One hundred, ten years ago, the silent, black & white short film The Roman was released. Directed by Francis Boggs and written by Edward Bulwer-Lytton, it starred Hobart Bosworth, Betty Harte, Robert Z. Leonard and Tom Santschi. It was filmed at the studios of the Selig Polyscope Company.
The Moving Picture World (January-June 1910 Archive):
Perhaps the most attractive feature of this picture is the reproduction of early Roman costumes and Roman surroundings. It is a story of political intrigue, with all the contests and disagreeable features, connected therewith in the ancient city. But, the reproduction of manners and customs and, the historically correct scenery and settings, add immensely to the interest and, insure attention when, perhaps, the mere political story would scarcely be considered. The greatest service the motion picture can do is in the direction of educating the people, and a film like this, which faithfully illustrates long past and, perhaps, partially forgotten life, is of vast importance and, deserves a cordial reception. The Selig players have brought enthusiasm to their work and, have put much ability and life into the interpretation of this play.
This film may have been based on the 1835 novel Rienzi, the Last of the Tribunes, by Edward Bulgar-Lytton [sic]. An advertisement in the [February] 19, 1910, Film Index billed Bosworth above the title, “Hobart Bosworth in The Roman,” and labeled the movie “Film De Art of the Classics,” declaring: “Its teachings are based upon the scriptures and traditions of the early history of the eternal city.” The advertisement also suggested that theater owners book The Roman as a “Special Lenten Picture.”
A young woman [orders] her girl slave to deposit in the waters of the Tiber a child which she has cause to be rid of. The infant is found by one of the aristocracy and adopted. In later years she is betrothed but, just before the wedding, the ruler of the land claims the young woman, on the ground that she was born in slavery. By military force, she is torn from the arms of her foster father and taken to the ruling house where she is held captive for only a few hours, as the father and young lover, have aroused a popular rebellion which overthrows the ruler, end[ing] in his death and the defeat of his defenders. (Variety February 19, 1910)
One Trivia Bit:
♦ Per [Hobart] Bosworth, first picture made at Selig’s (Studio at 1845 Allesandro Street, now Glendale Blvd.) in the Edendale (now Silver Lake) plant of Los Angeles.
[There was not much written about this film and no video clip(s). The image, above, doesn’t seem to jive with the TCM synopsis. But, that is all I could find.
Addendum: I continued to dig and found the, above, write-ups via the Internet Archive database and AFI. Turner Classic Movies synopsis was WAY off. ~Vic]
Forty-five years ago, today, the Hallmark Hall of Fame television movie All Creatures Great and Small aired on NBC. Based on two novels by James Alfred Wight (pen name James Herriot), If Only They Could Talk (1970) and It Shouldn’t Happen To A Vet (1972), it was the first of a series of films and TV series based on his work. Directed by Claude Whatham and produced by David Susskind, it starred Simon Ward (as James Herriot), Anthony Hopkins, Lisa Harrow, Brian Stirner and Freddie Jones.
It is 1937 and newly qualified vet James Herriot travels to Yorkshire to apply for the post of assistant in Siegfried Farnon’s practice. He soon learns the facts of country life but, struggles to overcome the prejudices of the Darrowby locals who are skeptical of the novice vet’s ability. In between cases, Herriot courts pretty farmer’s daughter Helen Alderson and finally marries her.
From Turner Classic Movies:
A gentle, episodic account of author Herriot’s apprenticeship in the mid-1930s to an eccentric rural English veterinarian and his awkward courtship of a farmer’s daughter.
The story of a young veterinarian’s apprenticeship to a somewhat eccentric, older vet in the English countryside and the young man’s hesitating courtship of the daughter of a local farmer.
♦ Although born in Sunderland, England, James Herriot spent the first twenty-three years of his life in Glasgow, Scotland and never lost the accent, as can be heard in television interviews. Simon Ward however, plays him as a Londoner.
♦ Known to the cast and crew as “All Creatures Grunt and Smell”.
Twenty-five years ago, this week (November 26/December 2, 1994) the song Bang and Blame by R.E.M. debuted on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart (Page 119/called Modern Rock Tracks in 1994), entering at #8, making it to #1 on December 17. Released October 31, it was the second single from the album Monster, their ninth studio album. Co-produced by the band and Scott Litt, all song writing credits are the band members. The song also made it to #1 in Canada on February 20, 1995, and peaked in the top ten in the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart (Album Rock Tracks in 1994), Billboard Mainstream Top 40 chart and, in Finland, Iceland and Poland.
Rain Phoenix (sister of River & Joaquin) and Lynda Stipe (Michael’s sister) sang backing vocals. Recordings were difficult with Mike Mills and Bill Berry‘s illnesses and, the deaths of Kurt Cobain and River Phoenix. The album is dedicated to Phoenix.
Television Episodes (song used)
Lyrics (from LyricFind):
If you could see yourself now, baby
It’s not my fault, you used to be so in control
You’re going to roll right over this one
Just roll me over, let me go
You’re laying blame
Take this as no, no, no, no, no
You bang, bang, bang, bang, bang
Then blame, blame, blame
You bang, bang, bang, bang, bang
It’s not my thing, so let it go
If you could see yourself now, baby
The tables have turned, the whole world hinges on your swings
Your secret life of indiscreet discretions
I’d turn the screw and leave the screen
Don’t point your finger
You know that’s not my thing
You came to bang, bang, bang, bang, bang
To blame, blame, blame
Bang, bang, bang, bang, bang
It’s not my thing, so let it go now
You’ve got a little worry
I know it all too well
I’ve got your number
But so does every kiss and tell
Who dares to cross your threshold
Happens on you way
Stop laying blame
You know that’s not my thing
You know that’s not my thing
You came to bang, bang, bang, bang, bang
Then blame, blame, blame
Bang, bang, bang, bang, bang
It’s not my thing so let it go, you
Bang, bang, bang, bang, bang
Then blame, blame, blame
Bang, bang, bang, bang, bang
It’s not my thing so let it go
You kiss on me
Tug on me
Rub on me
Jump on me
You bang on me
Beat on me
Hit on me
Let go on me
You let go on me
Fifty-five years ago, today, the TV Special An Hour With Robert Goulet, a variety show, aired on CBS. Directed by Clark Jones (The Carol Burnett Show) and written by Arthur Alsberg (Herbie, the Love Bug & No Deposit, No Return), guest stars were Leslie Caron, Peter Gennaro, Phil Silvers, Ed Sullivan, Terry-Thomas, Fredd Wayne and Earl Wilson.
There is very little written about this special, save a New York Times Article, written the next day (No writer credited):
ONE of the tiredest gimmicks of variety shows was coupled last night with a fresh idea on “The Robert Goulet Hour.” When the tenor turned his profile toward the sun on a southern California beach and a light wind ruffled his perfectly groomed hair as he sang “Lost in the Stars,” his program consciously aimed for the creative touch. Few singers are willing to compete with the Pacific Ocean.
But when Mr. Goulet was on the sound stage of C.B.S. Television City in Hollywood, he was engulfed in that shopworn gag of pretending to be rehearsing a musical special for TV. Leslie Caron joined him in “Call Me Irresponsible” and then said “no,” she simply would not sing on his show. Peter Gennaro demonstrated a possible dance step and Fredd Wynne [sic] agonized over material for Mr. Goulet and sketches for Miss Caron. Even the ad‐libs were planned.
Visiting the University of California at Los Angeles, Mr. Goulet and company held a press conference for tanned Tammys and Gidgets, who watched Terry‐Thomas mug shamelessly as a fine arty professor. The atypical students acted like graduates of the Hollywood Professional School.
When the script permitted Mr. Goulet to forget the script, his show had possibilities. Still, the evening’s honors must go to Miss Caron, who, impersbnating [sic] Marlene Dietrich as the Blue Angel, tackled a chair with the finesse of an Olympic champion.
IMDB states that it was filmed at the Wilshire Boulevard Brown Derby. The second video, below, appears to be from a Robert Goulet channel that was set up by his widow, Vera Novak. Written below the video:
Robert Goulet Live From Sahara Hotel In Las Vegas was filmed as part of “An Hour With Robert Goulet” TV special in 1964 and produced by our company Rogo Productions, Inc. This is a rare gem and wonderful historical footage of a remarkable entertainer showcasing live entertainment in Las Vegas during 1960s. In this clip, Robert sings a “Medley Of Old Songs” written by Jerry Bresler and Lyn Duddy, which was also recorded in 1963 on Columbia Records “Robert Goulet in Person“.
I usually do movie posts in five year increments but, this one kinda fell in my lap. Sixty-three years ago, today, Elvis Presley made his acting debut in the film Love Me Tender. Directed by Robert D. Webb, it was originally titled The Reno Brothers and was based on a story written by Maurice Geraghty. When Presley’s single Love Me Tender passed one million copies, a first for a single, the title to the film was changed. This was the only movie in which Presley played an historical figure and the only movie in which he did not receive top billing.
Elvis plays Clint Reno, one of the Reno Brothers who stayed home while his brother went to fight in the Civil War for the Confederate army. When his brother Vance comes back from the war, he finds that his old girlfriend Cathy has married Clint. The family has to struggle to reach stability with this issue. Vance is involved in a train robbery, while a Confederate soldier, of Federal Government money. There is a conflict of interest, when Vance tries to return the money, against the wishes of some of his fellow Confederates.
♦ Originally, this movie had no singing in it. Songs were added to cash in on Elvis Presley’s stardom.
♦ Priscilla Presley reportedly copied Debra Paget’s unique hairstyle from this film to attract Elvis in 1959.
♦ According to Penny Stallings‘ “Flesh and Fantasy”, Presley developed a crush on co-star Debra Paget, which went unreciprocated because she was seeing Howard Hughes at the time.
♦ When the film played in theaters, Elvis Presley’s fans were screaming so loud that audiences couldn’t hear any of his lines.
The Actual Movie
I couldn’t come up with any movie releases for today but, seventy years ago, on this date (as best as I can tell), the The Heiress was the most popular film at the box office. Directed, and produced, by William Wyler, it premiered in New York on October 6 and in Los Angeles on October 20. Based on the 1947 play of the same name by American playwrights Ruth and Augustus Goetz, it starred Olivia de Havilland, Montgomery Clift, Ralph Richardson, Miriam Hopkins and Vanessa Brown.
Catherine Sloper is a shy and backwards young woman who lives with her father, Dr. Austin Sloper, in 1849 New York. By all accounts, Catherine’s mother was a beautiful and graceful creature with the charm of queens. Catherine never knew her mother since she died while in childbirth but, her father often reminds her of all the things her mother was and that she is not. Catherine inherited a great deal of money after her mother passed and will inherit twice as much more at the passing of her father. So, when a poor but handsome and well-bred man, Morris Townsend, begins to court Catherine, her father becomes suspicious that he must be after her money. After all, Catherine is plain and boring. What could she possibly offer to this young man other than her money? When she refuses to give up her new beau, her father threatens to disinherit her. Will her father eventually convince her to give him up and wait for a suitable husband? Will Catherine and Morris elope and, live on the money left to her by her mother? Or, could it be that Catherine finally finds all the grace and charm of her mother only to use it against the men in her life?
♦ Montgomery Clift was so unhappy with his performance, he walked out of the Premiere.
♦ Cary Grant was interested in playing Morris Townsend but, William Wyler turned him down.
♦ Montgomery Clift took some piano lessons for the scene where he sings “Plaisir d’Amour” to Olivia de Havilland.
♦ William Wyler wanted Erroll Flynn for the role of Morris Townsend.
♦ This movie was selected to the National Film Registry, Library of Congress, in 1996.
Forty years ago, today, the television film The Flame Is Love aired on NBC. Based on the Barbara Cartland novel of the same name, it starred Linda Purl, Shane Briant, Timothy Dalton, Richard Johnson and Joan Greenwood. Directed and co-produced by Michael O’Herlihy, it was written by Hindi Brooks (teleplay) and filmed in Ireland.
Synopsis from The Movie Database:
This sudsy made-for-TV melodrama is based on a Barbara Cartland novel and follows the romantic exploits of an American heiress who sets sail for exciting Paris at the turn-of-the-century. She is traveling there to meet her fiance but, ends up falling in love with a French journalist.
Synopsis from the actual novel:
Reluctant to accept her arranged marriage to an English Duke she has never met, beautiful, young, American oil heiress, Emmeline Nevada Holtz, nicknamed “Vada” after the state, travels to Paris to buy her trousseau before meeting her husband-to-be. When her travelling companion, Nancy Sparling, has an accident and hurts her leg, Vada assumes her name to avoid unwelcome attention. [She] travels on with just her elderly maid, determined to make the most of her last chance to explore Bohemian Paris and, the wonders of the city that she had heard and read so much about. At her hotel she finds a handsome intruder in her suite, not a thief as she at first thinks but, a journalist looking to interview the famous heiress Emmeline. Smitten by this charismatic Frenchman and his talk of poetry, Vada finds herself agreeing to go with him to the Soleil d’Or, wellspring of the Symbolist movement. Soon, they are deeply and uncontrollably in love, a love that is surely doomed by her deception, her betrothal to the Duke and, now, a terrifying ordeal at a Satanist Black Mass on the dark side of the City of Light.
The Complete Movie
Sixty years ago, today, the sitcom The Betty Hutton Show debuted on CBS. Originally titled Goldie, it was sponsored by General Foods‘ Post Cereals and, produced by Desilu and Hutton Productions. Created by Stanley Roberts, it starred Betty Hutton, Dennis Joel (Olivieri), Peter Miles, Gigi Perreau, Gavin Muir, Tom Conway and Jean Carson.
Hutton stars as Goldie, a showgirl-turned-manicurist. One of Goldie’s regular customers is a millionaire, Mr. Strickland. After he suddenly dies, Goldie discovers that he has left everything he owns, including his $60 million fortune and his three children, to her.
A talkative manicurist inherits a legacy and the custody of three children from a rich Wall Street broker customer.
Betty Hutton’s Website
Episode One: Betty Crosses The Tracks
Fifty-five years ago, today, the action–adventure series Daniel Boone debuted on NBC. Produced by 20th Century Fox Television, it starred Fess Parker, Patricia Blair, Darby Hinton, Veronica Cartwright, Ed Ames & Dallas McKennon. Country singer Jimmy Dean was a guest star for fifteen episodes from 1968-1970 and NFL football player Rosie Greer had regular appearances from 1969-1970. The show’s first season was in black & white.
Daniel Boone was one of two significant historical figures played by Fess Parker. He previously appeared as Davy Crockett in a series of episodes of the Walt Disney anthology television series […]. Efforts had been made to secure the rights to Crockett from Walt Disney but, Disney refused to sell, so, the series wound up being about Boone instead. In contrast, Parker’s Boone was less of an explorer and more a family man than Parker’s Crockett. Parker as Crockett also generally wore a light beard, whereas his Boone was predominantly clean-shaven.
The series is set in the 1770s and 1780s, just before, during and after the American Revolution and, mostly centered on adventures in, and about, Boonesborough, Kentucky. Some aspects of the show were less than historically faithful, which, at one point, led the Kentucky legislature to condemn the inaccuracies. The series’ story line does not follow historical events. Instead, story lines run back and forth concerning historical events.
[Ed Ames] role as Mingo led to a famous tomahawk-throwing demonstration on The Tonight Show, that was rerun on anniversary clip shows for decades afterward, in which Ames threw a tomahawk at a target of a man and the hatchet landed between the cutout’s legs, much to host Johnny Carson‘s amusement.
♦ According to an interview with Veronica Cartwright, she left the series because the producers wanted to have her character of Jemima Boone involved in more mature situations, such as budding romantic relationships. Patricia Blair did not like this because it made her feel too old, so she threatened to leave the series if Cartwright was not let go from the series.
♦ Israel Boone was one of seventy-two killed at the Battle of Blue Licks, one of the last battles of the Revolutionary War, on August 19, 1782. He was twenty-three. His father Daniel was there and saw his son killed. Coincidentally, Darby Hinton, who played Israel, was born on the 175th Anniversary of Israel’s death, August 19, 1957.
♦ [The] Boones [actually] had ten children […].
♦ Unlike Fess Parker [6’5″ 1/2], the real Daniel Boone was only about 5’8″.
Seventy-five years ago, today, the adventure film Frenchman’s Creek was released (or New York opening). Directed by Mitchell Leisen, it was based on the 1941 novel of the same name by Daphne Du Maurier. Starring Joan Fontaine (sister of Olivia de Havilland), Arturo de Córdova, Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce and Cecil Kellaway, it was produced by Buddy DeSylva (co-founder of Capitol Records) with Talbot Jennings (The Sons of Katie Elder) crafting the screenplay. The musical score included Claude DeBussy‘s Clair de Lune.
An English lady bored with London society brings her [two] children to their country home. Her servant William is also working for a French pirate who holds up with his ship and crew off the coast. They soon meet and she embarks on an adventure with the pirates!
As a beautiful, learned lady of means, Dona St. Columb had it all…and a loveless marriage. After years of being royally subjected to mistreatment, she retreats with her most prized possessions, her two children, to a secluded manor overlooking Britain’s Atlantic shoreline. [She] is enthralled with the tall tales of a scoundrel of a pirate, who has been plundering nearby coastal villages. Full of adventure and fueled by years of neglect, she sets forth to seek him out and, it is not long before she finds him…
“A Lady of Fire and Ice…A Rogue of Steel and Gallantry”
♦ The only film featuring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce in which they do not play Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.
♦ To make Arturo de Córdova appear taller than Joan Fontaine, he had to wear lifts in his shoes, causing him to teeter when he walked.
Unfortunately, there aren’t any video clips of this movie. There are clips of the 1998 remake. ~Vic
I’m trying something different. We’ll see how it goes. ~Vic
Sixty-five years ago, today, the sitcom Dear Phoebe debuted on NBC. Created by Alex Gottlieb, it starred Peter Lawford, Marcia Henderson, Charles Lane and Joe Corey. The first episode to air, Bill Gets a Job, included a young Chuck Connors and The Christmas Show episode included Jesse White (Maytag Man). The show’s theme music was composed by George & Ira Gershwin.
Bill Hastings works for a daily newspaper in a large city. His duties include a lonely hearts column, where he advises everyone on their problems, as “Phoebe”, while trying to deal with his own.
Lawford stars as Bill Hastings, a former college professor who becomes the writer of the advice-to-the-lovelorn column at the fictitious Los Angeles Daily Star. Hastings writes under the pseudonym “Miss Phoebe Goodheart”. Marcia Henderson portrayed Mickey Riley, the female sportswriter at the newspaper and Hastings’s own romantic interest. Charles Lane, who later portrayed J. Homer Bedloe in the CBS series Petticoat Junction, played newspaper boss Mr. Fosdick. Joe Corey played Humphrey Humpsteader, a copy boy trying to become a reporter.
♦ Peter Lawford’s wife, Patricia Kennedy Lawford (sister of John F. Kennedy), made a cameo appearance in one episode.
♦ This series was sponsored by Campbell Soup Company in its original prime time run.
The Christmas Show
Eighty years ago, today, the crime–mystery Dick Tracy’s G-Men was released. A serial film with fifteen chapters, it was co-directed by John English and William Witney and, is over four and a half hours long in total. Produced by Robert Beche, it starred Ralph Byrd, Irving Pichel, Ted Pearson, Phyllis Isley (also known as Jennifer Jones) and Walter Miller (his last film). Based on Chester Gould‘s Dick Tracy comic strip, this serial had Tracy working for the FBI. As a sequel to the original serial, Gould’s contract barred him from production and payment. It was re-released on September 19, 1955.
A mad doctor named Zanoff uses a drug to bring himself back from the dead after his execution in prison. Dick Tracy sets out to capture Zanoff before he can put his criminal gang back together again.
International spy, Zarnoff, in the employ of “The Three Powers” (presumably a fictionalized reference to the Axis) is captured by Dick Tracy at the start of the serial, [then] tried and sentenced to death. However, through the use of a rare drug embedded by his agents in[to] the evening newspaper, he escapes from the gas chamber. His men pick up his “corpse” by ambushing the hearse and, administering another counter-drug. He continues his espionage plans, while taking the opportunity of revenge on Tracy.
From historian William Cline:
[Dick Tracy serials were] “unexcelled in the action field” [and] “in any listing of serials released after 1930, the four Dick Tracy adventures from Republic must stand out as classics of the suspense detective thrillers and the models for many others to follow.”
Dick Tracy Depot (Watch all 15 chapters)
Eighty-five years ago, today, the crime-drama mystery Fifteen Wives was released. Directed by Frank Strayer and produced by Maury Cohen, it starred Conway Tearle, Natalie Moorhead, Raymond Hatton, Noel Francis, John Wray, Margaret Dumont, Ralf Harolde, Oscar Apfel, Robert Frazer, Harry Bradley and Lew Kelly.
In a New York hotel, the body of Steven Humbolt is discovered and Chief Inspector Decker Dawes is called to investigate. After a brief inspection of Humbolt’s belongings, Dawes and Sergeant Meed determine that Humbolt had fifteen wives, three of whom…Sybilla Crum, a well-known reformer, wealthy Carol Arnold, and Ruby Cotton…live in New York. Dawes first questions the still devoted Sybilla, then quizzes Jason Getty, a florist who had sent Humbolt a funeral wreath hours before his death was discovered. While Meed checks out Getty’s lead that the wreath was ordered in Philadelphia, Dawes interrogates Carol Arnold. Carol tells Dawes that Humbolt had robbed, and deserted her, after three weeks of marriage and, that, a year later, she had received a letter from South America informing her of his demise. Just after Carol had married wealthy Gregory Arnold, Humbolt contacted her with blackmail demands but, according to Carol, she never saw him before his murder. Although Dawes doubts Carol’s story, he leaves her to talk to a chemist about a broken glass globe that was found near Humbolt’s body.
The chemist reveals that the globe, a Helmholtz Resonator, contained a lethal dose of hydrocynanic acid gas that was released when the glass was broken. Once Dawes determines that the globe came from Philadelphia, he demonstrates how a radio performer known as The Electric Voice, whose fiancée is Ruby Cotton, could have broken the globe during a broadcast. Dawes arrests The Voice and Ruby but, returns to question Carol, who he discovers is hiding a child she had by Humbolt. Then, Dawes receives a message from Sybilla about a clue she unearthed at Humbolt’s funeral. While at Sybilla’s home, Dawes discovers that florist Getty is impersonating the reformer and that he is wearing a pair of gloves similar to a pair Humbolt was wearing in his coffin. Suspicious, Dawes orders Humbolt’s coffin exhumed, which causes Getty, who needed the gloves to hide his amputated fingers, to panic. [He] confesses that he killed Sybilla and had used The Electric Voice’s broadcast to kill Humbolt out of revenge for stealing his wife in Australia. After thwarting Getty’s escape attempt, Dawes telephones Carol, who is divorcing [Gregory] Arnold and proposes that they leave for Europe together.
The Internet Movie Database (IMDB) and Wikipedia state that this film was released July 15, 1934. The American Film Institute (AFI) and Turner Classic Movies (TCM) state that it was released June 1, 1934. I have no way of verifying either. I also can’t find any video clips. ~Vic
Twenty years ago, today, the HBO special Bigger & Blacker, a stand-up routine by comedian Chris Rock, premiered. It was recorded at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. The, now, defunct DreamWorks Records released a DVD on July 13.
In his third HBO stand-up special, Chris Rock brings his critically acclaimed brand of social commentary-themed humor to this 1999 stand-up comedy presentation. Also released as an album, Chris Rock: Bigger and Blacker features Rock on-stage extolling his razor-sharp wit and wisdom on such topics as gun control, President Clinton, homophobia, racism, black leaders and relationships.
Grammy Award (Best Comedy Album)
Ninety years ago, today, the melodramatic silent film Thunder was released. Written by Ann Price and Byron Morgan, it was directed by William Nigh. Considered a lost film, it starred Lon Chaney, Sr. (The Man of a Thousand Faces), Phyllis Haver, James Murray, Tom Keene, Frances Morris (Adventures of Superman (TV Series)/Sarah Kent) and Wally Albright. Though a silent movie, it did have sound effects and a musical score. Only half of the reel survived and this was Chaney’s last silent. [During filming], Chaney caught a cold during the snow scenes which, then, developed into walking pneumonia. Production was shut down for a time but, was eventually completed. Chaney’s illness, combined with his throat cancer, led to his death two months after the release of his last film, and only talkie, 1930’s The Unholy Three.
Lon Chaney plays Grumpy Anderson, a railroad engineer with an obsession for running his train on time. His slavishness to promptness causes several tragedies which alienate him from his family. By the story’s end, the engineer restores their faith in him and validates his obsession by forcing his train through a flood to bring badly needed Red Cross supplies to the victims.
“Grumpy” Anderson is an old railroad engineer that is obsessed with keeping his train on schedule, no matter the cost. His two sons are also railmen but, don’t share his single mindedness, which leads to one son’s death and a fight with the other on the first son’s funeral car. [This] leads to a crash and demotion of Grumpy to mechanic in the yards. His redemption comes during the Mississippi flood when he is, again, pressed into service to pilot a relief train along with his surviving son.
Thunder (the book) from Creepy Classics
Sixty-five years ago, today, the CBS TV variety series Stage Show debuted. It was produced by Jackie Gleason Enterprises and hosted by Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey. Starting out as an hour-long, summertime replacement for The Jackie Gleason Show, it was returned in the Fall of 1955.
This is the show that introduced the world to Elvis Presley.
Dave Marsh, in his insightful musical biography Elvis, writes about the moment Elvis Presley burst upon the American scene via The Dorsey Brothers Stage Show on January 28, 1956. “In his first appearance on the Dorsey Brothers’ TV show, the young singer rocked the world”. Marsh described Elvis’ startling rendition of Heartbreak Hotel and concluded, “He owned the song and he owned the crowd”.
After 17 months of personal appearances all over the south […], Elvis […] made his first appearance […]. Those shows were broadcast, live, from the CBS Studios in New York City. Young Elvis The Pelvis’ first appearance […] was followed by 5 others throughout the next 2 months until the 24 of March, 1956.
Bobby Darin also made his television debut on this show in March of 1956 singing Rock Island Line. The June Taylor Dancers were regular guests & performers and, Jack Carter became the permanent host in the show’s final season. Up against the The Perry Como Show on NBC, ratings began to decline. The final show was aired September 18, 1956, two months before the death of Tommy Dorsey. Jimmy passed in June of the following year.
Ninety-five years ago, today, the silent drama Being Respectable was released. Based on the novel of the same name written by Grace Flandrau, it was adapted by Dorothy Farnum. Directed by Phil Rosen, it starred Marie Prevost, Monte Blue, Louise Fazenda, Irene Rich, Theodore von Eltz, Frank Currier, Eulalie Jensen, Lila Leslie, Sidney Bracey and Charles French.
Wealthy young Charles Carpenter is pressured by his family to marry Suzanne, even though he is really in love with young “flapper” Valerie. He gives in to his family’s pressure, however and marries Suzanne, after which Valerie leaves town. Years later, after Charles and Suzanne have had a child, Valerie comes back to town and, Charles realizes he is still in love with her…and she with him. Complications ensue. [Source]
Through the scheming of his respectable, and wealthy family, Charles Carpenter is obliged to marry Suzanne, although he is in love with young flapper Valerie Winship. Years later, when Valerie is back in town, they renew the affair and, Carpenter plans to leave his wife and child for her. […] in the end, he yields to family duty and respectability. [Source]
New York Times Review [August 4, 1924]
I could not find any video clips of this movie. ~Vic
One-hundred, five years ago, today, The Brash Drummer and The Nectarine was released. A short, silent, black & white comedy, it was written and directed by George Ade, a popular American humorist for his time and a follower of Mark Twain. Starring Wallace Beery and Bevery Bayne, this piece was one of Ade’s Fables in Slang.
Gabby Gus made the town regularly every month. He was a swell guy and thought he could cop most any Jane that he took a liking to. Clara Louise Willoughby, a farmer’s daughter with a pretty face and figure, took the salesman’s eye. He looked the old gent up in Dunn and Bradstreet and, discovered that the old boy was worth some coin. Then, he set his traps for the daughter. Dad, however, sent her away to boarding school and when she returned, she was the swellest peach in the orchard. They all fell for her. Gus hastened to her home where he discovered she was some lemon when it came to the country stuff and that she was a real ‘highfalutin’ society butterfly now. […] her aspirations were higher than a poor hick drummer. She made him feel awfully small. [Source]
I can’t find a video clip of this film but, I did find Ade’s Fables in Slang in audio book form. It has 26 stories and was published in 1899. [Disclaimer: It is nearly two hours long.] ~Vic
An IMDB Summary:
A vignette of a bar-room/liquor-store in the West [with] no plot, per se. However, this short is usually regarded as the first “Western” in the sense that it depicts a western scene.
The film lasted one minute, had no action and the role of a barmaid was played by a man.
Summary From The Library of Congress:
Shows tap room of the “Miners Arms”, stout lady at the bar and three men playing stud horse. Old toper with a silk hat asleep by the stove. Rough miner enters, bar maid serves him with Red Eye Whiskey and he proceeds to clean out the place. Barmaid takes a hand with a siphon of vichy and, bounces the intruder with the help of the card players, who line up before the bar and take copious drinks on the house.
So the film’s supposed to be set in one of the rough mining towns that were part of the Wild West. Also, it was definitely named “Cripple Creek” for a reason. Cripple Creek, Colorado, was a real-life ranch town that experienced a major gold rush in the late 19th century. In 1890, Robert Miller Womack struck gold and, six years later, the town had swelled from a mere 500 souls to well over 30,000 gold-fevered prospectors. All in all, something in the range of a half-billion dollars worth of gold would be extracted from the area.
Specific dates are a little hard to come by but, one-hundred, twenty-five years ago in May, Edison Studios produced three silent actuality films of German bodybuilder Eugen Sandow (born Friedrich Wilhelm Müller). It was directed by Scottish mutoscope inventor, photographer and Edison employee William K. L. Dickson.
Florenz Ziegfeld wanted to display Sandow at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Ziegfeld found that the audience was more fascinated by Sandow’s bulging muscles than by the amount of weight he was lifting so, Ziegfeld had Sandow move in poses which he dubbed “muscle display performances”…and the legendary strongman added these displays in addition to performing his feats of strength with barbells. He added chain-around-the-chest breaking and other colorful displays to Sandow’s routine and Sandow quickly became Ziegfeld’s first star. The [Edison] film was of only part of his act and featured him flexing his muscles rather than performing any feats of physical strength.
From Film Threat:
Did you ever stop and say to yourself: “Hey, who was the very first movie star?” You never did? That’s funny, because I did. In researching the answer, I found myself going all the way back to the dawn of motion pictures, where a scantily clad muscleman flexing his biceps was the unlikely pioneer in the realm of celluloid stardom. The year was 1894 and the American motion picture industry consisted solely of Thomas Edison and his team of inventors. Edison had the technology in place but, he was missing one key element: the film contents. […] there was one man who had no problem filling that void. In between the expected presentations for feats of strength, there were posing sequences where Sandow arched and twisted his body in a manner that detailed the excesses of his musculature. Today, we call that bodybuilding, and no one thinks twice about it but, in the 1890s, it was a startling and exciting physical display. Reportedly, Sandow made a nice side business by accepting money from women who wanted to feel his mighty muscles! Sandow’s fame in the United States grew fairly quickly and he became a major headliner on the vaudeville circuit. Edison realized he could also cash in on Sandow’s fame and, in early 1894, he sent word to Ziegfeld about having Sandow appear in a kinetoscope film. Edison then handed Sandow over to William K.L. Dickson, who was in charge of the film production at Edison’s studio. Sandow stripped off his clothing, donned his tighty-whitey posing trunks and stood before the hand-cranked kinetoscope camera. And, to employ the ultimate cliché, history was made.
I am going WAY back this time…back to the days of moving pictures and short films. Sticking with my five year increments, one-hundred & thirty years ago, William Friese-Greene, an English inventor, and professional photographer, shot a silent, actuality film in the Autumn of 1889. It was titled Leisurely Pedestrians, Open Topped Buses and Hansom Cabs with Trotting Horses.
[…] shot by inventor and film pioneer William Friese-Greene on celluloid film using his ‘machine’ camera, the 20 feet of film […] was shot […] at Apsley Gate, Hyde Park, London. [It] was claimed to be the first motion picture [but] Louis Le Prince successfully shot on glass plate before 18 August 1887 and on paper negative in October 1888. It may, nonetheless, be the first moving picture film on celluloid and the first shot in London.
It is now considered a lost film with no known surviving prints and only one possible still image extant.
An article in This Is Bristol UK from December 17, 2009, (via The Wayback Machine) has an interview with David Friese-Greene, the great-grandson. From the article:
My great-grandfather was an idealist and a brilliant inventor, with 71 patents to his name but, he was a dreadful businessman. He died without ever having made a penny out of his inventions. He married his first wife Helena Friese when he was just 19 and incorporated her surname with his, because he felt it sounded more impressive. Tragically, Helena died at the age of 21 […].
It was during the late 1880s, shortly after Helena’s death, that Friese-Greene first began to experiment with the idea of creating moving pictures. […] in 1890, he patented [a] new device, which he dubbed the chronophotographic camera. Unfortunately, he was so pleased with his creation that, he wrote to the great American inventor, Thomas Edison, telling him what he had come up with and, even, included plans and designs […]. William never heard back from the inventor of the electric light bulb, though, the following year, Edison patented his own version of a movie camera and went down in many history books as the inventor of cinema.
In fact, William died a pauper but, [was] still passionate about his most famous creation. He was at a cinema industry meeting in London, which had been called to discuss the poor state of the British film industry in 1921. He had got to his feet to speak about his vision of how film could be used to create educational documentaries when he fell down dead. It is said he had just 21 pence in his pockets when he died.
There is additional information on this WordPress blog: William Friese-Greene & Me
Ten years ago, today, the #1 movie at the box office was 17 Again, a comedy starring Zac Efron, Matthew Perry, Leslie Mann, Thomas Lennon, Michelle Trachtenberg, Jim Gaffigan, Margaret Cho & Melora Hardin. Released April 17, it was directed by Burr Steers (Gore Vidal‘s nephew).
At 17 Mike O’Donnell is on top of the world: he’s the star of his high school basketball team, is a shoo-in for a college scholarship, and is dating his soul-mate, Scarlet. But, at what’s supposed to be his big game where a college scout is checking him out, Scarlet reveals that she’s pregnant. Mike decides to leave the game and asks Scarlet to marry him, which she does. During their marriage, Mike can only whine about the life he lost because he married her so, she throws him out. When he also loses his job, he returns to the only place he’s happy at, his old high school. While looking at his high school photo, a janitor asks him if he wishes he could be 17 again and he says yes. One night while driving he sees the janitor on a bridge ready to jump and goes after him. When he returns to his friend Ned’s house, where he has been staying, he sees that he is 17 again. He decides to take this opportunity to get the life he lost.
♦ Visual effects were not used when Zac Efron does the basketball tricks during the cafeteria scene. He really did accomplish them on his own.
♦ This is a remake of the 1986 Disney TV movie “Young Again” starring a very young Keanu Reeves in one of his earliest roles.
♦ In one scene, Mike wakes up and begins describing his “dream” of being in high school again only to find his daughter, Maggie, caring for him. This is an homage to the counterpart scene in Back to the Future (1985), in which Marty McFly wakes up and finds his teen-aged mother caring for him.
Fifteen years ago, today, the #1 film at the box office was The Passion of the Christ, a biblical drama starring Jim Caviezel, Maia Morgenstern, Monica Bellucci, Claudia Gerini and Sergio Rubini. Directed by Mel Gibson, the screenplay was co-written by Gibson and Benedict Fitzgerald. Released February 25, it was based on The Passion of Jesus in the New Testament and Clemens Brentano‘s The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the first volume of his records (notes) from conversations regarding meditations by Anne Catherine Emmerich, a canoness, mystic, visionary and stigmatist. John Debney was composer and cinematographer was Caleb Deschanel (father of Emily & Zooey Deschanel).
The Passion of the Christ focuses on the last twelve hours of Jesus of Nazareth’s life. The film begins in the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus has gone to pray after sitting [at] the Last Supper. Jesus must resist the temptations of Satan. Betrayed by Judas Iscariot, Jesus is then arrested and taken within the city walls of Jerusalem where leaders of the Pharisees confront him with accusations of blasphemy and, his trial results in a condemnation to death.
From Roger Ebert:
If ever there was a film with the correct title, that film is Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ.” The movie is 126 minutes long and, I would guess that at least 100 of those minutes, maybe more, are concerned, specifically and graphically, with the details of the torture and death of Jesus. This is the most violent film I have ever seen.
What Gibson has provided for me, for the first time in my life, is a visceral idea of what the Passion consisted of. That his film is superficial in terms of the surrounding message — that we get only a few passing references to the teachings of Jesus — is, I suppose, not the point. This is not a sermon or a homily but, a visualization of the central event in the Christian religion. Take it or leave it.
David Ansen, a critic I respect, finds in Newsweek that Gibson has gone too far. “The relentless gore is self-defeating,” he writes. “Instead of being moved by Christ’s suffering or awed by his sacrifice, I felt abused by a filmmaker intent on punishing an audience, for who knows what sins.” This is a completely valid response to the film, and I quote Ansen because I suspect he speaks for many audience members, who will enter the theater in a devout or spiritual mood and emerge deeply disturbed. You must be prepared for whippings, flayings, beatings, the crunch of bones, the agony of screams, the cruelty of the sadistic centurions, the rivulets of blood that crisscross every inch of Jesus’ body. Some will leave before the end.
♦ On February 11, 2008, Benedict Fitzgerald filed a lawsuit against Mel Gibson and the production company Icon Productions, alleging the unfair deprivation of compensation and deception on the overall expense of the film production budget after the blockbuster box office success of the film The Passion of the Christ, including, but not limited to, “fraud, breach of contract & unjust enrichment” seeking unspecified damages.
♦ Jim Caviezel experienced a shoulder separation when the 150lbs cross dropped on his shoulder. The scene is still in the movie.
♦ In an interview with Newsweek magazine, Jim Caviezel spoke about a few of the difficulties he experienced while filming. This included being accidentally whipped twice, which has left a 14-inch scar on his back. Caviezel also admitted he was struck by lightning while filming the Sermon on the Mount and during the crucifixion, experienced hypothermia during the dead of winter in Italy.
Twenty-five years ago, today, the #1 film at the box office was Major League II, a sports-comedy starring Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger, Corbin Bernsen, Dennis Haysbert, James Gammon, Omar Epps, Alison Doody, David Keith, Bob Uecker, Jay Leno (as himself), Jesse Ventura (as himself), Randy Quaid (uncredited) and Rene Russo (uncredited). Released on March 30, it was a sequel to Major League (1989). David Ward directed both and most of the same cast remained. Omar Epps replaced Wesley Snipes in the role of Willie Mays Hayes.
After winning the division the previous year, the Cleveland Indians return the following season with a new-found confidence. Their previously ragtag players are now stars. Roger Dorn has gone from player to owner, removing the unhealthy management and influence of Rachel Phelps. New players have been contracted and the team roster looks stronger than ever. What could possibly go wrong?
From Peter Rainer (Los Angeles Times):
Except for the fact that it was a commercial hit, the 1989 baseball movie “Major League” was not the sort of film that cried out to be sequelized. But, a lot can happen in five years…for one thing, baseball movies seem to be hanging in there. So, here’s another go-round with the cloddy, come-from-behind Cleveland Indians sluggers who once again stumble in pursuit of the American League Eastern Division championship. Bob Uecker, as the Indians’ perpetually bedraggled play-by-play radio announcer, puts in another appearance, dressing down from his Liberace-like duds to a T-shirt as the Indians slide into the cellar. (His aghast expostulations are the film’s highlight.) We learn all sorts of homiletic life lessons about the value of sportsmanship and Being True to Yourself. Why do sports movies always have to devolve into civics lessons? To its credit, “Major League II” doesn’t go in for a lot of moony sentiment about America’s past-time but, it ends up tenderized anyway.
♦ Opened the same weekend as D2:The Mighty Ducks, a sports comedy sequel which starred Charlie Sheen’s brother Emilio Estevez.
♦ In the outfield during their second game there is a sign that says “Emilio’s Repo Depot“. Charlie Sheen’s brother Emilio Estevez was in the movie Repo Man (1984).
♦ One of two films released in 1994 to feature the Chicago White Sox as the arch-rival team. The other was Angels In The Outfield.
♠ Worst Sequel (David S. Ward & James G. Robinson/1994 The Stinkers Bad Movie Awards)
♠ The Sequel Nobody Was Clamoring For (David S. Ward & James G. Robinson/1994 The Stinkers Bad Movie Awards)
Thirty-five years ago, today, the #1 film at the box office was Splash, starring Tom Hanks, Daryl Hannah, Eugene Levy, John Candy, Dody Goodman, Shecky Greene, Rance Howard, Cheryl Howard, Clint Howard and Bill Smitrovich. A Rom-Com fantasy, it was directed by Ron Howard, produced by Brian Grazer and, the story was developed by Grazer and Bruce Jay Friedman. The screenplay was written by Lowell Ganz and Marc ‘Babaloo’ Mandel with music by Lee Holdridge.
Alan [sic] Bauer nearly drowned as a child but, has memories of being saved by a young mermaid. He manages his family’s wholesale fruit and vegetable business and, continues his search to find true love. Along with his feelings, Allen must also contend with his womanizing older brother Freddie, who takes love less seriously than his brother. When he is jilted as an adult and loses his wallet in the surf, the young mermaid tries to return it. They are soul mates who have been meant for each other but, Madison fears how he will react when he finds out she is not human.
From Brian Grazer:
“Tom came in wearing these 501 Levi’s and construction boots and a T-shirt. He wasn’t nervous at all – and here’s a guy who had never had a major movie. I thought, why is this guy so calm? But we read him and we liked him and we hired him right away.”
On Hannah’s abilities, Grazer states “[…] while we were testing Daryl [Hannah] in her tail underwater, we noticed how well she swam. Then we realized that she was as good, if not better, than her stunt doubles. Her endurance was actually better than theirs. We began wondering if Daryl couldn’t do all the scenes herself and she happily agreed, which certainly helped the movie’s credibility.
From Tom Hanks:
“They’re very, very funny guys (Candy & Levy). But my job in Splash was not to be particularly funny. That’s what Ron [Howard] kept drilling into me.”
Learning a valuable lesson from Howard, he recalls being unprepared…”It took longer to shoot than it should have, and when we were done with the scene, Ron said, “You know, you should have been a little more prepared.” He didn’t yell at me. He probably knew that if he had yelled, I’d be paste for the rest of the day. He just let me know in no uncertain terms that I was starring in this movie and with that comes huge responsibilities, and one of them is to be ready to go. I’ve never forgotten that.”
From Daryl Hannah:
[…] having to lie still for three hours every day for technicians to put her into the 35 lbs. rubber fin, she states “At lunch they’d yank me out on a crane and plop me on the deck. I couldn’t eat because I couldn’t go to the bathroom. I just lay there shivering with barnacles in my hair, soaking wet. And underwater it was difficult because I was not able to see since I couldn’t wear a mask. I had to trust the guys to get air to me. It was difficult and we worked long hours but, it seemed more like playing than work. It was real magical down there.”
♦ This film was the first to be released by the new Touchstone Films.
♦ According to the Biography Channel, Bill Murray and P.J. Soles (Stripes) were considered for the roles of Allen and Madison, but Murray turned it down.
♦ Daryl Hannah swam with the mermaid tail so fast that her safety team could not keep pace with her.
♦ A vegetarian, Hannah refused to eat real lobster for the restaurant scene. The crew scooped out the insides of real, cooked lobsters and filled them with a thick, tofu-like paste. Ron Howard said [she] cried after each take over the deaths of the lobsters for their shells.
♦ Tom Hanks had trouble with the water scenes, partly because he was a smoker.
The movie received twelve nominations including the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy. It won a National Society of Film Critics (NSFC) award for Best Screenplay and Daryl Hannah won the Saturn Award for Best Actress.
Love Came For Me Theme Song by Rita Coolidge