Friday, June 22, 2007

Ann-Margret in one of our favorite mind-bending moments: The Swinger (from the old Funhouse blog)

One of the items I received the most comments about in the first few years of the Funhouse access show was my presentation of this lovely sequence from George Sidney’s insanely over-the-top Ann-Margret vehicle The Swinger (1966). In this scene, Annie serves as a “human paintbrush” – years before she rolled in the mud, chocolate and beans in Tommy. The reason she does it in the plot is to freak out Hefneresque publisher Tony Franciosa, but we all know the real reason it showed up in the film was that: a.) Ann was a wild woman, the very model of every swingin’ go-go babe who came after her in the 1960s (that goes for you, Nancy S.), and director Sidney appears to have had a massive infatuation with his absolutely gorgeous young three-time star (their other collaborations were Bye Bye Birdie, where Annie sings to the camera, and Viva Las Vegas, where she sings to Elvis, but winds up looking straight at lucky us all the time). The scene became the subject of a Playboy photo layout — which studied Ann’s body a bit more than even Sidney could’ve — and was copied endlessly in the years that followed. It’s the closest that mainstream Hollywood came to the excesses of Russ Meyer, before they invited Russ himself into the asylum. The film has yet to hit DVD, so you’ll have to wait for it to roll around again on TCM (it’s not one of their primary studios, so figure it will surface on an A-M birthday celebration). What else can I say but “enjoy!”

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