Wednesday, January 27, 2016

SHAKE, RATTLE AND ROCK! - James H. Nicholson and Samuel Z. Arkoff (1956)

So next up in my series of rock and roll in the movies is a great little James H. Nicholson and Samuel Z. Arkoff film from 1956 called "Shake, Rattle & Rock!" This film is a time capsule that features rock and roll in transition, and makes me realize how much we should all appreciate how much producers James H. Nicholson and Samuel Z. Arkoff have done over the years to further the cause of rock and roll! They were either premiere exploiters of the genre, or just incredible fans of music, but either way, these guys were on a cutting edge that probably doesn't get recognized often enuf! In fact, and I'll go out on a limb here, but won't fall off, in the real world, James H. Nicholson and Samuel Z. Arkoff should also be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame! Roger Corman is another one who also falls into this same category!

Enough Talk, Let's Rock!!

Well, everybody should know who Fats Domino was, and more learned people will know who Big Joe Turner was, but the rest of this musical lineup is pretty obscure!

The basic premise is that Touch (Voodoo Woman) Connors is trying to promote a rock and roll TV show called "Rock, Roll, and Shake," but a small group of local fuddy-duddies are trying to get the whole thing shut down because it is totally decadent! Somebody thought that jitterbug dancers Rosie and Carlos were good enough to include in the credits, but as far as I can tell, their career petered out after this!

 Now you know the secret to the dynamic Fats Domino sound; piano, guitar, drums, bass, and four sax players!! Fats Domino has been one of my favourites for years, and why not? Everything he touches is gold!!

 Annita Ray performs "Rockin' On Saturday Night"
Annita went on to sing with the very successful Las Vegas lounge band led by Ray Anthony!

Here's Annita performing with Ray Anthony at Harrah's a few years later!

On the left is Percy Helton as the uptight funeral director! Percy also played a funeral director in "Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte!" He was also in two "Twilight Zone" episodes, "Mute," and "Mr. Garrity And The Graves!" On the right is Raymond (Invasion Of The Saucer Men) Hatton! These two are some of the misguided folks trying to shut down the whole rock and roll scene!  Actually Ramond enjoys it, but he has to go along with whatever stand his wife takes!

You might not recognize the face of Sterling Holloway, but everybody should recognize his voice! Not only was he the voice of The Cheshire Cat in Walt Disney's "Alice In Wonderland," and  "Kaa, the snake" in "The Jungle Book, he was also the voice of Winnie The Pooh in numerous features! I'll always remember Sterling as the bumbling Waldo in the 1950's sitcom "The Life Of Riley!" He was also the TV repairman in the "Twilight Zone" episode, "What's In The Box?" In this film, he's the coolest hep cat on the block, but in reality, Sterling was 51 when this film was made!

Big Joe Turner with Choker Campbell and his band rock the joint! If I didn't like Fats Domino so much, I would say that Big Joe's songs are the best of the bunch!

 Tommy Charles was a big band crooner with the Horace Heidt Orchestra, and his crossover to the rock and roll scene was doomed from the start!  In fact, a few years later, as a radio DJ, he helped lead the 'Ban The Beatles' crusade after John Lennon said that 'The Beatles were "bigger than Jesus!"
Here's a clip of Tommy performing "Sweet Love On My Mind!" It's not the best music in the movie, but it  might be the most interesting!

The whole scene goes to court to determine if rock and roll gets to continue or not! These squares are part of the prosecution's case!

 Part of the defense is that music and dancing had been around forever including flappers from the 1920's, and then it turns out that one of the people leading the charge to rid the world of rock and roll used to cut a pretty mean rug herself! Georgianna Fitzdingle as played by the Marvelous Margaret (Duck Soup, Zotz!) Dumont now has to literally face the music!

In an eternal search to find the roots of everything sleazy, I'm heading off to Las Vegas for a couple of days! Wish me luck! If you want to watch "Shake, Rattle and Rock" while I'm gone, you can find it for free at the Internet Archive!
Now that's a winning hand!


TC said...

This movie deserves to have a cult following as a camp classic, like Plan 9 From Outer Space and Attack of the 50-Foot Woman.

My reminiscences of it are the usual, "I remember coming home from school and watching the afternoon Million Dollar Movie" kind of thing. Our local TV station showed a lot of old movies in that time slot. Some classic Universal horror films from the 1930's and '40's, and a lot of American-International stuff from the 1950's and '60's. The latter were mainly the sci-fi/horror films, but they also included some rock 'n' roll and biker movies.

Raymond Hatton should be familiar to Western fans. In the thirties and forties, he played sidekicks to the heroes in about a bazillion low-budget B Westerns, including both the Three Mesquiteers and Rough Riders series. In the 1950's, he appeared in TV shows like Gunsmoke and Have Gun-Will Travel. He was also in AIP's Day the World Ended and Motorcycle Gang.

When I was nine or ten, I recognized Mike Connors from Mannix, and I may have recognized Sterling Holloway, by face and voice, if not by name. At the time, I would not have known Margaret Dumont. A few years later, I saw some Marx Brothers movies, but I somehow didn't connect "Mrs. Upjohn" and "Mrs. Rittenhouse" with the very similar character in this movie. So I didn't know that was her until now.

The scene with Holloway testifying in beatnik slang, and Connors having to translate for the court, seemed silly even when I was a little kid. But I remember really liking the scene at the end where the henpecked husband tells off his wife.

BTW, the host of that afternoon movie show was "Count Von Terror." He wore a Dracula-type costume and affected a pretty good Bela Lugosi-type accent. I remember him saying, when signing off after the movie ended, "I didn't know Fats Domino was ever that young."

EEGAH!! said...

Great memories TC! There are lots of parallels in our lives!

Retro Hound said...

Another big fan of Fats, here. My dad (b.1946) and even my grandfather (b.1912) were fans!

Grant said...

Along with MANNIX, I always associate Mike "Touch" Connors with an extremely overlooked comedy called "SITUATION HOPELESS, BUT NOT SERIOUS." Considering the fact that his co-stars were Alec Guinness (!) and a very early Robert Redford, it's a wonder it's never made it to DVD, or even VHS.

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