Lord Love a Duck
So Roddy McDowall is this 38-year-old high school student at a soulless new school run by a wildly overacting Harvey Corman … George Axelrod obviously had been watching films from “Mods and Rockers” London in the Swingin’ ‘60s, in particular two films by Richard Lester: A Hard Day’s Night and The Knack … and How to Get It. He attempts here to emulate in B&W the disjointed, quick-cutting, off-the-wall style that would later lead most film and rock critics to name Lester as the father of the music video. He has indifferent success. He begins, during the opening credits, by showing scenes from every part of the movie to come, sometimes speeded up, all accompanied by the anthem song of the movie, a little bubble-gum tune with the same title, sung by some cut-rate Beach Boys. The movie sets out to satirize modern education and beach party movies, and drive-in churches (yes, there really were such things, maybe still are in Southern California) and lots of other stuff along the way. There are funny scenes, but in the middle of the picture it has a long stretch of sad stuff that seems imported from another movie, and just doesn’t fit in at all. McDowall is sometimes great, and sometimes insufferable as a boy genius and probable psychotic who takes a witless girl (Tuesday Weld) under his wing, Svengali-like, and sets out to get her anything her empty little head desires. Craziness is seen as a good thing in movies like this, but for a better example see another ‘60s movie, Morgan. I do recall that I loved the anarchic style when it was new, but it is wildly uneven, and the best I can say for it is that it has its moments.