Big T.N.T. Show, The (1966)
I finally got to see this when it was on cable this month, and it was worth the wait! I admit, I was looking forward the most to the Ike and Tina Turner Revue and the Ronettes, but we watched the entire thing and we were not disappointed.
There were some acts that were slower-moving, such as Donovan, but I guess they figured the audience needed a breather. Bo Diddley is another of the highlights, especially with a trio of beautiful back-up singers/dancers...they are dressed in formal Supremes-style evening gowns and big beehives, but manage to look completely bad-ass, and one of them even plays a bass while doing her little dance routine. The Ronettes are wonderful, doing "Be My Baby" as the crowd of mods and teeny-boppers goes nuts. Ronnie Spector's voice will give anyone with a soul chills, and she really looked like she was having fun, though she did write later in her autobiography that Phil Spector yelled at her afterwards for improvising and not doing the song exactly the way he had instructed her to in rehearsal, proving that Phil Spector is brilliant as far music goes, but not that wonderful of a person. Her dancing was great, by the way. Speaking of which, Phil Spector may not exactly be the poster child for sanity, but he sure knew what he was doing when he put this concert together. I can honestly say that the go-go dancers (who are shown in footage at the beginning, and grand finale of the film) are the most talented I've ever seen, and trust me, I've seen a lot of footage from that era.
The highlight of the movie has to be the Ike and Tina Turner segment, and that is saying a lot, considering some of the mind-blowing performances that come before it. They do a great medley starting out with a rip-roaring version of "Shake" and include full-length versions of "I Think It's Gonna Work Out Fine" among others. Even Ike appears to be having the time of his life--I don't think I've ever seen him actually smile on-stage before, but he can't keep the grin off of his face when he happily and smoothly duets with Tina. He might not be a stellar human being, but he definitely deserves credit for his musical talent and ability to entertain. Other than the very minor complaint of Tina's usually perfect fashion sense deserting her for maybe the only time in her life (she has a cute outfit but a bizarre leather 'hat' that looks like a long, deflated Jiffy-Pop Bag), the performance is flawless, and they completely blow the roof off of the place. Watch for the moment when she goes into the audience to involve them in the show during a slower number-she picks out a young mod guy to sing to, and his eyes are as big as saucers. When she sings, "tell me...do you wanna be my man?" he can't even answer coherently when she hold the mike up to him. The choreography and dance moves are so show-stopping and high energy (even for them) that no-one could follow them-- Spector was smart in saving them for last. The Ikettes and Tina are obviously having so much fun that their feet barely seem to touch the ground, and during the big finish "Tell the Truth", Tina moves so fast that she is literally a blur! You can see why Mick Jagger asked her to teach him how to dance. I keep meaning to re-watch the entire movie, but when I rewind, I can't make it past Ike and Tina's segment-never get tired of seeing them shake a tailfeather! I defy anyone to sit still while watching the last 15 minutes of this film.
Since this is almost impossible to find, don't miss it the next time they decide to run it on television! I only give it nine out of ten stars because it isn't in color. I hadn't been born at the time this was filmed, but watching it, I felt like I was in the audience. Except for the last 15 minutes, where I just can't sit down.
Grade: grade A -A-go- go
Live a Little, Love a Little (1968)
A little less conversation, a little more action baby...
I've been an Elvis fan for 10 years now, and I've seen most of his 60's movies. For some reason I didn't rent this one till recently- I think it's because I had it confused with "The Trouble With Girls", which I have no desire to see. Anyway, we rented this because we saw it had "A Little Less Conversation"--a really, REALLY kick-ass song that was recorded for but but out of the final version of the '68 Comeback Special-- in it and liked it so much we ended up buying it.
Elvis plays Greg Nolan, a photographer who..ok, there's not much of a plot to describe here. The storyline consists of a girl he meets who keeps changing her name (Bernice/Betty/Suzie/Alice) and personality, spending most of the movie alternately screwing with Elvis' mind and coming on to him. Meanwhile, Elvis gets two jobs for girlie-type magazines in the same building- one of them is called "Classic Cat Magazine" (or maybe it's Classy Cat) being a photographer and pretends at both that he only works for that magazine, while he literally runs back and forth between the two jobs, changing clothes and trying not to have one boss find out about the other. Red West makes his usual cameo as a guy in a fight scene whose ass Elvis ends up kicking (always fun to watch).
This is a pretty fun Elvis movie, and since it was filmed in '68, right around the time Elvis did the comeback special, the King was in great shape, looking pretty sharp with his sideburns and tan. He also looks like he's having fun, and doesn't feel too stupid. "Spinout" is entertaining, but half the time Elvis looks pretty unhappy. One of my Elvis trivia-type books said this movie has the distinction of being the only one he ever has sex in (offscreen, of course) but I think the only way you could tell this is by him waking up in a girl's bed. His co-star, who looks like a cross between Sharon Tate and how Liz Taylor looked in the 60's, was kind of annoying (though not as bad as some of the actresses he's worked with, and at least she has a great wardrobe. It was mainly the fact that she had this kind of whispery voice like Taylor. The clothes and hair are all really cool. There are only 4 songs in the movie, but two of them are especially good. I loved "The Edge of Reality"-Elvis has this trippy dream because Bernice/Betty/Suzie/Alice has been messing with his mind so much. The song is great, and Elvis wears this tailored set of pajamas that look more like a blue sharkskin suit. I think whoever designed and choreographed the dream sequence might have paid a little visit to
Dr. Nick's, if you know what I mean, but it's pretty cool. The highlight of the movie for me was, big surprise, definitely "A Little Less Conversation", which Elvis sings to a hot babe at a swinging cocktail party as he's getting her to leave with him. Watch for the male red-haired go-go dancer that they pass who dances so furiously and wildly that his gyrations actually make him upstage Elvis for a few seconds, which is no small feat. As he and the chick are leaving, they pass other go-go dancers, saunter out the door of the cool 60's pad, and hop in Elvis' Cadillac that the valets just happened to have pulled up in front at that second, while Elvis smoothly never misses a beat and manages to make the whole thing look like he does it every night. Now THAT'S how you leave a party, man!
One of Elvis' better flicks from the 60's, and definitely my favorite movie of his to watch from the late 60's. By the way, ALLC is on the "Memories" CD that came out a coup