What's On? Wednesday presents: My Christopher Atkins Collection
A marathon of films starring Christopher Atkins has to begin with The Blue Lagoon. The film was not only the first film Chris had a starring role in, but was also his screen debut. The Blue Lagoon was not without controversy, but most of it surrounded Brooke who had already survived the controversy surrounding her role in Pretty Baby. For The Blue Lagoon, Brooke used mature women for body doubles instead of doing the nude scenes herself. When she did appear, her hair was glued to her breasts.
The story concerned the coming of age of two kids on a deserted island together. After a shipwreck, two youngsters and the galley cook were marooned on the island and learned to survive using the resources they could find on the island or trunks that had washed up on shore. After the cook dies, the kids are left on their own and begin to explore their lives, bodies and each other. They learn about many customs based on books and photographs or from their own memories of their time in the outside world. There is a courtship, a marriage, a separation and a birth of a child during their time on the island.
After years on the island, their child eats berries they think are poisonous and decide to commit suicide by eating the same berries and setting themselves adrift with their son in a small boat. A ship finds the boat and it looks like they won’t die, but in the inferior sequel we find out that the parents did die, but the baby survived. In Return to the Blue Lagoon, the son gets stranded on a deserted island with a young girl and some of the same themes are explored again. The sequel starred Brian Krause as the son and Milla Jovovich as the young girl. What are the odds that the same thing would happen to the son as the parents from the first film? That’s one of the problems with a sequel built around a concept instead of an actual plot.
Capitalizing on his success as a teen idol from The Blue Lagoon, Christopher Atkins took his perm, tan and loincloth with him when he starred opposite Kristy McNichol in The Pirate Movie. The movie was panned by critics, but it is one of the films that I love to watch over and over again. The Pirate Movie is a revision of Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance. By mixing contemporary humor and songs with the traditional music and storyline from the comic
opera, the film spotlights Kristy and Chris in a love story about the choice between following your heart or following your duty. My one problem with the movie is the slapstick (pizza) pie fight, but I have the soundtrack on my iPod and will listen to it over and over again. Check the YouTube Tuesday post featuring the song by Christopher Atkins from this film.
Shirtless is the keyword for the roles Chris was playing and it didn’t stop there. Next up was A Night in Heaven, where he lost the perm and played a college student by day, stripper by night. Lesley Ann Warren played the conservative teacher that finds out that her student is a male exotic dancer and falls in lust. The problem…she’s older and married. By the end of the film, she returns to her husband who by that time had already figured out what was going on. While threatening Chris’ character, he finds out that the kid thought his wife was lonely. Realizing that his wife does love him, he returns home to find her waiting for him.
The other high point in this film was my introduction to the wonderful Deborah Rush. She played Lesley Ann’s sister and while she had roles in other films, it wasn’t until she starred in the TV show Strangers With Candy that I really fell in love with her.
The next project that Chris starred in that I was really aware of was Dallas. In a very similar role, he played Sue Ellen’s younger lover during the eighth season. As Peter, his role was introduced as a counselor for John Ross, the son of Sue Ellen and J.R. Spending quite a few episodes around the pool in a speedo, Peter catches the eye of both Sue Ellen and Lucy. Lucy becomes jealous of the attention Peter pays Sue Ellen and lets her feelings known in front of J.R. Eventhough J.R. is known for his infidelities, it doesn’t mean his wife can go around sleeping with other men, especially with one so young. Blackmailing Peter with planted drugs, Peter was run out of Dallas at the end of the season.
If you like films like Police Academy, Moving Violations, Stewardess School, and all the other films of this type, then you may like the next film in my marathon. Mortuary Academy mixes corpses with the genre of misfit characters looking to succeed. Chris, unfortunately, gets lost in the group, but the appearance of Paul Bartel and Mary Woronov in another film together makes this one special.
The only other film in my marathon is It’s My Party. This ensemble film stars Eric Roberts and Gregory Harrison. With many cameos and appearances, it was nice to see Christopher Atkins in an older role. His character is featured in flashbacks as one of the friends who passed away from AIDS. If you want to keep your happy, stay away from this tearjerker. You will cry…I promise.
These aren’t the only films Christopher Atkins has starred in. His career lately has been direct to video or cable TV movies, but if I had my choice on which film I’d want to see between a bad sci-fi TV film starring Christopher Atkins or a big blockbuster starring Tom Cruise, I’m going to go with Chris.