3 September 2004 | Poseidon-3
On the Beach -a- Go-Go
This unusual, way-out, black comedy about the destruction of humanity via nuclear weapons is like a surreal, gay dream. Filmed in 1967, it takes place in the near future of 1972. Courtenay and Blakley are flying a plane containing two nuclear bombs and an additional radioactive weapon that's contained in an impenetrable box. When the plane begins to crash, they offload the weapons, per their orders, and abandon the plane themselves. They wash ashore on a partially uninhabited Greek island in (inexplicably) just their underwear and have trouble coming up with a reasonable excuse they can give the villagers. Meanwhile, Wanamaker already believes them dead and amasses a team of soldiers to descend on the island and retrieve the lost weaponry. In order to keep suspicion down, they arrive in sportswear and present themselves as hotel builders. However, the sportswear is so hilariously fruity and since there are no women in their party, Courtenay and Blakley assume that they're a band of homosexuals! Adding to the confusion are a goatherd and his wife who have taken the boxed weapon to their hut and are trying every means they can think of to open it, believing it to have gold inside. Eventually, with all the interest on the part of the "hoteliers", swarms of tourists swoop down on the island and practically take it over. Then, when relics are discovered, archaeologists head there, too! It is here that Bergen makes her long-awaited appearance. She sets her sights on one of the disguised soldiers (Ogilvy) and complicates matters even more with her excavation equipment. The whole film is a comedy of errors as characters continuously misinterpret one another and nearly miss connecting with each other. The ending is abrupt, to say the least. but at last the title makes sense. Courtenay and Blakley make a truly odd duck pair and their Mutt 'n Jeff routine is only sporadically amusing, if at all. Fans of theirs owe it to themselves to see this, though, as they parade around for most of the film in the flimsiest of white briefs, especially Courtenay's almost thong-like undies! Wanamaker is forceful and displays quite a fit body of his own. His team of men wears the most bizarre and hallucinatory clothing imaginable. Nearly all of them are drop-dead gorgeous and their clothes are built to show off their assets as much as possible (trunks and clamdiggers with pieces cut out, impossibly snug crotches, shirts with mesh fronts, et al...) Bergen has a surprisingly brief role, but she does impress with her stunning looks. Never more tan or blonde, her clothes make the most of her youthful body as well and she gives the film a lift with her energy (even if her acting hadn't fully taken root yet.) Though the film is rather patchy and confusing at times (the cast wasn't even allowed to know the plot!), there is a story at work here and some thought given to the evils of greed, dominance, militarism, materialism, etc... It just isn't as coherent as one might like. The primary appeal is the chance to see Bergen at her loveliest, the frenetic dancing of the tourists, the wacky costumes of virtually everyone and the fleet of healthy men in various stages of undress.