The Lost Films of Ginger Grant
Noted film actress lost somewhere in the Pacific Ocean in 1964, Ginger Grant made more than 20 films before her mysterious disappearance. While popular in their day, most, like “Belly Dancers From Bali-Bali” (1960), “Housewives From Mars” (1960), “The Rain Dancers of Rango-Rango” (1961), “The Cowgirl and Pistol Pete” (1961), and an unauthorized sequel to a popular movie, “Vocalizing in the Clouds” (1962), were thought lost for eternity until workable prints were discovered in a foreclosure sale of the Meadowlark Lemon estate.
Painstakingly restored to their original splendor in either Technicolor, Magicolor, Wonderama, Quadravision or Videoscope, each film portrays a stunning beauty of her day (1961’s Miss Hourglass — so named for having sand in all the right places!) at the height of her acting prowess. Four of this Titian bombshell’s films have been released by Criterion as a box set, with such special features as Ms. Grant’s original screen test for “Standing Cow: Daughter of Sitting Bull,” commentary by her agent, the legendary Colonel Roscoe “Bullets” Parker and a tribute song composed and performed acoustically by serious actress Evangeline Lilly.
THE HULA GIRL AND THE FULLBACK (1962)
Tagline: The Girls! The Grass! The Cyclical Monotony of Everyday Life!
Director: Sidney Lumet
Edmund…. Conrad Conway
Moki Kaimana…Richard Wang
Chief Kaimana….Irving Schwartz
Plot: A fateful, heart-rending day in the life if a family of Irish immigrants at their ocean-side home on the island of O’ahu. Edmund, former all-American football star for the Wakamba Warriors, suffers from a mysterious wasting disease and has a penchant for intellectualized drinking and binge poetry. His older brother Jamie recklessly spends his money on whiskey, whores and poi. When Susie, a high school student on the hula squad, sneaks into the beach house to “score” with the legendary collegiate short-pass record holder, hijinks and sorrow ensue. Matters are further complicated when family matriarch Mary, much to the dismay of Edmund and Jamie, offends Chief Kaimana at the big luau with her drunken Spencer Tracy impression. Rudy Vallee sings the title song, along with “Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries,” where he duets with a roasted pig.
ATTACK OF THE 50-FOOT ANTEATER (1962)
Tagline: Get Ready for the Tongue-Lashing of Your Life!
Director: Daniel Petrie
Underneatha: Ginger Grant
Sheriff Buddit: Leroy Pudding
Deputy Pete: Troy Tungsten
Admiral Paulie: Walter Brennan
Zippy: Sean Combs, Sr.
Plot: Based on lines from the beloved Langston Hughes poem “A Dream Deferred,” a tremendous explosion at a raisin production facility in Irvine, California, causes an anteater at a roadside attraction to grow at an enormous rate. Although he just inherited $10,000 and a 1960 Dodge Dart from an eccentric zoologist (Buster Keaton, seen in flashback in an uncredited cameo), the mutated anteater must still deal with issues of poverty and speciesism, not to mention constant gunfire from the local sheriff and his deputies. In an act of desperation, the anteater climbs to the top of a two-story Sears and menaces the populace of Irvine with his 30-foot snout. Underneatha, a veterinarian student with a strange name and a figure that can stop traffic, falls for the lovable mammal and convinces him to channel his rage against giant radioactive ant props left over from Them! (1954). With her love and guidance, the anteater returns to his native Africa to help villagers with their economic development, including the destruction of termite mounds that pave the way for both affordable housing and raisin production facilities.
THE BIRD PEOPLE MEET THE CHICKEN PLUCKERS (1963)
Tagline: Sometimes Plans Go A-Fowl!
Director: Jerome Robbins
Jewel, the Bird-Girl: Ginger Grant
Randolph: Clint Crabbe
Mercury Mars: John Derek
The Nurse: Mamie Van Doren
Lady Bird-Lady: Greta Huckleberry
Plot: Set on an idyllic island far from the heady wines of civilization, a lonely bird-girl named Jewel dreams of meeting a tall, handsome lover to sweep her off her feet and so crosses her eyes and wishes upon a star. Soon a group of poachers, lead by the tall, handsome Randolph, arrive looking to gather bird people tail feathers (long prized as an aphrodisiac by Chinese eunuchs). Randolph comes upon Jewel while she is bathing in a hot spring and wants to pluck her, but the two lock eyes and, momentarily hypnotized, romance blooms instead. Meanwhile, the poachers challenge the bird people to a dance/fight, knife to talon and cheek to beak. People dance, people die, people sing. Plots are hatched. Eggs are hatched. Boobies are hatched. As Randolph and Jewel plan to jump off a cliff together, a crazy gorilla (Sir Ralph Richardson, but dubbed by Snooky Lansing) appears with a guitar and they all sing along to the song, “A Bird Like That/ I Have to Love.”
MOHAWK OVER THE MOON (1963) (B/W)
Tagline: Indians and Existentialists—in Outer Space !!!
Director: Jean Luc-Godard
Bogey Eagle: Serge Steel
Chinga: Larry Storch
Professor: Le Chévre
Voice of Dark Side Cafe Automat: Francois Flaubert
Cindy: Ginger Grant
Lemmy, the accordion player: Dick Contino
Plot: It is the future and a French professor has designed a plan to colonize the moon and turn it into 1963 Paris. To accomplish his task, he’s seeded Moon City Alpha with a ragtag tribe of chain-smoking Native Americans lead by the unpredictable and audibly flatulent Chinga. Bogey Eagle, a journalist/spy reared as a Native American but disguised as a humble hotelier, travels from the reservation desk to the moon with one mission: bring back the professor or, if he’s unwilling, terminate him. Complicating the plan however is Cindy, a dispassionate B-Girl/Hostess at the Dark Side Cafe who just happens to be the professor’s daughter. Bogey Eagle reads Cindy poetry in an attempt to teach her such concepts as “romance” and “free love” and “whiter whites,” but Cindy, raised in an environment of lower gravity, prefers a good polka. Meanwhile the Earth declares war on the moon, forcing Bogey Eagle to choose between love and love of smoking. Dig the crazy haircuts! In French and Najavo with subtitles. Features the hit instrumental “Man in the Moom-pah-pah.”