TOP 10 ’60s STARLET MOVIES: THE PLEASURE SEEKERS
The Pleasure Seekers (1964)
Starlets: Ann-Margret, Carol Lynley, Pamela Tiffin. Bit roles: Shelby Grant, Irene Tsu, Warrene Ott.
Along with Come Fly with Me, The Pleasure Seekers is the other three-girls-out-to-trap-themselves-a-man movie I can watch over and over. Basically a rehash of 1954’s Three Coins in the Fountain from the same director, Jean Negulesco, but with the locale shifted fromRome toSpain with musical interludes added provided by Ann-Margret. For me is by far more entertaining than the original. No surprise as I prefer those 60s starlets over the 50s version any day. The movie follows the typical pattern where girls get boys, girls lose boys, and girls get boys again for a happy ending. But here it is just so well done with gorgeous gals and handsome guys in front of beautiful Spanish scenery accompanied by a bouncy Oscar-nominated musical score.
Ann-Margret is Fran a struggling fiery red-haired singer/dancer who falls for a darkly handsome poor-but-proud doctor named Andres (Andre Lawrence). Carol Lynley is Maggie the pouty blonde newspaper secretary who moons over her married boss, editor Paul Barton (Brian Keith), while ignoring the comforting charms of playboy reporter Pete McCoy (Gardner McKay). He has a different girl every night including Irene Tsu and Warrene Ott. Pamela Tiffin is the sultry dark-haired Susie Higgins, the naïve virgin newly arrived inSpainwho becomes the prey of wealthy Casanova Emilio Lacayo (Tony Franciosa). With guidance from Fran and Maggie (Emilio’s former lover) she thinks she can out fox him and get him to the altar without tumbling into bed with him first. The gals share a huge three-bedroom apartment across from amorous neighbor Vito Scotti who (in the film’s running joke) is forever trying to catch a glimpse of them as they parade around the apartment in baby doll pajamas or even less.
The Pleasure Seekers is beautifully filmed on location all over Spain from Madrid to Barcelona to Toledo. They even got special permission to shoot at the Museo del Prado. All three actresses are first-rate. Nobody during this time could play doe-eyed innocence with a touch of humor better than Pamela Tiffin. She looks simply stunning and for me gives the film’s standout performance. As a confident Susie told Maggie after arriving from America, “I know everything about Spain but Spanish” thinking she can stay one step ahead of the cheating Emilio. But naïve Susie is no match for the conniving womanizer—or is she? The scene where she goes to meet his mother after his fake proposal and learns she is the first to have fallen for his lie and gone this far is very touching. Isabel Elsom (recreating her role from Three Coins in the Fountain) is a simply grand as she delivers the cruel honest truth about her ”cad” of a son while he stands there in shame with a new girl waiting for him in his car.
Carol Lynley as the conflicted good girl fighting the feelings for her wedded boss surprisingly has two standout scenes—one over-the-top camp and the other quite humorous. Paul takes Maggie to a party where a number of married men go with their girlfriends. They are trailed by his wife Jane (Gene Tierney) who corners Maggie in the ladies room where they have it out over Paul. Jane threatens that all Maggie would get is a sleazy love nest, while Maggie blames Paul’s wandering eye due to Jane’s disinterest in him. It ends with Jane slapping Maggie and calling her “a little tramp.” Pete comes to Maggie’s rescue and they go get drunk. Carol is very amusing here as she rehashes the night and says, “she called me a little tramp.”
Ann-Margret is saddled with the least interesting story, though she and the broodingly handsome Andre Lawrence are the most attractive of the couples. No wonder they are the only ones to have sex in the movie. Ann-Margret also peppers up the film with some truly entertaining musical numbers. She sings the catchy title tune in a tight form-fitting lavender gown at a party and sings “Everything Makes Music When You’re in Love” on the beach accompanied by Lawrence whose singing voice is not bad.
If you are in the mood for light entertainment featuring three of the top starlets of the 1960s, I truly recommend you “seek the pleasure seekers.” The Fox Movie Channel airs it regularly wide-screened.
George Chakiris was originally announced for the role of Andres and James Darren for the role of Pete, but they dropped out.
Dina Merrill was set to play Jane, but shooting delays inHollywoodforced her to give up the role due to a commitment inEurope.
Hedda Hopper reported that Ann-Margret played Diva and at one point refused to pose with Carol Lynley and Pamela Tiffin for any more publicity photos.
The Pleasure Seekers was set for a late January 1965 release. Due to a law suit filed by Notre Dame regarding the movie John Goldfarb, Please Come Home preventing 20th Century-Fox from releasing it, they needed a replacement. The Pleasure Seekers was chosen and snuck into some medium-to-small cities during the last week of December 1964 without any promotion.
Pamela Tiffin in my book Fantasy Femmes of Sixties Cinema recalls that it was not all pleasure while pleasure seeking:
“Making The Pleasure Seekers was strange. Nobody connected with anyone. When working people are very competitive or are only after money, it is agony to work with them because they bring their hang-ups to the set. I tried to make friends with Ann-Margret and Carol Lynley. But I think both of them at that time weren’t interested in friendship with another woman. Carol was especially reserved and aloof. In retrospect, I recall that she just had a baby and therefore was entitled to be private. I don’t know what Gardner McKay’s problem was but he didn’t talk to any of us. Tony Franciosa was very hostile–especially to Jean Negulesco. During a car scene, he got mad at Negulesco and drove off with me in the car. He drove for over two hours at break-neck speed out ofToledo,Spain. I thought he was going to kill us both! During another scene, Negulesco wanted Tony to change his tie. He took Negulesco, who had to be near 70, by the neck and threatened him. Brian Keith though was very nice and I never spoke with Gene Tierney because I was in such awe of her.”