director: Joseph Pevney
This movie was crap. Let’s get into it. Sorry that the first Debbie movie was this, but that’s the breaks sometimes, and besides hopefully it’s all uphill from here. This is movie #18 of #37 for Reynolds (I end her career with voicing Charlotte in Charlotte’s Web in 1973). Debbie plays Tammy, a 17-year southern girl living on a houseboat with her grandpa. Let’s stop there for a second. Apparently, someone thought it would be a good idea for her to stop playing her age in movies and bust her down to kid stuff again. This also marks the second review in a row where there’s a 17 year old girl. Apparently this age is cinematic gold for male viewers. Not for me. She’s 25. Not 17. Anyways, this dude (played by a young Leslie Nielsen, more on him later) washes up on the river near her house and I never caught why he was there. Let’s say he was getting drunk with his buddies and they dared him to jump off the highest bridge in the south in 1957 (which was probably all of 2 stories), and he dove on his head, passed out, and ended up in a gully by this houseboat. So now we’re caught up. Okay so Debbie…err.. Tammy nurses him back to health. He goes off and rejoins his family. Meanwhile Grandpa (played by Walter Brennan , who has one of the most recognizable voices ever, so if you’ve seen one of his movies, say Sergeant York, then you can pick him out in anything). Also on a sidenote, Walter Brennan is tied w/ Jack Nicholson with the most Oscars for Acting. Impressive. Where was I? Ah yes, so Grandpa has been making corn liquor (moonshining) and promptly gets carted off to jail by the authorities. So he tells Tammy to go live with the dude and his family. So this guy and his family live on a gigantic plantation which they do nothing with except host Civil War (or I guess antebellum) parties. Which is how I imagine the South exists to this day. But Leslie tries to be different by trying to grow a special hybrid of tomato to strike it rich. This obviously doesn’t work out and he’s forced to take a job in the city. I’m sure there’s some lesson or theme or message here, but I was obviously too busy wondering what Tammy was up to. Which was basically just talking in a rural dialect and showing everyone how terrible they were for having it so good and wasting it away. Leslie Nielsen, although a handsome dude, was obviously cut out for dry humor and not romance, though the studio execs would take the next 23 years trying to figure that out. In the end, Leslie chooses Tammy over the more proper, older, Barbara, and Grandpa gets out of jail and they all live happily ever after on the houseboat.
Underrated actors: Sidney Blackmer and Mildred Natwick as Leslie’s Dad and Aunt respectively, for getting ‘it’ about Tammy and their non-verbal reactions to Tammy’s antics.