Thursday, August 26, 2010
THE YOUNG SWINGERS
This movie opens with everyone in a club, The Vanguard, twisting to a jazz band....YES, you read that correct...a jazz band. After the credits for The Young Swingers, we get to the main plot point about a business woman (Jo Helton) wanting to close down the club in order to build a high rise building. The club is run as a co-op and is just barely making money, one of the members even states "I don't dig profits". Which brings up another point, there is a lot of "hipster jive" talk near the first of The Young Swingers, but it quickly falls away as the movie progresses. During this sequence of the movie we get our first song when The Sherwoods (Karen Gunderson of The New Christy Minstrels and John Merritt) sing "Elijah"
Molly Bee is the niece of the business woman and her 21st birthday is coming up soon. Rod Lauren comes to the house to reason with the aunt, but she has gone away on a business trip, instead he finds himself talking to Molly. Rod and Molly have a small argument and he gets in a huff and leaves. Back at the club we get our next performance when Gene McDaniels sings "Mad Mad Mad" backed by a small jazz combo.
Molly brings a date, Jerry Summers, with her to the club, but when he finds out it's basically a coffeehouse, Jerry says "What is this, one of those hootenanny joints?" He wants Molly to leave and she doesn't want to go. This results in a fight between him and Rod and Jerry winds up leaving Molly behind. We get our next performance, which is a stand up comedy act by Jack Larson (not the same one from the Superman TV series). He not only does some comedy, but also sings a surfing song, "Watusi Surfer" that includes impressions.
Molly's aunt has the power turned off to the club and when the lights go out everyone in the club leaves, except Molly. While Rod is closing things up, Molly turns on a portable radio and sings along with "Come A-Runnin". Rod hears Molly and tells her she has a great voice and Molly replies "It's Not Mine". This will make sense a little later in the movie. In the meantime Molly's aunt is still trying, with the help of her lawyer, to get the club closed. Nothing seems to work and during this sequence we flash back to the club where Rod sings "I Can't Get You Out of My Heart".
Rod comes to see Molly at her house and finds out that her mother, who was a singer, was on a USO tour when she was killed in a plane crash along with Molly's father. This is why Molly said earlier that Rod wasn't hearing her voice, but her mothers'. Her aunt hears this and it softens her heart a little bit, but not enough to cancel Molly's birthday party when she finds that Molly has invited everyone from the club.
Molly is fed up with her aunt and, since Molly has turned 21 and can do as she pleases, she leaves home and joins the rest of the gang at the club. The aunt decides to go to the club to check things out for herself. First up are The Sherwoods singing "Greenback Dollar", but they sing "don't give a hmmmm for a greenback dollar" instead of "don't give a damn for a greenback dollar". Molly then sings a Rod McKuen song "You Pass Me By". When her aunt hears how much Molly sounds like her mother, her heart of stone finally breaks.
Unfortunately the club burns down due to some faulty wiring and Molly blames her aunt, but it is quickly revealed that it was faulty wiring and her aunt is also getting the co-op a new club. Everyone's happy and the birthday party is back on where Gene McDaniels sings "Voice on the Mountain" and The Sherwoods once again sing the hmmmm version of "Greenback Dollar" (guess they only knew two songs!!). The movie closes out with everyone twisting to the same song ("Come To The Party") we heard at the first of the movie.
It looks like the makers of The Young Swingers tried to appeal to a lot of different musical tastes. The poster makes it appear that The Young Swingers is a hootenanny movie (like Hootenanny Hoot, which was released the same year), but there's only two folk songs in the movie, both sung by The Sherwoods. Molly Bee who had recently been appearing on The Tennessee Ernie Ford Show and The Jimmy Dean Show does NOT sing country songs in the film, instead she sings a couple of pop tunes. Rod Lauren, probably best known for his appearance in the cult film The Crawling Hand, had a minor hit in 1960 with "If I Had a Girl" and sings one teen lounge type number (that's the only way I know to describe it). Gene McDaniels best known for his hit "100 Pounds of Clay" instead of doing his hit song, does a couple of light jazz tunes. Then we also have the inclusion of stand-up comedy with Jack Larson, plus having the twist open and close the movie.
Having so many different elements in the movie didn't give it any clear focus and with its weak plot I can't imagine anyone liking this movie very much. Besides the Molly Bee performances, the best thing I could say about The Young Swingers is that it was short (71 minutes). I will give The Young Swingers props for showing that a woman could be as tough a business person as any man, and for including Gene McDaniels as just one of the gang without any references to the fact that he was the only black actor/performer amongst the rest of the white cast.
You can find Molly Bee singing her two songs from the film on youtube - "Come A-Runnin" (whoever posted the song mis-identified it as Snap My Fingers) and "Till You Pass Me By".