Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Warner Bros has released a boxed DVD set called The Romance Classics Collection featuring Parrish (1961, Susan Slade (1961), Palm Springs Weekend (1963), and Rome Adventure (1963). All your favorite Warner Bros. Sixties contract players are on hand including Troy Donahue, Connie Stevens, Suzanne Pleshette, Ty Hardin, Diane McBain, and Robert Conrad.
Of course I just love these cheesy flicks. They were a staple of ABC’s 4:30 Movie that aired in New York during the Seventies. Though they were broadcast in truncated versions with commercials galore, for 90 minutes I was engrossed as dreamy Troy Donahue who starred in all four films romanced some of the prettiest girls in Hollywood. My favorites are Rome Adventure as tourist Suzanne Pleshette vies for the affections of the blonde pretty boy with worldly Angie Dickinson in the Eternal City while a lush musical score accompanies their travelogue romance and Parrish where slutty Connie Stevens, rich bitch Diane McBain, and good girl Sharon Hugueny all go gaga over Claudette Colbert’s tobacco farmer son Troy. Guess who wins his heart at the end?
Recalling Parrish in my book Fantasy Femmes of Sixties Cinema, Diane McBain says:
“I like Parrish. It was fun to do. I played my first movie bad girl in this film and it typed me almost forever. Troy Donahue was a star at that time and that’s what they wanted. Troy and I got along very well. He’s a good guy. Perhaps Connie Stevens and I should have been rivals but we were friendly. We had known each other from when I was working at the Glenville Center Theatre when I was doing a play. She was dating one of the actors I was working with. She was pretty feisty and let the studio know when she was unhappy about things. I was one of those folks who liked to go along. I didn’t like to fight. I just wanted to work.”
“This was Claudette Colbert’s swan song in the film business. I’m sure she wanted to make a good impression. I was a novice actress. Even though I had done some things in television, I still was quite green. I didn’t sleep a wink the night before the first day of shooting. When it came time for me to say my lines I just froze. I couldn’t remember any of the lines I learned. In all honesty, I ruined the scene. It was pure terror for me. Colbert and the director got very upset with me. I think she looked upon me with some sort of disdain. I was very aware that she was not happy and she had every right to be unhappy. I swore that I would never let that happen again. And I haven’t. It was the only time.”