Set Your San Fernando Valley Time Machine to 1961

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Most people watch a movie for the story. Some of us watch for our favorite star or the music or maybe the costumes. I have movies I watch solely for the architecture. That’s how I first heard about Bachelor In Paradise. A friend recommended it because they knew I’d love the mid-century houses that Bob Hope and Lana Turner frolic through in the romantic comedy. The cast is perfect for a goofy ‘60s comedy, but the plot, (something about Bob teaching American housewives to seduce their husbands European-style) was recycled into a thousand forgettable TV sitcoms and is funny but largely forgettable. What is not forgettable is seeing the San Fernando Valley at the peak of her glory and majesty half a century ago. The storied suburbia of freshly sodded lawns and kids on new Schwinns and synchronized gray flannel suits. This time tunnel aspect is why I’ve treasured my watched-to-death VHS copy and am ecstatic for the newish Warner Archives remastered DVD edition. Bachelor In Paradise captures the Kennedy-era Valley in Cinemascope and MetroColor. Watching Bob go shopping at Hughes Market, ordering a hamburger at a carhop drive-in, dancing with Lana as she sips tropical drinks (OK, that one might be a set) is like taking a time machine to a lost world… even if it is just over the hill from here.