Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, July 23, 2015


Alan Arkin (left) as a young calypso singer
CALYPSO HEAT WAVE (1957). Director: Fred F. Sears. Produced by Sam Katzman.

Mack Adams (Paul Langton of The Big Knife) is head of a record company whose primary artist is Johnny Conroy (Johnny Desmond). Sleazy Barney Pearl (Michael Granger) tries to insert himself into Adams' business even as Pearl's girlfriend, Mona (Meg Myles) gets herself a hit record thanks to Adams' assistant, Alex (Joel Grey). Meanwhile Johnny walks out on this new hybrid company and takes off to the West Indies -- can Mack and his secretary Marti (Merry Anders of The Hypnotic Eye) convince him to come back and save the company? Calypso Heat Wave has a slender plot that employs the talents of Columbia recording artists, including Maya Angelou in her pre-poetess days, an all-black group called the Treniers, and a romantic trio known (confusingly) as the Tarriers, for whom a young Alan Arkin is the lead singer -- and he's not bad. If that weren't enough we have Pierre Watkin as the lawyer Thornwall, and Darla Hood (of The Bat and "Our Gang" comedies fame) singing a duet with Johnny but having no real role or dialogue. Desmond is a charismatic performer who manages in some numbers to crediby do the Calypso with a Caucasian twist, although in other numbers he comes off a little hokey. Angelou, known as "Miss Calypso," gets two numbers and is effective, while Meg Myles does a nice job with the catchy "Treat Me Like a Lady." Of the actors, Langton, Grey [Cabaret] and Myles make the best impression. That same year director Sears came out with the zesty The Giant Claw.

Verdict: Some genuine and Hollywoodized Calypso music and that's about it. **.

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