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 Posted:   Sep 26, 2020 - 8:00 AM   
 By:   OnyaBirri   (Member)

Last night, Ms. Birri and I watched the 1979 thriller "The China Syndrome," with Jane Fonda, Michael Douglas, and Jack Lemmon. The film provides a powerful warning to viewers about the inherent industrial dangers that occur when tiki bars drift too far from their aesthetic, potentially going out of business and endangering lives and livelihoods in the community.

For those who have never seen the film - no spoilers - it is about Jane Fonda going to meet Jack Lemmon for a drink at a tiki bar in 1979. As all FSMers know, tiki had fallen on hard times by the late 70s, with some bars going out of business, their A-frame structures being repurposed for everything from pizza parlors to nail salons.

The interior of the bar in "The China Syndrome" pulls no punches, and clearly telegraphs to viewers the current state of tiki bars - perhaps raising viewers' anxieties about existing tiki bars in their own communities.

While we see vestiges of the bar's 1950s glory days - the thatched roof around the bar's perimeter, colored lights, and some hanging oceanic lamps, the patrons are drinking beer or scotch. There is not a single tiki mug to be seen, and presumably, no one is drinking rum. The bartender is indeed wearing a Hawaiian shirt, but it is of a more recent polyester variety - a far cry from the classic bark cloth shirts made by Ui Maikai or silk shirts made by Alfred Shaheen. And the stereo is blasting contemporary pop music. There is no Hawaiian music or exotica to be heard.

Some critics may think that the film's politics are dated and over-earnest. But the themes addressed in "The China Syndrome" continue to resonate. Vintage tiki bars routinely fall on hard times, and before the plug is finally pulled, many will limp along for decades, making desperate attempts to appeal to contemporary fads.

I remember in the late 1990s and early 2000s visiting the Bali Hai in Lynnfield, MA, off of the legendary Route 1. While the restaurant still exhibited remnants of its former grandeur, the bar had installed keno machines and was broadcasting ESPN on large-screen TVS. Similarly, the Bahi Hut in Sarasota, FL fell on hard times. While they have recently upped their game in the decor and music departments, the cocktails are still undrinkable.

All and all, I would highly recommend "The China Syndrome" to any film buffs concerned about the potential for industrial mishaps in their own communities, when their respective tiki bars become the victims of neglect, mismanagement, and mission drift. The film is as relevant in 2020 as it was in 1979.

 
 Posted:   Sep 26, 2020 - 8:54 AM   
 By:   solium   (Member)

Me thinks OnyaBirri had to many drinks at the last remaining Tiki Bar. Oh yeah, great film!

 
 Posted:   Sep 27, 2020 - 4:39 AM   
 By:   Jim Phelps   (Member)

As all FSMers know, tiki had fallen on hard times by the late 70s...

Especially all the UK-based FSMers, who simply cannot get enough of All Things Tiki.

Let's also not forget the mainstream FSMers who never post on this side of the board; they all know, too.

Oh, how they know.

 
 Posted:   Sep 27, 2020 - 4:41 AM   
 By:   Jim Phelps   (Member)

While we see vestiges of the bar's 1950s glory days - the thatched roof around the bar's perimeter, colored lights, and some hanging oceanic lamps, the patrons are drinking beer or scotch. There is not a single tiki mug to be seen, and presumably, no one is drinking rum. The bartender is indeed wearing a Hawaiian shirt, but it is of a more recent polyester variety - a far cry from the classic bark cloth shirts made by Ui Maikai or silk shirts made by Alfred Shaheen. And the stereo is blasting contemporary pop music. There is no Hawaiian music or exotica to be heard.

I realize this thread was designed to be abandoned, but I'll contribute to it anyway.

Jack Lemmon gave an absolutely atrocious performance in The China Syndrome--absolutely fecking atrocious. I can understand a grown man screaming and carrying on over, say, a scratched boutique CD, but caterwauling like a newborn baby over a nuclear power plant meltdown? Come on, Jack!

There's an episode of Mannix from 1972, "The Upside Down Penny" (S6) that has a scene in which our intrepid detective is pursuing some thug. Joe climbs around a Tiki-looking apartment building which even by 1972 had seen better days. This was an actual building and not a set. Joe even walks up to its street entrance, complete with Tiki on the outside. The place was filthy, even though it had its Tiki characteristics, but even by 1972, the optimistic future of the 1950s was long dead.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 27, 2020 - 7:36 AM   
 By:   OnyaBirri   (Member)

There's an episode of Mannix from 1972, "The Upside Down Penny" (S6) that has a scene in which our intrepid detective is pursuing some thug. Joe climbs around a Tiki-looking apartment building which even by 1972 had seen better days. This was an actual building and not a set. Joe even walks up to its street entrance, complete with Tiki on the outside. The place was filthy, even though it had its Tiki characteristics, but even by 1972, the optimistic future of the 1950s was long dead.

I wonder if "Marina Lana" was really the name of the complex, or if that sign was made for the show. I will consult Tiki Central when their upgrade is complete.

 
 Posted:   Sep 27, 2020 - 7:38 AM   
 By:   Jim Phelps   (Member)

There's an episode of Mannix from 1972, "The Upside Down Penny" (S6) that has a scene in which our intrepid detective is pursuing some thug. Joe climbs around a Tiki-looking apartment building which even by 1972 had seen better days. This was an actual building and not a set. Joe even walks up to its street entrance, complete with Tiki on the outside. The place was filthy, even though it had its Tiki characteristics, but even by 1972, the optimistic future of the 1950s was long dead.

I wonder if "Marina Lana" was really the name of the complex, or if that sign was made for the show. I will consult Tiki Central when their upgrade is complete.


Feel free to use the above photo, and tell 'em His Majesty O'Keefe sends his compliments.

 
 Posted:   Sep 27, 2020 - 7:41 AM   
 By:   solium   (Member)


Jack Lemmon gave an absolutely atrocious performance in The China Syndrome--absolutely fecking atrocious. I can understand a grown man screaming and carrying on over, say, a scratched boutique CD, but caterwauling like a newborn baby over a nuclear power plant meltdown? Come on, Jack!


Say whaaat?! eek

 
 Posted:   Sep 27, 2020 - 7:43 AM   
 By:   solium   (Member)

For your enjoyment! https://www.tikibartv.com/

 
 Posted:   Sep 27, 2020 - 7:46 AM   
 By:   Jim Phelps   (Member)


Jack Lemmon gave an absolutely atrocious performance in The China Syndrome--absolutely fecking atrocious. I can understand a grown man screaming and carrying on over, say, a scratched boutique CD, but caterwauling like a newborn baby over a nuclear power plant meltdown? Come on, Jack!


Say whaaat?! eek


Sometimes I write things to see if I'm paying attention.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 27, 2020 - 8:33 AM   
 By:   OnyaBirri   (Member)


Jack Lemmon gave an absolutely atrocious performance in The China Syndrome--absolutely fecking atrocious. I can understand a grown man screaming and carrying on over, say, a scratched boutique CD, but caterwauling like a newborn baby over a nuclear power plant meltdown? Come on, Jack!


Say whaaat?! eek


Sometimes I write things to see if I'm paying attention.


I thought you were serious, and I was inclined to agree. Jack Lemmon was very good at playing...Jack Lemmon.

I liked him in "Glengarry Glen Ross."

 
 Posted:   Sep 27, 2020 - 8:33 AM   
 By:   Jim Phelps   (Member)

I was serious about Jack's performance, yet not-so serious about the scratched CD vs. nuclear meltdowns.

 
 Posted:   Sep 27, 2020 - 8:42 AM   
 By:   solium   (Member)

He was sensational! The whole film road on his presence and performance in the film. It would've been a nothing film without him. Take him out and all you got is that boring Barbarella lady and "I'd suck my own d*ck if I could" Michael Douglas.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 27, 2020 - 8:42 AM   
 By:   OnyaBirri   (Member)

I was serious about Jack's performance, yet not-so serious about the scratched CD vs. nuclear meltdowns.

There are posters here who would have a nuclear meltdown over a damaged CD.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 27, 2020 - 8:44 AM   
 By:   OnyaBirri   (Member)

He was sensational! The whole film road on his presence and performance in the film. It would've been a nothing film without him. Take him out and all you got is that boring Barbarella lady and "I'd suck my own d*ck if I could" Michael Douglas.

Sorry, but I don't understand how a film about the decline of tiki bars could include a character of Lemmon's age, who would have remembered the heyday, yet was oblivious to the decay and neglect surrounding him. A poor performance.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 27, 2020 - 9:21 AM   
 By:   LoungeLaura   (Member)

He was sensational! The whole film road on his presence and performance in the film. It would've been a nothing film without him. Take him out and all you got is that boring Barbarella lady and "I'd suck my own d*ck if I could" Michael Douglas.

Did you also find her boring in Joy House and Klute? I'm also curious about how you know so well the nimble desires of Michael Douglas?

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 27, 2020 - 9:26 AM   
 By:   LoungeLaura   (Member)

He was sensational! The whole film road on his presence and performance in the film. It would've been a nothing film without him. Take him out and all you got is that boring Barbarella lady and "I'd suck my own d*ck if I could" Michael Douglas.

Sorry, but I don't understand how a film about the decline of tiki bars could include a character of Lemmon's age, who would have remembered the heyday, yet was oblivious to the decay and neglect surrounding him. A poor performance.


While I respectfully disagree about Jack's performance here, you are right. Sure, nuclear meltdowns are a grave threat to human existence, but so is the sad 70s decline of the tiki bar!

 
 Posted:   Sep 27, 2020 - 9:38 AM   
 By:   Jim Phelps   (Member)

The China Syndrome bar:

 
 Posted:   Sep 27, 2020 - 10:51 AM   
 By:   Sean Nethery   (Member)

....Similarly, the Bahi Hut in Sarasota, FL fell on hard times. While they have recently upped their game in the decor and music departments, the cocktails are still undrinkable....

What I wanna know is what makes these cocktails undrinkable?
(said the "I don't know if I've ever had a Tiki cocktail in my life!" guy.)

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 27, 2020 - 11:14 AM   
 By:   OnyaBirri   (Member)

....Similarly, the Bahi Hut in Sarasota, FL fell on hard times. While they have recently upped their game in the decor and music departments, the cocktails are still undrinkable....

What I wanna know is what makes these cocktails undrinkable?
(said the "I don't know if I've ever had a Tiki cocktail in my life!" guy.)


Bad ratios, rot gut rum, and corn-syrup-laden gooey mixers instead of the good stuff.

The true, original tiki drinks used top-shelf rums, freshly squeezed lime, and mixers that were made in-house or, if off-the-shelf, high-end mixers made with real fruits and no hydrogenated goop.

The mixologists among us know a thing or two.

 
 Posted:   Sep 28, 2020 - 8:53 AM   
 By:   Sean Nethery   (Member)

Cool, thanks!

 
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