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  • Go West for Mod Movie Monday – Rio Bravo, 1959

    Posted on August 23rd, 2010 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 2 comments

    riobravoposterAsk anyone who digs old movies and old westerns about this flick, and the response will be something around the same as if you ask them if they are hip to Miles or Bird…oh, yeahhhhh!

    Rio Bravo, 1959

    Dean Martin

    Dean Martin

    is a good old-fashioned cowboy movie with a little twist: The cast. Here you have John Wayne leading Dean Martin, Ricky Nelson, Angie Dickinson,Ward Bond and Walter Brennan (plus Pedro Gonzalez-Gonzalez for comic relief). Wow. Add to that some really good writing, some intense scenes where predicting the outcome is almost impossible, and plenty of evil bad guys and you’ve got the makings of a classic flick. Even the side romance between the 51-year-old Wayne and 26-year-old Dickinson are believable and fun.

    1892 Winchester Saddle Ring Carbine
    1892 Winchester Saddle Ring Carbine

    The story is a somewhat typical cowboy job: Wayne, the Sheriff, is trying to keep his dusty frontier town together while fighting against a cattle baron who, as all cattle barons in old westerns tend to be, is an evil, murdering SOB. His brother murders a cowpoke in a saloon in cold blood and is locked up by the Sheriff. Cattle baron brother sends bad guys to get him out. Wayne is helped only by the recovering drunk Dude (Martin), an aging deputy with a bad leg (Brennan), a very young gunslinger (Nelson), a somewhat crazy chick (Dickinson) and a Mexican hotel owner with a funny way of talking. Oh, and Wayne totes a Winchester Saddle Ring Carbine everywhere he goes. Kookie.

    By the way, you get a free song too, a duet with Dino and Ricky Nelson. Whoever thought they’d sing together?

    2alarmchiliFood & Booze: Whisky. Just Whisky. Or Beer. This is what cowboys drink in the movies. No one really eats anything so why not try an easy chili recipe. There’s this thing out there called Wick Fowler’s “2-Alarm Chili Kit”. It won the 1967 Texas Chili Cook-off and has everything in it you need to make a really good chili except beef, beans and stewed tomatoes. Just follow the directions and you can’t miss. I first used this stuff back in 1987 to make Chili for a Halloween party while watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre II, a really bad movie that had the cannibalistic characters making – you guessed it – chili, with human meat. Funny, huh? Here’s the trailer for Rio Bravo…

    -Tiki Chris P. reporting from the Last Chance Saloon, in an oasis somewhere in the middle of cowboy-days Florida

  • Matt Helm in The Silencers, 1966 – Mod Movie Monday at Tiki Lounge Talk

    Posted on April 26th, 2010 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 5 comments

    Matt Helm, The Silencers 1966

    Matt Helm, The Silencers 1966

    First, I’d like to thank the team at GOOGLE for helping with a potential attack. They identified a possible hacking threat, notified me immediately, removed my site from their search listings to protect others (you) very quickly. As soon as I was able to make sure the site was clean the re-instated my search engine rankings within a few days. Thanks Google!

    The Silencers starring Dean Martin as Matt Helm, Daliah Lavi and  Stella Stevens.

    Watch out, Derek Flint. Move over Austin Powers. And take a back seat, James Bond – Matt Helm is on the case!

    When the cold war was at its peak and spy thrillers were taking the place of westerns and war movies, America answered the 007 call with a few good men – one of the best being Matt Helm, a suave, lady-loving swinger who could catch the bad guys, snap some great photos and make love to the girl in the same scene.

    This series of movies gives us a fantabulous peak at the styles, cars, furnishing and hot chicks of the swingin’ ’60s. The movies are combination thriller-comedies, with the main lean towards funny. With Dean Martin at the helm (as Helm), you get that groovin’ mix of humor, sex appeal and crooning.

    Stella Stevens and Dean Martin

    Stella Stevens and Dean Martin

    This particular flick, one of my favorites, features a 1960s beauty named Daliah Lavi who’s got the right curves in the right places and a sexy accent that will make you melt. Stella Stevens drops in with her crazy figure too. And there’s an all-too-short cameo by the beautiful Cid Charise, dancing her way through a sultry nightclub scene (she sings too, but apparently it’s not her voice – she’s dubbed by a then very young Vicky Carr.)

    While 007 sported an Aston-Martin, Matt Helm had himself a good, solid American car – a 1965 Mercury Parklane Station Wagon – of course his was modified somewhat by Chuck Barris…The car now resides at the Volo Hollywood Car Museum in Volo, Illinois. Leave it to Dean Martin to make a station wagon kool, huh?

    matt-helm-mercury-wagonmovimatt-helm-65-mercury-w1matt-helm-65-mercury-wagon

    Since Dino’s favorite drink was the Martini, set yourself up with a pitcher before the show starts. Martin also loved Italian cuisine, so go with that for your dinner and a movie. Maybe a nice Penne ala Vodka with grilled chicken and zucchini. And make sure you watch it with someone who looks like Stella Stevens, you know, for full effect.

    -Tiki Chris reporting from behind the Tiki Bar.
    Tiki Lounge Talk – The Tiki Culture blog for Retro Kats & Swingin’ Kittens

  • Ocean’s 11, 1960: Mod Movie Mondays at the Tiki Bar Blog

    Posted on December 28th, 2009 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 5 comments

    mod-movie-mondays

    What better way to ring in the New Year than with the greatest New Year’s Eve movie to ever hit the silver screen,
    Ocean’s 11, the first (and quintessential) Rat-Pack flick.

    The characters in this movie define cocktail-era cool better than anyone…and they should, as Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr, Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop practically invented the essence of mid-century coolness, and pretty much play themselves in this liquor-soaked tale.oceans-eleven

    Enter Danny Ocean, the cocky, live-for-the-moment cat who gets a crazy idea in his head to get his old army buddies together to knock-over five Vegas Strip casinos for fun and profit. Using his charm, he talks his (otherwise mostly straight-up) pals into embarking on this rather ballsy scheme. They make the plan over billards and drinks, and make ready to pull it off on New Year’s Eve at the stroke of midnight. I won’t give any more away, in case you ain’t seen it for yourself as of yet.

    Here’s some Trivia (More here at IMDB):

    This flick combines the best the cocktail era has to offer: On-location shots of Vegas, plus cool cars, lots of booze, broads, and songs by Martin and Davis. (But funny enough, not Sinatra)

    ratpack1The Rat Pack shot the film in Vegas while working on-stage at the Sands. They scheduled the shoots around the stage shows, and often worked into the wee small hours filming.

    It is rumored that when Peter Lawford brought the idea to Sinatra, Ole Blue Eyes said, “Forget the movie, let’s pull the job!”

    Shirley McClaine ad-libbed her entire cameo. Her payment was a new car.

    Vegas ‘law’ at the time mandated African Americans could not stay in the major hotels. When they tried to make Sammy Davis Jr. stay at a “colored only” motel, Frank stepped in and strong-armed the casino into letting him stay there. This pretty much led to the end of segregation in Vegas Hotels.ratpack-sands

    Dean Martin’s movie version of “Ain’t That a Kick in The Head” , featuring Red Norvo on vibes, was much different (but just as cool) as the swingin’ big band version released on vinyl.

    PS: For those of you who are thinking of the remake with George Clooney and Brad Pitt…Hey, I think Clooney is just great…but he ain’t no Sinatra. See the original.

  • Frank, Dean & Ella at the Cal-Neva Lodge, 1963

    Posted on December 9th, 2009 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 10 comments

    Bar Napkin, 1963, signed by Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Ella FitzgeraldRing-A-Ding Ding, Baby!

    This marks the 150th Post since  I started Tiki Lounge Conversations back in April…

    and I wanted to do something special. So, to commemorate our 150th post-a-versary, I’ve decided to share a drink, a story, and a very special bar napikin.

    The Drink.

    The first booze I ever tasted was Scotch. My old man let me try some of his Cutty Sark on the rocks at a Christmas party wen I was 12. It was a little strong for me at the time, but I knew when I was old enough to really start enjoying whiskey, Scotch would be it. I wasn’t wrong. When I was old enough to dig it, Scotch became my #1 choice.When I finally got my own joint and was able to built my first Tiki Bar, along with the rum and the Midori and the Kaluha sat a bottle of 12 year old Chivis.

    The first bottle of booze I ever bought at a liquor store was Chivas Regal. This particular bottle is from 1955. The Gold nugget next to it is a chunk of fool's gold my old man dug up in the Nevada desert in 1963.

    The first bottle of booze I ever bought at a liquor store was Chivas Regal. This particular bottle is from 1955. The Gold nugget next to it is a chunk of fool's gold my old man dug up in the Nevada desert in 1963.

    In 1991 I had the good fortune to see the Chairman of the Board himself perform at the Spectrum in Philly for his 75th Birthday Diamond Jubilee tour. Steve and Edie opened for him…and half way through his set, he said “I’d like to thank my two best friends for being with me tonight…Mr. Chivas and Mr. Regal.” He then took a drink of the 12 year old Scotch from a platform onstage, and continued the show. Chivas-Regal sponsored the tour…and got me to try their booze. Today, Chivas is in my top five favorites. If it’s good enough for Frank, it’s good enough for me.

    Momentos from my old man's trip to Vegas, 1963

    Momentos from my old man's trip to Vegas, 1963

    The Story.

    In 1963, before he met my mother and while he was still free enough to do his own thing, my father took a trip on a whim to see his cousins in California. On the way he stopped in Vegas, and hit all the hot spots of the time…The Golden Nugget, The Sahara, and of course, the StarDust Hotel. He rented a Hertz and drove up to Tahoe, and made his way to the Cal-Neva Lodge, then owned by Frank Sinatra himself. He stayed a while, and continued on his trip to CA.

    42 years later, a couple of years after his death, I was going through some of his photos and heirlooms. I found an envelope with a letter requesting a Hertz rental car in Nevada from 1963, and a folded up napkin with some blue smudges on it.

    The Napkin.

    Our Rat Pack Wall in the Dining Room

    Our Rat Pack Wall in the Dining Room

    I opened it up, and immediately recognized the smudge as the name “Ella Fitzgerald”. (That opened my head to a memory of him telling me he had met some celebrities in Vegas…but I was so young when he told me, I didn’t (yet) know who these people were. ) When I flipped this napkin over, imagine my surprise when I saw very clearly two more names…’Frank’, and ‘Dean’.

    calnevaCall it dumb, call it funny, but it’s better than even money that these are the quickly scrawled sigs of Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, scribbled while having a slug at the bar in Frank’s place, the Cal-Neva, probably after a show, along with the slightly nicer sig of Ella, who was probably sitting right there with them. I don’t have any way to authenticate this, and I’m not paying anyone to do it…for all I know my old man could have gotten the bartender to autograph the napkin as a joke, but I don’t think that’s the case. I think I’ve got a little magic here, a couple of autographs from a couple of guys who loved to entertain, and loved to hang out in the bar with their fans, have a drink, and share a few laughs in the days when celebrities could get away with it without being stalked. A very special napkin, from a very special person, who met some other very special people in his long and krazy life.

    So that’s post number 150. I couldn’t think of a better way to do it than with a drink at the Tiki Bar, an story from the past and a salute to the Chairman of the Board.

    Mahalos to all you kats & kittens  for tuning in to Tiki Lounge Talk For 150 Posts!

    sinatrapix