Amazing Good/Bad Old Movie Alert: The Cool Ones

Categories: Film

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If the 1967 "classic" The Cool Ones ever pops up again on TCM, please do Mama a favor and watch it.

This one had my kind of "good/badness" written all over it, and when I finally checked it out, it totally delivered, man.

A spoof of the '60s music biz, it centers on a girl (played by bland blonde Debbie Watson) who freaks out on a Hullabaloo-style TV show and does a tantrum dance that unexpectedly starts a phenomenon.

Her boyfriend is a sliding pop star (played by bland blonde Gil Peterson) and the hotsty-totsy music producer in purple is portrayed by the unapologetically fruity Roddy McDowall, who shows off a cute little body when he strips down to purple shorts.

Most memorable of all is Mrs. Miller, who made a sensation at the time as a middle-aged lady who sang pop standards in squawking operatic tones, becoming sort of the original Susan Boyle meets William Hung.

Mrs. Miller makes her screen debut in the film as the ingeniously named Mrs. Miller, a seamstress who's catapulted to the spotlight.

It's also her film swansong, it turns out.

Mrs. Miller can barely enunciate her lines -- half the time you're wondering, "What the fuck did she just say?" -- but when she finally steps up and belts "It's Magic" in a wobbly coloratura, it's, well, magic.

Other interesting points:

*The film was directed by Gene Nelson, who went on to be the original Buddy in Follies. And it co-stars George Furth, who later wrote the book for Company. So this weird little curio was an unwitting meeting ground for future Sondheim brilliance.

*Also, Nancy Sinatra was supposed to play the lead, but backed out. Nancy would have been WAY better than Watson, and at least she later recorded some of the Lee Hazlewood tunes written for this film (like the poignant "This Town").

*What's more, Glen Campbell makes his film debut here, and Teri Garr pops up as a dancing cutie. And the number in which bar patrons spaz to the beat (and off the beat) is worthy of Fosse. Plus there are hallucinogenic montages, a number on a ski lift, and rock covers of classics like "Birth of the Blues."

So check it out! It's cool!


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Mrs. Miller

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19 comments
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Barkley
Barkley

Taped it back in the 80s from cable.  They also had a midnight screening at The Waverly (whatever it's called now, IFC) last year.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig

Gee - the complete movie of "Cool Hand Luke" is available on YouTube, but "The Cool Ones" is not.

Melinda9
Melinda9

Good bad movies are the best kind of movies. Thanks for this post; I hope to see it someday soon.

MarilynLastman
MarilynLastman

You forgot to mention that Peterson was the model for the Ken Doll.

Musto
Musto

Do you have any proof of that? It's not in his bio at all, nor anywhere I can find online. One commenter on imdb said he "surely the model for the Ken doll," but that was clearly said with tongue in cheek.

Savannah Montgomery
Savannah Montgomery

damn...Netflix doesn't have it...and thanks everyone for clearing up my understandable confusion!

Musto
Musto

This Mrs. Miller is different from the lady in the Merv audience. This one became a hit by singing wobbly operatic versions of hits like "Downtown" on The Ed Sullivan Show.

Both Mrs. Millers are genius.

Musto
Musto

Correction: As someone else pointed out, the Merv lady was Miss Miller. Anyway, both Miller ladies were genius.

Rob in Philly
Rob in Philly

As long as there is not a Ms. Miller

Rabbit
Rabbit

Sorry - I was trying to be funny and meant to sign it "Ms Miller"

AndrewMilner
AndrewMilner

They also do a '60s go-go version of Cole Porter's "Just One of Those Things"! 

Rabbit
Rabbit

Sounds like a winner. Speaking of Roddy, I found it curious that when the Biography channel did his episode some years ago, there was absolutely no mention of his ever having had a relationship with anyone. The subject didn't come up at all  - in a one-hour biography!

Davore
Davore

It's true, Roddy was never hitched to a girl, whether in film or in life. A weird fruit.

Panini
Panini

I LOVE MRS. MILLER!!!! I didn't know she made a movie!!!

Savannah Montgomery
Savannah Montgomery

me neither...I just knew her as the "super-fan" of the Merv Griffin show where she always had a front row seat.

AndrewMilner
AndrewMilner

No, that was MISS Miller. Two different women.

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