Not all old movies are great. Many aren’t even good. Some are so incredibly bad, they’re actually fun to watch and make fun of. Such is the case of everyone’s favorite, Plan 9 From Outer Space. Well kids, without trying, the producers of this next turkey surpassed the benchmark for bad quality films when they released
Jive Turkey, 1974
starring Paul Harris and Frank DeKova.
Ah, where do I begin? This film was such a turkey that it started out with a different name – Baby Needs a New Pair of Shoes – and got changed to Jive Turkey, presumably because that’s what the public thought of the producer. The budget for this film must have been somewhere in the fifteen to twenty dollar range, including thirty-five cents for special effects.
Why, do you ask, am I being so cruel?
You’ve got a movie here that, to begin with, was an attempt at Blaxsploitation. It’s all down hill from there. I can’t…I can’t even say it…I’ll have to put it in bullet points..
• The opening screen says “This is a True Story”. The second screen says “Only the Names, Places, and Events have been changed to Protect the Innocent.” So, in other words, everything.
• The story takes place in 1956. We know this because several characters throughout the movie say it’s 1956, while wearing digital watches and polyester suits. There are also a few close-ups of 1956 license plates on the 1958 Cadillac that the gangsters drive.
• Speaking of cars…there are a few 1950’s cars in the movie for the close-ups. However…any scene shot on the streets…plenty of 1970s cars everywhere. It’s as if they didn’t even bother to film early in the morning before the traffic hit. In one scene, an early 70’s pickup with a camper-cap blows out the whole scene. It reminded me of doing our 1930’s murder mystery dinner show back in Atlantic City, trying to convince the audience it was 80 years ago while the big-screen TV in the bar played ET.
• There is, for no apparent reason, a drag queen in the movie. No idea why. Not that having a drag queen around is a bad thing…after all, we had one at our wedding. Just not sure what was going on here. Maybe she put up some of the money to make the flick in exchange for a part.
• There’s a great shot of the Mafia jumping out of a Cadillac with machine guns. The Caddy is a brand new 1973 Fleetwood limousine. (see photo)
• Since it was 1974, I mean 1956, I mean…anyway, there are some completely unnecessary nude scenes. So at least it’s got that going for it.
I must say, to me it looked like the lead actors were working their asses off to try to make something decent out of this muddled wreck of bad, racist writing and cheap sets. Paul Harris stayed level and believable throughout the movie. The other guy, Frank DeKova, whose claim to fame was playing Chief Wild Eagle on F Troop, also looks like he’s in pain as he forces his way through the script. It doesn’t matter. When it’s 1956 and the 1956 Chevy wagon looks like a 20-year-old beater, when the guys walking down the street have afros and are wearing polyester jogging suits, when the politicians keep repeating in scene after scene “After all, it’s 1956” while drinking out of plastic Dixie cups, and while the black actors’ dialog sounds a lot like a white guy from Boca Raton wrote the script without ever meeting an African American, well, you get the picture…
So I highly recommend this flick, if you can get it like I did…in a $9.00 box set with 49 other movies from the plastic era of the silver screen! Just don’t expect a lot.
Food & Booze: huh, what can I say? TURKEY! of course. Lots of it. Maybe a side of Spam and cheese. And corn. Booze? Buy a bottle of the cheapest whiskey you can find and paste a label over it that says “This whiskey is worth a lot of money”. Or just have some Wild Turkey.
What? What’s it about? I dunno. Something about numbers runners and the Mafia. If you want a good story, watch The Cotton Club.
Here’s the trailer…
-Tiki Chris P Reporting From The Time Warp Where 1970’s Cars Drove Down The Street In 1956