Thursday, January 31, 2019

1970's MADE-FOR-TV MOVIES: 1979

Here are some TV movies from 1979 I've seen at some point. I'll give a brief note on what they are about...or what I think they were's been a long time for most of them, so my memories may not be too accurate.

Definitely the end of an era for my TV movie watching. Even a list as long ago as 1979 isn't going to give me the great memories of some of the earlier lists from the decade. Here are the ones I remember watching from this year.

Blind Ambition
Mini-series based on former Nixon attorney John Dean's book. Starred Martin Sheen and Theresa Russell
Blind Ambition

Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders
Well, I didn't just watch stuff like Blind Ambition you know!

Aunt Mary
I think Jean Stapleton played a spunky lady who formed a inner-city baseball team.
Aunt Mary

The Castaways on Gilligan’s Island
Yes, there was another GI movie that I had forgotten about until now

Roots: The Next Generations
Later years of Alex Haley's family tree may be even better than the first. I watched some of this in recent years. James Earl Jones as Alex Haley discovers some crucial information about Kunta Kinte on the library microfiche machine. Am I the only one who gets excited during scenes when someone is using microfiche?
Roots: The Next Generations

Sooner or Later
I remember talking about this basically teeny-bop picture with classmates the next day after this first aired. It was an okay girl crush on a heartthrob movie, I guess. I don't think I'm likely to revisit this one, however.
Sooner or Later

The Wild, Wild West Revisited
Update of the 60's western secret agent series. I always loved Ross Martin as Artemis Gordon.

Women at West Point
Another Linda Purl movie. She played one of the first women to go to the  U. S. military academy. I remember my mother really liking this movie. All is well in that case.
Women at West Point

An American Christmas Carol
I think this one had Henry Winkler as Scrooge during the depression
An American Christmas Carol

Captain America
I'm afraid the whole Marvel superhero thing on the screen was going to have to wait a couple of decades.
Captain America

Another Andy Griffith TV show pilot that didn't quite make it. Matlock would still have to wait a few years. 

The Suicide's Wife
Woman and son cope with the husbands/fathers suicide. One thing I remember about this movie is the husband self-published a book called In Search of The Pearl Poet while we were reading The Pearl (Not related to Linda Purl) in school. Strange the things you remember.

From Here to Eternity
This mini-series was able to address some topics that the original movie could not.
From Here to Eternity

Hart to Hart
Pilot for series about loving couple that solves crimes.
Hart to Hart

Like Normal People
Sean Cassidy and Linda Purl are a mentally disabled couple who want to get married. What better way to end my monthly journey through 70's TV movies with a listing for a movie with Linda Purl?

Like Normal People

Now that I'm done with these TV movies, what have I leavened?

1. Five movies I've seen before that I really enjoyed seeing again: The Devil's Daughter, The Night Stalker, Go Ask Alice, Pray for the Wildcats and Katherine

2. Five movies I've never seen before that I really enjoyed: The Old Man Who Cried Wolf, The Last Child, Bad Ronald, Nightmare in Badham County, and Elvis

3. I still have affection for many of these 70's films.

4. I especially have affection for the ABC movie of the week which ran from 1969-1975.

5. Movies that first aired in 1974 were definitely the most influential for me.

6. There were a couple that were hard to find in any form that I was unable to watch: That Certain Summer, In Search of America, etc.

7. Others I wanted to see that I just didn't get around to seeing: The Deadly Tower, QB VII, etc.

That's it for this month. And one final quote from the movie In Search of America
"You're not in my way. Because you don't really exist. of us. We're just dream particles in a great cosmic jellyfish."


Wednesday, January 30, 2019


Kurt Russell as Elvis

One of the reasons I wanted to blog about a month's worth of films of TV movies is my realization that I had missed some of the big ones like John Carpenter's Elvis. This film came out a little over a year after the death of Presley in 1977. It starts with Elvis about to go on stage in a hopefully triumphant return to in the late 60's. We then flash back to Elivs's childhood and his eventual growing in to the biggest superstar Rock and Roll had ever seen. Elvis is played by Kurt Russell, who up until that time was know mostly for Disney comedies. He truly transforms into the young Elvis and Carpenter and Russell should be given a lot of credit for showing us a full-blooded Elvis that could have easily become just a caricature. The Elvis shown in this film has his faults, but it is a largely positive portrayal as a man who is devoted to his friends and loves his mama!

Russell later played an Elvis impersonator in 3000 Miles to Graceland in 2001.

Other cast members:
Shelley Winters plays Elvis's mama. Shelley was in two other TV movies I watched for this month (The Devil's Daughter and The Initiation of Sarah) but this is the only one she plays a sympathetic character.

Season Hubley played Priscilla Presley. Season appeared in a lot of television in the 70's including the movie She Lives! and an episode of Kung Fu that I can recall. She also appeared in Paul Schrader's Hardcore in 1979.

Pat Hingle played Colonel Tom Parker. Pat appeared in so many things over the years, I wouldn't know where to begin a list of his credits. He did have a nice role in Norma Rae in 1979 and later played Commisioner Gordon in Batman (1989).

Bing Russell played Vernon Presley. Bing is also Kurt Russell's father in real life, which was a nice touch.

The director was John Carpenter who followed up his horror hit Halloween with Elvis.  He worked with Kurt Russell again in Escape from New York (1981), The Thing (1982), Big Trouble in Little China (1986) and Escape from L. A. (1996).

The singer who dubbed Elvis's singing was  Ronnie McDowell. He released a single "The King is Gone" in 1977.

When Elvis debuted on ABC, it famously went up against Gone With the Wind on CBS and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest on NBC. For the record, I watched Cuckoo's Nest which explains why I didn't see this the first time out.

Kurt Russell appeared with the real Elvis Presley in
It Happened at the World's Fair (1963)

August 17, 1977 Atlanta Constitution
From my scrapbook


Birth of The Beatles

Dick Clark productions followed up the success of the Kurt Russell/John Carpenter  Elvis biopic with a telling of the early days of The Beatles. If you are a Beatles fan, you know some of the things that are going to be covered: Their timely meeting with manager Brian Epstein, the death of their art student bass player Stu Sutcliffe, their endless performance dates in Germany and their dismissal of drummer Pete Best in favor of new guy Ringo Starr. Best served as technical advisory for the film and it does tend to take his side on things.

The film is okay, but I'd much rather go back and watch a Beatles documentary on the period if I had my druthers.

Music in the film is performed by the Beatles tribute group RAIN

The director of the film is Richard Marquand, later went on to direct Return of the Jedi.

Mersey Beat:
The Begnnings of The Beatles
 Edited by Bill Harry, 1977

Yes, this is a copy of my book. I got lots of other Beatles memorabilia. If you'd like to see some, drop on by the house!

Tuesday, January 29, 2019


Patty Duke and Melissa Gilbert
in The Miracle Worker

The 1979 TV movie version of Williams Gibson's The Miracle Worker featured Patty Duke as Annie Sullivan and Melissa Gilbert as Helen Keller. The story of course is about young Annie Sullivan's attempt to educate the seemingly unteachable blind, deaf and dumb girl Helen. Part of the original interest in the TV movie is Duke, who played Helen in the 1962 version, now taking on the role of Annie Sullivan. It's more than novelty casting as she's quite good in the role.

I never saw either version of The Miracle Worker until recently when I was cast as Captain Keller (Helen's father) in a local production of The Miracle Worker.
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Me as Captain Keller in The Miracle Worker

Charles Seibert plays the Captain in the television adaptation. Captain Keller is good to his wife for the most part, mean to his son and doesn't know how to deal with his daughter at all. He also has conflict after conflict with Annie Sullivan, but eventually comes around to admitting her effectiveness as a teacher.
Charles Seibert as Captain Keller

Anyway, the cast from this version:
Patty Duke-Patty appeared in many 70's TV movies, including My Sweet Charlie, Look What's Happened to Rosemary's Baby, Fire and Having Babies III!

Melissa Gilbert-Plays Helen Keller. Best known for Little House on the Prairie, Melissa followed up The Miracle Worker playing the title role in The Diary of Anne Frank. She has appeared in many TV movies since.

Charles Seibert-Captain Keller. Played the smarmy doctor for many years on Trapper John, M. D.

Diana Muldaur-Mrs. Keller. Diana was in McCloud, Star Trek, L. A. Law and many other TV shows over the years. TV movie credits include Genesis II and The Word.

Director Paul Aaron's other credit include A Force of One with Chuck Norris.

Writer William Gibson's (No, not the cyberpunk author!) credits also include Two for the See SawThe Miracle Worker is his best known work.

Monday, January 28, 2019

1970's MADE-FOR-TV MOVIES: 1978

Here are some TV movies from 1978 I've seen at some point. I'll give a brief note on what they are about...or what I think they were's been a long time for most of them, so my memories may not be too accurate.


Bud and Lou
As a fan of the duo, I was certainly going to watch this one about Abbott (Harvey Korman) and Costello (Buddy Hackett). I remember Hackett as being very good, though I haven't seen it in forty years.
Bud and Lou

Cotton Candy
Teen comedy featuring Charlie Martin Smith and directed by Ron Howard. I remember Clinto Howard playing a bit of a jerk.

Deadman’s Curve
One of my favorites from the time. Jan and Dean bio featuring Bruce Davidson and Richard Hatch. Still a fan of the songs...but you still won't come back from Deadman's Curve...
 Deadman's Curve

A Family Upside Down
Grandma and Grandpa got to move in with the family. It's got to be at least a little cool that grandma and grandpa are Fred Astaire and Helen Hayes.
A Family Upside Down

The original mini-series that brought the Holocaust into many people's living room for the first time (at least in fictional TV form). It seems strange to say that in that the movie was over thirty years after the fact.

I thought Paul Winfield was well cast as the civil rights leader.

Lady of the House
Dyan Cannon as a madam that runs for public office. I watched this, right? I must have watched this.

One in a Million: The Ron LeFlore Story
Levar Burton as Ron Leflore, who went from prison to become a major league star in the 70's and 80's.

The President’s Mistress
Who killed...the president's mistress? This month, I've discovered that I've seen more movies directed by John Llewelyn Moxey than I ever realized.
The President's Mistress

Rescue From Gilligan’s Island
I guess somebody had to save them eventually...On the plus side, it is better than The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan's Island (1981).

Return to Fantasy Island
Too bad they couldn't have somehow co-ordinated the returns to Gilligan's and Fantasy Island.
Return to Fantasy Island

Ruby and Oswald
The anti-conspiracy movie. Mr. Oliver Stone does not approve!
Ruby and Oswald

The Word
I've read the book and seen the series and think they are both good indications how we can get sucked into believing something just because of the way it makes us feel.
The Word
Zuma Beach
On the beach in 1978 with Suzanne Somers, Kimberly Beck and P. J. Soles? Cowabunga! 
Zuma Beach

The Bastard
High profile mini-series based on the epic saga by John Jakes.
The Bastard

Flying High
Pilot for comedic take on Charlie's Angels. I watched it. Didn't last long.
Flying High

I wasn't a regular watcher of this detective series with Robert Urich, but in the days of three networks, I pretty much knew everything that was on...Not like today and all your hundreds of channels!!...and get off my lawn, by the way!

Sunday, January 27, 2019


Ladies and Gentlemen...The Rutles!

I became a Monty Python fan during the mid 70's with the broadcast of the crazy British comedy show on PBS. I became a Beatles fan in 1976, a few years after the Beatles breakup,  but I quickly became steeped in the history of the Fab Four. This is why the Eric Idle/Neil Innes (Python alum) comedy film, All You Need is Cash, featuring The Rutles was so well timed for me in 1978. The satire and good-natured ribbing is there and many of what the Beatles did is effectively parodied. These include Beatlemaina (Rutlemania) itself, the fifth Beatle (Leppo),  crooked lawyer Allen Klein (Ron Decline), the Surrey Mystic (the Mahareshi( and "We're bigger than God/Rod.". Many of the songs are also riffed and are good in their on right including Cheese and Onions from Yellow Submarine Sandwich and Ouch! from the Rutles film that looks a lot like The Beatles Help.

Beatle George Harrison even makes a cameo.

Of course, I bought the album which is worth it for the great liner notes alone. I'd like to quote you a couple, but I don't seem to have the album anymore. (Sad face)

The Rutles album

Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park

On the opposite end of the music TV movie scale is Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park, a bizarre attempt to incorporate the rock group KISS into a story about a disgruntled employee who takes over control of a theme park.

I actually watched this film last year at Dragoncon in Atlanta. This was for the 40th anniversary of the film and a KISS tribute band was there! The picture below is of my son Collin and two members of the KISS tribute band.

The movie itself is way silly. I think even KISS devotees know the film is to not be taken seriously. As the audience watched the film, it truly did lend itself to riffing from much of the audience. It was all in fun and I think KISS (the original group) did at least win the war of survival over almost all bands of the era, even if being movie stars (at least as a collective) wasn't going to be in their future. 

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Collin and KISS