Pity the poor randy male teenagers of yesteryear, who had to turn to National Geographic
and newspaper bra advertisements for sexual self-gratification
stimulus. Without an Internet and the complete proliferation of overtly
sexual material to provide them piping hot topless ladies on demand,
younger audiences were forced to turn to titillating nudie screwball
fare like 1963’s Promises! Promises! and the following year’s Three Nuts in Search of a Bolt.
Mansfield’s chances at the legitimacy she so craved, but it does
feature some decent zany laughs here and there. Oh, and plenty of the
writhing, buxom, bubble-covered (and just as frequently not) Mansfield,
Three Nuts in Search of a Bolt, meanwhile, was spawned from
the considerable financial success of its predecessor, and in terms of
watchability and/or its own merits, it’s the better film of the two, if
not necessarily always the best acted. Written and directed by
frequently bespectacled comedy performer Tommy Noonan, also a
producer-actor on Promises! Promises!, the movie trades further
down in starlet scrip, starring Mamie Van Doren as nut-job stripper
Saxie Symbol. Along with an equally kooky used car salesman (Paul
Gilbert) and male model (John Cronin), Saxie hires an unemployed actor
(Noonan, double-dipping) to play out all their personalities since they
can’t afford a therapist. (I kid you not.) Alternating between
black-and-white and color for some of its flashback sequences, it’s
interesting to view Promises! Promises! as a bouncy, blithe, independent-minded forerunner to more incendiary, latter ’60s fare like Easy Rider — perhaps more interesting in that theoretical realm than the actual one, but interesting nonetheless.
Digitally re-mastered, Three Nuts in Search of a Bolt and Promises! Promises!
both arrive on DVD in a regular Amray cases. Each film features two
different versions of their respective original theatrical trailers, a
“hot” version for international audiences and a more demure version.
There are also self-scrolling, behind-the-scenes photo montages from
the set and cast biographies, which are a welcome touch. In the best
extra, though, Van Doren herself sits for a 45-minute interview on the Three Nuts
disc, revealing that Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss was an early
backer of the project (they dined, but didn’t seal the deal, it seems).
She also talks about quitting high school at 15 to make movies at RKO
for Howard Hughes, of whom she says, “He only liked me from the waist
up.” While Van Doren is the textbook definition of an unreliable
narrator, contradicting herself on several occasions, it’s still a
fascinating chat. Both Promises! and Three Nuts may succeed only as curios, but they do wholeheartedly fulfill at least the faintest of their pictorially stated promises. C (Movies) B- (Discs)