Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Girl in Gold Boots (1968) - MST3K Review


Summary:

Michele (Leslie McRae) was born to dance. When Buz (Tom Pace) meets her, he offers to take her to Los Angeles to meet his sister Joanie (Bara Byrnes), who can make Michele into a star. Since her life is going no where as a waitress, she joins him. Along the way they meet Critter Jones (Jody Daniels) a free spirit with a guitar and a gentle attitude. But Los Angeles changes everything. Michele may be a star, but her boss is an oily drug lord. Buz, who was on a criminal path to begin with, joins right in with his own caper. Only poor Critter sees the danger, but his love for Michele may not be enough to save her. You see, the lure of drugs, bongos and oily men may be enough for this "Girl in Gold Boots".

Movie Review:

What you've got here is a movie that tells your typical rise to stardom story in a very 1968 kinda way. On an interesting side note, this movie has an almost identical plot to the infamous "Showgirls" of 1995. Girl wants to dance. Girl gets to dance. Dancing nearly destroys here. Girl meets good guy. They escape. The big difference (aside from the fashion and slang) would be the budget. "Showgirls" was multi-million dollar mess. "Girl in Gold Boots" has a much smaller budget and at least it can use that as an excuse.

The basic story isn't bad, not original, but not bad. It's just all the little strange touches that pop up. Buz is the main issue here. When we meet him, he seems like the dangerous rebel type. I think we're supposed to like him - not sure really since Mr. Pace plays him like a jerk the whole time. I think Buz is a mini story - of a corruptible character brought low. Michele is the opposite, all naive and full of joy and then turned onto the dark path, before she is rescued by Critter. The trick is Buz and his story take up a lot of screen time. He gets involved in a caper late in the film and we get to see all of it. What this has to do with Michele's story is beyond me. It affects her in an indirect way, but there is no need to show the planning of the caper and the execution. Buz isn't the love interest, he's just this odd third character that gets too much screen time for his plot importance.

Critter would have been a better focal point, but he's not that interesting. He gets to sing some songs while strumming on guitar. He gets to fall in love with Michele. And he gets to say all kinds of silly/meaningful dialogue. But in the end we don't get to know him too well. His big revelation, that he is a draft dodger, may have been included to add a bit of bad boy to his role. But it only makes him look like a putz. So Michele can pick Critter the putz, or Buz the sociopathic loser. Um... yeah.

Michele doesn't come across as the brightest bulb in the box. Part of it is McRae's acting, but the role is pretty badly written as well. Michele is supposed to naive, but she acts more like a very young child, than a sheltered young woman. Her interaction with oily sleazy Leo (Mark Herron) just seals the deal. This guy just looks like trouble, and when he talks and oozes up to her, you just know he's up to no good. But Michele buys right into his lines. If she's that dumb, it's hard to feel sorry for her fate. Oh and I don't want to sound rude, but McRae isn't a very good dancer, so its really hard to buy that she is the star attraction anywhere.

There are a lot of songs in this movie, and most of them have a typical sound of the late 60's. You've got a mix of Beatles-sequel sound, Go-go music for the dancing sequences, bongo playing, and of course the folksy ballads courtesy of Critter. None of them are god awful, but most are non-descript. Some provide some unintentional laughs at the odd lyric combinations.

Mostly there are the odd sequences such as the whole dune buggy on the beach scene. I think it's supposed to show how much fun Buz, Critter and Michele are having on their journey, but it occurs so suddenly and is so odd that you can't help but laugh. Later Michele smokes a joint at a party and does a very strange little dance to a bongo player's rhythm. The whole party sequence is bizarre and well worth seeing. Then there is the Haunted House club. It's got a monster behind the stage that shoots smoke from his nostrils and has glowing eyes. There are bats, skeletons and all kinds of crazy things all over the place. It's hilarious and kinda kitschy all at the same time. I doubt any performance here would catapult anyone to the big time. At least it's more realistic than Club Scum from "Hobgoblins". And finally there is the scene where Bara Byrnes has a huge breakdown and screams, "I want my pretty mind back!" A great acting moment in the MST3K cannon.

Episode review:

With this episode Sci-Fi Channel finally loosened the restriction on the type of movies that MST3K could tackle. And so they went to a genre that had served them well in the past - teens in peril. Much like The Beatniks, I Accuse My Parents or Kitten with a Whip, this type of movie has plenty of good material to riff on, and it offers a nice break from the constant sci-fi/horror/fantasy output of the past couple years. It also gives us songs that Mike and bots can improvise with.

This is one of my favorite episodes of this season. There is so much good material here that it really makes me wish that Sci-fi had let them attack this kind of film earlier. From our opening moments in the restaurant known as "Eat", to the grand finale with Critter and Michele rocking out on the beach before he is shipped off to Vietnam there are plenty of laughs. Buz and his delinquent tendencies provide all kinds of opportunities. Tom Pace looks to be in his mid 30's, yet people keep calling him "young man" or "kid". In addition he has a peculiar accent that the guys keep mocking. Every time Buz is on screen, there's lots of comedy - especially the whole "elf" moment.

Between Critter's goofy songs and Michele's attempts at dancing, it's hard to say which is funnier. Aside from the afore mentioned party scene, Michele graces us with several dances at the club. Combined with the hit song "Girl in Gold Boots" and her back up dancers - well it's a sight to behold; one that the movie shows you about three different times. I guess they were proud. Then there is the hilarious scene where Critter sings a love ballad while images of Michele appear behind him. Mike and the bots use it to the full advantage offering commentary by Michele's ghostly floating head.

Then there's Leo and his gangsters and the whole caper plot. Wow, the amount of oily sleaze on display here is pretty impressive. Lots of great riffs on Leo's whole demeanor and his 60's slang. And when he shares the screen with Buz, well it's comedy gold really. From top to bottom, the movie provides solid laughs and more than a few fall down funny comments.

The host segments are pretty funny as well. The show starts with Crow answering the question, "What would Buffy St. Marie Do?" Pearl then reveals that she's not a fully accredited mad scientist. An inspector is sent to verify her insanity - this results in electric shocks and a latex hump. The first break has Crow reenacting Buz's confrontation with the bikers. Mike gets to play the biker. The next break, and this time Crow is inspired to dance like the women in the movie. Mike is visibly disturbed. For the next break Mike is inspired and sings a folksy love song - just like Critter. And this causes the disembodied head of Crow to appear over his shoulder. When the film concludes Mike and the bots are all dressed like oily sleazy Leo. Pearl's experiment is considered a failure until Observer appears... I can't say much more other than this segment shows just how far the crew at Best Brains will go to make you laugh. Bill Corbett, you are a brave man.

With that said, this is an easy episode to recommend, especially if you enjoy these types of films. MST3K often had a blast with teens in peril flicks, and it was nice to have one more before the show ended it's run. Not a big surprise that it turned into one of the best episodes of season ten.

I give it five gold boots out of five... but then again, I'm just a child.

This episode is available in Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection Volume 4.

No comments:

Post a Comment