Monday, January 28, 2008

The Brilliant Early Work of Mimsy Farmer, Vol. 1

When looking at the career of Mimsy Farmer, it is the brilliant early work that stands out.

From her fresh-scrubbed turn in 1963's Spencer's Mountain to her good girl gone bad roles in such drive-in exploitation classics as Hot Rods to Hell to international productions like Road to Salinas and More, Mimsy always delivered.

In the first of several entries taking a loving look at Farmer's greatest performances, we examine Mimsy's role as a troubled teen in 1967's Riot on Sunset Strip, one of my all-time favorite films.


"Meet the Hippies...the Teenyboppers with their too-tight capris...and the Pot-Partygoers - out for a new thrill...a new kick! See for yourself their Mod, mad world... without law or license, morals or manners, God or goal!....The most shocking film of our generation!"

Mimsy plays Andy, the disaffected teenage daughter of LAPD sergeant Aldo Ray and his ex-wife, a whiskey-swilling hag, played by producer Sam Katzman's wife, Hortense. We must assume that Andy is adopted, as there is no way such a knockout could result from the coupling of these two gargoyles. Anyhoo, Andy goes to live with her father and transfers to a new high school, where she falls in with a gang of swingin' teens who are out for kicks. They congregate at Pandora's Box on the Sunset Strip, where they are serenaded by the Standells and Chocolate Watchband. Andy draws the attention of creepy rich kid and would-be hippie mystic Herbie, who invites her to a party, where he doses her with LSD. Andy freaks out, then does a wild interpretative dance. Herbie and his pals then guide her upstairs to the master bedroom, where they have their way with her.

When the cops bust the party, Andy's father discovers what has been done to her. Mayhem, and the riot of the title, ensues.

Farmer is tough but tender, alternately shy and sultry in the part, and beautiful throughout. She's got all the right P's: pretty, petulant, peroxide blonde. When she does her freak-out dance, her bouffant comes undone and she moves like a wild animal. Incredible.

The film's neanderthal attitude toward sexual assault is somewhat apalling, of course, but it is a product of its time.

Next: HOT RODS TO HELL (1967)


Anonymous said...

Oh yes! But she was the greatly brilliant in the Road to Salina! Fem-Fatal!!!

Brian said...

Fans of Mimsy, just letting you know I wrote an article on her which appears in the current issue of Shindig! magazine from the UK. Mimsy talks about her life and work, I offer an assessment of her acting career and my take on her personal story. Shindig! doesn't post content on-line, but if you go to their stocklists page, you can see where it's available.

It's issue #14