Pajama Party (film)

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Pajama Party
Pajama party.jpg
theatrical poster
Directed by Don Weis
Produced by Samuel Z. Arkoff
James H. Nicholson
Written by Louis M. Heyward
Starring Tommy Kirk
Annette Funicello
Elsa Lanchester
Jody McCrea
Harvey Lembeck
Buster Keaton
Jesse White
Music by Score:
Les Baxter
Songs:
Jerry Styner
Guy Hemric
Cinematography Floyd Crosby
Edited by Eve Newman
Distributed by American International Pictures
Release date(s)
  • November 11, 1964 (1964-11-11)
Running time 82 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $200,000[1]

Pajama Party is a 1964 beach party film starring Tommy Kirk and Annette Funicello. This is the fourth in a series of seven beach films produced by American International Pictures. The other films in this series are Beach Party (1963), Muscle Beach Party (1964), Bikini Beach (1964), Beach Blanket Bingo (1965), How to Stuff a Wild Bikini (1965), and The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini (1966).

This fourth entry has not always been considered a follow-up to the three films that preceded it. Several sources have noted, however, that while it is not a proper sequel, it is indeed a part of what is now termed AIP's ‘Beach Party series.’ Moreover, AIP marketed it as a sequel in its trailer, stating "The Bikini Beach Party Gang is Warming Up! – For the ‘Party’ that Takes Off – Where others Poop Out!" and "All the ‘Beach Party’ Fun … in Pajamas!"

Additional links that tie this film to the others are the return of Eric von Zipper and his Rat Pack (who previously appeared in Beach Party and Bikini Beach) and the return of Candy Johnson as Candy for the fourth time in as many films.

Regulars Frankie Avalon, Don Rickles, Annette Funicello, Jody McCrea and Donna Loren all appear (albeit with character name changes – not the first time this happens in the series, nor the last); Susan Hart makes the first of three appearances in the AIP brand of the genre; Buster Keaton makes the first of four appearances, and Bobbi Shaw makes the first appearance of five.

In addition, several background players in this film (Patti Chandler, Mary Hughes, Johnny Fain, Mike Nader, Salli Sachse, Luree Holmes, Ronnie Dayton, Ed Garner, Ray Atkinson, Linda Benson, and Laura Nicholson) also appear in three or more films in the AIP brand of the genre.

In the 'fashion store' scene (in which Dorothy Lamour sings 'Where Did I Go Wrong,' while having models show the latest fashions, both Teri Garr, and Toni Basil appear as (dancing) models; Ms. Garr in a tennis outfit, while Ms. Basil - in a silver lamé bikini - is the last model.

Ms. Basil was the choreographer of the American musical variety series, Shindig!, and Ms. Garr - a friend of Ms. Basil - was a series regular on it as well.

The final credit in the original titles gives the name of the next film in the series, Beach Blanket Bingo.

The film is not to be confused with the 1963 novel Pajama Party about lesbian activities among college girls, which was banned on the grounds of obscenity.[2]

Plot[edit]

Teen aged Martian intelligence officer 006, named Gogo (Tommy Kirk), is sent to Earth wearing an usher's uniform to prepare the way for a Martian invasion. The first earthling he meets, Aunt Wendy (Elsa Lanchester), is an eccentric widow who runs a dress shop. She has Gogo, now calling himself George, get dressed in a swimsuit and sends him to the beach. There he meets her nephew, Big Lunk (Jody McCrea), who enjoys volleyball but has little interest in romance, which is frustrating for his girlfriend Connie (Annette Funicello).

Meanwhile, Aunt Wendy's shady neighbor, J. Sinister Hulk (Jesse White), and his gang (with Buster Keaton as Chief Rotten Eagle and Bobbi Shaw as the Swedish Helga) concoct a scheme to separate Aunt Wendy from her cash. Meanwhile Eric von Zipper (Harvey Lembeck) and his motorcycle gang, the Rat Pack want to get revenge against the beach teenagers. George and Connie fall for each other, while Big Lunk is attracted to Helga, and for the fourth time in as many films, a giant fight breaks out at the end.

Cast[edit]

Production notes[edit]

Famed animator Joseph Barbera wrote a romantic comedy play which debut on stage in Los Angeles in 1952 called The Maid and the Martian. It was about Captain Derro, a scout from Mars, who goes to Earth to help plan an invasion, but falls in love with a girl from Earth. The Los Angeles Times said the play "has strong elements and might even go to Broadway... provided it gains more completeness in plot and situation."[3] The production was directed by Gordon Hunt and starred Pat Prest and ran successfully for seven weeks.[4] The play was revived in 1954 with James Arness in the lead.[5]

In 1961 AIP announced they would make The Maid and the Martian from a script by Al Burton and Gordon Hunt, based on the play.[6] Stanley Frazen was to produce.[7] However none of those people are credited on Pajama Party despite the fact the plot seems to share strong similarities with the final film.

Script[edit]

This was the first movie Louis M Heyward worked on for AIP. He wrote the script in two weeks, saying he tried to do it as a cartoon "and if you look at it, it's done almost in cartoon cuts, in four-strips."[8] Heyward says the film was firmly aimed at the 15 to 25 year old demographic. "These youngsters have the numbers, the buying power and the discrimination to make or break any film product."[9]

Heyward went on to write several other films for the studio, and became a leading executive for them.

Director[edit]

Pajama Party is one of only two Beach Party films not directed by William Asher. Pajama Party and The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini were both directed by Don Weis.

Cast[edit]

Teri Garr (aka "Teri Hope") and Toni Basil both can be seen in the film; they were both students of David Winters of West Side Story fame, who choreographed the picture and were the "David Winters' dancers" appearing in most of the films he choreographed; they are listed in the end credits as "Pajama Girls".[10][11] Frankie Avalon appears in the film in all the scenes with Don Rickles, but only the back of Avalon's head is seen until the final moments.

During the entire Beach Party series, this was the one and only time Donna Loren was seen in a speaking role.

Syndicated newspaper columnist Dorothy Kilgallen's son, Kerry Kollmar, has a recurring role throughout the film as a little boy who declares disgustedly "Mush!" whenever he spies romance in action. Kilgallen herself, whose newspaper column was not accessible in Los Angeles and who was better known there as a TV game show panelist, has a tiny cameo as a woman who falls on J.D.'s motorcycle during the car chase sequence. She introduces herself saying, "My name is Dorothy – what's yours?"[12]

Cheryl Sweeten, who was the 1963 Miss Colorado and played Francine in this film, made only this one film, but she received prominent billing in the end credits.

This was the first movie Susan Hart made for AIP under her four picture contract with the studio.[13] She was one of a number of young players in the film who were under a long-term deal with AIP, the others including Donna Loren, Bobbi Shaw, Cheryl Sweeten, Mary Hughes, Michael Nader and Edward Garner.[14]

It was also the first movie Buster Keaton made for AIP. Louis M Heyward claims casting Keaton was his idea as they had worked together previously on The Faye Emerson Show.[8] and the first movie Bobbi Shaw, is playing her "ya, ya" Swedish bombshell part, Keaton's partner.[15]

Choreography[edit]

The dances for this film were choreographed by David Winters of Shindig! and Hullabaloo fame. Both Teri Garr and Toni Basil were Winters' students at the time.

Production[edit]

Filming started on 10 August 1964.[16]

The studio backlot used for the car chase sequence is the Warner Bros. Ranch Facility in Burbank, which was also used for the car chase sequence in Bikini Beach. The beach used for the volleyball scenes and Donna Loren's "Among the Young" song is Surfrider Beach in Malibu.

Susan Hart claimed second unit footage was later shot where her legs were substituted by another person's.[17]

Product placement[edit]

The film features extensive product placement of Dr. Pepper soft drink (Donna Loren who was known at the time as the "Dr. Pepper Girl")[18] The then new Ford Mustang is also featured in several scenes.

Music[edit]

Guy Hemric and Jerry Styner wrote all the songs heard in the film, and several melodies were picked up and used for the film's score by composer Les Baxter. The music supervisor was Al Simms.

Annette Funicello performs "It's That Kind of Day", with the cast and also sings "Stuffed Animal" as well as the title track.

Funicello and Tommy Kirk sing "There Has to Be a Reason"; Dorothy Lamour sings "Where Did I Go Wrong"; Donna Loren sings "Among the Young."

The Los Angeles-based band The Nooney Rickett 4 (who appeared in Columbia's beach party film, Winter A Go-Go the following year) play backup for "Among the Young", and are shown playing backup for "Pajama Party." The band also performs an instrumental version of "Among the Young" in the film - entitled "Beach Ball" - and are shown performing an instrumental of "It's That Kind of Day."

Reception[edit]

The Los Angeles Times said "AIP's stock company puts on a frantic, funny show. Individual performances are standard for this type of picture."[19]

The popularity of the film saw Buster Keaton appear in a number of AIP movies before his death.[20]

Don Weis, Heyward and Kirk collaborated on another AIP beach party film which was actually a pajama party movie, The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini.

Legacy[edit]

A sequence in the 1996 film That Thing You Do! makes an overt reference to the Nooney Rickett 4's saxophone-heavy Beach Ball scene in Pajama Party, as well as to the beach party genre in general. The band in the film, The Wonders, mime a live performance of an instrumental song during the filming of a beach party film titled Weekend at Party Pier. The film is referred to as "Rick & Anita film" (the AIP films are often called "Frankie & Annette films"), and includes a Deadhead/Bonehead character called "Goofball." The four-man Wonders band - including the guitarist now playing a saxophone - are seen playing a song on an elevated wooden stage surrounded by a wildly dancing crowd in various bathing suit attire, as in Pajama Party. Although in That Thing You Do! the Wonders are being forced by the studio to pretend they are a band called "Cap'n Geech and the Shrimp Shack Shooters," in reality all acts performing in the AIP beach party films appeared as themselves.[21]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Weaver, Brunas and Brunas p 160
  2. ^ BOOK SELLER GETS 1 YEAR, $1,000 FINE Chicago Tribune (1963-Current file) [Chicago, Ill] 13 May 1965: a2.
  3. ^ 'Maid and Martian' Hits Spicy Vein of Comedy Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 17 Oct 1952: B6.
  4. ^ 'Maid, Martian' Triple-Threat Team Showing Promise of Brilliant Future: 'Maid, Martian' Team Showing Great Promise Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 07 Dec 1952: D1.
  5. ^ STUDIO BRIEFS Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 20 Mar 1954: 12.
  6. ^ Lancaster, Garson Win New Awards: Golden Globes Distributed Lavishly by Foreign Press Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 17 Mar 1961: A12.
  7. ^ Abby Dalton, Signs With Jack Arnold: Aldrich Script Writer Found; 'King of Kings' Cast Reprised Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 13 May 1960: A11.
  8. ^ a b Weaver, Brunas & Brunas, p 157
  9. ^ The Teen-age Set---Or Moola Behind the Hairdo Curtain SEIDENBAUM, ART. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 22 Nov 1964: Q2.
  10. ^ David Winters at the Internet Movie Database
  11. ^ Pajama Party at the Internet Movie Database
  12. ^ Discotheque Lures Jack Jr. and Jill Dorothy Kilgallen:. The Washington Post, Times Herald (1959-1973) [Washington, D.C] 22 Aug 1964: C11.
  13. ^ Beau Remembers Rhonda Fleming's Birthday Dorothy Kilgallen:. The Washington Post, Times Herald (1959-1973) [Washington, D.C] 06 Aug 1964: B10.
  14. ^ Young Players Enact Roles in 'Pajama Party' Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 27 Nov 1964: D24.
  15. ^ "The Score of Beach Blanket Bingo"> http://www.beachpartymoviemusic.com/TheScore of Beach BlanketBingo.html
  16. ^ OF SMITH AND MEN: SCIENCE FICTION---THE UNREAL TRUTH Smith, Jack. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 20 July 1964: D1.
  17. ^ Tom Weaver, "Susan Hart", Double Feature Creature Attack: A Monster Merger of Two More Volumes of Classic Interviews, p 135
  18. ^ p.89 Lisanti, Tom Donna Loren in Drive-In Dream Girls: A Galaxy of B-movie Starlets of the Sixties McFarland, 2003
  19. ^ Pajama Party' Slanted for Young Audiences Scott, John L. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 04 Dec 1964: E6.
  20. ^ Comedy Not What It Used to Be, Says Buster Alpert, Don. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 28 Mar 1965: B4.
  21. ^ Compilation: The Nooney Rickett 4 in Pajama Party on YouTube
  • Weaver, Tom, Michael Brunas, John Brunas, "Louis M. Heyward", Science Fiction Stars and Horror Heroes: Interviews with Actors, Directors, Producers and Writers of the 1940s through 1960s, McFarland 1991

External links[edit]