Friday, August 13, 2010

Thank God It's Friday the 13th

Here's a fun & funky Friday flashback!
My other half recently told me that in addition to chocolate bunnies, his parents gave actual Easter presents every year. In the late 70s, one of his gifts was the THANK GOD IT'S FRIDAY soundtrack album - which he still has and sometimes forces me to listen to (today, for example, all THREE discs). In celebration of that odd holiday memory, we watched the movie version of the album as well.
I first saw THANK GOD IT'S FRIDAY at a drive-in in New Jersey when I was about 14. Everyone was hoping for another SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER. I remember thinking back then that the film was more like an episode of THE LOVE BOAT instead of an actual movie. Except THE LOVE BOAT usually had more plot and bigger name actors. I was a very wise 14 year old.

When a film starts with the Columbia logo lady disco dancing, you know you're in for a "good" time. While not as cool as the Wilma Flintstone version of the Columbia logo (from THE MAN CALLED FLINTSTONE) - this is pretty cool.As the credits roll, and the theme song blares, we see a montage of "getting ready scenes" that would make my friend Brett's head explodes (he LOVES movies with "getting ready scenes" - like ROLLER BOOGIE, for example). As all our characters are preparing for their night out we see that Jeff Goldblum and Debra Winger are among the cast...and Donna Summer (who gets special billing) as Nicole! Let's see if I can accurately report on what actually does happen in this film.

We see wacky dental assistant named Jackie who takes a deep inhale of nitrous oxide and puts on a pink wig - eventually dressing like a whorish clown for her drug-infused night out. It's interesting how the film is very non judgemental in her recreational use of drugs, but the poster makes her sound like she's a refugee from VALLEY OF THE DOLLS.

We see Donna (in her first "acting" role) as she begs a shopkeeper to stay open because she wants to buy a special dress - presumably to wear for her big night out at the disco.
We see two awkward high school girls (Frannie & Jeannie) stumbling off a bus in platform shoes - and we learn that they want to win the big dance contest so they can buy KISS tickets (the film was co-produced by Casablanca Records).  Jeannie is played by Terri Nunn, who later went on to greater fame as the lead singer of Berlin.

We see a married yuppie couple (Dave & Sue) celebrating their fifth wedding anniversary - only he's an uptight cpa and wants her to go home and play with his wooden pepper mill, but she wants to go to the disco and really let loose.

We see two JAPs - Maddy, who spills a cola all over her flat chest and Jennifer (Debra Winger) who sponges it up with a burger! (No photo available)

We see two kinda gay-ish nerds (Carl & Ken) smoking pot as they drive to the disco. Carl is played by songwriter Paul Jabara.  Ken is wearing a yellow sweater.

We see a young, dashing Jeff Goldblum as Tony DiMarco, the owner of The Zoo - a real ladies man with a snazzy sportscar. His Christmas colored suit looks like a Joker costume. Note: Because the club is named The Zoo, a guy in a gorilla suit runs the elevator! Zany!

There's all sorts of silly parking lot chaos outside the Zoo disco, resulting in Tony's precious car taking a few hits - while inside we meet DJ Bobby Speed - who's all psyched because tonight's show is being broadcast live on the radio. Donna sneaks in to see him, and begs him to play her record tonight. He tells her the Commodores (featuring Lionel Ritchie) are tonight's big attraction, not her.

Meanwhile, the high school girls keep getting denied entrance again & again while nerdy Carl declares that the Zoo is "like Disneyland with tits" and then he and Ken put on lip gloss to attract chicks. Huh? Then a guy is shown in drag shaving his chest in the mens' room, but he later gets rejected by dragaphobic Ken.

We soon meet a mismatched computer date couple: a fat trash-collecting asshole named Gus and a pathetic tall bookworm named Shirley. He wants nothing to do with her, but she can't stop clinging to him. At this point I realize that this is LA - but everyone has thick New Yawk accents!

Showing up next is Marv Gomez the Leatherman. Don't ask. The high school girls latch on to Marv and beg him to help them get into the club, so he sneaks them in through the men's room window. Only a Leatherman would think of that!

At some point Donna barges into the booth and starts singing "Love to Love Ya Baby" over the mike and pisses off DJ Bobby. Meanwhile, some roadie dude named Floyd is lost with the Commodores' instruments - and he eventually gets pulled over by the cops, twice - and is accused of stealing the instruments - so he has to demonstrate each one, twice. Racial profiling at its worst.

Some sleazy guy comes onto klutzy Jennifer, but she rejects him. Then Maddy keeps cockblocking her. (Does that word work here? I guess...) The married couple argue and decide go their own ways at the club: Sue gets romanced by Tony, who plans on fucking her, while Jackie the Hygienist Junkie gets Dave to pop pills with her.After striking out with some gals, Leatherman gives Carl & Ken a lesson in how to be gay with a ridiculous dance number in the parking lot.Something happens that makes Bobby the DJ says "the N word" and the he finally gets security to drag Donna away. Shocking!

Back to our blinddate mismatch couple: Shirley is following Gus around. Calls her an "old maid" - then she punches him - and he falls for her. Awww...just like THE LOVE BOAT!

Sue notices that her husband is having a good time and reacts by calling Jackie "a hippie!" Now she wants to go home and Dave doesn't! Tony wants her to stay too–so he can have his filthy way with her! Besides, he has a bet with DJ Bobby that he'll land her!

High school girl Frannie enters dance contest - and somehow suddenly Donna starts singing "Last Dance" over the music, noise & yelling. The DJ likes it - of course - and Donna brings down the house.

The Commodores finally perform when their instruments show up. After Carl gets locked in a stairwell, Debra Winger and Ken hook up. Everybody is doing poppers and dancing. Then the most unorganized dance contest begins. Who's judging? Who's hosting? Gays with tambourines (not Carl & Ken) get disqualified first. What's up with that?Dave (renamed "Babbakazoo" by Jackie) is now high as a kite and he swings across the club on a Tarzan vine - Frannie wins the dance competition and a giant trophy! She declares that "We're Disco Queens Now!" and then she and Jeannie join Marv at another disco for the 1AM dance contest.The married couple reunites, while out in the parking lot, Tony's sportscar self-destructs. As Jennifer and Ken share the last dance, Donna comes back to the booth to fuck the DJ. The end. Can I go home now???

Does any of this make sense? It's all just a silly excuse to have a three-LP soundtrack. I just wonder why no one ever turned it into a weekly TV series. Imagine the possibilities....

8 comments:

nedvanzandt@gmail.com said...

And most of it was filmed on location at that weird looking club on La Cienega. Is that place still there?

Vintage Disneyland Tickets said...

OMG I loved this movie! Brilliant writeup, thanks for all the Tacky-Disco Memories. In 1979 we got the "Z Channel" sort of an early HBO, they played this movie 20 times a month and I watched it every chance I got. Now I'm gonna be singing the songs all day! For a while I wanted to be "Tony DiMarco" I even tried to dress like him (please don't tell anyone!)....

doug said...

Hey Ned - The club used as a location is now a Loehmann's fashion outlet. Sad.

EduardO said...

Your review makes me want to see this high-camp flashback. Thanks Doug.

The real nightclub used for the film was Osko's at 333 S. La Cienega Blvd, just south of 3rd Street in Los Angeles. The club had 4 dance floors and 'the Cave', an ice cavern-themed room as seen in the film. The ice cavern-themed room also appears in the horror film Jennifer. Club owner Osko Karaghassian had a role as a bouncer in the film. In the 1980s, the club became known as The Cathouse, owned by rock singer and MTV VJ Rikki Rachtman and Faster Pussycat singer Taime Downe and famous for booking many prominent heavy metal acts of the 1980s. The club was completely demolished by the early 1990s and was replaced by a large Loehmann's dress store.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thank_God_It's_Friday

Danny in WeHo said...

Hey, Marv Gomez the Leatherman, was a little cutie, but that LP illustration makes him look like Freddy Kruger's rival.

I inherited this Soundtrack when my sister won a radio contest and could pick whichever LP she wantred as a prize. She asked for Queen's A Night a the Opera and was sent THANK GOOD IT'S FRIDAY with a note saying they "ran out" of Queen. She was furious, but I got to sing "Queen of the Disco" for months on end!!

Stacy Helton said...

Thanks so much for the post! Long time reader, first time commenter! I have annual viewings of THANK GOD IT'S FRIDAY and CAR WASH for friends...both terrific, and if you watch CAR WASH first it ends as the night begins...at THE ZOO! PS: How about a blog about the telefilm BAD RONALD...I just found a bootleg copy on DVD.

Doug said...

Hey Stacy - my blog entry about BAD RONALD is here:

http://dougsploitation.blogspot.com/2010/05/bad-ronald.html

Thanks for reading!

Anonymous said...

The building for Oskos was a Stunning Mid Century Modern Masterpiece, what is there now is an UGLY AS SIN boring 90's monstrosity. Which is kind of fitting since the even more grotesque Beverly Center is up the block. That building should have been saved. It was gorgeous and resembled a Grecian Palace with a 60's flair!

Derek