Tuesday, April 9, 2013

SI, MUY CALIENTE! The first 15 minutes of "Herbie Goes Bananas" (1980)

OK, I'm going to just come right out and say it: this is the point in the Charles Martin Smith filmography where I totally lose my shit over his sexiness. In the past entries I've posted about his films, I have been trying to show a degree of restraint in my expressions of the admiration I have for this particular person. Besides being seriously attracted to him, I also deeply admire him as an actor and director. So I've tried to keep the tone respectful to a degree. In the old deleted incarnation of this blog, I felt like I often let things careen too far into Prurient-ville. That's actually one of the reasons I junked the first version of "CMS is the Sexiest Man Alive!" and started over. So, even though I have made numerous comments of a sexual nature in this current version of the blog so far, there's still a line I've tried to keep myself from crossing.

Starting here with this entry's film, the Walt Disney Production "Herbie Goes Bananas" (1980), I find myself right at that line feeling pushed to cross it, urged on by the level of incredible hotness I am witness to. With this movie and the next several, I am confronted by Charles Martin Smith embodying what to me is pretty much perfection in my book. You'd better fucking believe at this point in his career, this 10 year stretch through the 1980s, I strongly declare that Charles Martin Smith is the Sexiest Man Alive! 

Guess what that's an image of... Go on, guess. If you said it was my splooge all over the TV screen after getting all excited watching Charles in this movie, you would be wrong. But that was a really good guess... It's actually the famous VW Love Bug's name, Herbie, caught in mid-transformation at the start of the credit sequence. As the coast of Mexico rushes by in the background, Herbie's name (animated in the distinctive shape of a VW Beetle) rolls onto the center of the screen. Then GLOOP... it changes into a gooey glob, then switches shape to a bright Mexican blanket, H-E-R-B-I-E stitched into it's design in big bold colorful letters. It's actually a clever metaphor for the transformation the living car with the mind of it's own goes through in this picture, the 4th in the popular Disney franchise. But I'll only be making a few limited references to that in my assessment of this film. Even though this is Herbie's movie, he is not who I am here to talk about.

There's who I'm here to talk about: Charles Martin Smith! We're here in the hot, sweltering city of Puerto Vallarta as the film begins, the high temperatures necessitating a wardrobe that is appropriate to the environment. So right from the start, we're hit smack-dab with Charles in an outfit that beautifully shows off his incredibly sexy legs. So much skin is exposed that I have to devote an entire entry to just the first 15 minutes of "Herbie Goes Bananas" instead of a single posting covering the whole film. You'll see: there's enough sexy CMS on display here to take up a ton of space with mouthwatering pics and gushing commentary. 

In the background behind the credits, we see a bus traveling along a coastal road. As it comes to a stop and it's passengers begin streaming off, we are introduced to our two main characters: first there's Pete (Stephen Burns), who I'm guessing is supposed to be the film's leading hunk. And actually he's pretty cute, with his nice dark hair and handsome features. But he's no match for his pal DJ (CMS). Struggling with his big duffle bag as an unruly bunch of kids shove past him, we see DJ awkwardly exit the bus.  Wow...would you take a look at those shorts? That's some surprisingly revealing clothing, huh? Look how high up his beautifully meaty thigh you can see! Swoon!

It looks like we're in for another of CMS's trademark "awkward nerd" performances... and holy cow! I'm really loving being able to see this much exposed Charles! Damn, he's lookin' goooood! Hells yeah! Just look at those incredible legs. Look! Look, I said! And guess what? There's more luscious leg action coming up! Woo hoo! I feel like I hit the jackpot!

As CMS gains his composure and stops doing that adorably klutzy thing that he does so well, he walks over to his buddy who's standing nearby admiring the beautiful scenery. "Hey Pete, are you sure this is the place?" he asks. Nice! It's been a while since CMS has had the first line of the show (the last time was that 1974 episode of "The Streets of San Francisco"). "You saw the letter. This is the place," Pete chuckles as he puts a reassuring arm around his companion. This leads to another thing I have to discuss about this film. I feel rather strongly that the relationship this pair has goes beyond just being good friends. The chemistry between DJ and Pete suggests a definite sexual component. How deep it goes or what exact form it takes is open to debate, but there's definitely something hot and tender going on here.  Continue reading and I will show you what I'm talking about.

As the guys make their way along the coastal sidewalk, we hear their reason for arriving in this exotic locale: Pete and DJ are here in Puerto Vallarta to claim a race car that Pete's uncle has left to him. "For sentimental reasons," he explains to DJ. All they have to do is pay a storage fee to the garage it's been left at, which DJ is taking care of, a wad of bills waiting in his pocket. Foolishly, he says this out loud and is overheard by a suspicious looking little Mexican kid the two guys pass by.

This kid in question is young orphan Paco (Joaquin Garay III), who follows after them and approaches the two with the initial offer of a shoe shine. When that is rejected, the little squirt informs them: "You are personally connected to a Puerto Vallartan. I show you plenty good time!" Gosh, what sort of entertainment is this kid suggesting to this handsome young pair of guys?

DJ seems a little amused, or at least curious. "Hey, what do you say, Pete?" he asks his pal, who is not interested at all. "It's not in the budget," Pete explains a little gruffly to their potential guide to the secret sexy side of this seaside city. Look at that sweet CMS smile. How could you say no to that? I don't know, but Pete does it with no trouble. Jeez... isn't it DJ's money? Who makes the decisions about how to spend each other's cash? Sounds more like bickering boyfriends than platonic pals, if you ask me...

But they DO need someone to show them how to get to the garage their car is stored at, and Paco is more than willing to do it ("Free on the house!"). He walks them down the street a ways, and is very  chatty and complimentary ("I like Americans! Americans very smart people!"). After a bit, he points out a street and directs them to go down it 2 blocks to reach their destination.

They thank their little guide and he gives them an enthusiastic "Welcome to Puerto Vallarta!" before scampering off back the way they came. DJ looks over at Pete and gives him a look of bemusement mixed with a dash of annoyance. Gosh, what a handsome mug you've got there, Charles...

Then another look comes over his face, one that seems to communicate something more tender and playful. "Let's hurry and get this car so we can go back to the hotel room and cuddle naked," it appears to be saying. At least that's what I'd like to think it's saying. Whatever kind of look that is, CMS is sure looking adorable in this scene. And if I were standing there and he were giving me that look, I'd probably have jizzed in my pants instantly.

As the pair of pals continue on their way, I get another peek at CMS in those super sexy shorts. Now, it's from behind... and I love what I see. As I've mentioned many times before on this blog, I have always been a huge fan of the rear end Charles is in possession of. Pair it with those beautifully shaped legs and I am in heaven...

Meanwhile, in a nearby hotel, three obviously evil men (Howard Vernon, Alex Rocco, and Richard Jaeckel) are examining a microfilm photo of the jungles of South America. It appears they have located a lost Incan city, and conspire to plunder it's gold.

We return to Pete and DJ, who have arrived at the garage to claim their race car. They are surprised when they are told by the head mechanic that the car in question is the VW Beetle known as Herbie. "This thing won the Monte Carlo Grand Prix?" DJ asks incredulously. The mechanic tells them a brief history of the Love Bug's most recent success as well as a tragic final race that led to Herbie retiring from racing with a broken heart. Or something like that... I think they'd better wrap it up and get a move on. There's some naked cuddling to get to!

It's time to pay the deposit, and it's at this moment that DJ discovers his wallet is missing from his back pocket. Oh crap, that little Mexican brat stole it! But he and Pete play it cool and don't let on that they don't have the cash to pay up, instead asking if they can take the little car around the block to see how  well it's running. The friendly mechanic suspects nothing and says yes. 

Now they're tooling around the alleys and side streets of Puerto Vallarta, on the hunt for that sneaky little shit. Actually, the 2 actors are now on a soundstage with cheaply matted optical effects behind them (typical of Disney movies in the 1970s). They're both mad as hell and angry at themselves too for being such suckers. I must say, they're both kinda cute when they're pissed. Look at that adorably annoyed expression on CMS's face...

Not far away, the three villains we saw earlier are now leaving their hotel, where they run into Paco on the sidewalk. He offers to carry their bags, but ends up getting in a scuffle with them. The kid even gets kicked by one of them, and he goes flying into the street! Damn! But the resilient runt just picks himself up and scampers away into traffic, apparently unharmed, darting between vehicles like a little latin frogger...

Of course Paco has grabbed a bad guy's wallet too, and he sits behind a large crate in the alley to look at what he's gained from his thievery. As he rifles through the stolen billfolds, he discovers the secret microfilm that reveals the location of the lost Incan city, although he is totally ignorant of it's significance. Meanwhile, Pete and DJ (back on location and off the soundstage) manage to spot the larcenist's lanky legs poking out from behind the crate. "See that grubby little foot out behind that box?" Pete asks with an angry growl to his voice. "A cold beer says it's attached to Paco the dip!" Yeah, and see that fabulously furry forearm resting there on the window sill? A warm bear says it's attached to The Sexiest Man Alive. 

Pete and DJ try to quietly slip out of the VW so they can sneak over and grab the brat, but Herbie's squeaky door alerts Paco to their presence. Darn! DJ slams the door shut in frustration! This initiates an extended chase sequence, with Paco swiftly speeding through the backyards and back alleys, Pete close on his tail with DJ bumbling behind and barely keeping up. I'm absolutely astounded once again by the super sexy sight of CMS's lovely legs. 

Although the other two hop over a wall with relative ease, DJ struggles quite a bit more to scale the obstacle. In the process, I am treated to some prime footage of CMS being all cute & clumsy. Both that incredible butt and those fantastic legs are displayed so nicely in this moment. Holy moly! 

The more CMS slips and stumbles, the more excited I get in response. It's crazy, I know this scene is really not intended to be so friggin' hot, but I can't help but feel it really is... absurdly so! How can you not have this adorable guy wear those tiny little brown shorts, accentuating the most arousing attributes of this particular performer, and not be aware of the stunningly sexy sights shown in these scenes? I mean really! That ass, those legs... 

The awkwardness continues as DJ finally gets over the wall and into the backyard on the opposite side. Before you know it, he's ran right into a bunch of drying laundry hanging on the line, a big blue piece of fabric wrapping itself around his precious puss. At least his lower body remains unobscured for me to enjoy. So nice!

Slowed down by DJ's accidental antics, they lose Paco in the mess of  locals and tourists crowding the sidewalks. As the two friends separate to spread the search over a wider area, the trio of villains realize they've also been the victim of Paco's pickpocketing. Now they're all hunting for his hide. Who will find him first? Look everywhere, he's got to be around here someplace...

It's oh so cute when Pete and DJ come barreling around a corner from opposite directions and run smack-dab into each other. Oops! They fumble for a few seconds in each other's arms before they regain their balance. I wish I could see more of that kind of activity between them, but they are quickly distracted by something: Oh hey, look over there. It's that little shit Paco, still holding onto the two wallets!

Pete and DJ split up so they can come at the kid from either side. I get to see CMS run around in those super sexy shorts some more, doing that goofy-yet-hot thing once again. There he goes, running over to spy on the thief from behind the tree. Is it me, or is there something about that ankle sticking out from behind the trunk all askew that says "gayness present here"? Yeah, true... it's a somewhat stereotypical presumption, but I'll take my gay-related Charles Martin Smith elements where ever I can find them.

Now I get to see CMS doing that cutely angry facial expression again. So here's another gratuitous shot of him showing it off. Obviously, I think Mr. Smith is looking highly handsome in this particular motion picture. Therefore, every opportunity to appreciate the photographic evidence is completely and totally justified as far as I'm concerned.

As DJ watches, Paco pulls the stolen wallet out of his pocket, rifles through it and pulls out a single dollar bill, then starts to put the pilfered billfold in a nearby mailbox. "Oh no you don't!" DJ shouts out as he rushes out from behind the tree, grabbing the klepto kid before he can drop it though the mail slot.  Jeez, all that trouble to just take $1, when there's clearly more cash to grab out of it? What's that all about? Anyhow, now the guys have recovered their deposit money and they're on their way back to their newly acquired vehicle.

But there's still the villain's wallet too, and Paco pulls it out and admires it. This time he doesn't even take any money out, just holds it in his hands and looks at it. What the hell kind of pickpocket is this? Oh boy, the bad guys are across the street, yelling for the return of the wallet. Too late! Paco drops it in the mailbox and runs away as fast as he can. Herbie seems to have taken a shine to the little pickpocket and appears at a convenient moment, rolling over to the rascal to offer his trunk as a hiding place.  Paco  happily hops inside. Shortly after, Pete and DJ return to the car and prepare to head to the garage to pay that deposit they owe the mechanic. Aw, how nice. What honest guys. They could have said screw the garage and just taken off and gone back to the hotel. Naked cuddle time is overdue!

The police have helped the trio of antagonists retrieve their wallet from the mailbox, and they discover the Incan microfilm is not inside. Paco must have shoved it back into the wrong wallet... DJ's wallet. Gosh! They assume the kid still has it and in their search catch a glimpse of him peeking out of Herbie's trunk.

"Stop that car," they yell... but Herbie isn't going to let them capture his new pal. He pops a wheelie and peels off at super-speed. Pete and DJ sit inside, powerless to control the little car that has taken command of the situation. "Maybe this bug did win the Grand Prix!" DJ gasps in astonishment. "I think we've got ourselves a race car!" 

OK, then! There's been a quick change of plans. Pete and DJ are going to take Herbie to Brazil for the Grand Primeo race, booking passage on the cruise ship Sun Princess. As they watch from the dock, Herbie is loaded into the storage hold of the vessel, the sneaky little brat secretly stowing away inside. I take a moment to admire the lovely sight of Charles Martin Smith in those sexy shorts. Unfortunately, we don't see him wearing anything this hot for the rest of the film (though the orange mechanic's jumpsuit we see him in the film's final scene is quite sexy too). So I'm going to admire the lovely view of CMS from behind one more time before the film moves on.

"Something's weird about that car, DJ," Pete says suspiciously, understating the obvious. Acting as though cars that come to life are not really unusual or cause for concern, DJ responds enthusiastically: "I know! It's dynamite, and it will blow the doors off anything in the race!" 

And with that, DJ grabs his cuddle buddy's arm and they move onboard the boat. Soon, they'll be laying together in their cabin bed, their naked limbs intertwined, softly snoring as they sweetly snooze in each other's arms, finally resting and relaxing after their hectic little adventure in Puerto Vallarta. At least, that's what I'd like to think happens. I continue to maintain that there is a special relationship between these two characters. Why else are they so inseparable? With the exception of one scene, Pete and DJ are never seen apart for the entire movie. They remain constantly by each other's side, both devoted to the very end of the film. You'll see more of their relationship described in the next look I take at "Herbie Goes Bananas" and CMS. 

It's time to wrap this entry up and get it published, since completion of this one is so seriously overdue.  It's crazy: the last actual write-up of one of his films was nearly four months ago. Four friggin' months! Damn! Hopefully you won't be waiting long for the next one: my account of an amazing ocean voyage filled with love, lust, and romance. It's sex and seduction on a ship at sea in the next chapter of "Charles Martin Smith is the Sexiest Man Alive!"


  1. First I thought you were kidding.
    Then I thought you must be his mother.
    Now I think you are overlooking his best work.

  2. No overlooking here, Anonymous. I'm looking at all his work, everything I can get my hands on. Popular or obscure, amazing or awful, at some point I'll get to all of it.

  3. This is pretty dang awesome. I am so enjoying your commentary, and I realize I hadn't appreciated his work as much as I should have. And those legs...damn.