Wednesday, April 13, 2016

SS United States Silver Screen Review: Munster, Go Home! (1966)

Alright, time for wholesome, traditional entertainment with one of America's favorite ghoulishly funny families: the Munsters!

In Munster, Go Home!, Herman Munster's uncle, an English Lord, has died and left his whole estate and title to Herman! So the whole family packs up and goes off to England. But wait, the crazy English in-laws will stop at nothing to take the title back -- including murder!!

This movie plays exactly like an episode from the original TV series. Excluding Marilyn, all of the TV show's cast members were in the movie. This movie is the first (and only) time the original Munster family was shown in color (glorious Technicolor!!). As it was a Universal Studios picture, the movie used many recognizable outdoor locations on the backlot, including Little Europe and, of course, the Munster House on Colonial Street. The outdoor English countryside scenes look unusually sunny -- until you find out they were filmed at the Universal Studios Ranch in California.

Now, to the ship!

How do the Munsters get to England? The only way to cross -- The SS United States! As with any true comedy movie's ocean crossing, a nice chunk of the movie is devoted to the onboard hijinks. Marilyn falls in (and out) of love, Herman gets seasick, and Grandpa turns into a dog. Don't you hate when that happens on your family trips?

The ship appears in multiple exterior shots, but the interior shots are all unmistakably on a sound stage. The staterooms' doors and crown molding are wooden. Lily Munster even says the stateroom's bureau is made of "Mahogany." This would never happen on the SS United States.

The exterior shots, while only placemaking and not featuring any of the cast, are wonderful. One is of the forward funnel's whistles blaring. Another is a side shot of the ship leaving the dock and people waving from the decks.

There is one mystery exterior shot where the camera is very close to the ship passing by. It looked off to me, so I took a long look at the moment after watching the movie. I can confirm it is NOT the United States. I am unsure what other vessel it is, or if it is a model. It does have many similar features to the Big U, but on the area it passes there are some differences.

Still of mystery ship in Munster, Go Home! (1966)

SS United States, May 2014. Personal photo.

The biggest differences I can find are within the red square I put on each image. On the mystery ship, the railing is a deck lower than on the United States. There should be a continued row of portholes in the white section on the side of the ship. Also, on the mystery ship, there is a bit of wall that continues on and then curves down to reach the railing. On the Big U, the railing runs all the way to the superstructure.

If anyone wants to take a crack at what ship this could be, here are some more clues of the superstructure from the segue a few moments earlier:

Segue still from Munster, Go Home! (1966)

Update 6/19/2016 - Thanks to the SS United States Conservancy sharing this post on their Facebook Page (Thanks!), we have what I believe is the answer. Santiago M. found a video showing a model liner that fits the pictures I posted. It also has model people on the promenade deck, something I swore I could see when I was watching the Munster footage. This model also appeared in the Fred Astaire picture Royal Wedding (1951). The cloud matte painting background also seems like the same match -- look at this screenshot from the new video, and compare the clouds in the green square to the ones in the first picture I shared in this post.

Screenshot from Getty Images of SS Mayflower

Movie: Fun comedy movie. 3/4
SS United States: On the boat, relevant to the plot, uses exteriors of ship but uses a soundstage for interiors. 3/4

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