Looking Backward: Never Too Late (1965)

19 May
Never Too Late (1965)

Mercifully, Paul Ford does NOT say “Not one poop out of you” in this one.

Let me commence by saying I’m a lover of the froth of decades not my own, not because it’s particularly entertaining to me on the level it’s asking for, but because what played as comedy in an age is, I think, an underappreciated…not bellwether, exactly – they seldom lead the flock – but certainly a gauge of the times. Enjoy the surfboard silliness of Gidget and Where The Boys Are if you like, but please let me love them for their awkward attempts to both report a youth culture and dictate a morality for it at the same time. With groovy Connie Francis songs.

Never Too Late skews much older (hence the name) but is still hitting the same notes, sans Connie Francis. Connie Stevens will have to suffice (and lovely though she was, the peignoir she tries to seduce Jim Hutton in is a little…Norma Zimmer). I’m not going to pretend this is some lost gem ripe for reconsideration. You can find the jokes intellectually (that sounds condescending and implies I never laughed, and I did), but many of them probably landed fairly well in their day but are now a little quaint (“people have sex!” is a major and repeated theme here. It’s not quite as saucy now.) My pleasure comes less from the jokes and more from the details.

"Two more Pink Ladies."

“Two more Pink Ladies.”

Pink Ladies, for example. By 1965, they were already an unmanly punchline. I should say in their defense that they used to be a noble drink. The original recipe, I have it on good authority (Dr. Cocktail), was pretty sturdy: gin, applejack, lemon, egg white and grenadine. When did it slip into disrepute and lose its power? Well, before 1965, anyway. Maybe no one else was wondering, but I ‘m always looking for clues.

The reason I was intrigued to begin with, the reason I wanted to see this, was Paul Ford, he of Bilko and River City. I now reiterate my fascination with secondary character actors in primary roles. Paul Ford isn’t any different here than he is in smaller parts, but he’s a solid hitter in his range. It’s a pleasure to see a non-traditional romantic focus, too (cf. yesterday’s post on The Solid Gold Cadillac, another community theatre staple of yore).

This would, it occurs to me, make a fine double feature with a popular film from the following year: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? An older couple, a younger couple, much fooferah about the former’s kid…maybe after enough Pink Ladies this will happen some night…

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