This film was acoustic music's equivalent to 'Plan 9 From Outer Space'. I remember seeing it at a drive-in (remember those?) when it first came out. Except for Judy Henske (who, it is said, considers the film an embarrassment), watching it bordered on the painful. I left thinking 'Hootenanny Hoot' was a sure sign that the popularity of commercial folk music finally - and thankfully - had passed.
I wonder how many of the performers consider the film an embarrassment. I just watched Judy's performances on Youtube and can see why she was embarrassed. I also watched her singing in a clip that was not from the film and found it much more enjoyable. Perhaps the guitar and banjo player faking their playing or the girls in crotch tight outfits dancing around makes these performances hard to enjoy.
"Here Johnny Cash, You'll look more like a folkie with a 12-string guitar. Strap? No you don't need a strap, just hold it and strum your fingers over the strings."
I have no way of knowing how many of those performers consider Hootenanny Hoot an embarrassment. But I think all of them should have. In the mid-sixties, the film's female lead, Ruta Lee, was the co-host of a Los Angeles area television talk show. The other co-host was Regis Philbin. One day Lee made some dismissive comment on a popular film that was then playing in the theatres. Philbin, who had grown visibly irritated with Lee's simplistic assessment, disagreed with her and said something to the effect that she was in no position to comment on the quality of ANY film, given her complicity in 'Hootenanny Hoot'. Ah, the days of live television.