VINTAGE CABLE BOX: “The Rosebud Beach Hotel”

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“Booze is alright for the younger generation. But when you arrive at the twilight of life, there’s nothing like a hit from some good shit to mellow you out!”

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“The Rosebud Beach Hotel”, 1984 (Peter Scolari), Almi Pictures

I can’t help but feel for Peter Scolari, a gifted actor and spokesman, a natural comedian and entertainer. Scolari was the other half of the Bosom Buddies, a television sitcom that ran for two seasons on ABC, between 1982 and 1984. The show was obstensibly about two guys, best friends, who dress up as woman so they can afford the cheap rent in an apartment exclusively tailored for women. Kip (Tom Hanks) is uh … crazy about the blonde, and Henry, the writer of the duo, thinks this experience will make a great book. I loved the show, but more importantly I loved the chemistry of the two leads. We all know what happened to Mr. Hanks, but Scolari’s career took a different turn.

Scolari continued to work in television, as Michael on the popular Newhart from 1984 to 1990. During that time, he appeared in the occasional movie; “The Rosebud Beach Hotel” among them. Here he plays Elliot, the uptight fiancé to Colleen Camp’s prim Tracy. Camp’s father, played for roughly five minutes, by Christopher Lee, gives Elliot a managerial position at a hotel he owns in Florida, but he has a plan up his sleeve to destroy the hotel and collect the insurance money. There seems to be no reason for Lee’s action, other than that his business is failing, however when we first see the hotel, it is brimming with activity and clientele. The screenplay takes one too many shortcuts when it comes to explaining character motivation, and the whole thing plays like an extended episode of Three’s Company.

Next comes a subplot where, for absolutely no reason whatsoever, Camp suspects Scolari of having an affair with Playboy model Monique Gabrielle. Meanwhile Camp is being seduced into having an affair of her own. Mix in a lot of gratuitous nudity, the Currie sisters – Marie and Cherie, and their rock music tendencies, and you’ve got something that makes even less sense than when it started. I feel like the movie was shot in a couple of hours. The producers promised a party and turned on their cameras when everybody arrived. The photography is terrible. I’ve never seen a beach photographed so unattractively. This movie makes me want to stay home.

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Colleen Camp is usually a dependable actress, but in this movie, she is absolutely terrible. Her “acting” consists of feigning surprise, lots of eye-rolling, and a ridiculously affected accent. I wondered if it was her fault or that of the director, Harry Hurwitz. She was much better in “Smokey and the Bandit, Part 3”. This is another example of a movie that I enjoyed as a kid, but now look at and believe to be terrible. I believe that’s three so far, if you’re keeping track. The movie had four writers, for crying out loud, but the script plays like a 14-page coloring book (with nudity)!

The cast includes Fran Drescher (“Doctor Detroit”), Eddie Deezen (every nerd/geek from every eighties movie ever made, including “WarGames”), Chuck McCann (“They Went That-A-Way & That-A-Way” – another personal favorite of mine), and Hamilton Camp (“Twice Upon a Time”). Unbelievable to have a cast of all these funny, talented people and I didn’t laugh once. Not once.

Our first cable box was a non-descript metal contraption with a rotary dial and unlimited potential (with no brand name – weird). We flipped it on, and the first thing we noticed was that the reception was crystal-clear; no ghosting, no snow, no fuzzy images. We had the premium package: HBO, Cinemax, The Movie Channel, MTV, Nickelodeon, CNN, The Disney Channel, and the local network affiliates. About $25-$30 a month.  Each week (and sometimes twice a week!), “Vintage Cable Box” explores the wonderful world of premium Cable TV of the early eighties. 

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