Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween Stuff

Haven't been big on Halloween since I was thirteen but nonetheless, we've developed our traditions. Mainly, every year bookdave dresses up., goes down a couple blocks collecting candy and then returns to our porch and gives it all out to other kids! This year, however was a little different. It started when the only exact KINGDOM HEARTS costume he really wanted was only available for about 200 bucks on EBay...from Shanghai! Thus, he had to substitute and he ended up as a variation on the Mothman legend that garnered a lot of praise. I, on the other hand, bought my first costume in years, in V FOR VENDETTA. I figured it was more practical than most as I could wear it again next week! (If you don't get that, I am NOT explaining it!) Then, this evening, it became obvious that the hat wouldn't fit at all once the wig was in place so I gave up trying. Sigh.

We knew one friend was coming over but it turns out she ended up having to bring her niece and nephew (the absolutely cutest two l'l kids EVER!). Then her brother came, also! Add to that one of bookdave's friends who came along and we had a full house for a change. Rene was left here in her operetta valkyarie costume to hand out the candy and the rest of us did the whole six block street for the first time!

Bookdave's costume was better than mine so that's it above with one sample eerie shot of me in my aborted costume.

Halloween With Jimmy Olsen

Wish I could say I was going to be able to kick back and enjoy some good old horror movies like Jimmy Olsen in this late fifties clip but...I am off today but with a tight agenda and then back to work for 5 days straight (and then another dentist appointment!). I am actually dressing for Halloween this year, however, so with any luck there will be photos tomorrow. (Why Jimmy needs three projectors, I'll never know. Cinerama on a cave wall?)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

R.I.P. Gerard Damiano

We would be remiss in this corner if we failed to note the passing of film director Gerard Damiano. And he was a film director,not just a pornographer. In his works, you can see his growth as a storyteller on-screen in ways that could never happen in today's video porn industry. In the documentary, INSIDE DEEP THROAT, he comes across as a funny old man with lots of stories and a few secrets. His best known film is obvious and his best film is arguable (many say THE DEVIL IN MISS JONES) but around these parts, we know him for his horror movie, LEGACY OF SATAN, which featured an early appearance by Christa Helm. Rest in Peace.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Robin Williams IS Popeye!

Okay! Let's take E. C. Segar's classic comic strip narrative about a tough one-eyed sailor with a heart of gold and his search for his dear old pappy and give it to maverick filmmaker Robert Altman (M*A*S*H, NASHVILLE). We can get that incomprehensible VILLAGE VOICE cartoonist, Jules Feiffer to write the script! He used to write THE SPIRIT, you know! Oh, and let's cast Robin Williams, that TV alien, in the title role! Wouldn't that be just perfect? Hmmmm...Still missing something. THAT'S IT! Let's make it a musical and use that drugged up alcoholic Harry Nilsson (SKIDDOO!) to do the score!
One of the weirdest movies of its time, Robert Altman's POPEYE is not good but not bad in the traditional sense either. Certainly Robin Williams has gone on to prove himself as an actor many times over and Nilsson is now regarded as (to paraphrase Phillip Norman) the Orson Welles of Rock. Feiffer? Hey, how come Frank Miller didn't think of using HIM? Don't get me started on Altman, however.

This all reminds me that it should soon be time for another of Fantagraphics' splendid reprints of Segar's original strips!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Badly Costumed Super Hero of the Week...Or So

There have been a lot of great super hero costumes in comics from the Golden Age on up--Superman, Batman, Doctor Fate, Deadman, Spider-Man, Iron Man, Blue Beetle (Ditko's version, natch), Captain America and, of course, many more. This week, however, we present Quality's HERCULES as drawn by the great Reed Crandall (before his true greatness had set in). Man, I'll bet that costume took some brainstorming! "Hmmmm....a baby blue color scheme or should we go with periwinkle?" Tiny shorts, boots and a cape. Simple. Easy to wash. Come on. Who's kidding whom? This dude lost some kind of a bet at the super-hero club, didn't he?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Another Clever Campaign Ad

In this age of annoying robocalls and endless debates where nothing new gets said, here's the second clever campaign ad I've seen this week. This one comes from the estimable MOVEON.ORG and was sent to me by fellow blogger Doc Lehman from Thanks, Doc! Customize your own and pass it on, people!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Maureen McCormick

Okay now, here's the story (and that's the title!) of Maureen McCormick, forevermore known as Marcia, Marcia, Marcia. Of all of the autobiographies I've read in the past few months, this is the only one where I felt the protagonist actually learned something and became a better person along the way.

For boys of a certain generation, THE BRADY BUNCH's Marcia Brady was IT! She was gorgeous, hot, funny and she could sing, too! Right off the bat in this book, you find out that Maureen McCormick was NOT Marcia Brady! While the whole book is an anecdotal journey of coming to acceptance of one's self, there is, of necessity, an underlying theme here of coming to acceptance of one's public persona, also--in this case, her Brady doppelganger.

I'm beginning to think that my family, growing up, was one of the few functional (as
opposed to dysfunctional) families around. Certainly Maureen's family was not like the Brady's. She does a relatively quick job of detailing her Brady years and then we go into her long, slow downward spiral into drugs.

Ususally one hears rumors about celebs one likes but I somehow missed any talk of Maureen and cocaine. It's all here, though. There are even references to other celebs about whom I DID hear stories (Michael Brandon, Gregory Harrison and Lauren Tewes for example) that now make sense in a larger context.

Perhaps more interesting was her unexpected relationship with the late cult exploitation star Claudia Jennings (about which I can't help but feel there's more to be told).

Throughout the book, one constant is the fact that the other BRADY BUNCH cast members keep turning up in one way or another, cementing the fact that this show, perhaps more than any other, really did seem to create a family of sorts...even though not the perfect, mythical family of its premise.

The man she eventually marries sticks with her through all of the nightmarish moments (and there are many--not just from the drugs)and eventually Maureen finds empowerment from the unlikely corner of CELEBRITY FIT CLUB!

By the time we catch up with her in the present, I felt I had really gotten to know someone I THOUGHT I had known for nearly 40 years...and I liked her.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Opie, Richie and the Retrovote!

Some TV stars are always fun to see but you never really feel you get to know them. Others, like little Ronny Howard, have been there my entire life. Yesterday, I was thinking about the ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW as I started reading Steve Cox's new book on Don Knotts. I even spoke of Ron in reference to his role in the failed BARNABY pilot. Then, today, I find this on several sites--first on POP CULTURE SAFARI. Quite cool! Had to share it here also. Even if you don't care for the message, isn't it great to see these guys this way again? Thanks, Ron!

Happy Birthday, Bookdave!

Today is my son's 12th birthday! It seems like only yesterday! For his special day, he got the computer game SPORE (and its game book), the 2 disc set of Tim Burton's NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS and a nifty new graphic novel version of THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION! We're baking brownies (he hates cake!) so check back tomorrow for more pop cultury goodness!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Linda Blair/Christa Helm Connection

For those of you who think we already dwell too much on the charms of Ms. Blair or the murder of Ms. Helm, feel free to skip this rather trivial post. It's just that I was showing Linda's movie, HELL NIGHT to a friend and noted in the closing credits that the excellent costumes were by Christa's former friend/business partner, Lennie Barin. By the time this film was produced in 1981, Christa had been gone more than four years. Lennie had been her partner in a clothing design concern and, according to 48 HOURS MYSTERY, he was the person most likely to have hired the guy from THE SOPRANOS to have "cleaned up" Christa's apartment after her death.

Oh, and for a pre-Halloween treat, here's a little seen outtake from Linda Blair's OUI MAGAZINE sessions from that same period. Don't know if Lennie designed this outfit or not.

New Spirit Trailer

I remain fascinated/very scared by this project. Miller himself, in this trailer, admits that taking it on was a suicide job but that he couldn't allow anyone else to do it. What continues to worry me most, however, is comics fan Samuel L. Jackson as the Octopus. Granted, he was always unseen in the canonical SPIRIT stories but for his striped purple gloves so this leaves a large empty canvas on which to paint your character. Why then paint him like an over-the-top BATMAN villain? "I have eight of everything!" he proclaims. Well, good for you. Hopefully that's not the number of viewers you end up with, too.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Badly Costumed Super Hero of the Week...Or So.

Okay, so we've kind of gotten away from doing this on a weekly basis but this guy was so dorky we had to revive the series! Seen here is Neon the Unknown from Quality's HIT COMICS of the early 1940's. He looks quite dapper in his fancy neo-pirate duds but are they really conducive to crime-fighting? And what's with that freakin' headband? It's longer than Tom Baker's scarf!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Robert J Wagner

I've been reading a number of new biographies lately. The first I've finished is PIECES OF MY HEART by Robert J. Wagner. Now the first obvious question is why the "J?" Over the years he's been billed as Robert, Bob and RJ but as far as I know never "Robert J. Wagner." With no obvious answer, let's move on.
First of all, I've never been a huge fan of Mr. Wagner but I have enjoyed his work over the years. Some readers will recall that only just recently I was watching IT TAKES A THIEF episodes for the first time on the 'Net. No, what convinced me to read it was the remarkable photo seen here. This is the very young RJ in a studio ballet class in the late 1940's. Note that also in the class was his future wife, Natalie Wood at far left in the pic! As if that weren't interesting enough, the young lady behind his hand is his OTHER future (and current) wife, Jill St. John! But wait, there's more!! That sad looking young thing on the end next to Jill happens to be none other that RJ's future TV wife, tiny Stefania Federciwicz (soon to be Stefanie Powers)!!!
You definitely develop an insight into the man in this book and he does have some admiravble qualities. I have to say, however, that I believe I like him a bit less having read this. The book is filled with interesting anecdotes about Hollywood touching on Errol Flynn, David Niven and Tony Curtis up through Christopher Walken and Mike Myers. My problem is that Wagner's morality seems a bit askew. It's not as if he's immoral but his morals are questionable. For instance, he talks about his long affair with Barbara Stanwyck and how he remained utterly faithful to her...except, of course, when he was away from her on location. Ummm...Bob? That's NOT being utterly faithful. In fact, that's not faithful at all!
Strangely, I think I'd respect him more if he were cheerfuly amoral (as was Flynn). The problem seems to be that he was raised with one way of thinking about things and that way is different from the way most people think about things. In spite of a surprisingly dysfunctional beginning, he seems to feel entitled to money, success and privilige.
The expected centerpiece of the book comes when he deals with the tragic death of Natalie Wood and he does an excellent job detailing what happened that night. In fact, he does an excellent job throughout with the various stories he tells. By the end, though, even though he's aged remarkably well and seems very happy, I felt sorry for him. I was sadly more impressed with the man's stories than with the man.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Random Panels of Comic Book Weirdness # 40

Lois, what are you...? Um...I think I'll leave any comments on this one to you guys!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Wonder Woman-It's Fun to be Healthy

I'm recovering today from yesterday's visit to the dentist so it seemed an appropriate time to run this l'il early1950's PSA with Princess Diana and young Dick. Take care of 'em while you're young and you won't HAVE all of these dental appointments in middle age.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Get Down, America!

The above headline was the official slogan (I've still got the button around here somewhere) of Howard the Duck's seventies campaign for the presidency of the United States. He was the candidate of the All-Night Party. The late Steve Gerber was a very perceptive writer/mad genius/social critic and here, from late 1976's HOWARD THE DUCK # 8 are a couple of panels (by the great Gene Colan with Steve Leialoha) that are just as timely in today's volatile campaign.

Monday, October 13, 2008

No More Autographs for Ringo

Aw, man! I musta really ticked him off with yesterday's post!

Sorry, No More Signing Stuff
Click Here to watch!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Ringo Can't Act

Ringo Starr can't act. There. I've said it. If you're a Beatles fan, surely that counts as heresy. Don't get me wrong! I adore Ringo! He is very high on the list of celebs that I hope might one day wander into my store. He is wonderful in many, many ways but he is NOT an actor! What brought this on was that in recent days, I've caught A HARD DAYS NIGHT on TV and then come into possession of long-sought copies of Ringo's movies CANDY and BLINDMAN. Ringo simply cannot act.
CANDY is a mess, pure and simple. A legendary failure, it must have seemed like a good idea at the time but this sexy update on Voltaire is just a series of smarmy Buck Henry comedy sketches with A-list stars. That's where Ringo comes in. Richard Burton, James Coburn, Walter Matthau and Marlon Brando--Ringo, in 1968, was actually a bigger star than any of them BUT in a very different field and (dare I say it) with a little help from his friends. In CANDY, where several major stars give embarrassing performances, Ringo's accent and delivery shine through as pointless stunt-casting.
1971's BLINDMAN (in which Mr. Starkey coincidentally plays a character named Candy) is, surprisingly, a better film. It's a bizarre spaghetti western with "Tony Anthony" as a blind cowboy trying to get back the 50 brides-to-be he had been hired to deliver to Texas (after they were kidnapped by Mexican bandits). Produced by controversial Beatles and Rolling Stones manager Allen Klein--which kind of explains Ringo's involvement--it's got sex, violence and comedy that all fits together as needed...except for Ringo. Once again cast as a Mexican, his Liverpudlian accent shows through from time to time and while he certainly looks the part of the evil bandit he plays, his line delivery is still amateurish. In spite of the fact that BLINDMAN goes seemingly out of its way NOT to cater to the fact of Ringo's stunt-casting (again here), his performance can't help but take you out of the moment.
And seriously, have you ever seen CAVEMAN?
The lesson learned here, I suppose, is that Richard Lester really is a brilliant director. In A HARD DAYS NIGHT, Ringo really does give an affecting performance and the comparisons to Chaplin are not unwarrented. He shows heart and soul that the rest of the romp doesn't allow for John, Paul or George. In retrospect, however, I can't help but conclude that this was due mostly to Lester's direction and the effective editing of his solo scenes to the "Ringo's Theme" music.
Ringo Starr is one of my absolute favorite celebrities and an international treasure...but he really can't act.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

More Debbie Harry

Well Debbie proved quite popular so here's my second favorite Debbie Harry video. This one's with the great Iggy Pop and comes from the AIDS awareness long-form video RED, HOT and BLUE from the late 1980's. All of the songs were modern interpretations of Cole Porter tunes. This one, from HIGH SOCIETY, is a bizarre, surreal rewrite of "Well, Did You Evah?". Here's Debbie Harry and Iggy Pop.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Heart of Glass-Blondie

When I got my very first VCR (a Betamax natch) in 1980, the very first thing I did was to start recording music videos. Shows like Casey Kasem's and SOLID GOLD and SOUL TRAIN would run them and sometimes you'd catch some on prime time variety shows but there was not yet an MTV. The very first video I ever recorded (out of 12 hours worth dubbed off onto VHS a few years back) was this one of BLONDIE with Heart of Glass. Gotta admit, sometimes I'd just freeze frame on Debbie Harry's lovely face. She may not have been the snazziest dresser but she shore were purty! I ended up recording her and her band on dozens of shows over the next few years including her memorable team-up with Kermit the Frog on THE MUPPET SHOW doing the Rainbow Connection. Here's a Net-snagged version of the aforementioned Heart of Glass.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Peter Hsu's First Appearance

Peter Hsu was one of Wallace Wood's last assistants. He is credited on Wood's ODKIN-SON OF ODKIN and, judging by the overall lack of Woody-ness in that book, may well have done more of it than Wood himself, by that point quite ill and near his 1981 suicide.

Hsu went on to be somewhat successful in comics with his own publication QUADRANT and various spinoffs, adapting a basic Wally Wood style into a wash photo-realism that, while it never seemed less than stilted to me, was quite successful for some years. Of course, a reason for that may have been that he also took the inherent sexuality of Woody's work and thrust it blatently at the reader, first in a teasing way that made it look as though all of his women were lightboxed from porn mags and later much more explicitly.

All that said, there's no denying that Peter Hsu had talent right from the beginning. Here we have his first appearance in a professional mgazine- from an early VAMPIRELLA about ten years before his work on THE WIZARD KING. You can just imagine the young artist devouring all of the classic Wood pieces that appeared in VAMPIRELLA at that time.

Found one piece on the 'Net that talked about how Hsu just disappeared after awhile. Hmmm...just because one leaves the comics field hardly means he disappears. Here's Peter Hsu today:

Monday, October 06, 2008

Secrets of Magic

So the other day I went with my wife to pick up son bookdave at the Public Library where he hangs out after school and what did I stumble on but a Library book sale! Always a good place to find some bargains! Even at prices ranging from 25 cents to a dollar, however, pickings were slim. The wife found three history hardcovers, the boy found some scary teen books and I found nothing...until...this!
SECRETS OF MAGIC is a 1973 paperback edition of a 1967 book by THE SHADOW'S creator, Walter B. Gibson! Behind this weird, quasi-psychedelic cover is page after page that does the unthinkable--explaining every major stage and traditional magician illusion up to that point in simple, easy to understand terms. Nothing about this book says it's a kids book but it has that look of all those magazine-sized educational kids books one always used to find in department stores in the sixties. Gibson, as I recall, was an illusionist himself along with being a pulp writer so he probably didn't even have to do much research for a book like this one. In fact, Wikipedia points out that the prolific author wrote more than a hundred books on magic! Here at my Library, we now

Sunday, October 05, 2008

The 23rd Annual Cincinnati Radio and Nostalgia Convention

Wow! One convention over and we're gearing up for a different one already. If I'm correct, this is the earliest that the Cincinnati OTR Convention has ever announced. The reason for that is the exciting news that organizer Bob Burchett has gotten Jack Benny doppelganger Eddie Carroll to agree to appear along with regulars Bob Hastings, Rosemary Rice and Esther Geddes. As a smaller convention, the regular guests (as well as the regular attendees) have come to feel like family over the years and the event itself an annual family reunion. It simply wouldn't be the same without them. Here's the first convention flyer for this 23rd year. Mark your 2009 calendars now.

Exclusive Christa Helm Pics

Okay, so last night's re-edited update on 48 HOURS MYSTERY really did contain some fascinating new info (and my credit with John was still there!). It also quintupled traffic here to the site so for all of you new folks here today looking for Christa Helm, here's some more exclusive shots from her essentially unreleased 1974 movie, LET'S GO FOR BROKE.

My Date With Swamp Thing

Saw this at the local supermarket the other day and snapped a quick cell phone pic. Wished I'd have thought to show it to the real SWAMP THING's co-creator Len Wein yesterday in Columbus!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Mid-Ohio Con Report

Well, I made it to Mid-Ohio Con! Finally! That's the good news. The bad news is that the car was having increasing issues (it wasn't just paranoia after all!) on the return trip so we won't be driving back up on Sunday. Sigh.
First of all, the drive up was fine, though. We left Kentucky about 8:30 AM and arrived in Columbus around 10:30. The directions from the website were short and easy to understand and we lucked right into easily accessible parking right down the block.
I must say that overall, I felt somewhat disappointed but I can't really say why. Maybe it's the simple reality that after all these years of being unable to attend due to the fact that I was in retail management and it was always held on the biggest shopping weekend of the year it couldn't possibly have lived up to my expectations. Don't get me wrong! Wasn't bad (except for the food prices!) just not as great as I was expecting.
I got to see but not meet Lou Ferrigno (looking amazingly good and a little lonely at his table), Jason Mewes, Len Wein, Chris Claremont, Joe Kubert and the Batmobile (and not the velvet covered one I saw with Adam West at a car show in the eighties)!
I spoke with Bob Layton who was a guest at the only other con I ever attended in Columbus back in 1980 along with Mike Nasser (now Netzer) and he said the two hadn't seen each other since. I also spoke with unsung artist Keith Pollard who said he really enjoyed hearing that his name is a popular search term on my blog.
I found Mark Evanier and Tony Isabella hanging out at Mark's table and spent an enjoyable few moments there (didn't stay longer because we accidentally cut in line), then my wife and I spoke with Tony a bit longer and promised to see him later. Sorry, Tony.
As stated yesterday, I was able to meet FACEBOOK friends Kenn Minter (aka Percy Trout) and Marc Tyler Nobleman, author of BOYS OF STEEL,. In fact, we not only enjoyed Marc's presentation on SUPERMAN but son bookdave amazed us all! Marc projected an image of 6 issues of SUPERMAN from different eras and asked if anyone would like to try to place them in chronological order. My son raised his hand and proceeded to pretty much do just that, mixing up only the two that I wasn't even sure of myself. I'm raising a clone.
Son bookdave also purchased a print of Link from LEGEND OF ZELDA by an artist named Jeremy Dale and had it signed. Mr. Dale was enjoyable to speak with and his art is just a delight. I'm definitely watching for his stuff going forward.
I finally got to meet David Mack...or re-meet him. I'm told I used to have long discussions with him at Comic Book World in Florence, Kentucky (who were also represented there. Hi, Paul!) when he was much younger and unknown. When I told him this, he actually recognized me from when I managed the Waldenbooks where he hung out in the eighties. We spoke briefly and he was gracious enough to give me several recent issue of his great KABUKI and sign them! Thanks, David!
The "gorgeous" model and pinup girls who were supposed to be there representing fanboy wetdreams seemed somehow a tad too...well...slutty to me. Every single one I saw. Sorry, ladies. I'm sure you're perfectly nice folks but...bookdave felt the need to avert his eyes as one passed. The cosplay folks were cool, though, with an excellent Colossus, Beast, 2 good Batmen and one guy dressed as Spidey wearing the shoeless FF costume and paper bag mask from one seventies story! Obscure but wonderful! My favorite, though, was a two year old Flash...who evidently felt the need to run everywhere to live up to his costume.
As for the dealers, I never thought I'd say this but I left a comic book convention without buying one single comic or book and I hated that! There were tons of bargain boxes but mostly with eighties stuff and up. There was one major exception who offered lots of poor to fair condition silver age for three bucks but I still didn't find anything. What I was really looking for were comic strip reprint trades. Found one guy with a good selection but ridiculous prices. I tried to quiz him on a few unmarked L'IL ABNERS but in spite of my best efforts couldn't get him to give up the political discussion he was having with someone. Oh, well.
We did spend far too much money on grey market dvds of old TV shows that I have no question will never be legitimately released. Despite my rationalization in buying them, it would take my family at least a year of that spare time we never seem to get in order to watch them all!
After that, my wife's once-broken back became an issue and so we decided to head out a tad early. That's when the car transmission became problematic. Then we ran into a thirty mile or so single lane highway on the way back that lengthened our trip in a questionable vehicle by an hour. My wife had to pry my hands from the steering wheel when we finally arrived home. Back to the shop for the car...again.
I feel in a way as though I've accomplished a goal I set out to achieve many years ago. I wish things had gone smoother but all in all it was an enjoyable afternoon with family and friends old and new. And with all the shows we got, it doesn't matter if there's a single good thing on TV this season. It'll be next season before we're out of things to watch now. Who knows. Maybe by then, we'll have a different car.
At least we made it back in time to watch Christa on 48 HOURS MYSTERY tonight!

Friday, October 03, 2008

Comics and Christa

Well, unlike last year, the bad stuff seems to be happening all around me but not to me. At work, we've had employees taken to the ER and multiple family emergencies. At home, bookdave was down so far with a cold he almost didn't get to go collect his five (ahem! That's FIVE!) medals yesterday for last year's school tests. BUT...I'm doing okay (Got a check in the mail for two short stories today!) and the car seems reasonably okay (A couple little rumbles but I'm paranoid) and there's money in the bank so (fingers crossed) it looks like Destination: Mid-Ohio Con early in the AM! FINALLY! I look forward to seeing Tony Isabella for the first time in about 16 years, Mark Evanier for the first time in two decades and meeting folks like Facebook friends Marc Tyler Nobleman and Kenn Minter for the very first time! If I can dig it out after last year's debacle, I MAY even wear my BOOKSTEVE'S LIBRARY t-shirt so if you're reading this and you see the shirt in Columbus tomorrow, please come up and say hi!

And whether you go or not, don't forget tomorrow evening's special 8 PM updated rerun of THE LAST TAKE on CBS 48 HOURS MYSTERY. The Christa Helm case that we've championed here for a couple of years now continues to move forward and CBS producer Anthony Vindetti promises new information in this second showing. Here's a preview.

Watch CBS Videos Online

Thursday, October 02, 2008

The One...The Only...? Groucho!

Mark Evanier yesterday noted here- an ad for a collection of OTR comedy bits in which the "Groucho" featured on the cover is, in fact, Frank Ferrante, a noted Marx impersonator.

Seemed like a good time for me to trot out this copy of HOLLYWOOD ALBUM 2, a 1979 collection of celebrity obits from the NEW YORK TIMES. The cover features four then recently deceased stars-John Wayne, Ethel Waters, Elvis Presley and...Groucho?? No. Not really. THIS Groucho is, in actuality, legendary photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt! The man who took the famous V-J Day Times Square photo was done up in disguise for a decades-old LIFE article and obviously the editors (or at least the cover designer) here were fooled.


When I did the above, I wasn't able to find my copy of LIFE GOES TO THE MOVIES which features the original "Groucho" photo. Since then, I did find it (exactly where it's been on the shelf since 1999. Ahem! New glasses maybe?) so here's the proof of the above.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Movie That Fell Through the Cracks # 42

We're overdue for a good movie here. How about this one? Coming close on the heels of THE BLACK BIRD, George Segal's almost legendarily unfunny comedy "sequel" to THE MALTESE FALCON, is Peter Falk's THE CHEAP DETECTIVE, an all-star Neil Simon comedy from 1978. Made near the end of Simon's golden period, it is an episodic spoof of various Bogart pictures including THE MALTESE FALCON. In between COLUMBO episodes, Falk had played a Bogart-like role in Simon's delightful MURDER BY DEATH a couple of years earlier and due to his demanding TV contract ( It demanded he get lots of money and lots of time off and would turn in money-making COLUMBO episodes pretty much when he damn well pleased and that semed to work for everybody) found the time to expand it into a whole feature.
The fun in these kind of pictures, of course, appears in the character roles and here a bizarre assortment of them are played by an equally bizarre assortment of wonderful actors:
Eileen Brennan-She had appeared opposite Falk in MURDER BY DEATH and was headed toward a career high of her own.
Stockard Channing-Not longer after making her initial TV splash.
Dom Deluise-I think there's some kind of law that he's in all of these all-star thingies.
John Houseman-Orson Welles' former Mercury Theater partner had begun acting late in life and taken an Oscar for THE PAPER CHASE (a role he would later comtinue on television).
Fernando Lamas- Argentinian actor with a marvelous voice made famous when spoofed on SNL by Billy Crystal in the early eighties.
Paul Williams-Talented songwriter but untalented and, in fact, grating as an actor.
Sid Caeser-I believe this was in Sid's self-proclaimed "forgotten" era (due to prescription addictions) but he's still funny!
Louise Fletcher-Nurse Ratched could be funny!
James Coco-Another holdover from MURDER BY DEATH, Coco was a brilliant actor who rarely had a chance to do anything but Dom Deluise impressions.
Madeline Kahn-Always amusing ( particularly with Mel Brooks and/or Gene Wilder) but never the favorite to me that she is to many.
Ann-Margret-Always beautiful and fun, she was here coasting on the downslide of her acting career after her acclaimed performance in TOMMY.
Phil Silvers-He always looked "wrong" to me without his glasses!
Nicol Williamson-Legendarily quirky actor, memorable here as the "head of the Cincinnati Gestapo." Imagine that line in a packed free preview audience in the middle of Cincinnati!
Marsha Mason-Described in the ad as Simon's favorite actress, she was, at the time, also his wife!
Abe Vigoda-Ok. I'll go for it-Still alive as of today's date.
So what's not to love here? And yet if it's on DVD, it's certainly not a big seller and I haven't seen it on cable or TV in more than twenty-five years.