snapshot: Date Bait (1960)

US / 72 minutes / bw / Marathon, Filmgroup Dir & Pr: O’Dale Ireland Scr: Robert Slaven, Ethelmae Wilson Page Story: O’Dale Ireland, Robert Slaven, Ethelmae Wilson Page Cine: Larry Raimond Cast: Gary Clarke, Marla Ryan, Richard Gering, Carol Dawne, Jon Lindon, Gabe De Lutri (i.e., John Garwood), Michael Bachus, Mildred Miller, Steve Ihnat.

A rock’n’roll exploitationer that’s light on the exploitation—unless the sight of baby doll pajamas floats your boat—and indeed on the rock’n’roll (despite Reggie Perkins singing the title song, “Date Bait,” and Johnny Faire singing “Purple Pleated Bermuda’s” [sic]), yet works rather well as a minor, borderline film noir.

Teenagers Danny Logan (Clarke) and Sue Randall (Ryan) are so in love you can practically hear them squeak when they walk. They hang out and dance at the burger’n’jive joint Sanchio Pancho’s (I know, but that seems to be the intended spelling), which is where all the cool kids in this particular Nowheresville USA go of a Saturday night.

Gary Clarke as Danny Logan.

Trouble is, Sue had a couple of dates a while back with obsessive junkie Brad Martinelli (Gering). There’s even a hint that she let Brad go beyond the first base that’s still a distant dream for Danny, but Danny don’t care: he loves her anyway.

Marla Ryan as Sue Randall.

Other trouble is, though Brad was hauled off six months ago for detox, he’s now back in town and as psycho as ever. And he’s so pissed he can hardly get his longpants on that Sue’s now seeing Danny, and dancing with him.

Not just dancing.

The pair go to lakeside barbecues at which teenagers cavort in swimming cozzies, eat potato salad, spend time snogging and even—pass the smelling salts—play bongos!

Richard Gering as Brad Martinelli.

Sue loves Danny because he woos her with words. Poetic-like. Shakespeare wouldn’t eat his heart out, but he might take the odd note or two:

Danny: “Woooooooow! You look sharp!”

You want more trouble?

John Garwood as Nico Martinelli.

Brad’s big brother Nico (Garwood), a drug dealer for whom Brad acts as delivery boy, is even more psycho than Brad is. And Nico thinks the best way to solve little brother Brad’s romantic difficulty is to beat the shit out of Danny.

Oh, wait. Yet more trouble.

Sue’s father, bank-manager-type J.G. Randall (Bachus), hates Danny because he (J.G.) is an asshole and he reckons Danny isn’t good enough for Sue.

Did anyone here ever watch the great sitcom Soap (1977–81)?

Just wondering.

Luckily Danny and Sue have their best friends Freda Porter (Dawne) and her boyfriend, Slats (Lindon), who’re prepared to cover up for them—and even, in Slats’s case, take a beating for them, when Nico and sidekick Tony (uncredited), resembling nothing more than a pair of Men in Black, go violently bananas on learning that Danny and Sue have run off to Vegas to get a quick hitcheroo.

Carol Dawne as Freda and Jon Lindon as Slats.

There are questions the soul of America might want to ask itself on watching this movie. Questions such as: Does old man Randall love bogus respectability more than he loves his daughter?

But maybe that’s asking the soul of America too much.

We are but human.

Kiddo.

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6 thoughts on “snapshot: Date Bait (1960)

  1. I was initially turned off the thought of this film by its use of apostrophes. But I’ve always been attracted to films that don’t seem very good, and if I ever come across it, I know I won’t be able to help myself.

    • It’s use of apostasy’s? Good heaven’s!

      Like you, I’m attracted to movies that are, shall we say, “differently good” — if for no other reason than that, sometimes, they have hidden qualities. This was one of those: pretty dreadful, but I couldn’t help grudgingly liking it.

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