2012 Movie Room Schedule
This is a recap of the 2012 movie room screening. To review this year’s 2013 movie room schedule, CLICK HERE.
5:00 to 6:00 p.m.
JACK BENNY’S 20th ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL (November 16, 1970)
This was the last television show that reunited the entire cast of the Jack Bennyradio show. Most of the television cast made appearances on Jack Benny’s television show and thanks to the sponsorship of Timex, you’ll see such legends as Bob Hope, Lucille Ball, Dinah Shore, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Red Skelton, Mel Blanc, Frank Nelson, Eddie “Rochester” Anderson, Dennis Day, Mary Livingston and Don Wilson. We’ll even be offering the original network commercials!
6:00 to 7:00 p.m.
TARZAN (November 16, 1967)
In the episode, “The Pride of a Lioness,” a young doctor faces two opponents in trying to keep his late father’s jungle clinic operating: a native witch doctor and his own mother who wants him to return to the United States.
Our weekend guest, Ron Ely, plays the vine-swinging hero, with celebrity guests Helen Hayes and James MacArthur.
Like Jock Mahoney, Ely insisted on performing his own stunts when playing Tarzan. Unlike Mahoney, Ely was not a professional stuntman and sustained seventeen different injuries during the first season. These included singeing his arms and legs running through a burning village (in the episode Village of Fire); being bitten in the forehead by a “tame” lion (in a later fight with the same lion, Ely was bitten on the lower left thigh); falling down a hill and ripping the skin off the tops of his feet; falling twenty-five feet off a vine and separating his shoulder; and falling off another vine and breaking his other shoulder, fracturing three ribs and spraining both wrists.
7:00 to 9:00 p.m.
SIS HOPKINS (1941)
This is for all you folks who have been asking for Judy Canova movies. A young girl from the “sticks” comes to the city to live with her wealthy relatives. At first she is the objection of derision and made fun of because of her unsophisticated nature, but it turns out that there’s a bit more to her than most of her snooty relatives and their condescending friends think. The supporting cast raises eyebrows for a number of film buffs: Bob Crosby, Jerry Colonna, Susan Hayward, Charles Butterworth and keep an eye out for silent screen actress Betty Blythe! (Since this movie is a remake of a silent classic, it seems only fitting.)
Scatterbrain (1940) was Judy Canova’s first leading film role and was backed by a hillbilly-goes-to-Hollywood storyline. An acquired taste to be sure, Judy’s fans nevertheless loved her as the misfit title role in Sis Hopkins (1941) with her hick-amid-the-wealthy antics to carry it off. She and Slim Summerville teamed up to battle city slickers in Puddin’ Head (1941) and Joe E. Brown was a fine, zany partner for her in both Joan of Ozark (1942) and Chatterbox (1943). Some war-era fun was to be had by Judy, Jerry Colonna and Ann Miller in True to the Army (1942) and one of Judy’s better showcases would come with Sleepytime Gal (1942), which was backed by a young Jule Styne score.
When questioned about her long string of rural-themed films at Republic Pictures (including this movie), Judy Canova remarked: “Sure, they were fairy tales that had a little upbeat lesson. I started out as a plain Jane, an ugly duckling, and ended up as a beautiful girl decked out in fancy dresses. I was the heroine, the country bumpkin, honest and straightforward who won out in the end. Republic had the best background crews and production values for their kind of product . . . but I was a top money maker for [Republic chief Herbert J. Yates] and I fought him on contracts . . . My shows were popular.”
9:00 to 10:00 p.m.
With special arrangement, we are screening the only four chapters known to exist of this fifteen-chapter cliffhanger serial, worthy of any Cinephile. Based on a novel by Louis Joseph Vance, the movie dramatizes how Japan conspires with Mexico to invade the United States. Their efforts are thwarted, chapter after chapter, by the efforts of Elaine Channing (a female hero in the vein of Helen and Pauline). Patria was financed with “about” $90,000 from William Randolph Hearst. The plot implied that the United States would soon be at war with Japan and Mexico, despite Japan being an ally of the United States at the time. The original plot involves a Mexican invasion, with their Japanese allies, of the southern United States. Historically, President Woodrow Wilson asked Hearst to withdraw the serial so that the more anti-Japanese sections could be removed. This left the serial as mostly just anti-Mexican, although some Japanese names remained. The production was investigated by a Senate Committee as German propaganda after World War I. A German propagandist, whose articles had appeared in Hearst newspapers, had written a letter to Franz von Papen explaining the scheme to use a motion picture to deprecate Japan. Captain G. C. Lester of US Military Intelligence, testified that “Patria exploited the very idea which was set forth generally in [the propagandist] Fox’s statement.” It is notable for the first time that Wallace Beery portrays Pancho Villa, a role that he would repeat in Viva Villa in 1934. Also in the cast is Warner Oland as the villain, years before he played Charlie Chan. Also in the cast: Jack Holt, Milton Sills and (supposedly) Rudolph Valentino (who doesn’t appear in these four chapters). Irene Castle plays the lead of Patria, believe to be the first heroic character to wear the American flag as part of her costume. Unless you want to travel to the Museum of Modern Art in New York, which houses the only existing print, this is your rare opportunity to catch a glimpse of an independent cliffhanger serial that has a unique back story behind the cameras.
10:00 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.
WHAT WOMEN DREAM ABOUT (1933)
In this pre-WWII German mystery-comedy, a lovely kleptomaniac with a taste for fine jewelry is unable to resist temptation. Strangely, every time she steals something, a mysterious man pays for it. A clumsy detective begins investigating and finds a crucial clue: a strongly scented woman’s glove. The perfume is an expensive scent and the detective’s pal realizes that it belongs to a popular nightclub singer. The friend quickly becomes enamored of the girl, but then so does her mystery man, a notorious international criminal. Eventually he gets arrested, leaving the detective’s pal to move in on the singer. Scripted by Billy Wilder before he made the move to Hollywood. Stars Peter Lorre in his second-to-last German movie before working with Alfred Hitchcock in The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934). Lorre performs a song and dance routine, something rarely seen in any other movie. Note: Because this movie was shot and released in Germany, there will be English subtitles. With the exception of M (1931), watching a Peter Lorre film from Germany (before his move to England and Hollywood) is rare so don’t miss out on this one, Lorre fans!
9:00 to 10:00 a.m.
OUR GANG COMEDIES (a.k.a. The Little Rascals)
Three classic OUR GANG comedies! In Second Childhood (1936), a lonely, rich, hypochondriac is celebrating her 65th birthday in the same manner in which she observes the other 364 days of the year by complaining, berating her servants, taking her pills and grumping about everything around her, including the sunshine. A toy airplane comes flying through an open window and breaks a vase, and when its owner, Spanky, comes in search of it he is informed he will have to pay seventy-five cents for the broken vase. Spanky has never seen six-bit, much less having it in his pants, so he offers his and his friend’s help in cleaning up the yard in exchange. Before the kids are through, they’ve given the old lady a new outlook on life. Interesting trivia: Actress Zeffie Tilbury, who plays the old woman, was trying to hide the fact that she was blind; she had to be helped onstage by a friend and companion. You would never know it when you watch this gem.
In Forgotten Babies (1933), while the rest of the gang goes fishing, Spanky gets stuck babysitting. But Spanky being conned into babysitting a house full of infants required a lot of comedic props and slapstick… most of which did not require tricky photography. Spanky resorts to scary actions, even gluing a toddler to the floor. But after you watch this one, you will agree that the OUR GANG comedies are worth watching!
The third short is of historical note: Small Talk (1929). With the coming of sound, Hal Roach Studios equipped their stages with sound equipment in early 1929. Small Talk probably went before the cameras in March and was released in May, while several previously filmed OUR GANG silent comedies were still to be issued to theaters. The story involves Wheezer being adopted by a wealthy woman of society, leaving his sister, Mary Ann, behind at the orphanage. The Gang decide to visit Wheezer, causing their usual brand of chaos and confusion before the happy ending with Pete the Pup singing at the piano. Small Talk is a curio mostly because it is the first “Our Gang” talkie. However, the personalities of the individual members come through, and they give engaging performances.
10:00 to 11:00 a.m.
WORLD WAR II FILM SHORTS
Three classic film shorts, wartime propaganda films intended to encourage more active participation in the U.S. war effort. A Letter From Bataan (1942) was one of many Paramount Victory Shorts. The documentary short subject depicted the necessity of conservation of raw and recyclable materials such as metal and rubber in time of war. The facts are dramatized with the story of an American GI writing home from Bataan and explaining the hardships he and his fellow soldiers undergo without proper conservation of materials on the homefront. Susan Hayward, Richard Arlen, Joe Sawyer and Jimmy Lydon star in this historic piece. Paramount took its war effort obligations to heart with this dramatic short in assigning to the project not only quality actors, but also scenarist, cinematographer and composer. The message of the film–the need to conserve and recycle–may look banal in today’s America of super-abundance, but coming at a time during the war when citizens at home were being inconvenienced in the most unexpected ways (shortages of car tires, women’s stockings, phonograph records), this little drama made its point in a well-paced and touching way. Look for big screen’s “Henry Aldrich” as hero’s speed-crazy teen brother.
Winning Your Wings (1942) was directed by John Huston. James Stewart, famous actor and now a Lieutenant in the US Army Air Forces, hosts and narrates this short film aimed at the recruitment of officer candidates. He states that there is a great mobilization, and that 90 thousand new flying officers are needed. Due to this heavy need, he discusses how the prerequisites have been altered to encourage recruitment. He also discusses the great rate of pay, benefits, training and other advantages enjoyed by flying officers. He describes the various officer positions required for the nine man crews of the B-17 Bombers, and also various ground support officer positions available.
The First Motion Picture Unit (1943) is a documentary showing the functions of the Army Air Corps’ First Motion Picture Unit, which made training and inspirational films for the Army Air Force during the Second World War. There’s no talk on John Ford, Frank Capra or other major directors who made these films at the time but instead we see some of the smaller people behind the editing, production design, art direction and stuff like this. The cast includes Ronald Reagan, Guy Kibbee, John Beal and is narrated by Ken Carpenter.
11:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon
THE TIME TUNNEL (September 9, 1966)
Set in the near future, 1968, Dr. Tony Newman (James Darren) sets out to prove to a stubborn U.S. Senator bent on shutting down funding for a top secret Government experiment, The Time Tunnel, that it works. Tony makes himself a human guinea pig by running into the tunnel, quickly finding himself in 1912, a passenger on board the Titanic’s maiden voyage. Dr. Doug Phillips (our weekend guest Robert Colbert) runs into the tunnel to save his friend, unaware that neither he or Tony can return to the present day until the Tunnel is perfected. Can they warn the passengers and the Captain of the Titanic that the “unsinkable” is about to happen? (2012 marks the 100th Anniversary of the Titanic’s sinking, by the way.) Watch the premiere episode of the series, “Rendezvous With Yesterday,” and discover how it all started!
12:00 noon to 1:00 p.m.
SURFSIDE 6 (November 14, 1960)
Gloria Elliot is two-timing her wealthy husband, and her two favorite admirers are Frenchman Jacques Andre and beach boy Gary Dawson (played by weekend guest Robert Colbert). Gloria has fallen prey to a scheme in which handsome young men become involved with married women, then blackmails them. When Gloria refuses to pay, she is murdered. Dave and Ken (Van Williams) investigates and uncoveres a lucrative jewel insurance racket. Never heard of Surfside 6 before? We don’t blame you. It’s one of the handful of Warner Brothers detective series that was quite popular in the late fifties and early sixties, but doesn’t get run on TV nowadays. Ken, Dave and Sandy (Troy Donahue) are three hip private detectives living on and working out of a houseboat in Miami, Florida. A yacht, belonging to socialite Daphne (Diane McBain), is anchored next to their houseboat. While not pursuing criminals, they spend time at the Fontainebleau Hotel chasing Cha Cha who works as an entertainer in the Boom Boom Room.
1:00 to 2:00 p.m.
FOR THE SERVICE (1936)
We’re highlighting cowboy star Buck Jones this weekend with his two rarest films. In this classic, Buck heads Captain Murphy’s band of scouts. They are after Morgan and his gang who are killing and burning out the ranchers. The Captain’s son arrives to join the scouts and it’s not long before Buck realizes he is a coward. But just as Buck persuades him to return East, the Captain sends them on a mission to wipe out Morgan and his men.
Interesting trivia about Buck Jones: In 1928, Buck and his wife formed their own production company but the stock market crashed the following year and took him for every penny he had. In response, he formed his own “Wild West” show performing on his white steed, “Silver.” His wife, Odille Osborne, rode her own horse, “Bumper,” and their 11-year-old daughter, Maxine, rode her little pony. The tour was also a failure, and he returned to the movies after being off screen for over a year. Silver was the name of his horse for many of the movies until George W. Trendle filed a lawsuit against Jones and his wife, claiming his Lone Ranger radio program originated a horse by that name. (The Lone Ranger premiered in 1933, so Jones pre-dated Trendle’s claim.) Realizing it would cost more to fight it in court and win, Jones changed the name of his horse to White Eagle.
For more information about Buck Jones, click here.
2:00 to 3:30 p.m.
GUEST WIFE (1945)
Nominated for an Oscar, this rare gem has never been seen in decades, even though it stars Claudette Colbert, Don Ameche and Dick Foran. The fact that the film was produced in part with financing from New Jersey bootlegger/gangster Abner “Longy” Zwillman who was once a boyfriend of Jean Harlow might be one reason. Dismissing these speculations, the movie is one you won’t ever see on Turner Classic Movies or released commercially on DVD. Christopher Price, a small-town bank executive, continues to be loyal to and idolize his boyhood friend, Joseph Jefferson Parker, a famous war correspondent. But Chris’s wife, Mary, is none to fond of Joe and tired of her husband’s idolizing. On the eve of the Price’s second-honeymoon trip to New York City, Joe arrives and tells Chris that he needs someone to pose as his wife in order to fool his boss in NYC, who thinks Joe got married to an overseas woman while on an assignment. Chris pushes Mary into posing as Joe’s wife. In New York, this leads to many complications and misunderstandings, with Mary finally deciding to teach Chris and Joe a lesson by making them believe she is in love with Joe.
3:30 to 4:00 p.m.
TELEPHONE TIME (December 3, 1957)
The tales presented on Telephone Time were adapted from short stories by author John Nesbitt, who also served as the host for the show. The subject matter ranged from contemporary to historical, but later episodes were adapted from the works of other authors and this was one of those episodes. The series attracted Hollywood celebrities from Judith Anderson to Bette Davis, and this episode, “Novel Appeal,” reunited Claudette Colbert and John Carradine, veterans of Cecil B. DeMille’s The Sign of the Cross (1932) and Cleopatra (1934).
Playing real life author Mary Roberts Rinehart, the still attractive, 54-year-old Colbert interviews convicted murderer Ernest Weber (played by John Dierkes), coming away convinced that he is innocent of killing three people with an axe 15 years earlier, in 1896. Failing to get the authorities to reopen the case, she decides to write a mystery novel titled The Afterhouse, covering the same events, but with the names changed. The real murderer (no surprise here) is revealed to be religious fanatic named Kurt Wolfgang Muller (played by John Carradine), who boarded the ship and committed the murders under the name Charlie Brown, whose response to Mary’s call provides a chilling reaction from his padded cell. We now own a 16mm print of every episode from this wonderful television series and for this year’s offering we decided to give all you Claudette Colbert and John Carradine fans a chance to see one of their rarely-seen dramatic performances.
4:00 to 5:00 p.m.
YOU BET YOUR LIFE BLOOPERS
The popular quiz program from 1950 to 1961 wasn’t too much different from the usual quiz programs of the day… except for the host. Groucho Marx offered a series of competitive questions and a great deal of humourous conversation. From the very beginning, the series was filmed (not telecast live) because the producers feared Groucho might say something that would be considered taboo… and they were right. But even the contestants slipped by saying something they shouldn’t and the laughs are plenty! Spend 50 minutes watching blooper reels, outtakes that never made it to the final television airings and you’ll see why Groucho was the master of the ad-lib! You won’t see any annoying host introducing each clip. it’s one outtake after another!
5:00 to 6:30 p.m.
THE SAINT’S GIRL FRIDAY (1953)
The Saint’s Girl Friday marked Louis Hayward’s second appearance as “Simon Templar.” Hayward played the role in the very first “Saint” film, the 1938 RKO release The Saint in New York. Exterior scenes for The Saint’s Girl Friday were filmed in and around London, according to reviews, and interiors were filmed at Bray Studios. Based on the character created by Leslie Charteris, a private detective named Simon Templar goes after the people who murdered his girlfriend. This was the last of nine classic RKO movies featuring Simon Templar, alias “The Saint.” While being pursued by a car full of thugs, London socialite Judy Fenton crashes her car into the Thames River and dies. Soon after, debonair private detective Simon Templar, an Englishman known as The Saint, arrives in London from New York. At his hotel, Simon reunites with his former valet, an ex-pickpocket named Hoppy Uniatz, and is shocked to learn that Judy is dead, as she had recently cabled him for help. Although the police have ruled Judy’s death an accident, Simon suspects foul play, but refuses to tell Chief Inspector Teal, his old Scotland Yard nemesis, why he has returned to London. Teal assigns a man to tail Simon, but the clever sleuth soon eludes the detective and takes a train to the country estate of Judy’s guardian, Col. Stafford. After Stafford admits that Judy had large gambling debts, Simon visits his old friend, counterfeiter Irish Cassidy and asks for a wad of phony cash. Simon then goes from nightclub to nightclub, looking for some backroom gambling, in the hopes of tracking down and killing the men responsible for her death. Watch out for Diana Dors in the brief role of Margie! For Hammer Film fans (the film was shot for RKO by the British studio), there is an inside joke you might want to catch. The shot of a floor plan of a country house that is about to be burgled; the names of all the guests belong to Hammer regular cast and crew members, including cult director Terence Fisher.
6:30 to 8:00 p.m.
THE WEB (1947)
Leopold Kroner, formerly of Colby Enterprises, is released after five years in prison for embezzlement. Andrew Colby, claiming that Kroner has threatened him, hires lawyer Bob Regan as a secret bodyguard. Sure enough, Kroner turns up in Colby’s room with a gun, and Regan kills him. Then Regan, who sticks around to romance Colby’s secretary Noel, begins to suspect he’s been used. The stellar cast includes Edmond O’Brien, Ella Raines, Maria Palmer, William Bendix and Vincent Price. The Web is one of dozens of forties thrillers featuring private detectives and the rich men who hire them, the beautiful women who love them, and the police, who invariably hamper their efforts to unravel the clues to intricate mysteries, the details of which are explained with astonishing clarity in the end, despite the fact that most viewers can scarcely be expected to keep track of all the evidence. This one is more elegant than most, with plush settings and striking photography.
8:00 to 8:30 p.m.
MAKE ROOM FOR DADDY
(Telecast on February 24, 1958)
Danny Williams, a successful nightclub singer, encounters a variety of difficult or amusing situations in trying to balance his career with his family; his outspoken wife Kathy (Marjorie Lord), teenage daughter Teri (played by Sherry Jackson) from his first marriage, children Russ (Rusty Hamer) and Linda (Angela Cartwright), and old-fashioned Uncle Tonouse. Later episodes featured Annette Funicello as an au pair girl! Most episodes concluded with a song by Danny or one of the children. Affection expressed as hostility (“I love you, you little jerk”) and ironic humor helped characterize this show which ran eleven seasons! In this episode, “Terry’s Crush,” Danny Thomas is alarmed to learn that his teenage daughter, Terry, has been spurning her classmate, Donald Cooper, in order to swoon over Dean Martin. Danny enlists Dean Martin (who makes a guest appearance in this episode!) to figure out a way to place his wayward teenager back into the arms of the hapless, but far more suitable, Donald.
8:30 to 10:00 p.m.
SULLIVAN’S TRAVELS (1941)
John Lloyd Sullivan (Joel McCrea) is a successful, spoiled, and naive director of Hollywood movies, with a heart-o-gold, who feels compelled to tackle a serious and meaningful drama, something to reflect the desperation and inhumanity of the Great Depression. Much to the chagrin of his producers, he sets off in tramp’s clothing with a single dime in his pocket to experience poverty first-hand. What starts out as a comedy of errors results in a chance meeting with actress Veronica Lake, and he ultimately gets what he wanted… and a reality shock. We love Hollywood movies about Hollywood. We also love films that are so good that it blows away any film we’ve seen in the past year — including the new ones. While we usually screen movies you cannot get on DVD commercially, we’re making an exception for those who never saw this wonderful movie. If you can schedule yourself for 90 minutes, we’re certain when it’s over you’ll agree… “They don’t make movies like this anymore.”
10:00 to 11:30 p.m.
Craig Stevens reprises his television role of Peter Gunn in this big-screen movie, written, produced and directed by the late Blake Edwards, who also created the television series, Peter Gunn. In this big-screen epic, Gunn investigates the murder of Scarlotti, a mobster who once saved the detective’s life. The primary suspect appears to be Fusco, who has taken over. In the middle of the case, an unclothed woman calling her self Samantha (played by our weekend guest, Sherry Jackson) shows up at Gunn’s apartment. The investigation gets grizzlier as it goes on, including the bombing of Mother’s, one of Gunn’s hangouts. Finally, Fusco gives Gunn a deadline to prove the mobster didn’t kill Scarlotti – or else Gunn will be killed.
This is a better film than it gets credit for and the closest we will ever get to an adaptation of Mickey Spillane’s Vengeance Is Mine (1950 novel) — a reminder that before he did Peter Gunn, Edwards did a pilot with Brian Keith as Mike Hammer. Sherry Jackson’s scene did stir up a little controversy at the time because she was an ex-child star from Danny Thomas’ Make Room for Daddy series. But fans today see nothing wrong with this movie. It’s not a cinematic masterpiece, but it certainly is worth watching and we all agree — it’s very enjoyable. As critic Dan Stumpf reviewed, “The film offers dry wit delivered with deadpan dexterity, stylish violence (including torture by racquetball) and a fine, kinky, savage wrap-up.”
11:30 p.m. to ????
THE GHOUL (1975)
Peter Cushing stars as a former priest who harbors a dark and horrible secret in his attic. The locked room serves as a prison cell for his crazed, cannibalistic adult son, who acquired his savage tastes in India during his father’s missionary work there. Cushing fears that his son will escape to prey upon the effete guests at his rural English estate during a cross-country auto race. Weekend guest Veronica Carlson co-stars as Daphne Hunter! Interesting trivia: the photograph of Doctor Lawrence’s wife is a photograph of Peter Cushing’s own wife. She had died shortly before filming began, and his tears in this movie are real.
9:00 to 10:00 a.m.
LAUREL AND HARDY COMEDY SHORTS
Three classic comedy gems that we’re certain you’ll be howling with laughter.
The first one we’re screening, Berth Marks (1929), is the least funniest of the three, but certainly has enough appeal for you to enjoy. Big-time (so they think) vaudeville stars Stanley and Oliver take the train to Pottsville, their next booking. On board, they bumble into the wrong sleeping compartment, startling a semi-dressed woman. Her irate husband mistakes another passenger for the intruder and starts a coat-ripping free- for-all. The boys spend the rest of the trip trying to squeeze themselves into their cramped single upper berth. Laurel and Hardy’s first short film with sound is clearly the start of a developing series of shorts. For the first few minutes there is almost no sound to speak of as they rely on their normal comedy style – it feels a little like they want to stay with what they know for a while. In fact, a silent version of this same short was also made for cinemas at the time that were not yet equipped to show talkies. Keep an eye out for one of the young pretty female train passengers — that’s Paulette Goddard making her screen debut.
In Helpmates (1932), Oliver’s house is in a shambles after a wild party, and his wife is due home at noon. He calls Stanley to help him fix the place up, and the typical catastrophies ensue. Somehow, however, Stanley manages to complete the job by the time Oliver leaves to pick up his wife at the train station. As a finishing touch, Stan decides to start a nice fire in the fireplace, using a can of gasoline to hurry the process along. (The studio actually built a five-room façade on an empty lot in Culver City, and then burned it down to shoot the final scenes of this short.) Laurel and Hardy fans take note: At one point Stan Laurel gives out a phone number, and it was his own personal number at the time!
In Me and My Pal (1933), it’s the morning of Oliver’s wedding to oil baron Peter Cucumber’s daughter. While waiting for the taxi to take them to the ceremony, Oliver and his best man Stanley become absorbed in a jigsaw puzzle, Stanley’s wedding present. Eventually the taxi driver, the butler, a policeman and a messenger boy all get involved with the puzzle, while Cucumber fumes as he awaits the long-overdue groom. While this might not sound much like a plot (with very little slapstick), this is considered one of the boys’ better comedies… the comedy itself is played to the hilt. It’s the essence of the running gag, the joke that keeps coming back, and back, and back, each time in a different way and funnier than before. If you’ve never seen Laurel and Hardy comedy shorts in a long time, this is a wonderful selection of belly laughs.
10:00 to 11:00 a.m.
MAVERICK (April 9, 1961)
Brent Maverick (played by weekend guest Robert Colbert) and his friends happen to witness an attempted robbery of the post office, which the sheriff stopped by shooting the thieves. They also happened to witness the sheriff helping himself to the loot. After James Garner left the series, Robert Colbert took his place as Brent, another of the Maverick brothers (can you name them all?). In this episode, “Benefit of the Doubt,” directed by Paul Landres, Brent is assisted by two beautiful sisters, Mavis Todd and Emily Todd, one of whom turns out to be most unreliable, when he is arrested for the robbery committed by the crooked sheriff, Joe Holly.
This fourth season episode was one of two featuring Robert Colbert as Brent Maverick, brother of Bart and Bret. (We had to clarify that as some people get lost… Remember, Beau was a cousin, not a brother.) Colbert would have probably remained for the fifth season had the studio not decided to alternate new episodes with first season episodes starring James Garner.
11:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon
KRAFT TELEVISION THEATRE
(Telecast on November 11, 1953)
Scripted by Rod Serling, this hour-long teleplay stars James Dean (yes, the James Dean) as a hoodlum named Joey Harris, who finishes a prison stint and hopes to pick up where he left off — with his wife Naomi Riordan — and pursue a career in auto mechanics. But his past attempts to catch up to him and worse, Naomi’s parents are not keen on the idea of their marriage and not afraid to express their disappointment.
While struggling to get jobs in Hollywood, Dean also worked as a parking lot attendant at CBS Studios, during which time he met Rogers Brackett, a radio director for an advertising agency, who offered him professional help and guidance in his chosen career, as well as a place to stay. In October 1951, following actor James Whitmore’s and his mentor Rogers Brackett’s advice, Dean moved to New York City. There, he began making appearances on television programs such as Studio One, Suspense, General Electric Theatre and of course, Kraft Television Theatre. Usually he played small roles, working his way up to lengthy performances and in this “live” telecast from 1953, James Dean plays the largest role in a script written by master playwright Rod Serling.
12:00 noon to 1:30 p.m.
RUMBLE ON THE DOCKS (1956)
In this gritty story about street-gang toughs, weekend guest James Darren plays Jimmy Smigelski, who sides off against his own father when one of the local longshoreman’s protection racket’s goons takes him under his wing. Jimmy’s association with the gang brings him into fast company, and soon, Jimmy’s family, friends and girlfriend are afraid that Jimmy will go too far, and even become an accessory to murder. Timothy Carey and Robert Blake round out the cast. This was James Darren’s first film!
Based on the 1953 novel of the same name, Rumble on the Docks has everything prominent at the time. Waterfront mobs, slums and ghettos, teenage gangs, and a Romeo and Juliet story. Just because the movie was produced by Sam Katzman, Rumble on the Docks is not a cheap picture by any means. Budget conscious, yes, with a limited number of set-ups and rear-screen process shots in lieu of location filming in New York. (The dock scenes were obviously filmed in nearby San Pedro.) Instead of advertising it along the lines of Best Picture-winner On the Waterfront or even Rebel Without a Cause, the U.S. poster art is more along the exploitative lines of films made in the wake of Blackboard Jungle (1955). The struggles of the longshoremen aren’t even hinted at, but they are prominent.
1:30 to 2:00 p.m.
G.E. THEATER (March 23, 1958)
Joan Crawford appeared as a dramatic actress in a number of television programs over the years. This 1958 crime thriller ran a mere thirty minutes but she dominates the screen with Tom Tryon, John McIntire and Sidney Blackmer. When we had a choice of screening a rare Joan Crawford movie or one of her really rarely-seen television appearances, we chose the one you probably never saw. Since we’re screening an unaired TV pilot with Bette Davis, we wanted to make all the Joan Crawford fans happy!
2:00 to 3:00 p.m.
THE FLYING SCOTSMAN (1929)
A young fireman on the Flying Scotsman train falls in love with the beautiful daughter of the driver who is about to retire. The young fireman has replaced another named Crow who was sacked for drinking on the job and is planning to wreck the express on the driver’s last trip. Ray Milland stars in this rare British flick. Like Alfred Hitchcock’s Blackmail that came out the same year, this film has a silent opening sequence and seems to have begun as a silent picture before adapting the new technology after production began. In other words, it truly is one of the very first sound films produced in Britain. It’s also a great movie. The movie was made to capitalize on the famous train. The mystery writer Freeman Crofts was the technical adviser on the movie, and so much of his knowledge found his way into this movie that he should be regarded by this site as an additional screenwriter.
3:00 to 4:00 p.m.
THE TIME TUNNEL (September 30, 1966)
Considered one of the best episodes of the series, “The Day the Sky Fell In” follows Doug and Tony as they land on a Hawaiian island on December 6, 1941, the day before the Japanese attack the American Naval Base Pearl Harbor and awakens a sleeping giant. But that’s tomorrow’s news – today, Tony (James Darren) makes a desperate attempt to learn what happened to his father, who disappeared during the attack and was never seen again. Doug Phillips (Robert Colbert) helps his friend Tony as they evade the murderous efforts of the Japanese agents who are convinced the Americans know more than they should.
For science-fiction geeks, the Novikov self-consistency principle was anticipated by the tacit understanding of the Time Tunnel scientists that recorded history could not be altered… although in this episode the time travelers make it their concern to see to it that young Tony Newman escapes being killed in the Pearl Harbor bombing in order to prevent the adult Tony from ceasing to exist.
4:00 to 5:00 p.m.
TARZAN (September 15, 1967)
In the episode “Tiger, Tiger,” the premiere episode of the second season, a deadly tiger is loose in the jungle but, despite a warning from Tarzan (starring our weekend guest, Ron Ely), an engineer insists on continuing work on a project although he lacks the experience to cope with the animal. This episode features guest stars James Whitmore, Michael Pate and Anne Jeffreys.
Ely had tried out for the role of Tarzan after Jock Mahoney abandoned the role in 1963, but he lost out to football player-turned-actor Mike Henry. Henry made three Tarzan films and was originally cast for the television series, but he declined it after some bad experiences while shooting his first Tarzan film. Ely was then cast in the role. Ron Ely would ultimately take the director’s chair (as well as acting in the title role) on the series. In the series, there is no Jane in sight; Tarzan is assisted only by Cheetah and Jai (Manuel Padilla Jr.), an orphan. Citing sagging ratings and rising production costs, NBC canceled Tarzan in 1968.
5:00 to 5:30 p.m.
WANNA BUY A RECORD? (1951)
A 35-minute promotional film from 1951 for Capitol Records starring Mel Blanc titled “Wanna Buy a Record?” is an unusual oddity in itself. In this comedic instructional short, Mel is a frustrated record salesman who gives a reluctant customer (played by Billy May) a tour of the Capitol Records facilities. Capitol Records wanted to explain how records were made and why they cost what they did (85 cents at the time). The film was for promotional purposes only and featured Mel Blanc [pictured] and Billy May along with executive Alan Livingston and assorted Capitol stars. The Capitol Recording Studios featured in the film was at 5515 Melrose Ave. and predated the famed Capitol Tower, which was completed in 1956. In 1951, the so-called speed wars between Columbia and RCA had just ended a year earlier. Between 1948 and 1950, the record industry was in turmoil. After Columbia introduced the 33 1/3 LP, RCA refused to adapt the new format—despite Columbia’s offer to give RCA the technology. Instead, RCA launched the 45-rpm in 1949 to compete with Columbia’s LP. For more than a year, the industry and, more important, the consumer, had no idea which format would win. In the process, record sales plummeted as consumers did what consumers do: They stuck with what they already knew—the 78 rpm.
SAN FRANCISCO FILM CLIPS, 1896 – 1916
For all you history buffs, here’s a collection of film shorts featuring San Francisco before and after the great earthquake and fire. “Mable and Fatty Viewing the World’s Fair at San Francisco” (Keystone, April 22, 1915) and “A Bird’s Eye View of San Francisco from a Hot Air Balloon” (Thomas Edison, Jan. 11, 1902) are just a sampling of what you will see here. A number of film shorts were captured on camera while the cameraman was riding in a trolley car so you’ll see every day life as it was happening. You’ll see the Mount Tamalpais Railroad at work (1898), a panoramic view of the Golden Gate Bridge (1902), the Hotel Vendome in 1897, Market Street as it was in 1903, Troops Embarking at San Francisco in 1898, an arrest in Chinatown in 1897, a Chinese funeral in 1903, and of course (we couldn’t forget this) early films of San Francisco before and after the great earthquake and fire! Also fascinating is a political film of “San Francisco’s Future” from 1916.
7:00 to 7:30 p.m.
THE DECORATOR (1965)
In “The Decorator,” Bette Davis portrays a cranky interior designer whose career is hitting rock bottom as she gets well-deserved knocks from her wisecracking assistant, portrayed by Mary Wickes. When she finally lands a job with a rich Oklahoma judge (played by Ed Begley), Bette Davis moves into his home and start redecorating his family’s life. Two-time Oscar champ Bette David wasn’t too grand to stoop to appearing on the lowly boob tube like many other film superstars in those days. She was nominated for four Emmy Awards and won one for a grouchy role. This 1965 television pilot, produced by Aaron Spelling, never aired. Which makes it all the more interesting to view!
7:30 to 8:00 p.m.
MAKE ROOM FOR DADDY
(Telecast on February 16, 1959)
Danny Thomas receives a letter from his old and beloved friend and mentor, Otto Nielsen, telling him that his daughter, Shirley Nielsen (played by weekend guest Shirley Jones), is in New York, hoping to land a job at the Copa. Danny is dismayed when he meets Shirley, a brassy, gum chewing girl who can’t sing. When a worried Otto shows up at the Copa, he doesn’t recognize the beautiful and innocent daughter who left home three weeks earlier. After some attitude, wardrobe and vocal adjustments, Danny is captivated by Shirley and sees a bright future for her in show business.
8:00 to 10:00 p.m.
THE NARROW MARGIN (1952)
There is film noir and then there is film noir. It’s difficult to describe what is a film noir movie since movie studios today like to package plain ol’ mystery flicks by “claiming” them to be noir. Fans today classify a top ten list and The Narrow Margin (1952) is clearly one of the best film noir movies ever made. In fact, if you never saw a film noir in your life, or want to know what the big deal is, we recommend this movie. (Sullivan’s Travels and The Mini-Skirt Mob are our only other two must-see movies this weekend we guarantee you’ll LOVE.) Marie Windsor stars as a woman planning to testify against the mob and must be protected against their assassins during a cross-country train trip from Chicago to Los Angeles. Charles McGraw is hired to protect her. But just when you think it’s safe… the plot twists keep coming. Yes, they made a remake with Gene Hackman years later but the original is the one you want to see. We try to screen one film noir every year and we’ve always chosen rare noir you cannot see anywhere else but we’re making an exception this year so you check this one out!
10:00 to 11:30 p.m.
THE MINI-SKIRT MOB (1968)
Shayne (Diane McBain), the leader of a Honda-riding biker gang known as the Mini-Skirt Mob, has been jilted by her lover, cowboy star Jeff Logan who has married straight-laced Connie (played by our weekend guest Sherry Jackson). Shayne enlists the rest of her gang to help her break up the newlyweds and get Jeff back – even if that means killing him in the process. Her revenge escalates until her sister Edie (Patty McCormack) is killed by a Molotov cocktail and Shayne finds herself hanging by one hand over a deadly chasm. This is one of those pictures that Quentin Tarantino would recommend, and we would certainly agree. It’s difficult to describe what maks this film enjoyable, especially the last 30 minutes. Sherry Jackson doesn’t look favorably towards this movie. “I hated that movie — what a piece of junk,” she recalled. “It took less than a month — we shot it in one of Arizona’s less than desirable locales… not a safe place to be. You couldn’t go out at night because all the locals packed guns.” This movie, however, perfectly reveals the beauty of Sherry Jackson, and we are certain if you stick around, you’ll find the movie just as enjoyable as we did.
9:00 to 10:30 a.m.
HEADIN’ EAST (1937)
For the third picture under contract with Columbia Pictures and Coronet Productions, the movie studio originally intended to have Shemp Howard as Buck Jones’ sidekick for a different movie, a non-Western titled “The Ghost Ship.” It was based on the Russian flyers who were lost, and while there the troupe would set out to look for them. Because the Buck Jones Company was the only producing outfit owning a transport plane for production purposes, the entire cast and crew were going to fly to Alaska to film on location. The movie was never made. Instead, The Overland Express (1938) was produced (and screened at the 2010 MANC Convention). But not before Headin’ East (1937) was released to theaters, the second Coronet film. And in the tradition of a Saturday morning matinee, we’re highlighting cowboy star Buck Jones this weekend with his two rarest films (complete with film shorts, promos and a vintage cartoon).
Headin’ East is Buck Jones’ most unusual Westerns, which features Shemp Howard as Buck’s comical sidekick. Cowboy Buck Benson (played by Buck Jones) is incredulous to find that his father, M.H. (John Elliott), has decided to get into the lettuce business. But when M.H.’s crop is being destroyed by racketeers (whom Benson considers nothing more than lettuce rustlers), the cowboy heads East to put a halt to the bad guys’ activities. Gangsters turn out to be a whole new breed in this Westerner, however, and he needs all the help he can get from shipping clerk Windy (Shemp Howard) and his hot-tempered Puerto Rican girlfriend, both of whom work for produce distributor Calhoun (Earl Hodgins).
10:30 to 11:00 a.m.
GENERAL ELECTRIC THEATRE
(Telecast on December 5, 1954)
Mayfair Productions was a joint venture between film star Alan Ladd and Bernie Joslin (who had previously run a chain of Mayfair Restaurants), formed to capitalize on the coming boom of radio syndication. Alan Ladd was no stranger to the microphone, having begun his show business career as a radio actor at KFWB in 1935. Reportedly, Ladd worked for as many as 20 shows a week under the station salary, and for a time he was heard as “the Richfield Reporter” on the show of that same name. Among Mayfair Productions’ offerings was Box 13, which lasted 52 half-hour episodes. As Dan Holiday, Ladd was a fiction writer retired from the newspaper game. To find material for his books, he ran a provocative ad which stated he would go anywhere, do anything — for adventure. Naturally, this got him caught up with racketeers, psychopathic killers and even a haunted canvas. In “Committed,” Dan Holiday is kidnapped, framed for murder, and held in an asylum before he escapes and proves his innocence. Hollywood actor Alan Ladd reprises the role of Dan Holiday, from his radio program, Box 13. (If fans of the radio program find this story a bit familiar, it should. The script was adapted from one of the radio episodes, “Daytime Nightmare.”) This General Electric-sponsored television broadcast was a proposed television pilot for a weekly television series, with Alan Ladd in the lead. Sadly, the series never sold and this was the only known attempt to bring the radio program to television.
11:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon
77 SUNSET STRIP (December 11, 1959)
Stu Bailey and Jeff Spencer were the wisecracking, womanizing private detective heroes of this weekly Warner Brothers television drama. Stu and Jeff worked out of an office located at 77 Sunset Strip in Los Angeles, right next door to a snazzy restaurant where Kookie worked as a valet. The finger-snapping, slang-talking Kookie occasionally helped Stu and Jeff with their cases, and eventually became a full-fledged member of the detective agency. In this episode, “The Texas Doll,” Jeff Spencer is hired by a Texas oil dynasty to protect their teenage daughter, played by our weekend guest Sherry Jackson, from a fortune-hunting gigolo, and must prove her innocence when she is found next to his dead body. This classic series, which starred Efrem Zimbalist Jr., Roger Smith and Edd Byrnes, was a hip, weekly TV series attempting to cash in on the popularity of the Rat Pack.
Jane Withers was originally consulted for the role of Chris Benson (the role Sherry Jackson plays in this episode), but upon discovering the expensive price tag to have her make a guest appearance, producer Howie Horwitz chose a smarter move and hired the beautiful Sherry Jackson for the role. If you’ve never seen 77 Sunset Strip and want to know what made the show so successful to run six full seasons, here’s your chance!
12:00 noon to 1:00 p.m.
LEON ERROL COMEDY CLASSICS
Three film comedy shorts starring Leon Errol, best known for his two-reel comedies usually playing a henpecked husband who was always falling out of favor with his suspicious and jealous wife. Regardless of the good intentions of Leon, he always managed to get into trouble. In “Down the Ribber” (1936), Leon is initiated into the Loyal Order of Ribbers. In “Wrong Room” (1939), Leon Errol is an authority on how to be charming, has a few too many drinks at the Ocean View Hotel and forgets all he knows on the subject. Among those he doesn’t charm are his wife, his lawyer and his lawyer’s new bride (played by Veronica Lake making her second screen appearance and billed as “Connie Keane”), a blonde cutie he thinks he has bigamously married. In “Wife Takes Wolf” (1947), Leon is caught philandering and his wife claims she is going to divorce him. His business partner hatches a scheme to cure Leon of his flirting with every pretty girl he meets, but the scheme has Leon faking a suicide. (Relax, these are comedies and you’ll be laughing in the aisles!)
1:00 to 2:00 p.m.
THE BOB HOPE SHOW
(Telecast on April 5, 1971)
“If you haven’t any charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble,” Bob Hope once said. The comedian’s first show business job was as a dancer in the “Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle” vaudeville revue in Cleveland in 1924. He would never commit to a weekly television series (except for The Chrysler Theatre), so his television specials two, three and four times a year were monumental to say the least. This 1971 musical/comedy variety television special stars Bob Hope with celebrity guests Lee Marvin, Sammy Davis Jr., Joe Frazier, Sid Haig, Wally Cox and our weekend guest, Shirley Jones. Like any Bob Hope special, there are topical one-liners, beautiful girls, shorts heroes and elaborate comedy skits.
2:00 to 3:00 p.m.
BOB HOPE’S VITAPHONE COMEDIES
A double dose of Bob Hope this Saturday! After making two independent film shorts (one released through Universal Studios), radio comedian Bob Hope agreed to star in a series of six film shorts for Warner Bros. as part of their Vitaphone comedy series, also known as “Broadway Brevities.” We decided to screen three of these rarely-seen gems (we plan to screen the other three next year). Bob is never more funnier than these comedies. In Paree, Paree (1934), a young American man in Paris spots a beautiful woman in a crowd and is instantly smitten, but soon loses sight of her. Later, as he and several friends are sitting at a table at an outdoor cafe and he is describing her to them, he sees her again. His friends begin to tease him about her, and he bets them that he can win her love in 30 days even though he has no money. Clearly a remake of Cole Porter’s Broadway musical, Fifty Million Frenchmen (including four songs from the musical), this plays more like an MGM Marx Bros. movie than anything else. In The Old Grey Mayor (1935), Bob and his fiancé try to break the news of their engagement to her father, the mayor, who is having a very bad day. Bob Hope and Lionel Stander play rivals. The shooting script called for them to stand eyeball to eyeball and insult each other. Lionel Stander had one blue eye and one brown eye. When the camera rolled, Bob Hope found himself staring into Stander’s mismatched eyeballs, and he couldn’t keep a straight face. Hope kept cracking up, and blowing all his takes. Finally, the director had to re-block the scene so that Hope and Stander didn’t stand so close to each other, which you will see in this short.In Calling All Tars (1935), Bob Hope and John Berkes puts on sailor uniforms to pick up girls, only to be mistaken for real sailors and dragged back to a Navy ship by the shore patrol. The short does give each star a chance to shine doing comedy bits both together and separately. Hope was, by this time, developing his screen persona and while Hope clicked with the public, Berkes, sadly, did not. It’s a shame that this film is the peak of Berkes’ career, because he showed real talent (despite his unpleasant physical appearance) as a brash Durante-like comedian. We’re certain after you watch these three comedies, you’ll be crying to see the other three!
LATE NIGHT HORROR MOVIES!
For those of you who enjoy staying up real late to watch old horror flicks till the wee hours of the morning, Alex will be offering a selection of obscurities. Films usually begin around midnight. Among the lineup scheduled for this year…
THE FLAME BARRIER (1958) A satellite with a mysterious substance crash lands on Earth with disasterous results.
SONG AT MIDNIGHT (1937) The first Chinese sound “horror” film.
TEENAGERS BATTLE THE THING (1958) An obscure horror film we know nothing about. Was it ever released in theaters?
THE END OF THE WORLD (1916) A rare Danish silent classic about comets and meteors crashing into the Earth.
A TRIP TO MARS (1918) Another rare Danish science-fiction classic worth watching!
THE MYSTIC (1925) Directed by Tod Browning, the entire film in English is being screened! (Until now, only French versions existed).
GHOST TRAIN (1931) The long lost British classic was recently discovered!
All movies scheduled for screening are subject to change.
All copyrighted motion pictures are screened with permission from their respective owners/distributors. All rights reserved.
77 Sunset Strip, Maverick, Tarzan and Surfside 6 © Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc.
For The Service and Sullivan’s Travels © MCA/Universal Studios
You Bet Your Life bloopers © NBC/Universal Studios
Telephone Time, General Electric Theatre, The Decorator, Leon Errol comedy shorts and Kraft Television Theater courtesy of Martin Grams.
Rumble on the Docks, The Brothers Rico and Headin’ East © Sony Entertainment
WWII film shorts courtesy of Roy Bright.
The Ghoul courtesy of Canned Horrors, Inc.
Wanna Buy A Record? courtesy of Doug Hopkinson.
Sis Hopkins © Paramount Pictures.
Laurel and Hardy and Our Gang comedies © Hallmark Entertainment
Guest Wife, The Narrow Margin and The Mini-Skirt Mob © MGM and Turner Entertainment Co.
The Time Tunnel © Twentieth Century Fox