The Boatniks (1970)

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Sometimes you come across movies that you’ve never heard anybody talk about before. This is one of those times. Is there a reason that people don’t talk about this one? Or is this actually an underrated gem? Read on to find what I think of the 1970 film, The Boatniks!

And remember, SPOILERS AHEAD!

The movie begins when the Ensign Tom Garland, played by Robert Morse, is set to take over a position on the Coast Guard from a man who’s being transferred. Everyone’s excited about Tom coming in for the job as his father was supposedly a great man in WWII. But Tom, although polite, has a bit of a clumsy edge to him in that things don’t usually go the way he intends.

This is apparent on the first day of his job when he’s running late and gets pulled over by a cop for speeding. And once that’s settled, he gets into a fender-bender with another car.

Cars seemed to be able to dislodge themselves from fender benders then so much more easier than now!

The car he hits is actually a getaway car being driven by three jewel thieves. They consist of the leader Harry Simmons, played by Phil Silvers, the sensible, but cautious second-in-command, Max, played by Normal Fell, and the least bright of the bunch, Charlie, played by Mickey Shaughnessy. The trio do their best not to get angry so that Tom can go along his way and less attention be brought to them.

Eventually, Tom makes it to the docks, but not before accidentally spilling paint on a local boat renter and sailing instructor, Kate Fairchild, played by Stefanie Powers.

Not all women appreciate you adding a little bit of color into their lives!

And his boss, Commander Taylor, played by Don Ameche, is soon disappointed that Tom doesn’t have the same aptitude like his father. Nevertheless, Tom does his best to take care of all the maritime problems that come his way, despite almost always messing up somehow.

Meanwhile the jewel thieves have hidden all the jewels inside various food items that they’ve placed in a picnic basket. Their plan is to escape to Mexico, but the police have all the roads watched. So, Harry comes up with a plan to sail to Mexico. He pretends to be a yacht club commodore (even though he’s never sailed in his life) and rents a boat from Kate. How does he and the others manage to operate the boat? Well, Harry has got a book that hopes can help them with that. As you can imagine, that just leads to havoc on the docks and Tom getting into more trouble.

“This is no time for Marco Polo!”

Later that night, Tom goes to a restaurant and due to it being overcrowded, he’s put at a table with Kate. The two manage to get over their previous incident with each other and become friends. They even start to fall in love with each other.

The next day, the jewel thieves accidentally lose their picnic basket in the sea. They try to get it out by fishing for it or sending one of them with a diving suit to retrieve it, but both ideas fail.

The presence of Bruce II doesn’t help much either!

Finally, they decide to call in a professional diver from Japan. The diver turns out to be a woman who can’t speak any English, but she’s beautiful and gets the job done, so the thieves don’t care. But, when Harry tries to cheat her out of her due, we find out that she can speak English quite eloquently!

Funny how quickly one can “learn” a language!

Witnessing all the activity of the thieves from the docks, Kate starts to get suspicious of them and their picnic basket. She tells Tom that she suspects the trio of being spies or thieves. Tom tries to spy on them and once he’s convinced, he tries to tell Commander Taylor that the trio are the jewel thieves that the cops are looking for. Commander Taylor, of course, doesn’t believe this.

Meanwhile, the jewel thieves call a private Mexican charter plane to pick them up (since their boating days are over) and take them to Mexico. The climax of the film involves Tom chasing the trio down around the docks to get evidence to show to Commander Taylor. When the charter plane lands, the jewel thieves get on board, but accidentally lose the picnic basket in doing so. Tom gets the basket and shows Commander Taylor the jewels inside the food items. Commander Taylor’s opinion of Tom greatly improves and Tom and Kate decide to get married. And the jewel thieves…are on their way to Mexico.

The look of defeat…
“Maybe the movie’ll be good!”

And that was The Boatniks. Like I said, I’ve never heard of anybody else ever seeing this film, and for good reason, it’s a really pointless movie! The movie should have been just the jewel thieves, because there really is no point in throwing in the characters of Tom, Kate, and the others. Much of the docks scenes and characters are just fillers such as a clumsy sailor who always crashes his boat into the dock, a guy preparing to travel around the world in a boat, and a guy who has a big party on his ship, but almost never leaves the dock!

All of the jewel thieves actors play their parts brilliantly as they’re great comedic stars. And Don Ameche also gives a great performance. But, Robert Morse and Stefanie Powers aren’t anything special. Then again, that may due to their characters not being anything special either. For example, they fall in love way too easily and quickly!

Has anyone ever fallen in love with someone at a short dinner?

All in all, this is just a pointless movie that one wonders why it was made in the first place. Don’t waste your time with it!

(You can click on the image below for an enlarged version of my rating sheet.)

So, the final score for this film is 16/35 = 45.71% (F) !

The next review will be posted on June 5, 2017.

17 thoughts on “The Boatniks (1970)

  1. Ah man. I think this movie is a riot. I laughed throughout. Stanford and I randomly are picking this for our first meeting of Utah Movie Club in June

    1. I dunno, if the movie was just the jewel thieves, I could enjoy it more. But, they try to legitimize Robert Morse and Stefanie Powers’ existence in the film which just doesn’t work for me.

      I did laugh in the film, but again it was mostly just regarding the jewel thieves.

      1. The jewel thieves are pretty big part of the film though. I didnt mind the romance but it was more the humor that I enjoyed. I guess I so rarely see a good comedy these days that isnt super raunchy that I’m an easy sell for these old comedies

      2. The romance wasn’t bad, just really quick.

        There’s some level of raunch to this film, I think, like the Japanese girl in the bikini and the women on the boat who are all just bikini party-goers.

      3. But just raunchy for Disney standards not like most modern raunchy films. It has a saucy side though. I guess with comedies I just look if it made me laugh then it was a success and this did

  2. Well between Rachel’s recommendation and your criticisms, I feel like my enjoyment of the film will be like the toss of the coin. Might see it out of curiosity, might not.

  3. On the basis of this review, I have to agree, this one seems pretty pointless. That being said, memo to self: If this is in my local public library’s system, do NOT check it out.

  4. I remember first seeing this film during its re-release in summer 1977. (Apparently it did well enough to warrant a re-release 7 years after its opening.) I don’t think I figured out it was an older film until I saw Wally Cox in it, ahd he’d been dead for 4 years, but then Joe Flynn’s voice showed up in “The Rescuers” a few years after he died. (I guess animated voices are recorded years in advance.)

    Shortly after seeing this film, I saw THREE’S COMPANY and thought it was neat that I got to see “Mr. Roper” pre-fame. This is also where I learned that Joe E. Ross was the man famous for saying “Ooh, ooh!” on tv, including cartoons. He was billed as “Nutty Sailor” here, and “Ooh, ooh! Look out!” were his only lines that I can remember from this film. I don’t think I saw him on “Car 54” until a few years later.

    1. Wow, this film had a re-release, lol?

      I think with The Rescuers, the production probably got delayed a few years so they couldn’t release the film until 1977.

      I haven’t seen Car 54 yet, but I was aware of Joe E. Ross when I saw this film.

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