The Cool Ones (1967) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

The Cool Ones (1967)

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Danny INDIFFERENTFrom the opening two minutes of 1967's The Cool Ones, you should know exactly what you're getting. The first minute is a handsome blond man singing to a swooning crowd of women an upbeat song, and partway through one verse we cut to a teeny bopper brunette belting out the same song to a pair of tepidly amused television executives.

The song that these two share is the titular "The Cool Ones," and here is the first verse:

Here come the cool ones!
They set the pace around here
Here come the cool ones!
They lead the race around here
They know just where it's at
And where it's going to!

If it hasn't struck you by now, this is not a very deep movie. By the time the opening credits have finished rolling, Cliff Donner has become a laughingstock after his "Hits Songs of the '40's" has tanked, and he's reduced to playing in cheesy nightclubs under an assumed name.

Meanwhile, Hallie finds that the executives won't give her a shot singing on their musical variety show, "Whiz Bam," without a record contract in hand. Miffed beyond belief, she uses her spot as a background dancer to steal the microphone from the next act to perform her own version of the song. The wacky spasms she has while fighting for the mic ignite the audience, who awake from their passive glaze and begin to dance along with her.

The producers freak out and fire Hallie-- which she's completely astonished by this for some reason-- and soon she finds herself in a nightclub and adoring Cliff. He tells her that he saw her on "Whiz Bam" (that name gets no less silly the more I type it out) and that her spasms has inspired a new dance craze-- The Tantrum.

Hallie falls easily for Cliff but Cliff, having already been chewed up and spit out by the music business, is reluctant to take her on as a singing partner until a mad kid genius of the music world shows up. Now normally in a film if Roddy McDowall shows up sans ape makeup, you know you're in trouble, but here his turn as the wunderkind genius is played with enough maddening glee it's almost easy to forget just how utterly silly much of this enterprise is.

Like most of the Elvis flicks from around this time period, you'd have to have a lot of contempt for the youth culture to make a movie like this. The main characters are temperamental idiots beloved by even more incomprehensible teenagers. The adults are mostly conniving jerks, but more sympathetic and intelligent than the manic/depressive gangs of anglos who wander aimlessly between songs.

The songs are mostly upbeat, with a soulful ballad or two saved for the melodramatic lulls. The twists and turns of Cliff and Hallie's romance is hardly as interesting as a few of the tunes, most with inane lyrics like "Higher and higher and higher than high! We are the sky!" Yeah, there's no deeper meaning there.

If you like cheesy 60's pop that barely skirts the edges of relevance or just want to see Roddy McDowall have a ball, then I have no reason not to recommend this movie to you. If you expect anything else, you probably want to look elsewhere.

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The Cool Ones (1967)

This film (IMDB) is available for purchase from The Video

Directed by Gene Nelson
Starring Roddy McDowall, Debbie Watson, and Gil Peterson

Posted by Danny

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  1. Just saw the movie for the first time and it confirmed the value of my crush on Debbie Watson from the 60’s. Any chance of a larger version of that lovely bikini shot? Thanks.

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