Tommy

“Tommy, can you hear me?”

An assault on all the senses, this mad rock opera, with music by The Who, and direction by professional cinematic wild man Ken Russell, doesn’t disappoint.

The supporting cast features a medley of music giants, from Elton John and Tina Turner to Eric Clapton and Keith Moon, plus Jack Nicholson bounds by, devilish grin intact.

Does any of it make much sense?

Probably not, but just go with it, as we follow the offbeat path of a deaf, dumb, and blind boy who rises to become a pinball wizard, then a messiah.

It’s something, alright.

 

The Villain

The critics were wrong.

Or, I have no taste. That’s certainly possible.

But if it’s wrong to love a film where a young Arnold Schwarzenegger plays naïve “Handsome Stranger,” Ann-Margret shakes her moneymaker, and dastardly outlaw Kirk Douglas is a live-action Wile E. Coyote, I don’t want to be right.

Slapped together by stuntman turned director Hal Needham, this is basically a PG-rated version of Blazing Saddles.

Like its predecessor, there’s probably some moments here — like Paul Lynde as a Native American chief named Nervous Elk — likely to irk tender modern sensibilities.

If so, well, I have no taste.

 

Bye Bye Birdie (1963)

“Who wants respect from a ten-year-old kid?!?”

There’s a special place in movie heaven for Paul Lynde.

A master of snarky sarcasm and biting wit, especially in his role as the center of attention on The Hollywood Squares, he also had a lovely singing voice.

That was showcased best in this bouncy musical.

Stealing the show right out from under the feet of big-timers Ann-Margret, Janet Leigh, and Dick Van Dyke, he wails about the pitfalls of being a parent.

“Kids” is just one song in a film packed with 15 tuneful concoctions, but it, like Lynde, is a show-stopper.

 

Viva Las Vegas

More like Viva Ann-Marget, am I right?

The sassiest hip shaker in town steals the movie from Elvis, and that’s not easy.

The King might have held his own against the likes of big-timers like Barbara Stanwyck (Roustabout) and Walter Matthau (King Creole).

But once Ann-Margret starts dancing — likely causing an entire generation of boys to hit puberty right there in the theater — the game was up.

The best Elvis can do is play back-up in his own movie, croon a few songs, and get the heck out of the way every time his co-star melts the camera.

Smart decision.