YouTube Gem of the Week: A Really Scary Hammer Horror Film

Way back in the 1950s, Debbie Reynolds emerged as a bright-eyed, efficient singer/actress as well as a fabulous professional victim. (Liz Taylor stole her husband, Eddie Fisher, away in a whirl of whoriness, and Debbie truly worked it, though now both she and Liz are united in deep hatred for Eddie.) She was sort of the original Kathie Lee. In other words, soulful wailing and protest music have never been Debbie's strong points. And yet, in this clip from some 1960s Scopitone, whatever that is (actually it's a short made for a video jukebox)—Debbie tries on the Pete Seeger/Lee Hays classic "If I Had a Hammer" with absolutely shocking results. Far from punching out a rallying cry for social justice, Debs makes it a kitsch, Vegasy swirl about eye makeup—a feelgood opportunity for some bland dancers to make weird hand gestures as the pert princess vocally bounces around and embarrasses herself like a hausfrau on too much Lemon Fresh Joy. Only Diana Ross's swing version of "I Loves You Porgy" misses the boat more vehemently—though if the boat is the Titanic, Debbie definitely makes it. If I had a hammer, I'd. . .no, I'm not a violent person.

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