Wednesday, February 23, 2011

THE SPIRIT IS WILLING - Vic Mizzy - "But The Flesh Is Weak" (1967)

"The Spirit Is Willing" to be wacky, that's for sure, and of course, who's at the helm of this ship run amok than none other than that original wild and crazy guy himself, the infamous Mr. William Castle, so what else would you expect?

It's like one big giant TV sitcom on steroids, but don't get the wrong idea, it might look like a little dark comedy, but the bottom line is, it's all about sex!!

That's right, dirty, nasty sex, and what's worse, it's sex with ghosts!

"The Spirit Is Willing" is jam packed with 60's icons starting here with Sid Caesar and Vera Miles as the happy couple renting a quaint little coastal cottage and unaware of the fact that the place is haunted! Besides being one of the greatest comedians or all time, Sid Caesar also played the saxophone, and had performed with the Shep Fields, Charlie Spivak, and Claude Thornhill orchestras!

Any fan of 1950's and 60's TV comedies will recognize Mary Wickes, here as Gloria Tritt!!! From "The Danny Thomas Show" to "Dennis The Menace" to "The Lucy Show," Mary was always playing wacky characters with names like Miss Cathcart, Fran, Adeline, or Aunt Harriet!

Step out of the dank basement and into the spotlight Vic Mizzy!! Even though he had been composing popular hits since the 1930's, tonight's composer in the mix, the ever so popular Vic Mizzy, will be remembered forever and at least a day or two for one thing! Vic composed the theme to "The Addams Family," and as long as there's Halloween in the free world, the master's work will endure, and that's a guarantee! Just in case you didn't know it, Vic sang all three parts of said theme himself, because the studio needed to save money, and it's not verified, but I'm pretty sure he's doing the singing of "The Spirit Is Willing" too! Vic Mizzy departed the planet at the ripe age of 93 in 2009!

Ghosts will be ghosts!! Robert Donner is the ghost of Ebenezer Twitchell! Robert was also in "Agent For H.A.R.M." and "Vanishing Point," and was Yancy Tucker in "The Waltons," and Exidor on the "Mork And Mindy" TV show!!

Unlike a good percentage of the people we write about here, both Sid Caesar and Vera Miles are still alive and hopefully well today! What a great looking couple!

Their son is played by Barry Gordon, who also has another amazing TV and film career, and who is still active today, and has a film coming out this year called "Losing Control!" A staple of American TV from the 50's on, Barry really found his niche in the 90's doing cartoon voices for character's like Reggie Moonshroud in 13 episodes of "Gravedale High," and Donatello and Be Bop for 36 episodes of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" etc. In 1996 and 1998, Barry unsuccessfully ran for Congress!

Tell me that if they remade this movie today, that this role isn't made to order for Miley Cyrus. She's a ringer for Jill Townsend, who in typical Castle style, had three roles. Besides playing the ghost Jenny, she also was Priscilla and Carol Weems!

Yet another iconic figure here as the rich Uncle George is John McGiver! Other familiar faces will include Jesse White, Doodles Weaver, Harvey Lembeck, and............

.........none other than Gomez Addams himself, John Astin as the shrink Dr. Frieden, and just who is the wack job with the pipe wrench spilling his guts to the Doc? Of Course, it's the biggest psycho of all, William Castle!!!

Cass Daley is the scorned ghost Felicity Twitchell, with a mind for vengeance that will never die! In her younger years Cass was a singer with a wild and crazy style and recorded the tune "Abba Dabba Honeymoon." Cass has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, one for television, and one for radio!!

I almost forgot the scene in Mother's Bar where Mary Wickes is getting even goofier, and the distinctive voice and face of Jay C. Flippen, as Mother, serves the kid Barry a beer!!

1948's Miss Kansas, Vera June Ralston, aka Vera Miles, is well known for her roles in classic flicks like "The Searchers" and "Psycho," but she was also on the best TV shows, including episodes of "Science Fiction Theater," "The Outer Limits," and "The Twilight Zone!"

In order to appease the ghosts that he sees, but his parents don't, Barry asks for a special pirate birthday party, and he asks them to invite a bunch of single guys to come to, for some reason!

So what do you think? Just a little bit weird?? Here's two words that I don't think were ever in William Castle's vocabulary, sublime or subtle, he just couldn't think in those terms!!

John Astin gets invited to the party to observe the boy, and Sid Caesar and him both show up in the same pirate costume!

Lucky guy Barry gets to have sex with the ghost of Jenny!

Uncle George and Felicity make the perfect couple in The End! It used to be almost impossible to find, these days you'll find it streaming on Netflix! All hail William Castle!!! Without a doubt, that mold is broken! I'm off to go see another music icon, Robin Trower!


Christopher said...

oh man..we'd be here forever listing Vic Mizzy's music credits for television alone...This ugly world would be so sweet if only it grooved to the ViC MiZzY BeAt..

Prof. Grewbeard said...

i know i've been laying low lately but i just gotta comment that this is yet another movie i had no idea existed and it's Bill Castle, yet!

Eegah!! and Tabonga! said...

Chris, you're right, and there should be a place called Mizzyland!

PGB, After all you've learned us about movies, it's nice when we get a chance to return the favor! Sure do miss the comments tho!

Tom Misnik said...

William Castle!
Sid Caesar!
John Astin!
John Mc Giver!
Vic Mizzy!


( actually a better opening theme for a Bill Castle/Vic Mizzy/Sid Caesar movie is THE BUSY BODY)

Anonymous said...

Good lord! How have I never heard of this all-star epic 'til now? If TCM doesn't run this next Halloween I will have lost faith in them.

No article on Vic Mizzy should go by without a mention of his immortal "Green Acres" theme.

Eegah!! and Tabonga! said...

You're right about "Green Acres," but we had to be able to save some information for the next Vic Mizzy post!

Christopher said...

I saw this in the theatre when it came out...This and movies with Dick Van Dyke,Don Knotts or other tv personalities were big hits with the kiddies..
btw..Screen Archives has the Spirit is willing/Busy Body CD in clerence now..$4.95

Anonymous said...

What a great Mizzy theme! I gotta check out this film. Thanks.

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