Apr 19, 2012

Dick Clark (1929 - 2012)

What can we say? Dick Clark was a cultural icon; an institution. Coined "the world's oldest teenager", he will always be remembered as the host of TV's American Bandstand: from 1956 to 1989, he presented the latest Top 40 acts lip-syncing their hits in studio, while teenagers danced on stage. He was also the host and producer of Dick Clark's New Years Rockin' Eve, in which he presented the latest and greatest musical acts every December 31, while the television audience counted down the minutes to the new year. In the 1970s, he also hosted the popular TV game show, The $10,000 Pyramid. In the 1980s and Ed McMahon co-hosted TV's Practical Jokes and Bloopers. And these are just some of the highlights of a six-decade-long career of television entertainment he would host and-or produce. With his clean-cut good looks, his smiling faces was a natural emcee for the camera- the epitome of the good, clean entertainment he was presenting. Simply put, the man was a giant in our pop culture. But in case you need more proof, here's another anecdote. Allegedly, he was the one who introduced Ed McMahon to his future Tonight Show boss Johnny Carson back in the 1950's. There. But since this is a film blog, after all, we are here to celebrate those pieces of time when Dick Clark was a movie actor and producer.

He had a lead role in 1960's Because They're Young (review here shortly), and a supporting role in the 1961 melodrama The Young Doctors, which of course capitalized on his wholesome TV image. Intriguingly, he would work before and behind the camera for AIP later in the decade for some less-than squeaky-clean fun. In 1968 alone, he was a sight to behold in wirerims in the Bonnie and Clyde rip-off Killers Three; and he also produced Richard Rush's biker epic The Savage Seven. But surely the greatest accomplishment of his film career is the flower power epic Psych-Out, released that same year, also directed by Rush. As mentioned in his autobiography, Rock, Roll and Remember, he made that film as a statement against the squalor that the love generation lived in, especially since he saw his friend Bobby Darin get into a bad scene with the counterculture movement. The film curiously is both a beautiful evocation and over-the-top caricature of the hippie generation. These movies are an amusing and interesting footnote to a long and illustrious career. 

ABOVE: Dick Clark and Frederic March in The Young Doctors
ABOVE: Diane Varsi, Dick Clark and Robert Walker Jr. in Killers Three

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