Wednesday, September 19, 2007
After recently reading Phyllis Diller's autobiography (brilliantly titled "Like a Lampshade in a Whorehouse"), I have decided to seek out her rare appearances in film. In her book, Ms. Diller describes 1966's THE FAT SPY as "one of the worst things ever committed to celluloid, full of lousy jokes and terrible music." With a description like that, I just had to find it!
Well, I found it (via Netflix). I'm just not sure what to say about it. It's basically a beach party movie without Frankie and Annette and without much of a plot. But what it does have is love goddess Jayne Mansfield!!! Our favorite 50s sex bomb (that's right, Marilyn, you heard us). From THE GIRL CAN'T HELP IT to THE WILD, WILD WORLD OF JAYNE MANSFIELD... from the TV-movie bio starring Loni Anderson to the awesome Siouxsie & the Banshees song "Kiss Them For Me" - Jayne has always been one of my special guilty pleasures. Phyllis describes Jayne as "overweight, hooked on pills and firmly on the skids." How could you NOT love that? Jayne was Anna Nicole before Anna Nicole was born!
Well, back to the movie. From what I can ascertain, the plot goes like this: there is some island, which is is supposed to be the fountain of youth. An annoying teenage band, The Wild Ones, and their girlfriends, descend on the island for a scavenger hunt — which pisses off the island's owner, who enlists his daughter named Junior(?) (played by Jayne), to evict the kids. Junior 's lover Irving (played by comedian Jack E. Leonard) is asked to "spy "on the rowdy teenagers hence the "Fat Spy" title. Ugh. Irving's twin brother Herman, (also Jack E. Leonard) and his lover, Camille Salamander (Phyllis Diller), also show up - looking for the fountain of youth. In between all this The Wild Ones manage to perform about 100 crappy songs. Oh yeah, and some guy drowns himself so he can live with mermaids!
Phyllis describes the filming of THE FAT SPY on location in Florida as being a nightmare. Between the heat, swarms of mosquitoes and production problems, she often skips over discussing this film and calls 1966's BOY DID I GET A WRONG NUMBER her REAL first film. (Much like how Carol Channing dismissess the LSD musical-comedy SKIDOO).
Any Phyllis fan should check THE FAT SPY out as a curiosity. A friend of ours recently played it at a party and said it became a great conversation piece - definitely a movie that makes you say "huh?". Directed by Joseph Cates. Rating: 7 outta 10 "huhs".