NO BANGING THOSE DRUMS SLOWLY
Being interviewed on camera next week for a documentary about 60s starlet Susan Oliver so catching up on some of her movies. Just watched The Gene Krupa Story (1959) for the first time. Sal Mineo gives his usual intense performance as the legendary drummer who hits the big time only to be taken down by a drug charge (yikes who put those reefers in my coat!?!). Most impressive for me was Mineo’s skills with the drums. He apes Krupa’s style almost flawlessly and when he wails on those drums it is mesmerizing.
I really liked James Darren in this playing Gene’s good friend and on-and-off bandmate. Darren is strikingly handsome and has a nice guy charm perfect for the part. Seeing a very young Yvonne “Batgirl” Craig play a teenage tart is fun, as is Susan Oliver as a glamorous pot pushing torch singer who leads Krupa down into the gutter. She is trouble in a tight evening gown. When Gene needs her to help prove the charges false, this singing canary flies the coop. Oliver could play good and bad very convincingly, but her turning down a studio contract and her desire to act on Broadway seems to have stopped her from getting roles that went to Shirley Knight and Diane McBain, and later to Yvette Mimieux.
Only actor that disappoints was the blah Susan Kohner. But to be fair she had the least interesting role as the good dependable girlfriend who steps aside so her man can enjoy his success and then reappears to help him get big again. Overall a good entertaining bio pic except that the fashions to me looked late 1950s, but think it was supposed to be 1930s/1940s. This is long way from the sleazy Who Killed Teddy Bear? but even in this, Mineo sports a tight crotch you can’t help be drawn to. Think he and Jon Hamm have something in common. LOL