Film / The Beatniks

Eddy Crane (Tony Travis) is a down-on-his-luck kid in the late '50s/early '60s who, along with his Five-Bad Band pack of hoodlums — Mooney (Peter Breck), Red, Dark Chick Iris and Satellite Character Chuck — lives only to rob convenience stores for petty cash and then lounge around. That is, until one day when talent scout Harry Bayliss happens upon Eddy singing ("You call that singin'? That was nothin'!" You can say that again...) and quickly tries to sign him to a big record deal. Eddy is at first bitter and reluctant but eventually agrees, on the stipulation that his hoodlum gang can stay with him.

Off to downtown L.A. where Eddy meets Helen, Bayliss' secretary, setting up the inevitable Love Triangle. As Helen begins grooming the rather rough (or so we're told) Eddy into a straight-laced star, he begins to see the futility of his Beatnik ways (to clarify; no, not that kind of Beatnik). His Poisonous Friends, on the other hand, are bound and determined not to let him leave them behind in his rise to the top, and continue to create mischief and mayhem — which culminates when Ax-Crazy Mooney shoots a barkeeper dead during an altercation, thus jeopardizing not only Eddy's career, but his entire future.

Tony Travis had a very brief film and television career, fizzling one year after his big break in this movie.

For the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version, please go to the episode recap page.

This film contains examples of the following:

  • Ax-Crazy: Mooney.
  • Betty and Veronica: Helen and Iris.
  • Break Her Heart to Save Her: Eddy accuses Helen of stringing him along for business reasons to discourage her from staying with a no-good punk like himself, mostly out of fear that she'll be implicated in the gang's crime if she does stay. It doesn't stick.
  • Downer Ending: Eddy sacrifices his career to atone for his past crimes.
  • Drunken Montage: After Eddy (briefly) drops out of show business and breaks up with Helen, he takes a Noir Walk through Los Angeles. As it turns out, though, he's not actually drunk (that we know of).
  • Drives Like Crazy: Iris invokes this deliberately, just for kicks.
  • Ham-to-Ham Combat: After Red gets shot, it's a toss-up between him and Mooney as to who's better at making their own gravy and splashing it up on film.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: Mooney's threat to the hotel manager: "I'm gonna MOOOOOOON YOU!!"note 
  • Informed Ability: Eddy's prosaic stage presence somehow sends teenage girls (and guys too) into screaming fits of Beatle-esque hysteria.
    Eddy: You call that singin'? That was nothin'!
    • To be fair, Eddy's crooning still had some popularity - in The '50s, not The '60s.
  • Informed Attractiveness: Helen. To be completely fair, of course, she's merely following the styles and trends of her day. But her too-huge eyes, tightly pulled back platinum hair and pancake makeup provide her with an unfortunate resemblance to a skull. The harsh lighting and the black-and-white film stock aren't doing her any favors either.
  • Large Ham: Peter Breck, again, as Mooney.
  • Murder Is the Best Solution: Mooney KILLED THAT FAT BARKEEP!
  • Non-Indicative Title: There are no actual beatniks in The Beatniks. The writers seem to be either be under the impression that "beatnik" means something along the lines of "delinquent" or "hoodlum", or that the name comes from beat — as in music — niks, or possibly a bit of both.
  • Poisonous Friend: Once again, Peter Breck as Mooney. He avoids being The Starscream solely because he doesn't want to be a leader: "Leaders got too much on their minds, man...I only got time for one thing —" (incomprehensible hand gesture; Evil Laugh)
    • The rest of Eddie's "friends" aren't much better; they're determined to keep Eddie in their circle of petty criminals.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: I KILLED THAT FAT BARKEEP!
    • In addition, the diner is on FAWTH STREET!
  • Satellite Character: Chuck the Fifth Beatnik.
  • Shopping Montage: Helen takes Eddy out on the town to get him cleaned up for his big break.
  • Slasher Smile: Still again, Peter Breck as Mooney.
  • Word Salad Lyrics: "Sideburns don't need your sympathy..." Well, I can see how WHAT???
    • It's Eddie's nickname.
  • Worst News Judgment Ever: Mooney thinks the barkeep murder will make him as famous as Eddy.