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Monday, 10 June 2013

Rock-a-Bye Baby (1958) - Star of the month... Connie Stevens

'Rock-a-Bye Baby' is a 1958 farce comedy directed and written by Frank Tashlin and starring Jerry Lewis, Marilyn Maxwell, Reginald Gardner, Salvatore Baccaloni, Hans Conried, Isobel Elsom, James Gleason & introducing Connie Stevens. Jerry Lewis also produced the film. The film features costume design by the great Edith Head, and songs by Harry Warren & Sammy Cahn.

When famous movie star Carla Naples (played by Marilyn Maxwell) discovers she is pregnant with triplets, her agent Harold Herman (played by Reginald Gardiner) sends her back to her hometown to avoid scandal. After her return, Carla is reunited with former sweetheart Clayton Poole (played by Jerry Lewis), who agrees to adopt the children once they are born. Matters are complicated once Clayton later discovers he must be married in order to adopt the children. Fortunately Carla's younger sister Sandy Naples (played by Connie Stevens) just happens to be in love with Clayton.

Jerry Lewis with Connie Stevens

Musical program

  • "Rock-a-Bye Baby" - Jerry Lewis
  • "The Land of La-La-La" - Jerry Lewis with Gary Lewis & Judy Franklin
  • "Love is a Lonely Thing" - Jerry Lewis
  • "Dormi-Dormi-Dormi (Sleep, Sleep, Sleep)" - Jerry Lewis & Salvatore Baccaloni
  • "Why Can't He Care For Me?" - Connie Stevens
  • "The White Virgin of the Nile" - Marilyn Maxwell

Musical highlights

Song: "Dormi, Dormi, Dormi (Sleep, Sleep, Sleep)" - Jerry Lewis & Salvatore Baccaloni

Song: "The White Virgin of the Nile" - Marilyn Maxwell

Did you know...

  • George Sanders filmed some scenes for the film, which were later deleted
  • Jerry Lewis cast Connie Stevens in this film after seeing her performance in the b-film 'Dragstrip Riot' (1958)
  • The film was re-released in 1963 as a Jerry Lewis double feature with 'Don't Give Up the Ship' (1959)
  • This film is a loose remake of "The Miracle of Morgan's Creek" (1944)

Marriage and legitimacy of children

A key theme to the film is the ideology of marriage and the legitimacy of children. Although Carla was married to her bullfighter husband (albeit a day before his death), she was still married to the father of her children. As it is not common knowledge that Carla had gotten married, Carla and her agent are both concerned about the general public's perception that her children are illegitimate, and how this may impact her career and box office success. This is strongly linked to the strict moral values of the 1950s, and the belief that one should be married before having children. Had the public known about Carla's wedding, it is likely the birth of triplets would have been very positive publicity for her. Fortunately for us, this is not the case, or we would not have a film to watch... :)   The unmarried issue also impacts Clayton, who is required to get married in order to adopt Carla's triplets. Sandy even tells clayton: "You're not married! They're not going to let a bachelor raise three little girls!"

Carla's maternal values are revealed towards the end of the film where she stands up to her agent, and tells him: "Being a mother is the only career that I want, or ever really wanted. I was a fool to leave my children." In order to redeem her actions, she alleges she and Clayton were secretly married. While this protects her reputation and the legitimacy of her children, it labels Clayton as a bigamist, where he faces jail.

Closing remarks

Very funny Jerry Lewis comedy will leave you laughing from the moment it starts until it ends. I like the way the film takes serious issues of the time - legitimacy of children and bigamy - and incorporates them into an amusing and entertaining farce.

In my opinion, this is one of Jerry Lewis' funnier movies without Dean Martin. The supporting cast does a great job in complimenting Jerry Lewis in the film. Of particular note is the beautiful Connie Stevens, who is both ditsy and funny in her first important film role. We are fortunate to hear Connie Stevens sing a song in the song "Why Can't He Care For Me?".  This is the film which launched Connie Stevens to stardom. She signed a contract with Warner Bros. shortly after the release of this film, and also secured her most famous role as Cricket Blake on the TV show "Hawaiian Eye".

Three reasons to watch this film...

  • Jerry Lewis delivering a very funny performance
  • Connie Stevens' first important film role
  • Some of the cutest babies you'll ever see in a film

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Drag Strip Riot (1958) - Star of the month... Connie Stevens

'Dragstrip Riot' is a 1958 teen exploitation film directed by David Bradley and starring Yvonne Lime (Fedderson), Gary Clarke, Fay Wray, Connie Stevens, Bob Turnbull and Ted Wedderspoon.

New kid in town Rick Martin (played by Gary Clarke) falls in with the local gang of hot rodders. After a harmless drag race goes wrong, Rick is unfairly blamed for the death of another teenager.

Watch the trailer:

Watch the complete film on YouTube:

Connie Stevens & The Ripchords sing "Jamaica Rock"

Musical program...

  • "Teenage Rumble" - The Ripchords
  • "Something New" - Connie Stevens with The Ripchords
  • "Rock & Rollin' Joe" - The Ripchords
  • "Jamaica Rock" - Connie Stevens with The Ripchords

Did you know...

  • After seeing Connie Stevens in this film, Jerry Lewis case her in 'Rock-a-Bye Baby' (1958)
  • This was the film debut of Steve Ihnat

Closing remarks

Below average 1950s teen exploitation b-picture, notable for featuring an early appearance of Connie Stevens, and an appearance from Fay Wray (who in 1933 played the blonde woman in 'King Kong'). Fay Wray, who was still a well known star, sure must have been desperate for an acting job for her to have appeared in this film.

The film is a product of it's time, and even from the first moment we will transported back to the late 1950s. The film features all elements of a classic teen exploitation film... bikie gangs, beach scenes, jukeboxes, diners, drag races and even an amusing cat fight between Connie Stevens and a girl from a rival gang.

The primary issue with this film is its pace. It develops rather slow. Of it's 70 minutes,  it takes approx. 30 mins for the primary storyline to commence, with not much happening before that. I think this could have worked better as a 25-30 minute short film, rather than a 70 minute feature.

Worth watching if you are a big fan of Connie Stevens and/or Fay Wray. If not, don't bother.

Star of the month June 2013... Connie Stevens

fliXposed is pleased to announce our Star of the Month for June 2013 is the beautiful singer/actress, Connie Stevens.

Connie Stevens was born Concetta Rosalie Ann Ingoglia in Brooklyn, New York, on the 8 August 1938. Coming from a musical family, she joined several singing groups including The Fourmost and later The Three Debs.

After appearing in four b-pictures, Jerry Lewis case her in 'Rock-a-Bye Baby', which helped Stevens secure a contract with Warner Bros. 

After appearing in a number of films, Connie Stevens released a string of successful singles including "Sixteen Reasons" and "Kookie! Lend Me Your Comb". Today, Connie Stevens is best known for playing Cricket Blake on the TV show 'Hawaiian Eye' from 1959 to 1962, and for her role as Miss Mason in 'Grease 2' (1982).

During the month of June, I will attempt to experience as many of the following moments from Connie Stevens' career as I can...

Connie Stevens on Film

  • Dragstrip Riot
  • Rock-a-Bye Baby (1958)
  • The Party Crashers (1958)
  • Way, Way Out (1966)
  • The Littlest Angel (1969)
  • Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1978)
  • Grease (1981)
  • Back to the Beach (1987)
  • Love Is All There Is (1996)

Connie Stevens on TV

  • Hawaiian Eye (1952-1962)
  • Wendy & Me (1964-1965)
  • The Muppet Show (1976)
  • The Love Boat (1978-1987)
  • Titus: The Trial (2002)
  • Titus: The Visit (2002)

Connie Stevens in Music

  • Sixteen Reasons
  • A Little Kiss is a Kiss is a Kiss
  • Kookie! Kookie! Lend Me Your Comb