Friday, November 29, 2013

Harper Valley P.T.A. (1978)

Directors: Richard C. Bennett, Ralph Senesky

Writers: George Edwards, Barry Schneider

Composer: Nelson Riddle

Starring: Barbara Eden, Ronny Cox, Nanette Fabray, Louis Nye, Audrey Christie, Ron Masak, John Fiedler, Susan Swift, Pat Paulsen, Bob Hastings, Fay DeWitt, J.J. Barry, Royce D. Applegate, Irene Yah-Ling Sun, Clint Howard

More info: IMDb

Tagline:  The song was scandalous. The movie is hilarious!

Plot: Stella Johnson is a single mother living in the town of Harper Valley. Now most of the townspeople, particularly on the PTA board, think that she is a little too liberal and liberated for them, so they are making things tough for her and her daughter. When the PTA board threaten to have her daughter expelled unless Stella changes her ways, she decides to get back at them by first exposing all their hidden secrets and then pulling all sorts of humiliating pranks on them. When she decides to run for the position of PTA President, they are really infuriated and try to stop her any way they can.

My rating: 5/10

Will I watch it again? The committee says no.

If you remember the popular country tune this film is based on then you know the story.  It's far from hilarious as the tagline suggests.  Surprise.  I don't think I laughed once.  It's kind of cheap in the way it feels like a TV movie or TV show which is funny because as I'm writing this I notice that this is one of two films directed by George Edwards.  Everything else he did was in television.  The music is cheap.  I'm shocked that Nelson Riddle is responsible.  He should know better.  If you weren't sick of the song made popular by Jeannie C. Riley before watching this then you will be after.  It's the opening and closing song but you also hear the tune far too much during the film and it's disgusting how much this picture is soaked in it.  I know the movie exists because of the song but it gets old.  Barbara Eden is fun but most of the performances are over the top and often annoying. I don't think I laughed once.

Who would ever think that horseshit would have its own credit?

But for me there is a bright side that I will never forget.  In 1978 my family went to the drive-in theater.  My parents saw this and they made my sister and I watch CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND (1977).  They were watching P.T.A. on the screen behind us.  They told us to keep our eyes forward and not watch P.T.A. because it's for the adults.  Well naturally that's an invitation to disobey orders and so we did.  The only scene I remember was the one with the pink elephants.  Everything else I recall is from watching CEOTTK (what a wonderful experience it was, too).  I'm pretty certain that this wasn't the first time I saw it but it's the one I remember most.  I loved it (CEOTTK, that is) and I loved that it was at the drive-in, sitting in those cheap, fold up nylon-weaved chairs.  Wow.  35 years ago...

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