I found quite a surprise last week while watching The Works network on TV. They presented a 1966 film directed by George Axelrod called “Lord Love a Duck.” The movie stars Tuesday Weld and Roddy McDowall as a couple of high school students. Weld, playing Barbara Ann Greene, wants to be famous and McDowall, playing Alan “Mollymauk” Musgrave, offers to help her. The movie then begins a convoluted plot that becomes mostly a farce with a few serious dramatic moments. Besides McDowall and Weld, Ruth Gordon and Harvey Korman also play over-the-top characters.
Axelrod, who also helped write the screenplay, opens his movie just after Alan does away with some people during a high school graduation ceremony. After his arrest, he narrates the whole story into a tape recorder while the film plays in flashback. Quick cutting and very sardonic dialogue ensue, especially from McDowell and Ruth Gordon, who plays the hilarious mother of Barbara Ann’s fiance. Mollymauk, Alan’s nickname and a species of duck, weaves himself everywhere throughout the film. He even shows up at a chaotic, Southern California-style spring break, where the girls dance around in bikinis and Barbara Ann meets her fiance Bob Bernard (Martin West).
Things seem to be looking up for Barbara Ann when a movie producer, famous for making bikini pictures, spots her and wants to put her into a movie. This, of course, would make her famous, but Bob forbids it. This leads to a rather surprising plan concocted by Alan. The movie presents one satirical surprise after another, and it’s just the kind of film it’s fun to stumble upon while watching TV.