon Betty’s not about to hitch herself to.

    So it’s back to Square One and Plan A: Vince, who probably wouldn’t recognize an ethical dilemma if he saw one and is in any event, as noted, STUPID. Even if Vince encounters a situation where doing the most profitable course would be to do what he considers “wrong,” Betty will more easily be able to convince him to take it, anyway.

    Then Marv (whose ethics are evidently flexible enough for him to commit grand larceny as long as the people he’s stealing from are “bad”) suddenly has the prospects for not just wealth but *immediate* wealth. That brings Betty back on board with Marv, or so it seems, because Betty realizes that while rich ethical Marv trumps amoral Vince, *rich* amoral Vince will trump even rich ethical Marv. That’s why she almost immediately reveals Marv’s plan to Vince, a move that she might even consider justified since, after all, Marv “betrayed” *her*, so why shouldn’t she “betray” him right back? She’ll let Marv do the hard part (getting the money out of the building) while Vince does the much easier part (getting the money away from MARV) and, ideally (if that’s really the best word for it), realizes that listening to Betty PAYS OFF, that listening to Betty is what will make *him* rich. Even if Vince fails to get the money, Betty still wins, because there’s still rich ethical Marv to fall back on.

    It’s all very cold, very harsh, very mercenary, but it’s Betty’s reality, it’s her best chance to achieve what she wants. Betty isn’t in love with Vince *or* with Marv, and that doesn’t matter to her, because Love Doesn’t Pay the Bills. Ultimately, she doesn’t really care which guy she ends up with as she ends up with the *winner*. Not at all admirable but eminently practical.

    It’s faintly interesting to wonder how things would’ve turned out if Betty hadn’t decided to be on-scene for the heist. And, really, what was that about?

       5 likes

  30. Cornjob says:

    Nice analysis #129

       2 likes

  31. touches no one's life, then leaves says:

    Thanks. :-)

    On a briefer note, notice that Harry, who considers himself “above” regular employment, a guy who won’t hesitate to both mooch off of AND steal from his own brother-in-law, has some kind of “moral objection” to dealing with narcotics. Even back then, drugs were a “special kind of evil” OSLT.

       1 likes

  32. Ned Raggett says:

    Man, that’s the breakdown of breakdowns there in #129. And I mean that as high praise! (What’s also noteworthy about it is that none of it undercuts talking about the obvious misogyny in the screenplay either.) For the only time in my life since I’ve encountered this film I honestly wonder what the heck the discussions/assumptions were among the actors and director when making it.

    Love the short, the main film is, thanks to distance, just insane in its dreariness. And yeah I still can’t figure out Tom Pittman as romantic lead, that face, at least as lit and photographed here, just…doesn’t quite have it.

    That said in my occasional spelunkings into the past about this fellow, he really did seem to have a rep as an up and comer — appeared in at least one Samuel Fuller movie and while I don’t know if he was ever really going to bust out for the big time I could totally have seen him building up a strong character actor career over the moons; I honestly think he was just miscast here, or maybe was experimenting with something more obviously in the James Dean vein. Hey, working actor, a job’s a job.

    Posted this in a separate thread a couple of months back, I forget which, but it turns out Sally Kellerman knew Pittman and wrote about him in her autobiography, including his tragic death and the circumstances. Google Books doesn’t have everything but there’s a pretty good chunk which you can read — scroll back to page 45 from here and read forward:

    https://books.google.com/books?id=7sjXflh2gJcC&lpg=PA51&ots=zoS3y87DGc&dq=tom%20pittman%20actor%20sally%20kellerman&pg=PA45#v=onepage&q=tom%20pittman%20actor%20sally%20kellerman&f=false

    At the least he sounds like he could be a good friend, and Fuller spoke at his funeral about the loss.

       1 likes

  33. touches no one's life, then leaves says:

    Ned Raggett:
    Man, that’s the breakdown of breakdowns there in #129.And I mean that as high praise!(What’s also noteworthy about it is that none of it undercuts talking about the obvious misogyny in the screenplay either.)For the only time in my life since I’ve encountered this film I honestly wonder what the heck the discussions/assumptions were among the actors and director when making it.

    In his nonfiction book on horror, “Danse Macabre,” Stephen King discussed “Horror of Party Beach,” with particular attention to the toxic waste dumped in the water. He thought it very unlikely that the filmmakers were trying for any “message” about toxic waste there (as any number of other monster movies do) and suggested it was instead just the first thing they thought of to “explain” the monsters. King pointed out that the fact that the FIRST thing the filmmakers thought of was toxic waste was a significant clue as to the immediate mindset of Americans in 1964.

    Or Something Very Much Like That. I don’t have the book in front of me. :-|

    The themes (such as they are) of “High School Big Shot” might be a similar clue to the immediate mindset of Americans in 1959. As I’ve interpreted, Betty’s actions can be interpreted as practical efforts to “get the man” who will take the best care of her (not unlike how that girl in “What Is Home Economics” was preparing for the very special job of being Mrs. whatever-the-heck-the-name-was). The common (but NOT universal) male mindset in 1959 was that (to put it crudely) women weren’t supposed to THINK, much less SCHEME, they were supposed to let MEN make all the decisions. By depicting Betty as (a) independently-minded enough to try to steer her own future and (b) an untrustworthy b|tch, the filmmakers associated (b) directly with (a), making (a) look (theoretically) undesirable. “See, girls? Thinking for yourself gets you KILLED by your own boyfriend.” Like Betty herself, the filmmakers didn’t see their actions as “wrong,” just, well, practical, reinforcing what they considered the proper status quo for women. Depresso-Dad’s unseen mercenary girlfriend (hey, she was kind of doing just what Betty was doing, wasn’t she?) might even have been intended as a cautionary moment: “Don’t trust the girl, Marv, back away from the edge, don’t be a fool like your father was, Marv…”

    Unless I’m wrong. Just blue-skying here. :-)

    The fact that the film offers us no “good girl” to contrast with Betty the “bad girl” is, I suppose, because the filmmakers wanted everyone (well, except Mr. Carter) to be either dead or doomed to prison at the end, and imprisoning a “good girl,” well, that just wasn’t done (except in Women In Prison films, a genre with rules entirely its own).

    That, or they just didn’t have enough money for an extra speaking role. ;-)

    ***

    Off-topic, it occurred to me just now, while I was typing, that “Teen-Age Crime Wave” reversed the common trend of “good girls” being blondes and “bad girls” being brunettes (as Betty is). Instead, it was “good girl” Jane who was brunette and “bad girl” Terri who was blonde. I’m not sure what that means.

    It further occurred to me that Terri’s shorter hair and her occasional quasi-tender behavior toward Jane — about as close as the film could get to implying that Terri was bisexual (notice that Terri had succeeded where Betty had failed; Terri in fact HAD landed a stupid guy whom she could manipulate — meant that, by the rules of 1955, Terri pretty much HAD to die at the end of the film (whereas Mike, the one who’d been killing people, didn’t). Tragic, but that’s how things were back then. No happy endings for LGBTs. :-|

    That at least kind of “explains” why Terri insisted on Jane accompanying her and Mike: Jane was very important to Terri, and she wanted to keep Jane from going back to prison, she wanted to protect Jane and keep her safe…and, of course, it’s the MAN who’s “supposed to” take care of the woman, another strike against Terri per the 1955 mindset.

    Did the filmmakers include these themes on purpose, or just automatically, because that’s how the majority of people thought in 1955? No idear.

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