Wednesday, March 14, 2012

All Hands on Deck (1961) - A Light-hearted Diversion

This film was designed to cash in on the early-1960s celebrity of Pat Boone.  It drags a bit - okay, it drags a lot - but remains interesting because of the smooth interplay of a fairly eccentric comic cast. Barbara Eden is at the top of her form (and a fine form it is) as the love interest (what else?), while Gale Gordon scares up a few laughs as an overbearing Admiral. Pat Boone sings well, especially in a bravura performance over the title credits (the best part of the film), and gives a, well, sincere performance. As an actor, he is a very polished singer and a real nice guy.

Barbara Eden, Buddy Hackett and Pat Boone

The supporting cast, however, are the real reason to watch this today.  Buddy Hackett is there for comic relief, and Barbara Eden to provide a little sex appeal.

Buddy Hackett and Pat Boone

It is interesting to compare Eden in this film with Margo Moore in a contemporary film, "Wake Me When It's Over." Both were pert, vivacious and pretty, and both starlets had starring roles in B films, yet Eden became an icon while Moore disappeared. Why? Who knows, but Eden does a great job here.

Gale Gordon is the heavy

The obvious scene-stealer is Buddy Hackett. Whoever thought of casting him as a wacky Native American deserves a medal. He gives a completely off-the-wall performance that compares with the best of Jonathan Winters or Robin Williams.

Pat Boone was one man any lady could feel comfortable with putting herself in that position

So you have a cast that later saw its best days on television (Eden, Ann B. Davis and Gordon), the night-club circuit (Hackett) and the radio (Boone). Several reasons to give this one a peek, if only to see Boone at his best, genie Jeannie before she came out of the bottle or Hackett in his Vegas prime. And there's even a great big scene-stealing turkey! Combine that with some nice tunes and you have a pleasant, light-hearted diversion.

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