Call me a revisionist heathen, but Gidget is one of the worst movies I've ever seen. How it became a hit TV series (which is remembered far more commonly than the original film) is a complete mystery to me. Gidget (Sandra Dee) is a girl who discovers surfing and boys one summer, falling into a crowd that includes such characters as The Big Kahuna. And Moondoggie. (These are people, incidentally.) She swoons and she surfs. Meanwhile, the vapid story is completely trashed by some terrible filmmaking, overexposed and seemingly dubbed throughout, atrociously. Ultimately there's no lesson here aside from a vague notion that fun is good. And Gidget is neither. It's saying something that you can get all three Gidget movies on DVD for less than $14.
Sandra Dee and Bobby Darin were always the poor man's screwball couple -- but the acquit themselves just fine in If a Man Answers, a corny comedy about love and such. Dee nabs confirmed bachelor Darin -- then turns him into "the marrying kind" by using a handbook meant to train dogs. Eventually, his eye strays, and she concocts a faux beau (Cesar Romero) to send her flowers and "call her" every night. The subterfuge falls apart in the end, as the film turns into a complete and utter farce. Frequently funny, it's still not anywhere near a classic due to its trite plotting.
Rather amusing but tepid and tiresome adaptation of the H.P. Lovecraft classic, The Dunwich Horror is redeemed only by a wild-eyed and wild-maned Dean Stockwell as a campy half-demon dude obsessed with the occult and the summoning of the demon Yog-Sothoth from another dimension. Priceless green-red-blue color effects stand in for these otherworldly locales. Really quite silly and repetitious.
Douglas Sirk's Imitation of Life sadly doesn't hold a candle to the 1934 original, which spoke to the difficulties of single parenting, race relations, and American entrepreneurship. By making lead Lora (Lana Turner) an actress instead of a pancake magnate, Sirk's film is robbed of much of the story's charm, turning this into some strange rendition of Mommie Dearest.
Is there irony in Rock Hudson zipping about on a scooter in an attempt to protect the virtue of a gaggle of American girls being pursued by four horny guys? (Of note: Sandra Dee is one of the girls, and Bobby Darin is one of the guys, and this is where they met.) The convoluted romantic comedy has Hudson as a wealthy American who spends his Septembers at his plush Italian villa. He arrives early this year, only to find his business partner has turned the place into a hotel from October to August. A romance (with the lovely Gina Lollobrigida) ensues, and the younger kids prove they can find a little love in the sun amongst all the good times. Silly and unfulfilling, it's nonetheless a reasonably good time.