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  3 Nuts in Search of a Bolt Hot TomatoBuy this film here.
Year: 1964
Director: Tommy Noonan
Stars: Mamie Van Doren, Tommy Noonan, Ziva Rodann, Paul Gilbert, John Cronin, Howard Koch, T.C. Jones, Charles Irving, Alvy Moore, Marjorie Bennett, Arthur Gould-Porter, Patrick O'Moore, Jennie Lee, Jimmy Cross, Curt Mercer, Richard Normoyle
Genre: Comedy, Trash
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: Saxie Symbol (Mamie Van Doren) has a dilemma and has gone to the labour exchange to do something about it. Stripping is her stock in trade so whenever she is running low on funds she turns to taking her clothes off in public to make ends meet, but the whole experience has made her hate men when what she would really like to do is find a nice guy and settle down. To that end, she asks the official at the desk if he knows of anyone who could fill a position for her, but he doesn't know anyone suitable - then, as luck would have it, standing next to her is Tommy Noonan (as himself?), who is looking for acting work. Perfect, thinks Saxie...

What she wants him to do is pose as a psychiatric patient, but not only for herself, nope, she lives with two men, Paul Gilbert and John Cronin, who wish for Tommy to pose as a patient for them as well. The logic, if you could call it that, goes like this: if he takes all three of their mental issues to a single psychiatrist (Ziva Rodann) then they will save a fortune on her fees, seeing as how they all chip in to pay for one session. The problem with that is that while Tommy relates all these problems to the shrink, she believes he is telling her about himself, not three separate people and as a result is convinced she has struck psychological gold.

The reason for that is the popularity of the book and film of the supposedly real life case The Three Faces of Eve, adapted with Joanne Woodward a few years before, and evidently as Noonan posed as producer, writer and director as well as star he was satisfied this would make perfect viewing for an adults only comedy. He had already made one of those the previous year with Promises, Promises, creating vehicles for his own comedic talents now that the Hollywood producers were no longer knocking on his door, and that had featured Jayne Mansfield in a nude scene as its chief selling point, so how to follow her?

What about another blonde bombshell who had made her name in the nineteen-fifties, but was finding the sixties not so easy to adapt to? Yes, Mamie was that star, and like friendly rival Jayne was featured in a peek-a-boo sequence of nudity to bring in the (male) punters, this time in a bath of beer (?!) which barely covered her assets. Along with that was a stripping scene of a burlesque act (Noonan had paid his dues in that form of variety as an up-and-coming comedian), and these scenes were notable for being filmed in colour whereas the rest of the material was in black and white, why, it was almost as if the jack of all trades director had seen what he had ended up with and decided to shoot more footage in colour to add some audience interest to what was otherwise pretty shoddy.

The plot was not much that would not have passed muster for one of the sillier sitcoms of the sixties, so stretched out to nearly ninety minutes the strain showed well before the end. While Noonan was professional enough as a performer, in other respects you could understand why his efforts at the helm of his own movies were never going to be considered undiscovered gems. What he did have in his favour was the presence of his leading ladies, and Van Doren here was worth a million dollars of the budget this plainly didn't have, her character claiming to hate clothes and therefore parading around in bikinis and underwear. She was obviously under no illusions about why she had been hired, and her career was going about the same direction as Noonan's, but she was a genuine ray of sunshine here and made it worth watching for her fans. Alas, Tommy did not have much longer to live, but Mamie proved herself a true showbiz survivor, either because or in spite of stuff like this. Music by Phil Moody (she sings the theme tune).
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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