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January 06, 2011

For Those Who Think Young

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Leslie H. Martinson - 1964
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Recently, Ray Young of Flickhead wrote tangentially about double features, the standard way many of us saw movies, growing up in the Sixties. I bring this up because I saw For Those Who Those Who Think Young twice theatrically, and only because the film was playing with something else I really intended to see and I was always determined to get my money's worth. The films in question were 633 Squadron and A Hard Day's Night, respectively. That For Those Who Think Young also starred Pamela Tiffin, who I once thought was one of the most beautiful women in the world helped, but I was twelve at the time, and my world was a bit smaller.

Sure, the title was taken from advertising for Pepsi. At the time, I thought nothing of the product placement for Pepsi, or that one scene took place in a Baskin-Robbins ice cream store. Some of the jokes had outdated references by the time the film was released, such as Paul Lynde quoting from the year old (in the U.S.) novelty song "Tie Me Kangaroo Down. Sport", and a reference to the recently cancelled television series Car 54, Where are You?. For those around my age, James Darren, star of the original surf movie, Gidget was someone from the distant past. I was listening to pre-electric Bob Dylan, Jan and Dean, and radio friendly Beatles at the time. The one hit song by Darren that I remembered, "Her Royal Majesty" seemed like ages ago, even though it was really only two years past. The real star of For Those Who Think Young was Bob Denver, beloved by my peers as beatnik Maynard G. Krebs in the Dobie Gillis television series. As Darren's best friend and personal assistant named Kelp, the character is something of a variation on the past television persona. A scene with Denver buried under the sand, with only his upside down mouth exposed, and the kids doing a tribal surfing dance around him, remains amusing in its unashamed silliness. Denver gets the single shots and the close-ups, while Darren does not, indicating that Leslie Martinson and company also knew who really carried the movie. Keep in mind that a new show about a guy named Gilligan had not yet flickered on television screens yet.

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Of course, Leslie Martinson would be know all about the teen years - he was born in 1915. The biggest mistake of For Those Who Think Young is that it spends too much time on the old folks, James Darren's grandfather, a wealthy philanthropist played by Robert Middleton, and Pamela Tiffin's bachelor guardians, the apartment sharing Woody Woodbury and Paul Lynde. Parts of the film are devoted to cleaned up versions of Woodbury's comic routines, some of which provoke a few chuckles. Middleton thinks Tiffin is a gold digger, pursuing campus playboy Darren for his wealth. I'm not going to give away how this film ends.

One of the brighter spots is that there is footage of actual surfing. The downside is that the surfers are only seen in full shots, better to take advantage of the Techniscope screen. But it is real surfing with real waves, with no cutaways with actors pretending to bob up and down while an offscreen stage hand splashes water to make the shot look authentic. The surfing footage is presumably second unit work done for the film. Cutting back to Darren and Tiffin, they are lying on there stomachs on their respective surfboards, on water where there is barely a ripple. On a positive note for some of us, the flat water doesn't distract from admiring the curve of Pamela Tiffin's backside. There is also the actress Ellen McRae, now better known as Ellen Burstyn, playing a professor of sociology who captures Woodbury's eye. Anyone watching the film now would probably pay greater attention to her performance than they did when the film was released.

The film also provided temporary employment for older character actors like Anna Lee, Robert Armstrong, Alan Jenkins and George Raft. For some reason, IMDb does not list Howard W. Koch, who has a production credit here. I think it less than coincidental that Koch, who had producer credits on several films starring Frank Sinatra in the early Sixties, had also produced a film that features Nancy Sinatra as well as Dean Martin's daughter, Claudia. What might also be less coincidental is that Tina Louise, who plays a family friendly version of a stripper, would find stardom keeping keeping her clothes on just a few months later, in Gilligan's Island, with Bob Denver. All things considered, For Those Who Think Young might be considered to have greater historical value than Leslie Martinson's previous feature, an almost forgotten biographical war movie titled PT 109.

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Posted by peter at January 6, 2011 07:17 AM