Wednesday, November 27, 2013


Some snapshots from some retro TV Thanksgivings.


Saturday, November 23, 2013


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


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


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


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.

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