December 22, 2005

Come Blow Your Horn (part 1 of 3)

Playwright Neil Simon's first hit was Come Blow Your Horn (1961). It was soon followed by the romantic comedy Barefoot in the Park.

Come Blow Your Horn would be the first Neil Simon play made into a film. It was released on June 5, 1963.

Frank Sinatra, applying the method he'd used with his albums where he would try to switch-up the prevailing mood from album to album (a swingin' one, then a suicidal one, a swingin' one, then a suicidal one), was looking for an upbeat, comedic film project after having just completed the dark, psychological thriller The Manchurian Candidate.

Come Blow Your Horn obviously appealed to him, for whatever reason. Possibly, what he saw in the play was a story he could alter to more closely fit his image as a middle-aged swinger/playboy.

  • Synopsis of the play (pre-Sinatra involvement):

  • The owner of the largest artificial fruit business on the east coast's 21 year old son develops an urge to assert himself.

    You can see the makings of Brighton Beach Memoirs or Lost in Yonkers, Simon's more autobiographical works, in just the locale alone. The "21 year old son" could very well be a first draft of the Eugene Jerome character at the center of Memoirs.

  • Synopsis of the screenplay (post-Sinatra involvement):

  • Alan, a cad of a bachelor from a middle-class family, lives the high life in a luxurious penthouse in Manhattan, with plenty of pretty girls at his disposal. His gaudy and extravagant lifestyle is a constant worry to his Old World Jewish parents. However, Alan has a close relationship with his younger brother Buddy, who comes to live with him. Soon Buddy learns exactly how Alan is able to maintain his expensive apartment and clothes habit.

    No, Alan is not a pimp, but he does have lots of bitches. Guess which part Sinatra plays?

    Hire Norman Lear to do the screenplay and Bud Yorkin to direct, and you've got yourself a pretty cheesy, cornball bag of tricks, even by 1963-era standards of cinematic quality. I love it because you see Sinatra in the final days of his full out swinger mode. He would turn 50 just two years later, so I think he was living it up while he still could.

    Our first glimpse of 47 year old Sinatra as 35 year old playboy Alan Baker, having just arrived home from a fabulous, swingin' ski weekend. Sinatra (in an orange ski jacket, of course) is accompanied by ski bunny Peggy John (Jill St. John). Sinatra began a brief affair with St. John during this time, even having his private jet fly her to and from his singing engagements. They would appear together again four years later in Tony Rome.

    Cheek-grabbing is a motif Simon uses throughout the film to symbolize man's frustration with his inability to control things around him. Kidding. I'm not sure why there's so much of that, as you'll see.

    Like any professional playboy, Alan (Sinatra) plies his potential conquest with booze, and lots of it. Koo-koo.

    Do you think Jill St. John gets a commission from the sales of all those inflatable sex dolls?

    Hooray for booze!

    People used to wonder what Frank Sinatra played when he was trying to romance a dame.

    Why, Frank Sinatra, of course!

    Alas, younger bro, Buddy, calls, and the spell is temporarily broken.

    WARNING: Booze may adversely affect the reflexes of hunter.

    Here we see the prey fully put to use its only effective defense, boobies.

    The hunter is completely thrown off and momentarily distracted.

    Here I've attempted a subtle guide to help the viewer truly appreciate what they are seeing.

    That's a great little scene, and it was used in this promotional spot for Come Blow Your Horn.

    Ski bunny, Peggy, exits just as little brother, Buddy, arrives.

  • Part 2 of 3.

    f said...

    Digged the movie! Love that bachelor pad! I think you also might like the Matt Helm films with Dean Martin. You probably know them already. The Ambushers and The Silencers.

    Chris said...

    Oh yeah! Those are great relics of that era. Awful films by most standards, but fun to watch, especially if you like Dino.

    Anonymous said...

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