Wednesday, March 4, 2009

How About A Little Hand???

Film critic Leonard Maltin describes "The Boys In The Band", one of the first openly-marketed gay films released as a major motion picture as " an excellent filmization of Mart Crowley's landmark play about nine men at a birthday party; eight are gay, the ninth insists he's not ... often hilarious, frequently sad, but always thought provoking, and sensationally acted by the original stage cast." (He gave the film 3 1/2 stars.) Other critics called it revolutionary for its time, portraying gays in a realistic light for the first time before a mass audience.
Having never seen the movie, I can't really comment any further ... but in 1970, a song called "(How 'Bout A Little Hand for) The Boys In The Band" ... by a band CALLED The Boys In The Band ... started making its way up the pop charts. Naturally, I assumed at the time that THIS must be the title song from this hot new film I'd been hearing so much about.

Incredibly, despite the timing, I later learned that the song was NOT from the film of the same name ... but instead came from a movie called "The Phynx" ... which Maltin describes as "A BOMB!!!" (An online movie review refers to it as an "all-star celebrity bomb of epic proportions".)

The premise of THIS motion picture was (what Maltin describes as) "a way-off-base satire about a rock group recruited to spy behind the Iron Curtain ... and the kidnapping of America's pop-culture heroes." As such, the film features cameos by such noted American icons as Ed Sullivan, Richard Pryor, James Brown, Huntz Hall, Guy Lombardo, Joe Louis, Johnny Weissmuller, Colonel Sanders, Ruby Keeler, Xavier Cugat, Dick Clark, George Jessel, Rudy Vallee and many, many others.

The artists on the record (recording as The Boys In The Band) were under the direction of Herman Lewis Griffin, who assembled a band of studio musicians and singers to complete the soundtrack. Griffin holds the distinction of recording the very first song held by Berry Gordy's Jobette Publishing Company. And that's not his only tie to Motown ... he was also married to Mary Wells.

The Boys In The Band ... by The Boys In The Band ... went to #41 on the Cash Box Chart ... but was a Top 20 Hit here in Chicago.