A couple weeks ago I caught this old B-flick, The Beat Generation, on TCM. With a screenplay by Richard Matheson (yes, the legend, Richard Matheson) I figured it would be good for a few chuckles late at night with a beer and potato chip meal for company, and for the most part I was right. It was pretty much as expected, a somewhat entertaining, somewhat derisive stab at the beat movement that was popular at the time it was made. Cheesy dialog, buffoonish characterizations and Mamie Van Doren slinking around make it go down without getting too "wrapped up in the conformity of it all,"dig. Also showing up for the fun was Jackie Coogan, Louis Armstrong, a verse blowing Vampira, and...late in the movie...Dick Contino.
Dick Contino's role is limited to a singing cat at a bongo beach party thrown by nihilistic serial rapist Stan Hess (played to the hilt by Ray Danton) that becomes a sort of slapstick escape 'n chase scene, complete with rhumba line dancing, bongo banging and wrestling!
Watching Dick Contino perform "Don't Bug Me, Daddy-O" reminded me of another flick, Daddy-O, from 1958, starring Dick Contino. That movie, from what I remember, is fairly entertaining and bad enough to have gotten the MST 3000 treatment.
And, what does all this have to do with Ellroy's "Dick Contino's Blues"? Well, I'm gonna tell ya. It's just my way of recommending a couple of flicks and a pretty cool novelette that folds, spindles and mutilates 1950s L.A. hipsters, B-movies, pinkos, lefties, perverts, beatniks, fast cars, loose women, and a psycho or two, into one neat little package complete with its own soundtrack.
See what your grandparents shook their fists at, then tell 'em about it next Sunday at church. They'll be impressed.