SNL Season 1 Episode 18 [1976)

When you set the time machine to 1976, it’s a pleasant buzz to come face to…face with Raquel Welch.

What…rather, who could sum up that time quite like her?

Her feathered hair.  Her overly-tanned (golden?) skin.  Her bellbottom jeans.

There’s something fizzy about the experience.

A starlet now faded.  A human sequin.

I previously wrote about Welch’s 1967 film Fathom.

Aside from base titillation, it’s a pretty lame affair.

But here on Saturday Night Live she gets to show a bit more of her talent.

Not much more.  A bit more.

For instance, Raquel sings on this episode.

The monologue-substitute with John Belushi as Joe Cocker is pretty fantastic.

It’s a comedy piece.

Later, Welch actually does share the rarefied air which Marilyn Monroe breathed when she sang “Happy Birthday” for JFK.

I’m speaking of Raquel’s rendition of the Gershwin tune “It Ain’t Necessarily So”.  Few microphone techniques can be said to carry such sexual import as Welch’s on this number.

And the subject matter…for God’s sake!

It ain’t Sportin’ Life from Porgy and Bess.

No.

It’s Raquel singing, “The things that you’re liable/to hear in the Bible”…[what a rhyme!]…”It ain’t necessarily so.”

So.  You get the picture.

Welch is steamy as a Manhattan manhole cover in winter.

One particularly great sequence involves Welch as Jane Russell on the set of The Outlaw (1943).  Dan Aykroyd plays Howard Hughes.  It is pretty priceless!

Aykroyd is also great in the sequence about applying the metric system to the English alphabet (the Decabet).

What’s bad about this great blast from the past?

Phoebe Snow.

I really don’t want to hate on this lady, but it’s a combination of snoozerville and overly-precious musicianship masquerading as talent.

Snow has that horribly indiscreet application of wide vibrato which always irks the bejesus out of me.

And the songs…for christsake!  “Two-Fisted Love”?!?  Are you fuckin’ kidding me?  How does an MOR artist do a song like “Two-Fisted Love” with a straight face.

And so Phoebe Snow is godawful here.  It bears mentioning because (for some [un]mysterious reason) she was back on the show for a second time [here] in season one.

But let’s dish some more.  John Sebastian also sucks on this episode.  Trying to cash in on his Welcome Back, Kotter theme song.

Likewise, somebody in charge of sound for this episode adds to the lameness of Sebastian’s performance.  Or, from another perspective, the only good thing about John Sebastian’s performance here is his microphone feeding back during his aborted intro.

Ok, there.  I’ve let them both have it.  Snow and Sebastian.

What else is good about this episode?

Let’s end on a high note.

Lorne Michaels’ solicitation of The Beatles (for a whopping $3000) is goddamned brilliant.

Ok.  So there you have it.  Oh…and Belushi as the high-strung meteorologist during Weekend Update is damned good as well.

Cheerio!

 

-PD

Diamonds Are Forever [1971)

Goodbye Connery.  Barring an unlikely return to the character after the age of 84, this would seem to be the last of the Eon Productions’ series of Bond films to feature the original actor.  I am holding out hope that Connery will team up with fellow octogenarian Jean-Luc Godard and make the 007 picture to end all 007 pictures.  No doubt, it would be a disjointed masterpiece and would deflate the mythical secret agent that Connery grew so tired of playing.  But I’m not holding my breath on the odds.

What we do have is a brilliant movie.  While it’s true that Connery would once more act as Bond in Never Say Never Again, his run in the canon in some ways ends here.  I, for one, think he left on a truly high note.

Jill St. John and Lana Wood are both gorgeous in this film.  Kudos to casting 🙂

Willard Whyte (a thinly-veiled depiction of Howard Hughes) was actually made possible by Mr. Hughes himself.  Howard was friends with producer Albert Broccoli.  Hughes’ pull certainly came in handy for the location-filming in Vegas.

Speaking of pull…Sidney (the socks make the man) Korshak has his imprint on this film in several ways.  I would imagine his assistance in Las Vegas was immeasurable.  He also just so happened to represent St. John.  What luck! 😉

Some viewers might give pause (variously) at the first appearance of Plenty O’Toole (Wood).  She does make quite a splash.

Guy Hamilton did another fine job as director (previously doing Goldfinger in the series).  Seems Hrundi V. Bakshi was “on set” during the oil rig scene.  And though the explosives went off prematurely, there were a couple of cameras rolling. (whew)

How can one object to a film that basically starts with the actual Miss World 1953 being strangled topless with her own bikini?  Yes, it was a “bit part” for Denise Perrier, but pithy.  Pity about the PG version.

Students of architecture will appreciate the Slumber Mortuary with its lozenge-shaped stained-glass window.  Good taste is timeless.

And phooey regarding continuity!  Car on two wheels passenger side entering the alley?  Car on two wheels driver’s side exiting the alley?  That is the mystery of cinema.  Throw in some jump-cuts and you have Breathless. 🙂

 

-PD