Tuesday, December 31, 2013

HAPPY NEW YEAR FROM DESDINOVA!

No matter what language you speak, I want to wish you a very Happy New Year! May 2014 be your best year ever!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

KGBX AM COMMERCIAL FROM 1983


This is a commercial for Springfield, Missouri radio station KGBX from 1983. At that time the radio station was on AM. They are now at 105.9 FM. I remembered this commercial after watching it again for one single image: the baby with headphones on and James Taylor's "Your Smiling Face" playing in the background. The only thing that could have made this commercial more exciting would have been Deborah Shelton.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

BEST OF DESDINOVA: MY FAVORITE CHRISTMAS STUFF

This is from 2007, the first year of the original blog. The bottom two items were related to movies released in December of that year.

It mentions my favorite Christmas movies, Christmas songs (and least favorite songs) and Christmas episodes of classic TV shows. I might add to the last one, the Christmas episode of Just Shoot Me entitled "How Finch Stole Christmas." It pokes fun at several retro Christmas TV specials.

I might also add to my least favorite Christmas songs Newsong's "Christmas Shoes." I think it may have came around post-2007 but has actually climbed all the way to Number One on the list, as Casey Kasem would say.

My Favorite Christmas Stuff

Monday, December 23, 2013

MY FAVORITE CHRISTMAS GIFTS

1. Mighty Men and Monster Maker
2. Merlin
3. Quiz Wiz (Spawned my life long fascination with trivia)
4. Playskool McDonalds
5. A Hot Wheels Loop to Loop track (I think that is what was called)
6. Speak and Spell
7. Playskool Bristle Blocks
8. Pocket Flix (with Scooby Doo, Spiderman and Star Trek cartridges) and the GAF knock off (Can't remember what it was called - can't remember the cartridges)
9. A bicycle
10. 12 inch Cornelius figure from Planet of the Apes

Saturday, December 21, 2013

ELF ON THE SHELF - DISCO ERA


The "Elf On The Shelf" has never been a stranger to me or at least the image of the elf has never been a stranger. The "Elf" was a part of my childhood before there was a story or name. My sister has an "Elf" from her childhood that looks identicle to the one in the The Elf On the Shelf book.

My mother bought this one and a whole box of smaller ones in the early 70s. They either came from the Ace Hardware or Matinglys in Lebanon, MO (We can't remember which one it was). This one is obviously wearing his disco clothes. Silver lame suit trimmed in fur and a gold foil bow-tie with a gigantic bell on his cap. Nothing says Christmas like a styling 70s elf. He doesn't move around like the one in the story, but I did prop him up to take this photo with my phone (I may try to retake this with a real camera). Note: the "Elf" is sitting on a DVD of the Filmation The New Adventures of the Lone Ranger cartoons from the 80s.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Tom Laughlin, star of 'Billy Jack,' dead at 82

'Lawrence of Arabia' star Peter O'Toole dead at 81

Oscar-winning actress Joan Fontaine passes away

Audrey Totter dies at 95

1940s film noir actress Audrey Totter dies at 95

She also played Nurse Wilcox on Medical Center.

Dragnet's Jack Webb Christmas Seals Movie Trailer


My name is Friday. I carry Christmas Seals. DUM-DA-DUM-DUM! DUM-DA-DUM-DUM-DDAA!!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

CAPTAIN ACTION: THE FIRST SUPERHERO ACTION FIGURE

CLICK TO ENLARGE
This post was inspired by several incidents. First off, this classic toy from the 60s is back again. I bought one for my great-nephew Carson (named after Johnny Carson), because I was born to late to have one of the originals. I bought it  and a Spider Man costume back in January of this year. last month, Retrospace featured a comic book ad for Captain Action toys. Yesterday, Pam of Go Retro posted a clip she found on You Tube of a family's Christmas home movies from 1966. She mentioned that in her post on Facebook, that a little boy in clip received Superman and Lone Ranger action figures as presents. Before even watching the the footage, the boy had received a Captain Action with a Superman outfit and a Lone Ranger outfit, because in 1966, Captain Action was the only superhero action figure.


The history of Captain Action is interesting. Most people saw Captain Action as Ideal Toys' oddball knock off of Hasbro's G.I. Joe. The truth is both were the creation of the same guy, Stan Winston. He took the money he earned from G.I. Joe and created a company to licence famous characters for toys. He pitched an idea to ideal called Captain Magic, a soldier who could change into various comic book superheroes. He would go the "accessories sold separately" route, but with the emphasis that had made Mattel's Barbie a success: clothes.

The backlash against "war toys" and the sudden success of the Batman TV series, as well as Saturday morning cartoons about Superman, Lone Ranger, Captain America and Aquaman, Ideal ran with Captain Action. Besides outfits of the five superheroes mentioned above, Captain Action could also dress as The Phantom, Flash Gordon, Steve Canyon and Sgt. Nick Fury.

Now, The Phantom and Flash Gordon still make perfect sense to us in 2013, because they are still in newspapers as well as  having been the subject of movies with the last thirty years. Sgt. Nick Fury and Steve Canyon may not seem like good choices. Sgt. Nick Fury and Steve Canyon were obviously included for the G. I. Joe fans. The Sgt. Fury outfit was basically camo fatigues, a helmet and guns. Steve Canyon's outfit was a pilot jumpsuit, helmet with oxygen mask and parachute. Ideal had been successful with Steve Canyon toys during the height of the character's popularity in the 50s, when it was in newspapers, comic books and a TV series. About the time Captain Action was introduced, Marvel Comics changed Sgt. Nick Fury into Secret Agent Nick Fury of SHIELD. Steve Canyon shifted from adventure strip about a jet pilot to soap opera strip about an aging jet pilot with a mild case post-traumatic stress disorder.

Captain Action was a hit, so Ideal added outfits for Buck Rogers, the Green Hornet and Spider Man. Here began more problems along the line of the Sgt. Fury and Steve Canyon dilemmas. The Green Hornet TV show was cancelled about the time the outfit hit the stores and the Buck Rogers comic strip was cancelled after the outfit was released. Spider Man had a successful cartoon on TV but didn't sell well. For one thing, it didn't look quite like Spider Man and one of his accessories was a hand saw (?). The original Spider Man outfit is highly collectible. One smart change to the original outfits was to change the Lone Ranger outfit from the red shirt and black jeans used in the newspaper comic strip to the blue jumpsuit he wore in the movies and TV shows.


Idea also added a Action Boy doll that could be dressed as Robin, Aqualad and Superboy. They also added the Silver Streak vehicle and Dr. Evil, Captain Action's creepy looking mad scientist arch-enemy. Sadly, in 1969, Ideal dropped Captain Action. The superhero craze was fizzling out and replaced by space travel toys inspired by the real life moon landings. Another problem was the cost of licensing of characters and a few missteps such as Buck Rogers and Green Hornet hurt financially. Unlike G. I. Joe, who reinvented himself as an adventurer with a fuzzy beard and kung-fu grip, Captain Action disappeared into toy history.

One thing you will notice when you see the 60s Captain Action in the uniforms, by today's standards, they don't look very good. Of course, this was the first and only superhero action figures available in the 60s. Baby Boomers had no choice. 

A company called Playing Mantis revived Captain Action in the late 90s. As with Ideal, the Playing mantis found Captain Action to be very costly. Another thing about Playing Mantis was they sold the Captain Action doll and uniform together in many cases. Playing Mantis ceased production by 2000. They only made Green Hornet, Flash Gordon, Lone Ranger and the Phantom, as well as Kato, Tonto and Ming the Merciless. No DC or Marvel characters were produced which is a shame considering the 90s uniforms were an improvement over the 60s uniforms.

In April 2012, a company called CA Enterprises released a new version of Captain Action. The new incarnation of Captain Action comes in both the classic look as well as a white and blue Arctic Adventure suit. The superhero uniforms are all Marvel characters (Captain America, Spider Man, Thor, Iron Man and Wolverine). They are well designed and great looking, unlike the original 60s uniforms.

They say things eventually come back and Captain Action is a good example.

Here is the original TV commercial.

 


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

REMEMBERING THE CHRISTMAS WISH BOOK


Hopefully this post will not sound like one of those stupid "What-has-happened-to-our-wonderful-nation" memes on Facebook that conservative people post, but I want to bring up something that has disappeared from the modern day Christmas season that today's children will unfortunately not get to experience. Most of you probably never noticed it was gone, so it more than likely has not been a detriment to the country. I'm talking about the Christmas Wish Book or Christmas catalog.


Major retail giants such as Sears, J.C. Pennys, Montgomery Ward, Aldens, Spiegel and others published a special catalog in the fall called the Christmas Wish Book, which featured special values on the same stuff that was in the regular Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter catalogs.
The main difference was this catalog featured TOYS!

When I was a kid, I would make out my list for Santa Claus by going through the Sears Christmas Wish Book and writing down everything I wanted. Usually, I had a minimum of six pages of thing I hoped Santa Claus would bring me. Sadly, I never got 95% of the stuff I asked for, but it was always a fun activity. This may explain why (As some of my critics and fans have both mentioned) my writing contain long list.

My mother always received the Sears catalog because she frequently ordered from Sears. My grandmother and my aunts got Montgomery Wards catalogs, which I felt was superior. They had great large color layouts for the action figures and toys I wanted. Sears usual had small black and white photos of the action figures and most of the toys. Sears then bombarded us with big color layouts of Winnie the Pooh crap. Examine the photos below of Star Trek action figures. One is from the Montgomery Ward's Wish Book and the one below is from Sears Wish book. See what I mean.

MONTGOMERY WARDS STAR TREK

SEARS STAR TREK
So why do nitwits like Glen Beck, Bill O'Rielly and Sarah Palin not whine and gripe about the loss of the Christmas Wish Book? Because the demise of the Christmas Wish Book was a business decision. It had to do with cutting cost. It is cheaper to display tiny photos online rather than print out several hundred copies of a catalog. Apparently stockholders and profits are more important than the simple enjoyment of children.   

I searched the Internet for scans of pages of Christmas catalogs. I found quite a few here and there. I borrowed a few from Mego Museum. You can find scans of whole Christmas Wish Books at Sherry Lou Toys website. Also this month Plaid Stallions is featuring some retro catalog pages.

SEARS did okay on the GI Joe layout. Click to enlarge
Sears also did okay on this Captain Action page. Click to enlarge.
THE NEXT TWO PAGES DEMONSTRATE WHY I BELIEVE MONTGOMERY WARD'S WISH BOOK WAS THE COOLEST CHRISTMAS WISH BOOK OF ALL TIME!

Click To Enlarge

Click to enlarge

WARDS CHARLIE'S ANGELS & DONNY & MARIE
JC PENNY'S 1980

     

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Actress Jean Kent dies at age 92

Actress Jean Kent dies at age 92

The above photo is from Please Turn Over. I mentioned it in another post this year. This from her driving lesson, which is one of the funniest scenes in any movie. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

HAPPY THANKSGIVING FROM DESDINOVA!

Some snapshots from some retro TV Thanksgivings.

HOOTERVILLE THANKSGIVING
SNOOPY SERVING WOODSTOCK A COOKED BIRD
THE BRADY'S AS PILGRIMS
"OH THE HUMANITY!"

Saturday, November 23, 2013

50 YEARS OF DOCTOR WHO

I'm one of those American kids who discovered the original Dr. Who during the post Star Wars sci-fi boom years. Dr. Who was mixed in with Battlestar Galactica, Jason of Star Command and the revamped versions of Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon and Star Trek. Our Doctor was Tom Baker in his floppy hat and long scarf. He was a cross between Bob Dylan and Groucho Marx. Had a robot dog named K-9 and one of his female companions was a scantly clad cavewoman.

I had seen photos of the show in Starlog and other magazines. A TV Guide article on "The Five Doctors" episode sparked my interest in the show. I also had two classmates, both named Robert and both army brats, who talked about watching the show in Oklahoma. Luckily, I had a sister who lived in Oklahoma and I could watch it when I visited her, because as I mentioned in an earlier post about being a superhero fan growing up in the Ozarks, the cool shows were rarely seen on TV in the Ozarks. Dr. Who was seen on public television in Oklahoma, but not in the Ozarks.

Eventually, I was able to collect several VHS tapes of the episodes when a video store went out of business here in Springfield. My problem with the VHS tapes and even some of the reruns I saw in Oklahoma was the editing of them into one long episode instead of their original serial form. The cliffhangers are as important the mystique of Dr. Who as they were to Flash Gordon.

I have not seen very much of the new shows. I saw one with Christopher Eccleston, but I turned it off in the middle. It was the Doctor as I enjoyed him, however I have seen some previews of the David Tendant and Matt Smith episodes. I want to see them because they have the elements of the original show that attracted me to it back in the 80s.

And if you are wondering, I own a copy of the book picture above.  

 

Friday, November 22, 2013

A SAD U.P.I BULLETIN FROM 50 YEARS AGO TODAY - 11-22-1963


I'll admit I swiped this from a discussion board for radio pros. A radio newsman saved this United Press International teletype wire bulletin from November 22, 1963. When I began working in radio at KSMU in Springfield, we still had the teletype machine with the bells that went off for a major national or world news story. The only time it happened when I was on duty was a chimpanzee was runamuck at a supermarket (I can't remember where) and Geraldo Rivera was hit in the face with a chair during a taping of his TV show.

When you report news, you often have to read many sad and disturbing stories. Sometimes they are hard to read because they touch you and your life. I've had to read news stories about the first girl I ever loved going to prison on federal charges. I have had to read stories about the death of colleagues, co-workers, friends and family members. However, I humbly don't think I could read or would ever want to have to read what Walter Cronkite is doing in this famous clip. No matter who the President is, this is not the kind of news I would want to deliver.


Saturday, November 16, 2013

THE MOST UNDERRATTED PARODY FILM OF THE 70s - THE LAST REMAKE OF BEAU GESTE

Last year, during the Countdown To Halloween, I wrote a post about how I believed Messiah of Evil was one of the most underrated horror films of the 70s. I have been thinking for quite sometime about a post about what i believe to be the most underrated parody film of the 70s: The Last Remake of Beau Geste.

The 70s was the Golden Age of Parody films. The start of this was probably the 1969 film, Take The Money and Run, which was Woody Allen's poke at TV "true crime documentaries," gangster and prison films.  The peak of this was around 1974 when Mel Brooks gave us both Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein and the Monty Python's gave us Monty Python and the Holy Grail. At that point, major studios were wanting parody films. Shortly after Mel Brooks Silent Movie came out, Universal Studios hired Young Frankenstein/Silent Movie star (and Monty Python friend) Marty Feldman to write, direct and star in a film parody version of the story of Beau Geste, which had been filmed numerous times since the beginning of the movie industry.


The plot of the novel (and later movies) revolves around a British military man, Sir Hector, adopting sons (The novel has three although this movies only has two boys: Beau and Digby) after the disappointment of his wife dying while giving birth to a daughter. When Sir Hector marries a young golddigger, Beau takes the family's valuable diamond and flees to Morocco to join the French Foreign Legion. His brothers follow him. 

The stories of Universal being run in the 70s by clueless old white, conservative guys who didn't know what audiences would like and not could fill a book. They didn't understand the popularity of The Six Million Dollar Man among children and they just about pulled the plug on both American Graffiti and Animal House. They also turned down another George Lucas project called Star Wars. So it is not surprising that they didn't like Marty Feldman's finished version of the film and had it re-edited before it was released. Even after test audiences preferred the Feldman version, Universal released their version.

While there is apparently no surviving version of the "Director's Cut," the Universal version is nothing to sneeze at. There are numerous great gags in the film from Feldman trying to stop the 30's Universal logo from spinning, an abundance of funny signs on walls, pokes at movie cliches, camel humps being deflated after being shot, a commercial for a used camel salesman and cameos by Ed McMahon and Garry Cooper. Contrary to what IMDB and other resources say McMahon is not a "Arab horseman," he is really playing Ed McMahon in Arab clothing. Cooper appears in footage from the 1939 version in which he played the main character. He offers Feldman a cigarette.

Michael York plays a dashing version of Beau opposite Feldman as Beau's less-perfect brother Digby. Ann Margaret plays the sexy step-mother after the family jewel, Sinead Cusack as the daughter of the boy's adoptive father, Henry Gibson is the French general, Ted Cassidy as a blind cook, James Earl Jones is a Sheik, who talks like comedian Terry Thomas (who is also in the movie) and Peter Ustinov as Sgt. Markov, who not only has a prosthetic leg, but so to does his horse and teddy bear.


However, of all the great performers in the movie, my favorite is Michael McConkey (above), who plays young Digby. Where did they find a child that looked exactly like Marty Feldman???

Sadly, Universal still doesn't understand that there is a market for a great DVD release of this fun movie. You can buy it from Universal on-demand, however fans have said they only got a transfer of the movie on DVD. No menu, no chapters, no extras. If they could release both the released version and the director's cut, I'm sure there would be quite a few people who would buy it. Also it should have a good version of the trailer. I kept finding the same one on various websites and it has glitches.

If you can find a copy on VHS or watch it on You Tube, do so. It deserves more of an audience than it has gotten in the past few years.


Friday, November 1, 2013

READ MORE ABOUT IT: HORROR MOVIES

As anyone who reads this blog during the Countdown To Halloween knows that I love horror films. Here are some of the books that I read as a kid that educated me on the subject. I now own them. There are two kids books also, but the titles escape me at the moment.

Check these out for yourself.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

PHANTOM OF THE OPERA STILL

The Phantom of the Opera is one of the first major horror films. We have probably scene every still from that film over and over. A few years back I bought this one at Dick's Old Time 5 & 10, in Branson, Missouri, out of a pile of large (11 x14) random movie stills. I could only scan the top half. Most of the great movie stills focus on the Phantom's full face. Here he is looking down at the ground.

How about I also give you the famous unmasking scene from the 1925 film. Most DVD's use a 1929 re-release print, which doesn't seem to be as scary.



While I'm at it, I'll give you Sarah Brightman and Steve Harley (of Cockney Rebel fame) singing The Phantom of the Opera from Andrew Lloyd Weber.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

TEN GOOD CREEPY, SCARY MOMENTS IN NOT-SO-GREAT MOVIES

Anyone who knows me or has read this blog and the old blog knows that I love horror films. I don't care whether they are great or bad, I enjoy them all. I really enjoy when horror films try so hard to be good and winds up laughable. Mainly because I know if I tried to make a horror film, it would end up being as bad or worse. However, there are moments in many of the most famous bad or campy horror films that makes us step back and say "Wow! That was creepy!" or "YIPE! That was scary!" Never mind the ridiculous concept, incoherent storyline, bad acting, bad special effects, for one brief moment in these films something worked. Sadly, these are the things that are rarely mentioned or get posted on You Tube. People focus on Bunny Brekenridge reading from his script, Linda Day George screaming "Bastard!" over and over, Hal Sherwood as the pedophile/incestuous priest, dogs with large plastic fangs and that nerdy guy screaming "OOOOOHHHHHH MMMYYYYY GGGAAAAAAWWWDDDDD!!!" Let's focus on things that the directors and producers got right. 



1. Liz's decapitated head in the roaster pot in The Ghastly Ones. Steven King once said that The Ghastly Ones was the work of morons with cameras. Actually, it was just one person: Andy Milligan. After seeing rubber mannequin arms, hard boiled eggs as eyes, a green-skinned lawyer with long grey nose hair and a priest, that is a dead ringer for Andy Dick's character in Old School, wearing curtains, we are not expecting such frightening image. Milligan used the "head-on-the-plate" gag in other films, but this one works because of the expression on actress Carol Vogel's face and angle her head is lying in the pot. The "head" actors in the other films looked bored and their heads are straight up, so you can tell they merely had their head stuck through a whole in the table. Vogel looks like she might have been the victim of a violent attack. What also makes this disturbing is Milligan using chocolate syrup for blood. Chocolate syrup was used in black and white films for blood. However, in color it looks like something else. It gives you the impression that either Liz or her killer suffered from explosive diarrhea. 


2. The floating old lady from The House on Haunted Hill. William Castle was known for bringing the audience into the film. The House on Haunted Hill was made to incorporate special tricks in the movie theater, such as skeletons dangling over the audience. That is why parts of this movie do not work to today. Except for the old lady above that comes screaming out of nowhere like a bat out of Hell. Of course, it turns out it was a dummy on roller skates that Vincent Price was using to scare people. It is one of the few of his scare tactics in the film that still works on the home video audience, without the benefit of a skeleton on a pulley. 


3. Corpse-puzzle-woman falls out of a hidden compartment behind a bookcase in Pieces. This 80s slasher film starts off in the 1940's with a little boy being punished by his hysterical mother for putting together an obviously 1970s puzzle of a naked woman. She overreacts and tells him to get a trash bag, so she can burn everything he owns. The boy overreacts and brings an axe to put in his mothers head. Years later, detectives Christopher George and Linda Day-George (real life man and wife) are investigating the dismemberment of college co-eds by someone with a chainsaw. One girl's head is lopped off in broad daylight, one is killed on an elevator (the killer hid his chainsaw under his coat), one is killed the waterbed in the girl's exercise room (???) and a girl wets her pants in the ladies room before being sliced in half. We find out not only who the killer is, but that he is also the little boy all grown up. Before it can get any more Scooby Doo-ish, a detective accidental opens a hidden compartment in the wall and out fall a "puzzle" made from the missing "pieces" of the dead girls. Now, there is one more good scare at the end of the film, but why spoil for everyone. I'll just say guys hate the end of this film.  


4. Tor Johnson rises from the grave in Plan 9 From Outer Space. Lets face it, the many problems with Plan 9 are well known by the world today. However, the scene where Tor Johnson rises from his grave is one of the great creepy moments on film. The spooky lighting, fog and the way Johnson rises up worked.




5. Zombie pops up outside the open window in The Mad Doctor of Blood Island. Filipino director Eddie Romero made several half Filipino, half American horror films in the mid 60s to early 80s. Most are filled with gore, bad acting and bad dubbing. The Mad Doctor of Blood Island features a boring villain, a convoluted plot and an annoying camera zooming effect when a zombie is about to attack. The one scene that gives the viewer a legitimate shock is when Angelique Pettyjohn is awaken by what sounds like an injured person outside her window. She walks over and opens the window. A zombie (above) jumps up out of the bushes. This scene works because there is a quiet build up. Just the soft whimpering and rustle of bushes. 



6. The Killer Shrews chew through the wall. Yes, the giant shrews are dogs and sometimes puppets. They may be puppets here but this scene is effective. Many people who saw this on late night TV as a kid say that the shrews chewing through the wall caused them to have nightmares.


7. The Beast From the Haunted Cave sucks the life out of a victim. Many low budget horror films start off as one thing and end up as horror films. This film started off as a gold heist/crime movie and had the horror aspect added later. The monster looks like a cross between pillow stuffing and silly string. However, when you see the beast suck the life from Natalie leaving her darkened eyes, wide open, and staring at the audience, you'll be sleeping with the light on for the next week.  


8. The mutant escapes from the closet in The Brain That Wouldn't Die. From an illogical premise to a skirt chasing, sleaze factor, accompanied by the sleaziest sounding jazz instrumental ever recorded, this movie was a classic even before MST3K got a hold of it. All through the movie, we are told that there is an "experiment gone wrong" in the closet. Near the end, Jan (Virginia Leith) begins communicating with the "thing" with telepathy. She has it attack the lab assistant and rip his arm off. At the end, Jan commands the monster to break down the door and give her former boyfriend and his creator (Jason Evers) his comeuppance. The monster is both goofy and scary at the same time but his emergence is a shock.


9. The second head appears in The Manster. A cocky American reporter begins splitting into two people while in Japan fooling with geisha girls. First, he gets a hairy hand (You figure it out) and then grows an eye on his shoulder. He starts committing murders. A policeman follows him to his hotel and sees him sprout a head in the dark.


10. Joshua's backseat nightmare from Troll 2. Vegetarian goblins turn people into green plants and eat them. Joshua and his family encounter them on vacation. In one scene, Joshua has a nightmare while riding in the backseat of the car. He dreams his family is under the control of the goblins and are turning him into a plant. Probably, the most effective scene in this whole movie.

There is an old song we sang in church about "looking for the silver lining in the clouds." Some films are so bad that they don't have one. I found one in each of these turkeys, there may be more out there.

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