Tuesday, December 31, 2013


The Golden Age of Comedy (Post 12 of 12: The final battle)

Chaplin Fan: Good evening and welcome to Classic Movies Revisited. Tonight we are going to dredge up a debate that’s been going on for over eighty years. That is, deciding who was the king of silent film comedians, Charlie Chaplin or Buster Keaton. I’m Chaplin Fan. And please, let’s stick to the films and not hold against Charlie his succession of teenage wives or any political views.

Keaton Fan: And I’m Keaton Fan. And yes, don’t hold against my guy that he later appeared in Beach Blanket Bingo.

Chaplin Fan: Deal. Go on.

Keaton Fan: My submission for the jury is Buster’s 1926 classic The General and since we need to have a short as well, I have chosen The Paleface from 1922. Why, The Paleface? Well, because I had a copy handy on VHS.

Chaplin Fan: My submission for the jury is Charlot’s 1931 classic City Lights and since I needed to pick a short as well, I chose The Pawnshop from 1916. Why did I choose The Pawnshop? Because I had a Super 8mm copy of this film in the 70’s. and I wanted to relive the memory. So make your case for The Great Stone Face.

Keaton Fan: Gladly. First of all, the most important question to answer about any silent comedy is: was it funny? Well, yes. Keaton films are damn funny. You want physical comedy? Nobody could do their own stunts like Keaton. He was an amazing visual artist. He could make something simple like about to get burned at the stake in The Paleface funny just by moving slightly away from where the tribe is about to light the fire underneath him. And the stunts on the train during The General are not only funny, they forwarded the plot and some of them makes you wonder how in the world did he do that? And he wasn’t all about stunts. Subtle scenes like the Union general burning a hole in the tablecloth and Keaton using the hole to catch a glimpse of his true love were great. Chaplin was always the one that had a reputation for demonstrating pathos or sympathy for his character, but look at the final scene of The General where Keaton states his occupation as “soldier.” I dare you not to shed a tear to that one. Now make your case for The Little Tramp.

Chaplin Fan: Thank you. In viewing The Pawnshop and City Lights, I noticed Charlie’s growth from the most popular movie star in the world to the greatest artist in the world. Charlie could find comic gold in getting caught in a ladder, fixing a cuckoo clock or accidentally foiling a heist. And in City Lights, how can you beat the opening scene of the unveiling of a statue with the Little Tramp on its lap. And the last shot of the tramp smiling when the blind flower girl regains her sight. Find a more touching ending of any movie. EVER! I haven’t even talked about the boxing scene. Hilarious, masterful and better every time you see it. Charlie always worked with great supporting foils and feemes. John Rand, Edna Purviance and others in his films were the greatest supporting comic actors of the day and Chaplin wasn't afraid to use them-

Keaton Fan: -Hold on a second. Why are we arguing?

Chaplin Fan: I don’t know. We’ve always argued about this.

Keaton Fan: Why don’t we work together? I think Chaplin was great, just not as great as Keaton.

Chaplin Fan: And I think Keaton was great, just not as great as Chaplin.

Keaton Fan: Isn’t it hard enough to get a modern audience to appreciate any black & white movie, yet alone a silent one?

Chaplin Fan: I’m with you. It’s a comic art form in cinema that was unique and will never come back. Let’s appreciate it.

Keaton Fan: Work together?

Chaplin Fan: Together.

Keaton Fan and Chaplin Fan shake hands.

Keaton Fan and Chaplin Fan stare at each other in silence.

Keaton Fan: (pointing) Keaton is number one!

Chaplin Fan: (pointing back) Chaplin is number one!

Keaton Fan huffs and exits stage left.

Chaplin Fan huffs and exits stage right.

A giant title card drops on the stage which reads: THE END

Sunday, December 29, 2013


The Golden Age of Comedy (Post 11 of 12)

Steamboat Bill Jr.

Steamboat Bill Jr. really shows off the common Buster Keaton film theme of Buster having to prove himself. In Steamboat Bill Jr., he has to prove himself seaworthy to his seadog father and worthy of marrying the girl he loves.

My favorite bit in the movie has Buster trying to sneak some tools in a loaf of bread so his father can escape from the local jail. There's also a lot of fun bits with the acrobatic Keaton almost falling off the ship into the water time and time again.

But as with many of his films, the highlight of Steamboat Bill, Jr. is the final chase or action sequence. This time, we have a cyclone that destroys everything around Buster, and the special effects are...well, how the hell did they do all that in 1928?

I'm a little sad to see the last of the Keaton films on my list. (I do realize I can see others that aren't on the sacred 1001 movie scrolls, however!). It's been fun to have a reminder just what a special talent he was.

Friday, December 27, 2013


The Golden Age of Comedy (Post 10 of 12)

The Kid Brother

When I think of silent film great Harold Lloyd, the first image I get (and I'm know I'm not alone) is of Harold hanging precariously off the side of a building clutching onto the hands of a clock in Safety Last. Possibly the second most famous Lloyd movie behind Safety Last is The Freshman, featuring Lloyd as a college football player. So it was a bit of surprise that the one movie that is listed in the 1001 movie book starring Lloyd is The Kid Brother, a movie that I admit to not being familiar with.

So I decided to watch all three. And I liked all three. Lloyd was a very inventive comedian and his movies also had strong plots to boot. The common theme in these three movies seems to be the need for Harold to impress someone (His brothers, father and the girl in The Kid Brother, the entire college in The Freshmen and the girl of his dreams in Safety Last.)

Which of these film did I like the best? I'd probably say I liked  The Freshman the most. Some very funny football scenes of Harold basically being used as a tackling dummy, an inventive dance scene where Harold's tailor has to constantly keep sewing up his suit as it comes apart, his speech before the student body and his repeated attempts to give someone that damn handshake.

However, The Kid Brother isn't too far behind. There are lots of inventive stunts (Including the laundry scene. How many films can you say there is a great laundry scene!) as well as a scene with a monkey that it still pretty mind blowing.

But how can you leave out Safety Last and Harold's famous climb up the side of a building? I guess the answer is you don't have to. Watch all three and see one of the greats of the era at work.

Safety Last

The Freshman

Wednesday, December 25, 2013


The Golden Age of Comedy (Post 9 of 12)

Our Hospitality

I admit to watching all the Buster Keaton shorts for this blog through the magic of YouTube. And this one was good, though I admit to not enjoying it as much as Seven Chances or Sherlock Jr. 

But I don't think the problem was the film. The problem was the fact that the copy of the film I saw had no accompanying soundtrack.

In the late 70's I discovered a place to buy Super 8 movies called BlackHawk films. This was before there was a anything called vid-e-o ka-sets or Dee-Vee-Dee's. Since the Super 8 projector was silent, the best thing to get was, of course, silent films. I remember getting some shorts like Stan Laurel's Just Rambling Along, Laurel and Hardy's Liberty and Charlie Chaplin's The Pawnshop. We also had a short called Have Badge Will Travel, which was just a shortened silent version of Abbott and Costello Meet the Keystone Kops.

I certainly enjoyed them, but the one thing they didn't have was the music. I only bring this up because of how not having the music for this film really reminded me as to what I was missing.

If someone decides to post a YouTube of Our Hospitality with an accompanying score, I may be tempted to try it again. 

Sunday, December 22, 2013


The Golden Age of Comedy (Post 8 of 12)
Modern Times

Modern Times is probably my all-time favorite of the Chaplin films. Chaplin was about the only one with the power and skill to still make silent films in 1936, and this film was a tremendous achievement. Charlie's scene (above) that is an exercise to get the workers to eat lunch more efficiently is a classic, as well as his assembly line stunts.

I also liked the ebb and flow of this character continually getting into trouble, going to jail and then getting out before repeating the process.

There's also something about Chaplin's blindfolded skating and almost falling that I've always liked.

And Modern Times also finds the perfect woman counterpart for the little tramp in Paulette Goddard.

Thursday, December 19, 2013


The Golden Age of Comedy (Post 7 of 12)

A Night at the Opera

When the Marx Brothers left Paramount studios and went to MGM in the mid-thirties, their first film at the studio is often considered by many to be their finest.

A Night at the Opera has many of the Brothers' famous moments. The party of the first part dialogue between Groucho and Chico, some of the best scenes between Groucho and Margaret Dumont, the impersonation of the three bearded aviators, the grand opera finale featuring Harpo and Chico in the orchestra pit and, of course, the crowded stateroom scene, perhaps the Marxes most famous single scene. There is also one of the funner musical interludes between Harpo and Chico (Full disclosure: I always enjoy Chico's piano playing more than Harpo's harp playing). We also have perhaps the Marxes best comic foil in the insufferable Herman Gottlieb, played by Sig Ruman.

We also have the bone of contention with many Marxist fans, that being the musical subplot. This one features the tenor played by Allan Jones and soprano played by Kitty Carlisle. Do their scenes get in the way here? A little. But the two actors are likable enough, can sing and the relationship of their characters to the Marx Brothers does move the plot along.

There is also the issue of the extravagant musical numbers that the boys never had at Paramount. The musical interlude on the ship bordered on being a bit much. However, the opera scene itself was an integral part of the plot and very fun to watch. However, I do think these musical numbers began to start being overblown by the time A Day at the Races came along.

But I shouldn't quibble, the Marxes only made a handful of films and just a couple of great ones.

And A Night at the Opera is certainly on the short list.

Monday, December 16, 2013


The Golden Age of Comedy (Post 6 of 12)

Judge Priest

Name two things about Will Rogers.

 If you asked me this I would have said, "He said I never met a man I didn't like and he died in a plane crash with Wiley Post." I'm probably not alone in remembering him this way, but let us not forget that he starred in many very popular silent and sound pictures before his 1935 death. Of course, his newspaper column and witticisms were also read by millions during this period.

The 1001 movie entry with Will Rogers is Judge Priest. This film is an interesting animal. Set in a small Kentucky town in 1890, Will plays  the old country judge who dispenses homespun justice with humor while Civil War veterans sit in the gallery planning for a potential rematch with the Yankees. We also have local politics, candy pulls, lots of gossip, random acts of chivalry and a square dance (it's a John Ford picture, after all.).  Some of the humor is funny, some of it a little cringe worthy (A Rogers joke about lynching in particular). But I guess you got to take the bad and the good.

They don't make 'em like this any more. (I'm glad they don't, but I'm glad they did...How's that for a compromise?)

In defense of Judge Priest co-star Stepin Fetchit-I first heard of Stepin Fetchit (who was also a good friend of Will Rogers off camera) second hand. I have heard many African-American actors quoted as saying  something to the effect of not wanting to do any Stepin' Fetchit roles. That's all well and good, but should we hold this against the original? His character (at least from Judge Priest, but I'm sure in other roles as well) was lazy, stupid and constantly getting things mixed up. But did he have a choice for the kind of parts he was offered?  It's not like Sidney Poitier and Denzel Washington type roles were around for him then. Give him a break and try to look at him in context and you might find him a pretty funny fellow.

Friday, December 13, 2013


The Golden Age of Comedy (Post 5 of 12)

Sherlock Jr.

Sherlock Jr. packs an awful lot into its 44 minute running time. Buster Keaton has two passions in this film: as a projectionist and as an amateur detective. The two passions meld as Buster tries to solve the mystery of who robbed his finance's father. Of course, Buster is initially accused of the crime.

But the plot takes a back seat to the creativity and the final chase scene. The scene where projectionist Keaton's double jumps into the movie screen is still pretty impressive (Who needs CGI? And the Woody Allen's Purple Rose of Cairo owes a debt of gratitude here.)

The chase finale is just as good as the one in Seven Chances. Buster jumps between trains, through traffic, over a bridge where two trucks come together and in and out many other tricky predicaments. Buster's car lands in the water and he creatively turns it into a sailboat. Without excessive use of special effects, it makes me wonder how these silent screen comedians survived to the end of the picture.

There are little pleasures here too. The scene of Buster walking instep directly behind the man he is shadowing is yet one of them.

There is also the great final punchline where Buster and his reconciled girl view other actors on screen and emulate what is going on in the screen.

Another Buster classic.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


The Golden Age of Comedy (Post 4 of 12)

Sons of the Desert

Sometime during the 70's, I received a present of a book called Laurel and Hardy by John McCabe and Al Kilgore. It has pictures of the scenes and breakdowns of the plots of all the movies that the comedy team of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy made together. This coincided with the local channel 46 showing the Laurel and Hardy features and shorts just about every night. At least the talkies.

I first saw some of L & H's silent footage in some of the Robert Youngson film compilations I mentioned in an earlier post this month.

Laurel and Hardy, unlike many comedy teams, didn't have a straight man. You had dopey, skinny Englishman Stan and the constantly put upon, fat Southern gentleman Ollie. After they were first teamed in 1926, they made silent shorts until the advent of sound pictures. When they began making talkies at the Hal Roach studio, the team got even better. Almost all their best shorts and feature films were made during the thirties for Roach. And I'm glad to see an L and H movie listed in the 1001 movie book. The plot of Sons of the Desert involves Stan and Ollie as henpecked husbands (a common theme in their movies) and their desire to go to the Sons of the Desert lodge convention in Chicago. Of course, you know the wives are going to find out and this is where the main thrust of the comedy comes from. It also has a funny cameo by Hal Roach regular Charley Chase as a conventioneer.

I think they could have chosen some other L and H features like Pardon Us, Way Out West or Blockheads, but Sons of the Desert is a pretty good choice if you are going to narrow it down to one. In fact, Sons of the Desert has been the name of the Laurel and Hardy fan club for years.

But I would add that in order to be a complete historical moviegoer, you need to watch a couple of their talkie shorts. The Music Box, Another Fine Mess or Big Business are good places to start.

And don't forget to check out a couple of their silents as well.

Saturday, December 7, 2013


The Golden Age of Comedy
(Post 3 of 12)

The Gold Rush

Charlie Chaplin's full length Klondike adventure The Gold Rush includes probably the Little Tramp's most famous bit of comic business, the starving man's dining off his shoes as if the nails were chicken bones and shoelaces were spaghetti. Other fun bits include his partner envisioning Charlie as a turkey and coming after him as if he was dinner. Chaplin said in Charles Chaplin: My Life in Pictures these comic ideas came from the idea of starving fortune hunters during the gold rush resorting to cannibalism.

Of course, we also have the love story of Charlie falling for the local saloon girl, who mocks him behind this back before eventually...well, you know she'll eventually discover she loves him too.

Chaplin's feature films are well represented in the 1001 movie book. (The Gold Rush, City Lights, Modern Times, Monsieur Verdoux) Though I really think they could have found room for The Great Dictator, too.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


The Golden Age of Comedy
(Post 2 of 12)

Duck Soup & Animal Crackers

When I was in middle school, I had an assignment to work on a book report. Apparently there wasn't much in the way of guidelines, because I chose to do my report on a  book about The Marx Brothers called The Marx Brothers: Their World of Comedy by Allen Eyles that I had picked up at the local Walden Books. I can't remember what kind of grade that I received for this orignal book choice, but it did indicate I was a bit of a fan.

I was (and suppose still am) partial to the five Paramount movies featuring all four of the Marx Brothers.

Duck Soup

The Marx Brothers were:

The fast talking wordsmith Groucho, with his signature cigar and moustache

The mute, clownish harpist Harpo with his signature horn and top hat

The Italian Chico and his endless butchering of the English language

and Zeppo...I'm not really sure why Zeppo was there, but I kind of liked having him around anyway.

Of the Paramount Marx Brothers films, the only one to make the 1001 movie cut is Duck Soup.

It is one of the most famous comedies of all-time and certainly has as many funny gags as any of the Marxes movies. Highlights include the song Hail Fredonia, Harpo and Chico's constant confrontations with street vendor Edgar Kennedy, Groucho's many scenes with Margaret Dumont (a regular target of his barbs), the final gun battle scene with the Marxes representing the last stand for their country and the classic mirror scene with Chico and Harpo dressed up as Groucho.

No, you can't deny Duck Soup's place on the 1001 list.

But what about the others Paramount movies ?

These films include:

The Coconuts, the first Marx feature and based on their Broadway play.

Horse Feathers, the one set in a college with the football finale.

Monkey Business, the one where they are stowaways

These films have many great moments in their own rights, but none hit the target as consistently as Duck Soup.

However, one other of the Marx Paramount films would make my list.

That would be Animal Crackers.

Now I admit to having a sentimental attatchment to Animal Crackers.

For various reasons, the film had been out of circulation for many decades after it was released. After a restoration, it was re-released in 1974 and that is when I first viewed it. It was certainly the only Marx Brothers movie I went to see as if it were a new release!

The film itself has some of the Brothers best gags.

They include:

1. The party of the first part dictation from Groucho to Zeppo
2. Groucho (as Captain Spaulding) and his farfetched tales of African safaris
3. Groucho's songs "Hello, I Must Be Going," and "Hooray for Captain Spaulding."
4. Harpo and Chico's many scenes, including Chico looking for a flash and Harpo giving him everything but a flashlight.
5. The card playing scene featuring Harpo, Chico and Margaret Dumont.
6. Groucho's scenes with Margaret Dumont, of course
7. Chico's interminable piano rendering of Sugar Time.
8. The constant movement of the valuable Bogarde painting as if it were nothing more than a road map.
9. The overall comic writing of Bert Kalmar, Harry Ruby and George S. Kaufman.
10. And the finale, where Harpo knocks everyone out with his flit spray before spraying it on himself before passing out into the arms of a lovely blonde.

So Duck Soup and Animal Crackers remain my two favorites from the list, but I certainly enjoyed going back through all of them.

Animal Crackers

Sunday, December 1, 2013


The Golden Age of Comedy (Post 1 of 12)

Seven Chances

Robert Youngson isn't a name I've thought about for some time, but looking at some of the silent comedies from the 1001 movie book has made me think back to his theatrical compilations of the greats of comedy (mostly silent) in films like The Golden Age of Comedy, Days of Thrills and Laughter and Four Clowns.

I remember catching a few of Youngson's films on television during the 70's. And yes, there was a time when things like this were shown on television instead of How I Met Your Mother marathons  or endless showings of How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days!

Anyway, these films had most of the greats: Harold Lloyd, Laurel and Hardy, Charley Chase and Buster Keaton, among others. I believe I first saw the ending of Buster Keaton's classic Seven Chances in Four Clowns.

The plot of Seven Chances is simple. Buster's Uncle dies and his will bequeaths Buster seven million dollars if he marries by 7 o'clock on his twenty-seventh birthday. Of course, he finds out about this the day of his twenty-seventh birthday! The girl he loves won't marry him because she thinks she only wants to do it for the money. After this rejection, Buster tries unsuccessfully to find someone else to marry him. His business partner puts an ad in the paper which explains everything and Buster suddenly has hundreds of women wanting to marry him.

The plot is pretty silly when recounted and is mostly just an excuse for Keaton's sight gags and pratfalls. But the sight gags and pratfalls are, not just funny, but high art. The last half of Seven Chances where the brides to be chase Buster through the streets, through mountains and they all have to contend with falling boulders really defines why many still love silent comedy.

The comedic gags go so fast, I found myself going back and watching scenes again. I loved the scenes where the women ran roughshod over macho football players and construction workers.

But it's really about Buster. And it has been written often how he does it all with his body movement as his facial expression never conveys happiness. His stunts are amazing (I don't use the word amazing often, but I don't mind using it here) and still very funny.

If you've never seen a Keaton movie, this would be a great place to start.

Saturday, November 30, 2013


The year is 1975…and…
 I cut out and pasted movie advertisements in a spiral notebook during that transitional movie year all those many, many movie years ago. Looking at it now, much of the print from the faded pages has yellowed, but yes, I still have it! So I've decided this month to stroll down memory lane and comment on some of the film ads from my movie scrapbook.  I’ll also try to fit in a suitable 1001 movie entry at the end of each post since that is still the point of this blog.

This is the last entry from my old movie scrapbook and I've included those ads for this post that wouldn't neatly fit anywhere else. Thank goodness for that catch-all category called Miscellaneous!

1975 Movie Scrapbook (Post 11: Miscellaneous)

1. Race With the Devil
This is one of those movies that I remember seeing when it came out (In 1975, of course) and haven't seen since. However, I do seem to still have strong memories about what it was about. Two couples (Peter Fonda & Lara Parker and Warren Oates & Loretta Swit) while vacationing in a Winnebago, witness a group of satanists performing a virgin sacrifice. The satanists spot the couples witnessing the crime and spend most of the movie chasing them down. The two couples try to tell the authorities, but everyone seems to be against them and they have no idea who they can trust. At one point, they are at a roadblock where there is a school bus accident and Peter Fonda yells out, "A school bus on a Sunday! I don't think so!" After this proclamation, Fonda wheels the Winnebago around at breakneck speed! The satanists kill Lara Parker's little dog and put a snake in the Winnebago at different times. Loretta Swit also steals a library reference book in the film's most controversial scene (At least to a librarian). The satanists do catch up to them at the end. In retrospect, the film seems like sort of a combination of The Exorcist and Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

At least that's the way I remember it.

Additional note on Lara Parker. Lara Parker is best known as the evil witch Angelique from the 60's gothic soap opera Dark Shadows. I was a regular watcher of the show during 70's reruns and I was very pleased to find Lara and her Dark Shadows co-star Katherine Lee Scott at this years DragonCon Scifi convention in Atlanta.

When I got a chance to talk with her, I asked her about Race With the Devil, though I didn't ask her about the controversial "library book theft" scene. She did sign the picture to the left for me.

2. Framed
Before he became better know (at least to me) as having his movies mocked on Mystery Science Theater 3000, there were quite a few Joe Don Baker movies made during the 70’s...Well, maybe for a couple of years, anyway.
The ad for Framed trumpets...“That Walking Tall Man is Back…He was taken By Everyone, For everything he had. All he had left was one obsession. To get even. To pay them back two for one!” The ad has a poorly drawn Joe Don leaping into the middle of the picture, I assume bent on revenge. I confess to never having seen Framed, but I did see Joe Don's movie Mitchell on Mystery Science Theater, which was probably more fun anyway.

3. Shampoo
The ad from Shampoo was a seemingly simple picture of hairdresser Warren Beatty holding a comb against the head of Gloria Hawn as Hawn and Julie Christie stare blankly into the camera. Understated and effective.


...let us not forget the movie ad for Black Shampoo, which was much less subtle..."When he's mad...he's mean...he's a lovin' machine! (Oh, yeah!)

4. The Born Losers
The early seventies was the movie era of Billy Jack. The ad here says it all...BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND “BORN LOSERS” THE ORIGINAL SCREEN APPEARANCE OF TOM LAUGHLIN AS BILLY JACK.

I too, was a Billy Jack fan and had to see this 1967 film when it was  re-released. The ad features the peace loving half-breed equipped with a shotgun and ready to take on the establishment, Nixon supporters, a corrupt city council or whomever else gets in his way!

I admit that I still have affection for the Billy Jack movies, though I didn’t vote for Tom Laughlin during the many times he ran for president.

5. The Three Days of the Condor
Shady CIA spooks under the background of a giant coin where Robert Redford and Faye Dunaway appear to be making out.

Espionage! Romance! And a menacing bird!

His CIA code name is condor. In the next seventy-two hours almost everyone he trusts will try to kill him!

6. Give Em Hell Harry
In 1975, James Whitmore received an Oscar nomination for his one man depiction of Harry Truman. I may have seen it. Or was that the one man show of Will Rogers? Or maybe that was Hal Holbrook as Mark Twain? Anyway, the giant ad is packed with positive reviews. Women’s Wear Daily says “Whitmore has an effect over his listeners that can only be described as hypnotic!” I include this because you may have been wondering what Women’s Wear Daily thought of Give ‘Em Hell Harry in 1975.

7. The Lion in Winter
The critically acclaimed 1968 Oscar Winner. This ad show off the film's three academy awards.

You Get it? This is from a 1975 scrapbook, but in those days, movies that were a few years old were often re-released and actually shown at movie theaters!

Hard to believe there ever was such a day.

8. Fantastic Planet
Ad depicts animation stills and brags about all the film festival prizes it won.

Today’s 70’s Miscellaneous movie experience is...

Fantastic Planet

This animated story of an alien culture called the Traags and their human-like pets who eventually rebel may seem like fairly standard sci-fi when the plot is recounted. What is most special about this film is the cut-out stop animation that is down right hypnotic at times.

I'd also like to point out that the first time I saw this film was on television as part of one of my favorite shows of the 80's called Night Flight. This show aired on the USA Network and showed such cult movie favorites as Eraserhead, Kentucky Fried Movie* as well as Fantastic Planet.

Night Flight also aired cutting edge videos (at least I thought them to be cutting edge videos at the time) from such artists as Kate Bush, Laurie Anderson and Mike Oldfield. I also remember them playing Frank Zappa's claymation classic Inca Roads, a bizarre video called Electric Mummy, which I can't seem to find anywhere on the Internet, and of course, Fish Heads by Barnes and Barnes.

On Night Flight, you also could relive the campy 50's sci-fi TV show Space Patrol or the Cold War clip show Atomic Cafe.

The point is you never new what to expect from Night Flight. It was definitely something to channel surf to during the 80's on a Saturday night. So if you ever find yourself channel surfing on a Saturday night during the 80's, give Night Flight a try.

*This is my fourth blog in a row with a reference to Kentucky Fried Movie. I am still mentioning this for no reason in particular.

Well, it's time to put my old movie scrapbook from 1975 back in the filing cabinet. I knew I'd find a use for it someday. 

Thursday, November 28, 2013


The year is 1975…and…

 I cut out and pasted movie advertisements in a spiral notebook during that transitional movie year all those many, many movie years ago. Looking at it now, much of the print from the faded pages has yellowed, but yes, I still have it! So I’ve decided this month to stroll down memory lane and comment on some of the film ads from my movie scrapbook.  I’ll also try to fit in a suitable 1001 movie entry at the end of each post since that is still the point of this blog.

(1975 Movie Scrapbook Post 10: Action Heroes)

  1. 1. Russian Roulette-George Segal was a pretty good comedic actor during the 60’s and 70’s in films like Fun With Dick and Jane and dramas like Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? But George Segal-action star? The ad for Russian Roulette has George coming out of a six-shooter with a rifle under the heading, George Segal hangs tough ..and plays the game with all the chambers loaded! I don’t think this apparent effort to turn George Segal into Clint Eastwood met with much success.

2. Part 2 Walking Tall-You can’t get more 70’s kick ass action than Joe Don Baker in Part 2 Walking Tall. Wait, I forgot. They got Bo Svenson to play the lead for part 2. I guess Joe Don was too busy making Framed and Mitchell  to appear in the movie that made him semi-famous. The ad cries out, “If anything ever happens to me I want you to be sure you finish telling my story.” Apparently they didn't finish telling the story as there was later a Walking Tall: The Final Chapter.

3. The Human Factor- Clearly when movies from the mid 70’s thought of terrorists, they were thinking of mostly white guys in ski masks. The ad for this one states, Every 24 hours an American Family will be killed by radical assassins…If the CIA, FBI, and Police Can’t Stop It…The Human Factor will!

The cool little ad features a guy in a ski mask with a gun about half the size of the entire ad. Various pictures of people in chains, tied up and explosions set around a rare starring role for disaster movie specialist George Kennedy who this time is apparently not going to take any crap from anybody!

4. The Terrorists- Skyjack! Kidnap! A Time-Bomb of Suspense Has Started Ticking. Two nations are being held for ransom and Sean Connery is the agent who takes on the terrorists! I do not remember this movie at all because I am sure I would remember any 70’s movie with Sean having a both a full head of hair.

5. Bruce Lee and I-I remember after Bruce Lee’s death there were many Kung Fu films featuring a lot of sound alike actors (like Bruce Li). Though this one is listed as being directed by Bruce Lee himself, but I’m skeptical of that claim!

Today’s 70’s Action Hero movie is...

                                                               Enter the Dragon

The one movie that The 1001 book does list with Bruce Lee is Enter the Dragon. I had a little deja vu with this one. I thought that maybe I had seen it before, but soon realized that I only had only watched the parody version from a segment of Kentucky Fried Movie.*

The main reason to watch Enter the Dragon is Bruce Lee and the fight scenes (including some unexpected martial-arts moves from the the ubiquitous John Saxon). The plot does remind me a bit of one of those mid-70's Roger Moore-James Bond movies- (The Man With the Golden Gun in particular, though Enter the Dragon was made first) including the island supervillain Han, a few lovely ladies and the Afro donning Jim Kelly whose main line is “Bullshit Mr. Han-Man! Man, you come right out of a comic book!”

The DVD I watched included the extra documentary Bruce Lee: A Warrior’s Journey, which I actually liked better than Enter the Dragon. It really made me appreciate Lee that much more and included the footage of Lee’s unfinished movie, The Game of Death.

*This makes three straight blogs that I've made a reference to Kentucky Fried Movie. I bring this up for no reason in particular.

Monday, November 25, 2013


The year is 1975…and…
I cut out and pasted movie advertisements in a spiral notebook during that transitional movie year all those many, many movie years ago. Looking at it now, much of the print from the faded pages has yellowed, but yes, I still have it! So I’ve decided this month to stroll down memory lane and comment on some of the film ads from my movie scrapbook.  I’ll also try to fit in a suitable 1001 movie entry at the end of each post since that is still the point of this blog.

1975 Movie Scrapbook (Post 9: Adults only)

1. The Cheerleaders

The infamous movie often talked about around the schoolyard of my middle school. The poop had it that it was about a cheerleader/cheerleaders who sabotage the opposing team by having sex with them and making them too tired to play! When I saw this at a midnight movie a few years later, this turned out to my surprise to be exactly what this was about! The 1975 ad intones, Come Huddle With the Cheerleaders. Everything You’ve heard about Cheerleaders Comes True! See Them Do It!
From my midnight movie experience I mostly remember a lot of drunk guys yelling Owww during the nude scenes.

2. The Happy Hooker

Another infamous sex movie of the 70’s based on the memoirs of Xaveria Hollander. I may have seen this movie, but I honestly don’t recall. I have read the book, but trust me; it was all in the name of research. The ad, which features just a picture of a shapely leg with a hundred dollar bill in her g-string screams Lynn Redgrave is a Delight! Risqué Fun.

3. The Reincarnation of Peter Proud

“1975 will be the year of The Reincarnation of Peter Proud,” said Tower Ticker of the Chicago Tribune. Well, not quite. It was the year of Jaws, actually. It did mark the first movie in which I ever saw a woman topless in a movie (Gotta love Margot Kidder and Cornelia Sharpe!) so it does mark a personal historical cinematic landmark

4. The Groove Tube

Yes, The Groove Tube was definitely a movie to see on the midnight circuit during the 70's. I have a feeling the films bawdy sketch humor that seemed pretty funny at the time may not date all that well, but the great movie poster of the gorilla with a TV on its head (satirizing the all-time great bad film Robot Monster) will stay with me for life.

5. If You Don’t Stop It You’ll Go Blind

The 70’s had a few of these R-rated sketch comedies, the best of which were Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex and Kentucky Fried Movie* and I suppose I will throw The Groove Tube into that category. A Couple of others were Can I Do It Till I Need Glasses and  If You Don’t Stop It You’ll Go Blind.  The ad for this one features a cartoon of a man in a cape clearly exposing himself and then asks, Is it funnier than Blazing Saddles? You Bet Your CENSORED It is! 

I’m guessing probably not.

And today's 70's Adults Only movie experience is...

Don't Look Now

Seeing this for the first time in over twenty-five years, Don't Look Now remains a most intriguing yet reserved psychological thriller. There is a scene toward the end of the movie that made the audience I saw it with (back in the 80's) gasp and I wondered how it would work on me viewing this alone in my living room, fully aware of what was coming. Answer: I gasped again. It's still a great scene.

But today's entry is under Adults only. And staying with that theme, Don't Look Back has a famous erotic sex scene between Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland that is so intense, that there has always been a rumor that the two of them are actually having sex on camera. Sutherland has denied it was real. I tend to believe him, because who would lie about NOT having sex with Julie Christie?

*This is my second blog in a row with a reference to Kentucky Fried Movie. I am still mentioning this for no reason in particular.

Friday, November 22, 2013

AIRPLANE! (1980)

The year is 1975…and…
I cut out and pasted movie advertisements in a spiral notebook during that transitional movie year all those many, many movie years ago. Looking at it now, much of the print from the faded pages has yellowed, but yes, I still have it! So I’ve decided this month to stroll down memory lane and comment on some of the film ads from my movie scrapbook.  I’ll also try to fit in a suitable 1001 movie entry at the end of each post since that is still the point of this blog.

1975 Movie Scrapbook (Post 8: Disaster Movies)

Yes, I admit that I looked forward to every new disaster movie release doing this time. Airport in 1970 was really the first of the genre. It was followed in 1972 by The Poseidon Adventure. But really 1974/1975 was the disaster movie epi-center. The Towering Inferno, Airport 1975 and Earthquake were really the disaster trilogy here. A few came after, but the disaster movie really was past its peek by 1976. But the legacy of Irwin Allen lives on in expensive but cheesy Michael Bay action movies of today.

1. The Towering Inferno

I made an earlier post this month on "movies with the cast and the bottom (or side) of the ad. Well, pretty much every disaster had their all-star cast aligned here. Steve McQueen is The Fire Chief and Paul Newman is the Architect! One Tiny Spark Becomes a Night of Blazing Suspense.The world's tallest building on fire. You are there on the 135th floor...no way down...no way out. Probably my favorite of the disaster movies of the era. The cast at the bottom of the ad includes O. J. Simpson as a security officer, Fred Astaire as a con man, and Robert Vaughn/Robert Wagner as two guys I remember having difficulty telling apart at the time.

2. Airport 1975

The ad for "A75" has the streak of a private plane plowing into the cockpit of a 747. The cast at the bottom of the ad includes a post Exorcist Linda Blair (whose role as the sick girl on the plane can no longer be seen by me as anything but source material for the similar character in Airplane!), Gloria Swanson (I can't remember if she was playing Norma Desmond or not), Sid Caesar (who has the movie's signature line, "The stewardess is flying the plane!"), and Helen Reddy as a nun (I Am Woman, indeed!)

Point to ponder: Why was George Kennedy in all four Airport movies and Earthquake? I have nothing against George Kennedy, just wondering. He seemed like a logical canidate for Zucker and Abrams to cast in Airplane!, but it was not to be. Zucker/Abrams made up for this oversight by casting George in all of The Naked Gun movies.

3. Earthquake

Pretty cool ad of the word Earthquake with the city coming apart and people falling out of the letters. But once again, we have the cast at the bottom of the ad which include former child preacher Marjoe Gortner, Richard "Shaft" Roundtree as the motorcycle stuntman with the cool name of Miles Quade, French-Canadian beauty and one of my personal hearthrobs Genvieve Bujold, Victoria Principal whose most memorable scene is modeling an undersized Miles Quade t-shirt, and of course, George Kennedy as the Beaver.
When I saw this movie for the first time I was promised the excitement of Sensurround! in the theater. The floors were supposed to shake and you, yourself would feel you were right in the middle of an actual earthquake! Well, Sensurround! was noisy, irritating and made me wish the quake scene would end so I could go on to the next scene without Sensurround!. But maybe it was just the theater, I thought. So I went to see Earthquake again a few weeks later at the late great Emory Cinema, but alas, Sensurround wasn't any better there.

4. The Hindenburg

I confess that The Hindenburg was one I never got around to seeing. The ad asks The truth at last! Who destroyed the Hindenburg? The cast at the bottom (whoops, looks like they're on the side of the ad this time) and once you get past George C. Scott and Anne Bancroft, this all-star cast doesn't seem quite as all-star as some of the others of the type. I mean, Charles Durning, Roy Thinnes and William Atherton?

5. Tidal Wave

The blame is on me for being such a disaster movie fan, that I went to see this stinker. The ad looks great: A giant tidal wave about to engulf the city. Earthquakes shatter the Nation. Cities become Raging Firestroms. But the worst is yet to come! If the ad were truthful, it would have said. “Tidal Wave takes advantage of disaster movie craze with poorly dubbed, low budget Japanese flick released with unrelated scene with Lorne Greene tacked on. Moviegoers ask for their money back!”

Today’s 70’s Disaster Movie Experience is...


I know putting a movie that came out in 1980 is probably cheating to define as a 70's movie experience. But none of the disaster movies with the cast at the bottom of the ad made the 1001 movie cut.* So, I've got to cut corners and list the parody that did make the 1001 list.

I still remember going to a lot of  movies during the summer of 1980. There was Dressed to Kill, The Shining, The Empire Strikes Back, Xanadu…ok, maybe not Xandadu. But with all due respect to Yoda, the Overlook Hotel and Angie Dickinson's naked body double, the movie of the summer of 1980 was Airplane!

It came at the right time for me. As I mentioned, I grew up with the previously mentioned disaster movies, but the formula had run pretty stale at this point and the team that brought you Kentucky Fried Movie, now brought you a parody of the genre (though technically a parody of the 50’s straight film Zero Hour! which I unsuccessfully tried to watch years later without reciting Airplane! lines back at the screen.) With a plethora of quotable one-liners.

You ever seen a grown man naked?

Surely you can’t be serious! I am serious and don’t call me Shirley.

A hospital? What is it? It's a big building with patients, but that's not important right now.

I can make a hat, a brouche, a pterodactyl...

Stewardess, I speak jive

and…well, some are only funny in context and it shows what a tightrope the Zuckers and Abrams walked because when one of the jokes fell flat…it fell very flat. Just watch the second Airplane movie (without the Zucker and Abrams) to see how much less funny that one is.

* This just in...The 2013 revised 5th edition copy of 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die has included The Towering Inferno! Woo hoo!