Wednesday, March 14, 2012

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

All Hands On Deck 1961 poster
"All Hands On Deck" (1961).

"All Hands On Deck" (1961) 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.

All Hands On Deck 1961 lobby card
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. This is a basic service comedy that was in vogue in the late Fifties and early Sixties, but what sets it apart is the stars. Everyone pitches in and delivers their act before it became a stereotype, with expected gags and songs and so forth.

All Hands On Deck 1961 Buddy Hackett Pat Boone
Buddy Hackett and Pat Boone and... a turkey.

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 - perhaps Moore got married and left the business, many women did that in those days - but Eden does a great job here.

All Hands On Deck 1961 Gale Gordon
Lucille Ball-favorite Gale Gordon is the heavy in "All Hands On Deck."

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.

All Hands On Deck 1961 Barbara Eden Pat Boone
Pat Boone was one man that 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). In other words, this cast was multi-talented, and the talents are put to good use in "All Hands On Deck." There are 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 and 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. You won't be wasting your time if you catch "All Hands On Deck."


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