About the DVD:
I purchased the first 4 Lemon Popsicle films in a box set from Amazon
UK. I was enjoying the films on one level, but I gave up after the first
one because the transfers are just atrocious. As one commenter wrote on
the Amazon site: "No expense at all has been incurred to bring these films
to you on DVD, except maybe to pick up 3rd-generation VHS copies from a
(flea market) in Tel Aviv!" Since the DVDs are obviously VHS transfers,
there are three big problems: (1) the visual quality is poor; (2) the
sound is monaural; (3) they are in 4:3 aspect ratio, and have obviously
been pan-&-scanned to cobble them into that shape.
The aspect ratio didn't bother me too much on the first film, but I
abandoned the second film after about five minutes because most of the
dialogue was coming from characters outside the range of visibility. That
particular film seems to have been filmed originally in a 2:35 aspect
ratio, so the cropping is particularly annoying. The action is sometimes
difficult to follow because the frame often includes a single character
who is not speaking, a situation resulting from a clumsily cropped
two-shot or three-shot. The experience would be bad even if the visuals
were clear and bright, but the VHS source was so poor that watching this
particular version of Lemon Popsicle 2 is akin to watching a broadcast of
Ben-Hur on an old rabbit-ear television with particularly bad reception.
As for the sound ... well, I suppose there are plenty of films that
don't need more than monaural sound, but these four movies are not part of
that group. The music is an integral component of their appeal. The sound
track consists of non-stop oldies from the 50s and early 60s, so it's
frustrating to hear them in such weak condition.
In the first film, the menu includes a choice of the original Hebrew
dialogue or English dubbing. The Hebrew track comes without subtitles, so
brush up your language skills! Consider some Torah study before watching.
The second film is only available with the English dubbing. I didn't look
at #3 or #4 because I just got disgusted by the quality of the transfers.
Bottom line: do not buy this collection.
About the film itself:
Although Lemon Popsicle is in Hebrew and takes place in Tel Aviv in
1960, it is almost exactly the same film as The Last American Virgin,
which is in English and takes place in the USA twenty years later. That's
because The Last American Virgin was a remake designed specifically for
the American market. The two films were made only four years apart by the
same director (Boaz Davidson) and the same producers (Golan and Globus),
using some of the same storyboards and dialogue. In order to create the
American version, the filmmakers made only the changes which were
necessary for the chronological and geographic shift.
If you like the youthploitation sex comedies of the early 80s, you will
regard this as their spiritual ancestor. It was made four years before
Porky's or Fast Times, and touches upon the same themes and features the
same kind of hijinks. I enjoyed it in spite of the abominable transfer,
and offer only one possible precaution. I mentioned above that the sound
track consisted of non-stop oldies. I was not using the term "non-stop"
casually or figuratively. Nearly every minute of the film blasts a top
forty hit into your ears, whether it's in the background under some
dialogue, or at top volume when the action is visual. Unlike most films,
which tend to "sample" pop songs, Lemon Popsicle usually plays the entire
song from start to finish (sometimes more than once!), adjusting the
volume depending on the spoken dialogue. When the characters speak, the
volume of the doo-wop is lowered, but the tunes get loud again if and when
the characters stop talking. I'm guessing that the decision to use the
full length of the songs was both a stylistic choice and an economic one.
I don't know precisely how the royalty fee structure works, but I'm
assuming that the filmmakers pay the same fee whether they play a few bars
of "Mr Lonely" or play the entire song through twice. If that is so, these
filmmakers got their money's worth.
I love doo-wop rock. I'm not sure why. If somebody started making new
doo-wop songs in the 50s style, would I love those, too, or do I just love
those old songs because they are so familiar, so easy to sing along with,
and so evocative of youth? I don't know the answer to that hypothetical
question, but I do love me some greaser classics. Despite that affection,
I was getting a little annoyed at the incessant presence of shoo-be-doos,
bop-shoo-bops, sha-na-nas and rama-lama-ding-dongs on this soundtrack. So
I'm guessing that you might get really annoyed if you don't share my
affection for 1950s harmonies sung by lovelorn wimps about the unfaithful
or unattainable girls in the local high school.
At any rate, I enjoyed the films enough to hunt out a better
collection, so maybe this discussion will continue.