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This ad from the November 5, 1959 edition of The Modesto Bee reminds me just how much I miss the dartboard booking practices of drive-ins and grindhouses. The closest I ever came to a double feature of this magnitude was when mom and dad took me to the Sunset Drive-In to catch Jerry Lewis' The Nutty Professor paired with Sergio Leone's The Colossus of Rhodes.

What with Julius Kelp's shocking (to an 8-year-old) transformation into Buddy Love coupled with the hollow-eyed horror of Sergio's statue, lily-liver little Scotty didn't get much sleep for weeks to come.

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In this case, the only commonality is that all parties involved are Italian, something I'm sure was intentional on the part of the guy who programmed The Strand Theatre. The Warrior and the Slave Girl is an early "sword and sandals" import made to cash in on the success of Pietro Francisci's Hercules, starring Steve Reeves (aka Mr. Universe of 1950).

Hey Boy, Hey Girl is Columbia Pictures' stab at transforming a popular husband and wife recording team into movie stars. It was the only film to star wild man Prima and his imperturbable bride, Keeley Smith.

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Prima in his prime.

Louis Prima was the barometer of hip, the swinginist cat ever to take to the bandstand. He began his career as a trumpeter playing with a New Orleans style jazz band in the '20s. By the time the '50's rolled around, Prima, along with Smith and Sam Butera -- leader of the equally energetic, The Witnesses, the band that backed the couple on stage and records -- were tearing up the lounge of The Sahara in Vegas. Before long, the act was moved into the main showroom where Louis and Keeley reigned supreme as Vegas' premiere power couple.

Hey Boy, Hey Girl was produced at the height of their popularity. Directed by hack helmsman David Lowell Rich (Have Rocket -- Will Travel, The Concorde... Airport '79, Chu Chu and the Philly Flash), HBHG is your standard '50's grade-Z attempt at filling the bottom-half of a double-bill, but it does afford viewers a rare filmed glimpse of Louis, Keeley, and Sam making merry. Both films are unavailable on DVD, but HBHG has been known to crop up on Turner Classic Movies where it first caught my attention.

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Comments

Jay Allen Sanford Jan. 23, 2012 @ 5:14 p.m.

Wonderfully wacky double bill! I remember a local drive-in in 1982 that ran the Muppet Caper movie with Death Wish 2 as the opener and closer, sunset and finale. So anyone who brought kids for the Muppets was best to wait until after Bronson was done killing to let the kids out from under the blankets, but Then Came Bronson again...

The BEST matched double bill I ever saw on marquee was at downtown's Aztec Theater in 1984 - Purple Rain with Blue Thunder.

Here are two more local-centric WTFs - The Pusher ("A drug addict...he creates headlines of murder") with the Bowery Boys in Let's Go Navy: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=2897610115993&l=39df54743e

And a nudie cutie at the Balboa, Eve and the Handyman, with a note at the bottom informing "Just added: Road Runner Cartoon" -- meep meep! http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=2897610396000&l=ccdbbe7c2e

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Scott Marks Jan. 23, 2012 @ 6:58 p.m.

Those are great, and in light of "Super-Vixens," the combination of Russ and The Road Runner makes perfect sense.

The wackiest double-bill I ever saw was "The Sorrow and the Pity" and "A Thousand Clowns." That played a week. The following week they doubled "Pity" with "Where's Poppa?"

Have you been on Google Newspapers, Jay? It's highly addictive for guys like us.

http://news.google.com/newspapers

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Scott Marks Jan. 24, 2012 @ 7:41 a.m.

Wow. I think they let audiences in for free and made them pay to get out.

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Colonna Jan. 24, 2012 @ 4:57 p.m.

Guess I'll dig deep into my VHS archives to pull out "Hey Boy! Hey Girl" and the 1961 Prima vehicle "Twist All Night" (with Sam & the Witnesses but sans Keely) to make some DVDs for someone in San Diego.

And there's a great Prima documentary out there called "Louis Prima: The Wildest" that is required viewing. Need a dub, bub?

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Scott Marks Jan. 24, 2012 @ 5:59 p.m.

Save the features, Jerry. Once was enough. And the Louis doc is terrific. I saw it when it aired. How about a copy of "The Monkees" episode you appeared in?

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Jay Allen Sanford Jan. 25, 2012 @ 4:17 p.m.

Here's a double bill that's both bizarre and perfectly suited - Jerry Lewis' Which Way to the Front paired up with Patton! Oh, if only some aspiring YouTube filmmaker would edit a mashup of both flicks into one jaw-dropping, face-slapping movie -- http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=2911422221287&l=7df4432f91

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Scott Marks Jan. 25, 2012 @ 5:38 p.m.

Well, they are both war films. And don't ask me which of the two I prefer.

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Colonna Jan. 25, 2012 @ 5:21 p.m.

Jerry Lewis once claimed back in 1970 or 1971 someone in the Warner Brothers distribution department allowed "Which Way To The Front?" to be put on a double bill with "Deep Throat".

Before you say "with a big c--k on it"...

Jerry was probably exaggerating considering Linda Lovelace's signature movie wasn't released until 1972.

Can you imagine the marquee though?

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