Sailing, sailing, over the bounding main . . . . Now that summer’s officially here, it’s pleasant to contemplate an oceanic adventure. If you’re a movie fan, you can get in the mood by watching Master and Commander, or perhaps Pirates of the Caribbean, or even Finding Nemo. Or you can go one better and sign up for Turner Classic Movies’ latest Classic Cruise, which will troll the warm waters off the Florida coast between October 21 and 26.
This very special Disney cruise, overseen by TCM hosts Robert Osborne and Ben Mankiewicz, will cater to movie lovers by showcasing classic films and featuring a goodly assortment of legendary Hollywood folk. No, not Tom Cruise, though the idea of cruising with Tom seems just about perfect. But if you’re keen on oldies but goodies, you can meet Ann Blyth, whose biggest hit was 1945’s Mildred Pierce. If film noir is your passion, you’ll enjoy hearing from film historian Eddie Muller. Nostalgic Baby Boomers might like to take a gander at one-time heartthrob Tab Hunter.
To my amusement, three of the top-billed guests on this year’s TCM excursion are Hollywood legends with whom I’ve interacted. Pride of place goes to Richard Dreyfuss, whose heyday was the Seventies. In that busy decade he flew off to college in American Graffiti, put out to sea in Jaws, and hobnobbed with space aliens in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. He was also a comic romantic lead in The Goodbye Girl, winning himself an Oscar in a category that included such international stars as Richard Burton and Marcello Mastroianni. And I can honestly say I knew him at the start. Back when I was in high school, I attended a summer theatre workshop held on the UCLA campus. Wannabe thespians came from all over Southern California. Some were so serious about their future careers that they already had agents and stage names. Rick Dreyfuss from Beverly Hills High had none of that, nor did he strike me as a standout in the talent department. But he was an awfully nice fellow, and I’m delighted that he’s had such a major career. (As for those others, whatever happened to them?)
Shirley Jones was nice enough to make time for me when I was researching Ron Howard: From Mayberry to the Moon . . . and Beyond. Since she’d played the sister of little Ronny in The Music Man and his future stepmother in The Courtship of Eddie’s Father, she was well equipped to tell me about his professionalism and his charm. I was also pleased to discover that Shirley is a straight shooter. Her comments on the strange career of Ron’s brother Clint were insightful, and she made a fascinating digression into some of the branches on her own family tree. (More on that, perhaps, some other time.)
But the #3 guest on the TCM list is someone I know particularly well (to the extent, of course, that ANYONE knows him). I’m talking about Roger Corman, my former boss and the subject of my insider biography, Roger Corman: Blood-SuckingVampires, Flesh-Eating Cockroaches,and Driller Killers. Roger loves freebies, so it’s no surprise that he’s willing to go cruising on TCM’s dime. And there’s no end to the monster-from-the-deep flicks that can be programmed in conjunction with his appearance. How about Piranha, for starters? Or She Gods of Shark Reef? Or Creature from the Haunted Sea?
Friends have suggested that I sign on for the cruise. But given Roger’s recent attitude toward me and my book, I might end up getting fed to Sharktopus.