Its a case of love and war for the passengers and crew of The Love Boat…
Its all relative, when Olivia de Havilland as the Ship Captain’s Aunt Hilly embarks with a familiar acting face, in their fourth on-screen voyage together.
The Love Boat – Opening Credits Sequence, CBS
The cheesy Jack Jones theme tune opens this episode of The Love Boat (1977-87) named The Duel/Two for Julie/Aunt Hilly (1981). An episode discovered to be Guilty Pleasure gold from the start of the credits. This as the familiar motley ship’s crew of Aaron Spellings’ The Love Boat in Season 4 Episode 23 (should you want to track down this treasure) are joined by a dream list of guest stars for passengers. With this particular passenger list, boasting three stars from Golden Hollywood, two actors from TVs Dallas (1978-91) and two well known Argentine-American acting names.
The Love Boat TV Series was for the uninformed was a 1970s and 1980s American drama and comedy series telling of the lives and loves on a cruise ship. Each week this show hosted a different guest star list including Hollywood luminaries, TV stars and more random acting talent (that I still don’t recognise). This line up almost as starry as those all star disaster movies. On two different occasions the passenger list included main characters from other Spelling creations Fantasy Island (1977-84) and Charlies Angels (1976-81 ) in crossover episodes. I kid you not.
The show always had three or four stories to tell, explaining those seemingly bizarre episode titles. With these separate stories brought together in one episode, it’s kind of like an Amicus anthology film. But without the Amicus trademark, a wee twist in the tale. Admittedly, a cross over Horror episode with The Love Boat was a missed opportunity for the Amicus writers. But that alternative film history rant is for another day. Each of these The Love Boat episodic stories were written by different author. Usually with the episode consisting of one comedy, one drama and one romantic comedy tale in each episode, there was something for the whole family.
In this particular episode, we have Olivia De Havilland and Joseph Cotten in Aunt Hilly. De Havilland playing Aunt Hilly and Cotten as her on-screen husband, Col. van Ryker. Also on board in Two for Julie are two Dallas stars, Ken Kercheval and Dack Rambo as a pair of competitive co-workers, Don Bartlett and Alan Marciano (respectively). This pair rivals in business and love. Academy Award winner Don Ameche joined this Dallas duo in their story as their boss, Hollis Witkin. Finally, in The Duel, Linda Cristal and Alejandro Rey played two sparring American-Argentine lovers Evita Monteverde and Carlos Ramirez. Evita confiding with the crew openly, she is hoping to get married once Carlos gets over his eye for the ladies (cue canned laughter). I’ll look at these stories individually so as not to muddy the waters.
So as Ms De Havilland is the lady I’m honouring today, most of this post will be spent concentrating on her part in this episode. Olivia De Havilland appears in the title role as the Ship Captain Merrill Stubing (Gavin McLeod)’s aunt Hilly, and we hear her lovely silken voice before we see her. Oscar winner De Havilland bringing some wonderful Old Hollywood glamour to her role.For the added delight of millions, Joseph Cotten appears as her on-screen husband.
It was lovely to see this pair reunited on screen, as I last spotted together as screen lovers in Airport 77 (1977) movie. The Love Boat was De Havilland and Cotten’s last on screen pairing and this episode billed as one of Cotten’s last appearances behind the camera. This role was lovely send off for this actor and his on-off on screen productions with De Havilland.
In their tale, De Havilland plays her well meaning character beautifully. Hilly visiting her nephew and great niece, Vicki Stubing (Jill Whelan) on the cruise with her (often colour coordinated) new husband. Vicki and Hilly meet for the first time and immediately get on, with Hilly surprising Vicki with a generous present of a pretty pink (and surprisingly not canary yellow) frock. Vicki is entranced with her great aunt and enthralled by her glamorous tales of Paris. Hilly believes Vicki would be better off attending a Swiss school, which as her great aunt she will gladly pay for. She suggests this idea to Merrill, with him considering it.
Hilly thinks that this schooling for the best for her great niece, as she’ll learn more, meet influential people and be able to spend her holidays with her father. Von Stryker is concerned for his wife, and he advises her on the importance of family over time with others. After these few words of wisdom from her husband, regarding her past mistakes with Merrill’s brother Conrad she thinks again. She takes back her offer, with Merrill with both agreeing this a possible idea for Vicki’s future.
Olivia was sincere and lovely in this role, and very much the caring great auntie hoping to help her great niece. De Havilland’s scenes with child actor Whelan, were warm and touching with both respectful of each others acting career. Jill seemed unfazed by the fact she was in such esteemed acting company, perhaps due her in previous story lines with other big name acting talents throughout this series. Likewise, it was wonderful to see Cotten reunited with De Havilland, both falling into a sweet and lovely on screen rapport I recalled from their joint scenes in the TV Movie, The Screaming Woman (1972) and in Airport 77 (1977).
Two for Julie
Now to the Dallas duo, with Don and Alan both on a cruise with their boss. Both Cliff and Jack Don and Alan hope to win the Presidency after Witkin’s impending retirement. These men also apparently falling for the pretty crew member, Cruise Director Julie McCoy (Lauren Tewes).
With Julie and work, the men see it as a case of may the best guy win by fair means and foul. Their immature ways and competitiveness is relayed to the pair by Julie. Julie sees herself as just a pawn in their ongoing game, after both seem to ditch her for the same blonde on the same night. However this story line of passengers falling for Julie’s charms not the only one (with her the only woman in the crew its not surprising) with others, including her work colleagues.
These passenger roles showed these stars fun chemistry, also seen with Rambo’s later Dallas role as Kercheval’s Cliff Barnes brother in law Jack Ewing. Jack was the cousin of the Ewing brothers. It was nice to see these actors together in these more comic roles. This episode was filmed during his time on Dallas for Kercheval and in those days pre-Dallas for Rambo. These actors characters also fought over a girl in Dallas but with different motives. As Cliff used Jack’s sister Jamie Ewing to get back at the Ewings, Jack has more than a few angry words for his Barnes brother-in-law about this.
The final tale tells of Evita and her flirty fiance, Carlos Jose Ramon Raul Sebastian Battista Ramirez. This story with a recurrent Spanish musical theme, has this temperamental engaged pair at constant loggerheads. She wants to marry, but only once he gets over his roving eye. Evita spots him chatting up those bikini clad dolly birds at the pool. So to make him jealous, she flirts openly with the Ship’s Doctor Adam Bricker (Bernie Kopell).
The Love Boat using that well known trope of the engaged pair in adjoining cabins with very loud suggestive flirting from her intended to make her partner hear. Ramirez, a expert swordsman (as demonstrated beautifully as we meet the pair) immediately gets riled and challenges the Doctor to a duel. With crazy, comic outcomes.This as Bartender Isaac Washington (Ted Lange) and Ship’s Purser ‘Gopher’ Smith (Fred Grandy) “help” out to much “hilarity” saying the Doctor also a master of the blade (so to speak).
This story for laughs was however the story I enjoyed the least, possibly as it depended too much on more predictable tropes and scenes. With the canned laughter at everything this pair said and did this was irritating and cumbersome. But to be fair, I did expect the duel players seconds to have to take over his duel, with these seconds those meddling crew members Issac and Gopher. These scenes would possibly have been funnier as I watched this series aged 10 or 11 (many moons ago), but then the double entendre went over my head.
But then a lot of things would have gone over my head back then. Firstly the only recognisable actor would have been Kercheval. Kercheval, as a Dallas star then would have been my no 1 reason for being glued to this episode, even with his then apparently crazy hair. It’s only now – on the rewatch – that I recognise the others in the cast. With the impressive guest star list for this programme making this show another of those one to go for show to go to reviews for future posts.
Now finally, if you don’t want to rock the boat, look away now before I embark on some Love Boat inspired idioms with how these stories concluded. With Evita getting her man come hell or high water with what was seen as a rocky conclusion. Those two Dallas stars Ewing and that darn Barnes ending up in the same boat with Julie. Their reprimand was approved with applause from Witkin. And Aunt Hilly makes waves with a final scene where she concurs blood is thicker than water. Notably a year after disembarking The Love Boat, De Havilland joined another all star cast vehicle. This heading an all star Agatha Christie movie, where she found Murder is Easy (1982).
Weeper Rating: 0 /10
Handsqueeze Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂 /10
Bonus Trailer: No
This post was added to Phyllis Loves Classic Movies and In The Good Old Days Of Classic Hollywood Fourth Annual Olivia De Havilland Blogathon. Other reviews with this cast include The Love Boat in a Galaxies of Guest Stars list. Olivia De Havilland stars in The Swarm and Murder is Easy. Both De Havilland and Cotten star in Airport 77. Ken Kercheval and Dack Rambo star in many of my Dallas posts including the final episode HERE. Kercheval’s remembrance post HERE. Others include Gavin McLeod and Lauren Tewes in Murder, She Wrote and Hotel. Bernie Kopell in Hart to Hart and Fantasy Island. Ted Lange and Jill Whelan also in also in Fantasy Island.