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Twist Around the Clock - What were they thinking?


Vertigo2
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I watched "Twist Around the Clock" when TCM showed it last week and obviously I was not expecting a cinematic masterpiece, but still, I was just amazed at how "off" the casting was. I don't mean the lead cast - some were OK some not. I just could not believe the people chosen for the background extras. For example, in the club scenes, MOST of the people enjoying Dion or Chubby Checker (boy - he looked terrific on film, btw - so charismatic!) looked to be in their forties or even late fifties - lots of balding men were quite prominent, and I don't mean hip balding - we're talking bald on top and hair below. and this was presumably aimed at a teen or slightly older audience! This was the case throughout the movie. Dion's backup group (no Belmonts in sight) were clearly all 40's and older; the first group in the first scene - supposedly rock n rollers literally looked like they were in their fifties or even older. Unbelievable! I can't imagine what their intended audience thought at the time.

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I wonder if this was some attempt to display "this music's appeal isn't limited to teens"? Personally, I think they should have included a giant gila monster, or maybe a giant-but-sheet-wrapped femme, too.

 

(Of course, there aren't a lot of films that couldn't be improved with those fantastic additions.)

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This was remake of Rock Around the Clock from 1956. I was amazed at how close it was to the original. I think they used the same script. Or so it appeared, anyway. And just 5 years later!

 

In those days Hollywood didn't know how to make a Rock and Roll movie.

They had R&R wannabes performing swing tunes, trying to pass them off as R&R. When they cast a top R&R act in a film, they didn't give them much to do but perform one their records and they often chose an album cut instead of one their hits. Oh yeah, there were exceptions. Little Richard rocked the house in the films he appeared in. I would love to have seen a movie centered around Little Richard back then.

 

bOb

 

Edited by: bOb39 on Jan 4, 2014 4:58 PM

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I get what you're saying about the onscreen audience for the rock acts. I think it stems from the fact that there really weren't specific venues for rock acts in those days, other than the "caravan of stars" which travelled around the country from time to time and were able to book theaters. For lack of alternatives, rock acts were basically locked into that pattern, as well as going from city to city to appear on all the "Bandstand" ripoff afternoon shows and, if they were lucky, on the real American Bandstand. It was considered to be a huge breakout if a "rock" star could score a gig at a "legit" club like The Copa in New York. That pattern persisted well into the 1960's, until acts like the Beatles and Stones were able to book arenas, and then it gradually began to change. Even then, it was often in unpredictable places that didn't really lend themselves to concerts. I saw The Beatles at a dog race track and had to hear them over the scratchy public address system. When I was in college I saw The Young Rascals at Mountain Park in Holyhoke, Mass. This was post-Beatles and The Rascals had already had huge hits like "Good Lovin'", but they were playing a dance at a small-time amusement park because that's what you had to do in those days. Big weekends like Homecoming on college campuses usually had concerts and dances with names acts as well. The "youth" demographic was still being defined, so the audience for clubs was still the balding patrons you noticed in the movie. Plus the twist was a novelty that older folks had already latched onto. I remember newspaper pictures of all the Park Avenue princesses slumming at The Peppermint Lounge. There's a scene in "Infamous" where Babe Paley and Slim Keith teach Truman Capote how to twist. It was like that.

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Interesting take on the dichotomy between the presumed audience for Dion and Chubby Checker and who actually turns up in the movie. I think you're right, although one would think the filmmakers might have shown a FEW teenagers showing up in the club scenes.

I grew up in Hampton, NH and nearby was the Salisbury Beach, MA (just across the neighboring state line) night club called The Frolics. In the late 50 's/ early 60's when I lived in the area, big names played there all summer long, but they were mostly "adult" acts such as Patti Page, Liberace, Xavier Cugat/Abbe Lane etc. However there were also an increasing number of " teen" faves turning up - Paul Anka, Bobby Rydell, Connie Francis etc. it was a night club type atmosphere though ( a smaller Copa wannabe) and the attendees dressed up and the audience even for these was a mix of adults and teen fans.

My older teenage sister went often and once during the summer of "61, she and her best friend even took their younger middle school brothers (my best friend and I) along to see Frankie Avalon . Funny memory - my sister and her friend baked some brownies for Frankie and before the show managed to tell someone who worked at the club who told Frankie.

We were escorted backstage and met Frankie, who sweetly accepted the

brownies. He was a nice guy and chatted with the girls for a few moments and then gesturing to us (clearly the girls' younger brothers) joked, "Are these your boyfriends?" My sister joked back, "No! We don't even know them. They just walked back here with us!" He gave each of us an 8 x 10 photo which he autographed personally. The girls were thrilled, of course, and my friend and I were happy too - that was the summer when the film "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea" in which Frankie appeared, was released - pretty cool sci-fi in its day - so my friend and I had some bragging rights too when school started that fall.

Guess I went off topic - but you stirred up a memory which I had forgotten.

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I can't believe that after all these years I'm jealous that you met Frankie Avalon. And you're right, there was a growing range of options, now that you've got me thinking. Even in Buddy Holly's day they could book local halls and auditoriums, though God only knows what dives even people like Elvis had to play. And probably the top ticket was laughably cheap by today's standards.

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Well, then, as a sidebar to that story - that was not the last time my sister and I met Frankie Avalon.

Many years later my grown up sister worked in the "business". She was a talent booker for variety shows including national telethons usually broadcast from Las Vegas and occasionally I worked backstage too as a talent liason and was responsible for making sure the acts got from their hotel rooms to rehearsals and to the green room before actual performances. On a few occasions she booked Frankie Avalon (I recall he even co- hosted one of these shows) and was one of many celebrities I got to hang out with backstage. She was friends with Frankie by then and was amused when she told him of their previous encounter at The Frolics many years earlier. I'm happy to say he was still the nice guy he was in his teen idol years.

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Thanks for that great story, Vertigo. I wouldn't be surprised if the positive incidents at The Frolics influenced your sister to go into the field. It's also great to hear good things about an entertainer. Sounds as if Frankie's a friendly & generous guy.

 

I've been a driver, guide & guard to contemporary "stars" and many are just miserable.

These days you can't offer stars homemade treats, I've seen them toss gifts right in the can. Well, unless they are labeled "speshel" brownies. ;-)

 

As for the old people in teen movies....my first thought is they may have been crew members just used as extras, like the set decorator, the gaffer, etc.

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Can't say I blame the stars these days for being leery of food gifts - post John Lennon/Rebecca Schaffer etc.

Re: celebrities - most I worked with were very nice. On the other hand their managers, publicists, and hangers on were often the arrogant, pushy troublemakers. Of course there are also the exceptions - the celebrities who thought they were the center of the universe, but I don't want to name names.

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