Musical Monday: Jazz Boat (1960)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 600. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

This week’s musical:
Jazz Boat (1960) – Musical #641

Columbia Pictures

Ken Hughes

Anthony Newley, Anne Aubrey, Lionel Jeffries, David Lodge, Bernie Winters, James Booth, Joyce Blair, Leo McKern
Themselves: Ted Heath and his Music, Jean Philippe

Bert (Newley) brags to Spider (Booth) and his gang that he is an experienced jewel burglar. He’s not, but he gets mixed up in the gang’s jewel heist. After the robbery, he tries to outrun the gang, and they all end up on the jazz boat.

• The boat featured in the film was the Royal Sovereign.
• Only feature film appearance of Ted Heath and His Music.

Notable Songs:
• “Oui, Oui, Oui, Oui” performed by Jean Philippe
• “Someone To Love” performed by Anthony Newley

Newly and the gang trying to crack a safe.

My review:
When I saw the film name “Jazz Boat” (1960), I pictured something bright with people singing and dancing on a boat. I think I had in mind something similar to the American beach films but in England.

What is supposed to be a “musical comedy” seemed to be more of a crime drama and occasionally the teens sing and dance about how they are causing trouble. The film mainly is about a jewel heist that Anthony Newley’s character stupidly gets himself involved in. There is very little boat riding.

The film is more a British “Rebel Without a Cause”- like teen rebels who sing occasionally. It also made me think of “West Side Story” (which had already been on Broadway, the West End and had a Broadway revival by this time) with the rough cop trying to straighten out hoodlums.

I especially thought of “West Side Story” when Spider and his gang were walking through the streets singing “Take it Easy (But Take It)” as they walk through the streets, causing trouble and messing up street merchant carts.

Though this film has enough songs to be a musical, much of the music comes from dance clubs. The songs that are performed, have a pop standard/echoy sound to them. For example, as Anthony Newley walks along the beach singing, he sounds like he could be playing from a radio.

Truthfully, I didn’t think this film was very good, and it was difficult to get through. I didn’t see it at all as a comedy. The gang is pretty brutal, including the leader slashing a girl across the cheek. There is one scene that made me chuckle at the end, but that’s about it. This definitely wasn’t the happy-go-lucky film I thought I was getting in to.

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