Cauliflower Cupids (1970) Poster

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Amateur night vanity production
lor_29 November 2011
Not unlike the impulse that created the loosey-goosey Rat Pack movies (see: OCEAN'S 11, SERGEANTS 3), Peter Savage concocted this lame comedy vehicle spotlighting himself and pals from the boxing world, notably Jake LaMotta and Rocky Graziano. Result, finally made public 36 years after by Something Weird, is somewhat embarrassing.

Wearing many hats including writer and director (his co-director is a "Hollywood Squares" TV guy, Jerome Shaw), Savage does best in the acting department. Obviously in a decently budgeted picture the role could have gone to Dino or if ethnically neutral, a James Coburn, but Savage still manages to suggest a self-assured gangster type. Downside is the film seems to be ALL about him, even when a star like Jane Russell appears on screen.

Rather convoluted plot has him fighting off rival gangsters out to take over his minor empire (led by soft porn icon Lucky Kargo, surprisingly effective here), with his six boxing champ buddies coming to his aid. These kibitzers are mainly photographed on a very cheap set for their hangout, which looks like some unfinished concoction with fake walls in the corner of a studio -severely underdressed, and dragging the film down disastrously to home-movie level.

His buxom daughter has been humping a young guy Savage doesn't approve of, and guy's aunt (Jane Russell) is not keen on the shotgun marriage Savage proposes after the kid becomes pregnant. Russell's problem is with preserving a potential inheritance from her creepy ancestor.

Film goes off the rails with a tedious and unconvincing (on many levels and with all sorts of loose ends) subplot wherein Savage makes a deal with the old coot and impersonates him, to fool Russell and the other potential family heirs. It's very poorly directed and very badly acted.

Most of the action concerns the slapstick antics of the boxers and the gangsters, staged crudely with dumb sound effects, speeded-up motion and other gimmickry. What might be acceptable or even campy in a true amateur home-movie (say, Ray Dennis Steckler's early backyard short films), is hard to take in a real movie -it becomes painfully obvious why this film never achieved theatrical distribution or TV syndication.

Russell gives a pro performance, though in one telltale semi-nude (PG-level) scene of Savage pawing her in bed (hardly as romantic as intended) he covers up her entire face with his hand, to presumably disguise the use of a double for Jane. More prominently featured is Meri Carsey Welles as a moll memorably named "Nookie North" -her glamor and comic timing hardly merited a mere one-shot career.
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