Thursday, May 31, 2018

Billie: A Missed Opportunity to Promote Girl Power

Made between the second and third seasons of The Patty Duke Show, the teen comedy Billie (1965) is a best-forgotten stain on the resumes of its star and her veteran supporting cast. Indeed, the only reason to watch this ill-conceived adaptation of the 1952 Broadway play Time Out for Ginger is to see the cast. In addition to Ms. Duke, there's Jim Backus as her father, Jane Greer as her mother, Susan Seaforth Hayes (Days of Our Lives) as her sister, plus Ted Bessell (That Girl), Dick Sargent (Betwitched), Warren Berlinger, and Richard Deacon.

Jim Backus as Billie's father.
Patty--sporting a disconcerting blonde wig--plays a high school teen who can out-run, out-jump, and out-pole vault any of the boys at Harding High School. Naturally, that earns her a spot on Coach Jones' (Charles Lane) track team. Her father, a male chauvinist pig who is running for mayor, initially rejects Billie's dreams. He's not exactly sensitive to his daughter's teen problems either. When she comments in frustration that she wishes she were a boy, he mutters: "So do I."

However, Dad eventually comes around and supports his youngest daughter. He remains, however, in the dark as to why his oldest daughter Jean has decided to take a break from college. (For the record, I turned to my wife immediately and said: "I bet Jean is married and pregnant.") After some mild misunderstandings, all conflicts are neatly resolved as befits this kind of 1960s comedy.

Billie and her stuffed Wolf.
It's a shame really. Billie could have made an important statement about empowering teenage girls to pursue their dreams and break stereotypical gender molds. I thought Billie might still make that point, but the ending reverses the theme entirely and all that remains is a harmless comedy with a handful of forgettable songs.

Director Don Weis does stage one notable musical number, in which Patty sings "Funny Little Butterflies" to a stuffed wolf in her bedroom. The previous year, Weis directed Annette Funicello warbling Stuffed Animal in her bedroom in Pajama Party. You gotta love coincidences like that! By the way, Weis also helmed several episodes of The Patty Duke Show.

In the original production of the play Time Out for Ginger Melvyn Douglas played the father and Nancy Malone portrayed his daughter Ginger. Her goal was to try out for the boys' football team. I think that might have worked better for Billie. Patty Duke never resembles a track athlete, moving her head back and forth as she hears "the beat" in her head. But, hey, she could have passed for a kicker on the football team. I know...that's nit-picking...but then Billie causes one to start thinking about those kinds of details.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Chase a Crooked Shadow--An Absence of Brotherly Love

Anne Baxter as heiress Kim Prescott.
After a late night engagement, diamond heiress Kimberly Prescott (Anne Baxter) returns to her Spanish villa to be greeted by her brother Ward. Kimberly is see, Ward died in a car accident and Kim identified his corpse. Despite her adamant protests, the alleged brother (Richard Todd) won't leave.

When Kim calls the local police inspector (Herbert Lom), Ward calmly provides a passport to prove his identity. Even more compelling, though, is that the photo of Ward in Kim's bedroom is the spitting image of the man claiming to be her sibling.

The next day, Kim awakes to find that Ward is still there. He has been joined by a female friend and a butler, having sent Kim's maid on vacation. What does this impostor want? Could he really be Kim's brother? Is she losing her mind?

Richard her brother?
Released in 1958, Chase a Crooked Shadow reminded me very much of the British suspense pictures written by Jimmy Sangster for Hammer Films. Structurally, these films (best represented by 1961's Taste of Fear) build tension slowly before climaxing in an effective twist. In the case of Chase a Crooked Shadow, it's a nice twist but the film tips its hand a little with its opening scene. Producer Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. appears just before the final credits to ask viewers not to reveal the film's ending to those who haven't seen it yet.

Anne Baxter, looking smashing in costumes designed by Anthony Mendleson, creates a believable, increasingly perplexed protagonist. As the source of her problems, Richard Todd once again proves his adeptness at playing both heroes and villains (though I'll refrain from saying which one he is in this film!). Todd is one of those actors I didn't fully appreciate until later in my "movie-watching career." (Interestingly, David Niven was once announced as one of the leads, presumably playing Todd's role.)

Capitalizing on its Spanish seaside setting, Chase a Crooked Shadow is an engrossing, well-acted suspense drama that doesn't bear close scrutiny. I rather enjoyed it.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Abbott & Costello Try to Find Out Who Done It

In one of their best films, Bud Abbott and Lou Costello play Chick and Mervyn, a couple of soda jerks who aspire to be radio mystery writers. They catch a break when they're given tickets to watch a recording of Murder at Midnight, a popular series produced in the General Broadcasting Company (GBC) building across the street. Of course, Mervyn (Costello) loses the tickets in a obvious scam and the boys end up sneaking into the recording studio. Thus, they're practically on the set when the show begins...and the network's president is electrocuted.

Chick and Mervyn start to go for the police, but quickly decide to play detective themselves. They figure that if they can solve the murder, their new-found fame will secure their employment as mystery writers. When Mervyn comes into possession of a vital clue, he and Chick become pursued by the killer. To make matters worse for the boys, the real detectives (William Gargan and William Bendix) show up and they're not happy about being impersonated.

Costello on the payphone.
Who Done It? is notable as the first Abbott and Costello comedy without musical numbers. As a result, it moves faster than their previous films and clocks in at a brisk 76 minutes. It also means more funny routines, including some of the duo's best: Costello trying to make a limburger cheese sandwich; Lou trying to make a call on a payphone; and a gag about volts and watts with wordplay similar to their classic "Who's on First?" routine. (It's also fun to note that "Who's on First" is referenced twice in Who Done It?)

Mary Wickes.
The standouts in the supporting cast are two comic pros: Mary Wickes and William Bendix. The former plays the network president's secretary and the object of Lou's affection. Bendix, as one of the detectives, plays straight man to Costello in most of his scenes. It couldn't have been easy playing second banana to Lou, whose style of comedy demands that the camera focus on him. But Wickes and Bendix were consummate performers who knew how to complement their fellow actors. It was a skill that kept them in demand throughout their careers in film, radio (for Bendix), and television.

Chick and Mervyn at the diner.
My only complaint with Who Done It? is that it doesn't take maximum advantage of its setting and plot. The radio series backdrop contributes to a few laughs, but whole sequences take place outside the GBC building (e.g., a big scene where Mervyn learns he has won $10,000 in a radio contest). Likewise, the central mystery--which involves spies sending secret messages--could have been integrated into the hijinks better. Yes, this is an Abbott and Costello comedy, but consider how the plot contributed to their classic farce Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.

Still, you don't watch Bud and Lou movies for meaningful stories--you watch them to laugh. And there are more than enough gags in Who Done It? to satisfy the duo's fans...and maybe even convert some new ones.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Movie-TV Connection Game (May 2018)

Why do Flynn and Shaw have in common?
Welcome to the this month's edition of the Cafe's most popular game. You will be given a pair or trio of films or performers, your task is to find the common connection. It could be anything--two stars who acted in the same movie, two movies that share a common theme, etc. As always, don't answer all the questions so others can play, too. There is a single best answer for each question.

1. The TV series McHale's Navy and the movie How to Frame a Figg.

2. Gene Tierney and Elizabeth Taylor.

3. Cary Grant and Ronald Reagan.

4. Errol Flynn and Robert Shaw.

5. Arthur (1981) and Nashville (1975).  (This one might be difficult!)

6. Ralph Richardson and Ian McKellen.

7. John Carpenter and Robert Mulligan.  (Another potentially hard one....)

8. Maureen O'Hara and Patricia Neal.

9. Fredric March and Bing Crosby.

10. Rod Taylor and Tyrone Power.

11. Lon Chaney, Jr. and John Malkovich.

12. Bert Lahr and Alan Young.

13. Dean Martin and Jack Lemmon.

14. Michael Caine and Ernest Borgnine.

15. The Thrill of It All and Champagne for Caesar.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Celebrate National Classic Movie Day with our Comfort Movie Blogathon!

For the fourth consecutive year, the Classic Film & TV Cafe is celebrating National Classic Movie Day on May 16th by hosting a blogathon. This year, we're shining the spotlight on those special movies that bring us comfort during those times when we most need it.

Recovering from the flu? Didn't get that dream job? Broke up with the person you thought was your soulmate? Then it's time to watch one of those classic movies that inexplicably makes you feel better! And then write about it for the Classic Comfort Movie Blogathon!

If you don't have a blog, you can still participate by listing your favorite classic comfort movie on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, or another social media platform on National Classic Movie Day.

And since May 16th is all about our love of classic movies, it's a great day to introduce a friend to the wonderful films from the silents to the 1970s!

Here's the blogathon schedule--be sure to check out all the great entries!

An American in Paris - Popcorn and Flickers
Annie - Realweegiemidget Reviews
The Apartment - A Person in the Dark
The Awful Truth - Outspoken and Freckled
Between the Lines (1977) - Film Fanatic
Buster Keaton Shorts - Classic Film Observations & Obsessions
Casablanca - Sharing a Sip with Dusty
The Court Jester Caftan Woman
Cover Girl - Musings of a Classic Film Addict
How to Marry a Millionaire - Moon in Gemini
I Know Where I'm Going - portraitsbyjenni
It's a Wonderful Life - MovieRob
Lady for a Day - Silver Screen Modes
The Long, Long Trailer - Whimsically Classic
The Magic Christian - Lo! The Humanities
McLintock! - Anybody Got a Match
My Favorite Brunette - Twenty Four Frames

Parrish: Our Choice for the Classic Comfort Movie Blogathon

Troy Donahue as Parrish.
A "comfort movie" is like a good friend who is always a welcomed visitor, no matter how long it's been since you seen him or her. It's fun to share familiar characters, plots, and settings and remember how one felt when that movie first became your chum. That's certainly the case with Parrish (1961), which I first saw on TNT in the early 1990s.

I think I inherited an enjoyment of big-screen soaps from my mother. Make no mistake, Parrish is unabashedly a soap, but don't let that sway you from watching this opus about young Parrish McLean (Troy Donahue) and the four women in his life. The first of those is his mother Ellen, who has perhaps kept her son too close in the ten years following her husband's death. That changes when Ellen (Claudette Colbert) takes a job as a chaperone for the daughter of Connecticut tobacco farmer Sala Post (Dean Jagger).

Diane McBain as Alison.
Parrish winds up working for Sala and quickly falls for Lucy (Connie Stevens), one of his fellow crop workers. Lucy has the hots for Parrish, too, but is reluctantly seeing someone else. However, what  really cools their passion is the arrival of Sala's debutante daughter Alison (Diane McBain). She wants three things in life: wealth, fun, and Parrish. 

Meanwhile, Ellen is being wooed by Sala's tobacco rival Judd Raike (Karl Malden). Judd is a ruthless, powerful man, but he genuinely cares for Ellen and, as she admits to her son, Judd's fortune is an attraction, too. While the Raike sons, wimpy Wiley and hateful Edgar, make quick enemies of Parrish, Judd's teenage daughter Paige develops a crush on him. 

Who will Parrish end up with? The passionate Lucy, the sultry Alison, or the sweet Paige? Or none of the above?

Troy Donahue and Connie Stevens.
Parrish is a faithful adaptation of Mildred Savage's 1958 bestseller. According to Diane McBain's autobiography, Warner Bros. originally purchased the film rights for director Joshua Logan (Picnic). Logan wanted Vivien Leigh as Ellen and Clark Gable as Judd. He also screen tested Warren Beatty for the lead role. McBain says that Logan rejected the first draft of the screenplay and he was replaced by Delmer Daves. The latter was coming off A Summer Place, a big hit which shared a lot in common with Parrish (e.g., parents experiencing romance as well as the youths, star Troy Donahue).

I can't imagine a more appropriate cast than the one assembled by Daves. Troy Donahue certainly lacks Beatty's dramatic chops, but he brings sincerity and naivety to the lead role. Colbert (in her final film appearance) and Jagger add a nice touch of class.

Malden looking intense as Judd.
But the film belongs to Karl Malden and the young actresses who play Parrish's loves. Malden is delightfully over-the-top as Raike and makes him the most demanding movie boss this side of Everett Sloane in Patterns. Connie Stevens shines as the vulnerable, free-spirited Lucy, her performance earning her the lead in another Daves-Donahue collaboration Susan Slade (1961). Diane McBain smolders as Alison, although she was subsequently typecast as the bad girl in films like Claudelle Inglish (1961). (Interestingly, McBain claims there was a bit of a rift on the set between the young performers and the older ones.)

Actress Susan Hugueny, who played Paige, met producer Robert Evans (Chinatown) while making Parrish. She was 17 and he was 30, but they were married (though it was short-lived). It was the first of seven marriages for Evans, who once described Hugueny as "so pure I felt guilty kissing her."

Susan Hugueny as Paige.
In addition to the cast, Parrish's other virtues are its colorful outdoor photography (a staple of Daves' latter films) and another fabulous score from frequent Daves' collaborator Max Steiner. The famed composer includes separate themes for each of the four female characters, with my favorite being the lilting melody for Paige.

I saved one of the most fascinating facts about Parrish for last. Hampton Fancher, who played Edgar, was relegated to TV guest star roles for much of his career. In 1982, though, he tried his hand as a screenwriter and adapted Blade Runner. He also penned the story and co-wrote the script for Blade Runner 2049 (2017). As always, should this knowledge net you a large cash prize on Jeopardy!, be sure to show your gratitude to the Cafe.

Click here to check out the rest of the awesome schedule the Classic Comfort Movie Blogathon in support of National Classic Movie Day.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

The Five Best Abbott & Costello Movies

Abbott and Costello as a ghost.
1. The Time of Their Lives - I doubt if many A&C fans would rank this effort over #2 below, especially because Bud and Lou aren't a team in this outing. However, I stand by this choice, as it's their most original comedy with a good story, nice performances...and it's very funny. In a prologue set in 1780, Lou and Majorie Reynolds play American Revolutionary patriots who are mistakenly killed as traitors. Their ghosts are condemned to roam the Kings Point estate until their innocence can be proven. When the estate is restored 166 years later, the two ghosts have an opportunity to uncover the evidence that will free them. Bud gets to play two roles and the first-rate supporting cast include Gale Sondergaard and Binnie Barnes.

Glenn Strange and Costello.
2. Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein - I adore the wonderfully wacky premise: Count Dracula has recently experienced difficulty with controlling the Frankenstein Monster, so he wants to replace the Monster’s brain. Dr. Sandra Mornay (a female mad scientist—a nice touch) has chosen Costello's brain because of its simplicity. When Lou's character discovers Dracula’s plot, he quips: “I've had this brain for thirty years. It hasn't done me any good!” Packed with many of their best routines, this classic comedy was added the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 2001.

3. Hold That Ghost - It used to be that comedians were seemingly required to do a "haunted house" movie. This 1941 classic was actually Bud and Lou's intended follow-up to Buck Privates. It was delayed when another service comedy, In the Navy, was released to theaters first. Hold That Ghost features one of their most famous routines: the moving candle. The plot has the boys inheriting a haunted tavern from a gangster. There's a hidden stash of cash plus a great cast featuring Universal scream queen Evelyn Ankers, Joan Davis, Shemp Howard, and the Andrews Sisters. Alas, the producers added some unnecessary songs, but that's the only drawback.

4. The Naughty Nineties - Take Showboat, insert Abbott & Costello, and you've got The Naughty Nineties. Although the duo originated their "Who's on First" routine many years earlier, this version is considered the definitive one. In fact, it runs continuously at the Baseball Hall of Fame Museum and is one of the museum most popular attractions. The Naughty Nineties includes several famous burlesque gags such as the mirror routine and the swapping of glasses (one of which filled with poison). Plus, there's the "Higher/Lower" bit with Costello singing "My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean." I recommend you check it on YouTube!

5. Who Done It? -  In this outing, Bud and Lou play soda jerks who aspire to be radio mystery writers. They catch a break when they're given tickets to watch a recording of the popular radio series "Murder at Midnight"--which, of course, ends up resulting in an actual murder. Notable as their first comedy without musical numbers Who Done It? features some of the duo's best routines: Costello trying to make a limburger cheese sandwich; Lou trying to make a call on a payphone; and a gag about volts and watts with wordplay similar to "Who's on First?"(which is referenced twice).

Honorable MentionsThe Wistful Widow of Wagon Gap, Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, and Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Tarzan in Thailand--or Why Jock Mahoney May Be My Favorite King of the Jungle

Hey TCM, how can you show a Tarzan movie marathon without including at least one of Jock Mahoney's exotic jungle adventures?

I understand that Johnny Weismuller reigns supreme as the favorite Tarzan among classic movie fans. But personally, I prefer Jock Mahoney, whose intelligent, athletic hero is closer to Edgar Rice Burroughs' literary creation. Mahoney's two movies, Tarzan Goes to India (1962) and Tarzan's Three Challenges (1963), are well-made, colorful efforts that transplant our hero from his African home to India and Thailand. I recently watched the latter film for the first time in several decades.

Woody Strode as Khan.
It opens with the emperor of Tarim announcing that the Council of Elders has chosen his successor--and it's not his aggressive brother Gishi Khan (Woody Strode). Khan wants to bring new ideas to the old country and also secure the throne for his teenage son. The Council, though, has chosen a young boy named Kashi who lives in a village far removed from the capital. Kashi must make his vows at a sacred temple, journey to the city, and pass a series of tests before he can become emperor.

A monk has engaged his friend Tarzan to escort Kashi during his perilous trek. However, when the monk is killed, Kashi's guardians question whether Tarzan is who he says he is. Kashi suggests that Tarzan prove his mettle by undergoing tests of wisdom, strength, and skill. (Yes, there are a lot of tests in this movie.) I assume these are the three challenges of the title and they ain't easy! The test of strength requires Tarzan to resist the pull of two buffaloes--going in opposite directions--for five (slow) strokes of a gong.

Do not try this at home!
Having proven that he is indeed Tarzan, our jungle hero escorts Kashi on a trek filled with treachery, a raging fire, and a confrontation with Khan's men. All of that just proves to be the build-up to a climatic duel between Tarzan and Khan--which starts with the duo linked together like Sidney Poitier and Tony Curtis in The Defiant Ones.

Mahoney's Tarzan is a different take on the jungle hero. He's a man dedicated to accomplishing his mission, with no time for romance--despite the presence of Kashi's attractive teacher. He doesn't have a chimpanzee chum and he can't call for elephants to come to his rescue. Best of all, this Tarzan speaks in full sentences and relies on his brains as much as his brawn.

It helps, too, that his adversary is a three-dimensional villain. Yes, Khan may be greedy, but there's nothing wrong with wanting to modernize Tarim. The scenes with his son--who has no desire to be a future king--are particularly well-written. Yet, Khan's viciousness is never in doubt as when he orders the death of an innocent man and tries to kill a defenseless boy.

Mahoney as Yancy Deringer.
Jock Mahoney, a former stunt man, may be best known for his TV series Yancy Derringer (though I strongly recommend his "B" Western Joe Dakota, which is reminiscent of Bad Day at Black Rock). Mahoney contracted amoebic dysentary, dengue fever, and other diseases during the filming of Tarzan's Three Challenges in Thailand. He dropped 40 pounds during the movie, but he completed every scene. The experience left him weak for over a year and led to his decision to opt out of future Tarzan pictures.

The supporting cast includes the underrated Woody Strode as Khan and Ricky Der as Kashi. Strode, a former decathlete and professional football player, had a long career as a character actor. He appeared in a previous Tarzan movie (as did Mahoney) and later guest-starred on Ron Ely's Tarzan TV series. As for Der, he co-starred opposite Dennis Weaver in the 1964 sitcom Kentucky Jones.

I think Tarzan's Three Challenges is a superior outing for Burrough's famed protagonist. But don't take just my word for it. In his book, Tarzan, Jungle King of Popular Culture, author David Lemme called it "one of the best Tarzan movies."

Monday, May 7, 2018

Charlie Chan Goes Agatha Christie

Sidney Toler as Charlie Chan.
While Warner Oland is my favorite Charlie Chan, I still enjoy many of Sidney Toler's outings as Earl Derr Biggers' Hawaiian police detective. One of Toler's best entries in the long-running film series is Castle in the Desert.

Like many Chan movies, the setting plays a critical role in the plot. The "castle" in Castle in the Desert turns out be an isolated $20 million mansion in the Mojave Desert with no electricity and no phone. It's owned by Paul Manderley, a wealthy recluse who wears a scarf over half of his face, and his wife Lucy. She is a descendant of the Borgias and, as if that wasn't bad enough, her brother stood trial for murder by poison.

In the film's opening scene, a genealogist named Professor Gleason arrives at the Manderleys' estate. He barely has time to meet his hosts and drink a cocktail before collapsing to the floor--the apparent victim of poison! Shortly thereafter, Charlie Chan receives a typed letter from Mrs. Manderley stating that her life is danger. When Charlie goes to investigate, his No. 2 son Jimmy Chan--who is on leave from military service--follows his "Pop."

Sidney Toler, Victor Sen Young, and Douglas Dumbrille.
Released in 1942, Castle in the Desert shares several similarities with Agatha Christie's classic whodunit And Then There Were None. The most notable is the isolated setting that prevents suspects from leaving. In Christie's novel, the suspects are stranded on an island. In Castle in the Desertsomeone steals the distributor cap from the only automobile--thus stranding everyone at the Manderleys' desert estate. Interestingly, 1974's Ten Little Indians, an adaptation of Christie's novel, changes the novel's setting to the desert (though an Iranian desert instead of the Mojave).

Veteran villain Henry Daniell.
Unlike some of Oland's Chan films, the cast of Castle in the Desert doesn't feature any future stars like Rita Hayworth and Ray Milland. However, it does have villain extraordinaire Henry Daniell as on one of the suspects. But he's too obvious to be the murderer...or is he?

As occasionally happens in older films, there are a couple of lines about Chan's ethnicity that might elicit a groan from modern audiences. For example, when Charlie arrives in the closest town to the Manderleys' castle, someone asks if he is a chop suey salesman. Later, a guest assumes Charlie must be a servant at the house.

The Charlie Chan films aren't for all tastes, but they are among the best of the "B" movies mysteries. The quality gradually declined during Toler's run and the Roland Winters movies are best avoided. Castle in the Desert is an above average Toler outing and chock full of Chan proverbs, with my fave being: "Man without enemies like dog without fleas." Well said, Charlie.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Raquel Welch Skydives and Spies in "Fathom"

Like many males from my generation, I was smitten with Raquel Welch during my teenage years. Yes, I had a poster of her on my bedroom wall (well, technically the back of the door). However, it wasn't the famous one showing her as the world's sexiest cave woman in One Million Years, B.C. Instead, my poster (a gift from my thoughtful sister) featured Raquel in a yellow bikini.

Despite Ms. Welch's early acting challenges, I sought out her movies and suffered through mediocre efforts like The Biggest Bundle of Them All and the Italian-made Shoot Loud, Louder...I Don't Understand. Incidentally, both films were shown on broadcast television in the U.S., which just proves how popular Raquel was during the late 1960s and early 1970s. My favorite of her films during this period was a bit of entertaining fluff called Fathom (1967).

Raquel Welch and Tony Franciosa.
It featured a second-billed Raquel as Fathom Harvill, a skydiver who is recruited by British intelligence (or so she thinks) to help recover a stolen nuclear bomb remote control device (or so she thinks). All Fathom has to do is land in the courtyard of a Spanish villa occupied by a handsome playboy (top-billed Tony Franciosa) and reactivate a listening device on the roof. The plan works to perfection until Fathom finds a dead body in the house and, as film characters often do, picks up the murder weapon.
Raquel front of a bad rear-screen.
She soon finds herself immersed in a plot to obtain what turns out to be a stolen, jewel-encrusted, Chinese artifact called the Fire Dragon. Her biggest challenge, though, is figuring out who to trust. The playboy claims to be a detective trying to recover the artifact for the Chinese government. An eccentric millionaire (Clive Revill) wants to buy the Fire Dragon for his private collection. The British spies eventually admit they aren't spies. And an ultra-cool bartender (Tom Adams), who seems like the most normal of the bunch, tries to kill Fathom with a spear-gun.

Sounds a lot like Charade (1963), doesn't it? Of course, Raquel can't act as well as Audrey Hepburn and, even with blonde hair, Tony Franciosa can't out-suave Cary Grant. Still, Fathom is an agreeable excursion that saves its best scenes--a train sequence followed by an aerial pursuit--for the climax. It certainly won't disappoint Raquel's fans, as her famous figure is showcased in a variety of colorful outfits (most notably a lime bikini). Even the title sequence focuses on her anatomy, presenting Ms. Welch from every possible angle. (I noticed it was designed by Maurice Binder, who gained fame for his James Bond title designs.)

Really, I only have two quibbles with Fathom. The first is the film's irritating, redundant music score, which unnecessarily emphasizes the film's lighthearted tone. My second beef is with Franciosa's character constantly addressing Fathom (see the IMDb for an explanation of her name) as Poppet. After the end credits rolled, I had to look up the definition of "poppet." It's a term of endearment, often used with children.

Wow, who said that Raquel Welch films weren't educational?