Leslie Parrish (right) toasts Tom Ewell and Sheree North in Frank Tashlin's elusive "The Lieutenant Wore Skirts," airing on the Fox Channel this monthThe incomparable Frank Tashlin (1913-1972) began his professional life as a cartoonist/animator and when he branched out and started working with humans, he animated them, too. Hilariously so. And he brought a cartoonish quality to the one subject that connects most of his films.
It was the 1950s and the Playboy philosophy was just beginning its reign of terror - and Tashlin's wide-screen comedies exposed the era's accepted penchant for leering (the filmmaker essentially fetishized it) for what it was. Junevile and unattractive and funny as hell.
The Fox Movie Channel unearths two of Tashlin's forgotten treasures this month, starting with two screenings of 1956's "The Lieutenant Wore Skirts" scheduled for 14 August at 9:30a.m. and 30 August at 9:30 a.m. Tom Ewell plays his patented creepy middle-aged, middle-class wolf inexplicably married to a military babe - the wonderful Sheree North - and much of the film is about his relentless ploys to get her discharged. The film is as unstable as its noxious hero, wildly incorrect and guiltily pleasurable in spite of itself.
Tuesday and Terry, together at last, in Tashlin's antic "Bachelor Flat," also on Fox this monthFox also dusts off Tashlin's 1962 farce, "Bachelor Flat," for two screenings this month - 17 August at 2 p.m. (preceded at noon by Tashlin's "The Girl Can't Help It") and 29 August at 6 a.m. Terry-Thomas is in prime form here as displaced Britisher, a professorial paleontologist who teaches in in alien Southern California and who is wildly attractive to women - an inadvertent ladies men whose life comes to consist of colliding females.
Tashlin's here also cast includes Celeste Holm (as T-T's fiancée), and Tuesday Weld and Richard Beymer who had starrred two years earlier for Blake Edwards in another breezy Fox comedy, "High Time" (1960), all in the above photo/left.
And speaking of Tashlin, too few of his breezy comedies from the the 1950s and early '60s have made it to home entertainment in any form. Sure, it's relatively easy to see his two Jayne Mansfield flicks, "Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?" and "The Girl Can't Help It," and "Artists and Models" (1955), with Martin and Lewis and Shirley MacLaine. But what about the many others? Aside from "The Lieutenant Wore Skirts" and "Bachelor Flat," also missing are "Susan Slept Here" (1954) with Dick Powell and Debbie Reynolds; "Say One for Me" (1959), again with Debbie Reynolds, this time with Bing Crosby and Robert Wagner, and "The Man from the Diner's Club" (1963) with Danny Kaye and Cara Williams.
Release them, I say!