Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Get Ready for a Palm Springs Weekend!

Stefanie Powers and Troy Donahue.
As soon as Troy Donahue starts warbling "Live Young" over the opening credits, it's clear that you'll either find Palm Springs Weekend to be nostalgic fun or a dated disaster. I fall into the former camp; I hold a special affection for the fluffy teen pics of the 1960s, from classics like Beach Blanket Bingo to lesser-known imitations like Swingin' Summer. Unlike many of those youth films, Palm Springs Weekend isn't a musical, though it does boast the only known duet between Ty (Bronco) Hardin and Jerry Van Dyke. Plus, it offers something that its competitors can't--a wealth of promising young performers who were all under contract to Warner Bros. at the time.

Ty Hardin and Connie Stevens.
Written by Earl Hamner, Jr. (who would later create The Waltons), Palm Springs Weekend opens with the spring vacation invasion of the famed California resort city. College basketball star Jim Munroe (Donahue) and his teammates believe they have elluded their coach en route from L.A. to Palm Springs. Alas, their crafty coach (Jack Weston) is onboard the bus, too, and his presence puts a crimp in their plans. That doesn't stop Jim from meeting Gail (Connie Stevens), who also claims to be a college student seeking fun in the sun.

Robert Conrad as the rich bad boy.
But romance isn't in the cards for Jim and Gail. She becomes wooed by both a rich bad boy (Robert Conrad) and a nice Hollywood stunt man named Stretch (Hardin). Meanwhile, Jim hooks up with Palm Springs local Bunny (Stefanie Powers), whose father is the grumpy chief of police. As if there was any doubt that love is the air, Coach Campbell becomes smitten with the motel owner (Carole Cook) and Jim's pal Biff (Van Dyke) finds love with Gail's roommate Amanda (Zeme North). Just to make sure things don't get too icky with all the romance, there's a young brat named Boom Boom (Billy Mumy), who wreaks havoc by turning the swimming pool into a giant bubble bath.

Yes, Palm Springs Weekend is frequently silly, but the peppy young cast keeps it entertaining and never lets the proceedings turn into a spoof. There's even a modest amount of depth to some of the characters. Conrad's troublemaker turns out to be a lonely lad dealing with an absentee father. Connie Stevens' Gail is actually a high school student named Jane, whose identity crisis almost leads to a bad situation. Still, Palm Springs Weekend has no illusions of being taken seriously, not even to the point of Gidget or Where the Boys Are (both of which dealt fleetingly with more mature themes).

Jerry Van Dyke and Zeme North, whose
career fizzled in the late 1960s.
Interestingly, about half the Palm Springs Weekend cast was appearing in Warner Bros. TV series concurrently and the other half were set to launch long-running TV careers. Ty Hardin was starring in the Western Bronco, a spinoff of Cheyenne that was created when Clint Walker had a contract dispute with Warners. Robert Conrad and Connie Stevens both appeared in the exotic detective series Hawaiian Eye (Conrad later starred in Wild, Wild West). Troy appeared in the Miami-set private eye series Surfside 6. Stefanie Powers would become The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. before the decade ended and Billy Mumy would gain fame as Will Robinson in Lost in Space. Jerry Van Dyke appeared in many sitcoms, the most unususal being My Mother the Car, in which his deceased mother was reincarnated as a 1928 antique auto voiced by Ann Sothern. Decades later, he'd have greater success as a supporting player on the sitcom Coach.

The bottom line is that if you like these performers and enjoy the "1960s teen pic" genre, Palm Springs Weekend is a celluloid gretaway for you.


  1. No channel switching for me, Rick. I enjoy this genre, too! Connie and Troy are a lot of fun. It is fun to see them as a couple in Delmer Dave's "Parrish." Zeme North held her own babysitting uber brat Billy Mumy, too. The scene of the swimming pool reminded me of one quite similar to it in "The Thrill of It All," with Doris Day and James Garner. This post was quite fun, Rick. Great job!

  2. A splendid and informative post, Rick! I haven't seen this film, but this month at the Café has sparked my interest in movies such as this and the BEACH PARTY films. Plus, this stars Connie Stevens, who's good, and I also really liked Stefanie Powers in the Hammer film, FANATIC (aka DIE! DIE! MY DARLING!). Thanks for sharing this film with the Café readers!

  3. Rick, my favorite of this genre is Where the Boys Are, with Palm Springs Weekend a very close second. I thought these movies were so romantic as a young teenager, and I had a very large crush on Robert Conrad. He was a nasty guy in Palm Springs until you fond out why. All of these young stars were such fun and I always wished I looked like Stefanie Powers! I loved her voice, too!

    I haven't seen it in quite a while, but it was fun to be reminded of the characters and events I enjoyed so much. Good one, Rick!

  4. Troy Donahue played Philip Barton in later episodes of 'Hawaiian Eye'

  5. For me the guys in this (Troy, Ty, and Robert Conrad) make it very watchable. Not so Connie Stevens and Stefanie Powers, two of my least favorite 60s starlets.Wish WB would have cast Diane McBain in one of the roles. That aside, I still find it a fun rip-off of Where the Boys Are with the desert substituting for the beach. And humorous subplot with bratty Billy Mumy and harried Carole Cook as his mother.