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The Movie That Launched a Thousand Television Careers

2 Jul

Last week, my family was traveling, and I spent a lot of time watching movies with my dad. I write that because I have been working on a post about those movies. However, another movie has interrupted the process.

This afternoon, I visited my parents, and my dad was watching a Western that I had never seen. There was a scene with a man and woman talking in a restaurant. The woman looked familiar, and I asked my dad to hit the Info button.

The movie was The Hangman, which was released in 1959, and the cast listing confirmed my suspicions. The woman was Tina Louise, who, in a few years, would gain fame as Ginger on Gilligan’s Island.

It is always cool to find familiar faces in old movies. It is almost like telling someone’s fortune. Do you know that you will soon become famous for being stranded on an island after a three-hour boat tour gone wrong?

Then, the waitress walked up, and she looked familiar. Yep, it was Betty Lynn, who, in a few years, would gain fame as Thelma Lou on The Andy Griffith Show.

At this point, soon to be famous television actors were popping up everywhere. Jack Lord was in jail. In a few years, he would gain fame as Steve McGarrett on Hawaii Five-O.

Fess Parker was the sheriff. At this time, he was once and future famous. In the 1950s, he helped start the coonskin cap craze as Davy Crockett. After this movie, he would attempt to relive the magic as Daniel Boone.

Then, there was Lorne Greene who played the marshal. The same year that The Hangman was released a new television show called Bonanza debuted. In a short time, he would be known throughout as Ben Cartwright, the patriarch who owned the Ponderosa.

As the title of the post says, The Hangman is the movie that launched a thousand television careers. Well, maybe not a thousand, but it came close.

Things I Think

25 Mar

I think…

the speed limit means that you can actually go that speed.

cracks in concrete are canyons for ants.

Escape from New York is the best movie Kurt Russell ever made.

the Jessi Colter and Waylon Jennings version of “Suspicious Minds” is almost as good as the Elvis version.

the iPhone is the most addictive drug in the world.

that only rocks live forever.

the Freedom of Speech is under attack from people who only want to what they want to hear.

more people need to like history.

John Wayne and Clint Eastwood should have made a Western together.

people who are famous for no reason should lose their fame immediately.

people who throw chewing gum on the ground should have chewing gum stuck on them.

trees communicate with each other.

a remake of Escape from New York is a bad idea.

married life is a great life.

football, my favorite sport to watch, will one day be banned.

truffled macaroni and cheese is terrible.

I need to buy more vinyl.

reality television is the worst form of entertainment ever invented.

chairs are better than couches.

blogging is awesome.

 

Things I Think About While Listening to Jose Feliciano

16 Mar

It is a good night. We had a great meal with great conversation. Now, Jose Feliciano is on the turntable. The only problem is that it is cold outside. We made it through an entire Winter, and it had decided to get cold in the middle of March. It seems that Spring has not yet sprung.

Heck, Jose is singing “California Dreamin'” and is talking about a Winter’s day. I know how he feels. This is no time to be sitting in the house wearing a hoodie. Yet, that is what I am doing. I am also thinking that it is time for a stream of consciousness.

Let us start with Jose himself. He sings the theme to a terrible Western that could have been great. Mackenna’s Gold stars Gregory Peck, Omar Sharif and a bunch of other big stars.

It is about the search for gold. It is also about Julie Newmar swimming nude. According to movie lore, she was supposed to wear something in the scene, but she shocked everyone by doing it for real.

By the way, the theme sung by Jose Feliciano is “Old Turkey Buzzard.”

For those not up on their 1960s television, Julie Newmar plays Catwoman on Batman, the campy version that stars Adam West. A lot of cool people play villains on that show. Burgess Meredith plays the Penguin. Eli Wallach plays Mr. Freeze. Why do I mention those two? They are also in Mackenna’s Gold.

Did I mention that it is a terrible Western that could have been great? The real problems are the special effects. Man, they look terrible, and I imagine that they looked terrible when it first came out. They should have gone natural like Julie does in the skinny dipping scene.

Jose also sang the theme song for Chico and the Man, a 1970s television show about a cranky old man and a Chicano man in his 20s. It stars Jack Albertson and Freddy Prinze. It also stars Scatman Crothers.

Scatman appears in a ton of movies and television shows, but Friday Foster is one of my favorites. It stars the fantastic Pam Grier, but it also had Eartha Kitt. Does anyone know what other role features Eartha Kit? She plays Catwoman on the the campy 1960s Batman.

Julie Newmar and Eartha Kitt play the same character on the same television show. Lee Meriwether also plays that character in that version of the Caped Crusader, but that is another story for another time. We could let Barnaby Jones work his way through that mystery.

Rambling Ruminations While Watching a Movie

29 Jan

It was a dark and stormy night. No kidding, the movie we are watching is currently showing a dark and stormy night engulfing two people operating a lighthouse. It is a romantic movie with deep undertones that my wife wanted to watch.

Other than the light from the television and this computer screen, it is also dark in this room. Luckily, it is not stormy.

Until now, the movie has featured the happy vibes of two people falling in love. The storm has brought on the serious part of the story with depression, anger and other feelings that take place on an isolated island. On top of that, the storyline is about to get super complicated.

Speaking of storms, they say that it is going to snow tomorrow. However, the weather app on my phone says the temperature is not going to get below freezing, and I have yet to figure out how it is going to snow with temperatures above freezing. I suppose that is one of those great mysteries of life.

Speaking of mysteries, my favorite is the story of D.B. Cooper. Who was he? What happened to him? It is simply one of the all time great unknowns. For those who have never heard of D.B. Cooper, you need to look him up.db-cooper

While no one knows Cooper’s true identity, it is known that he hijacked an airliner on November 24, 1971. My third birthday was celebrated the next day. Here is what else was going on that day.

“Theme from Shaft” by Isaac Hayes was at the top of the music charts.

CBS aired The Carol Burnett Show and Mannix.

NBC offered up Adam-12 and McCloud.

Black Beauty was released in theaters.

Man, it has been a long time since November 24, 1971. If we have not solved the mystery of D.B. Cooper by now, then it will probably never be solved. I guess that is what happens when you jump out of an airliner on a dark and stormy night.

 

The Gunslinger That Cannot Be Killed

23 Jan

In 1960, audiences went to the theaters and watched The Magnificent Seven, a Western that stars Charles Bronson, Eli Wallach, Steve McQueen, James Coburn and a lot of other great actors. However, the leader of the Seven and the most memorable character is Chris, the black-clad gunslinger played by Yul Brynner.magnificent-seven

It was an iconic role and a memorable character for anyone who loves Westerns, but it could not be known that this character would live on in different incarnations and different genres. There have been many characters that have graced the screen in multiple films, but it is possible that none of them have a journey similar to this one.

The 1960s had sequels. There was James Bond movies, Derek Flint movies (starring Coburn) and Matt Helm movies. However, there were not many Western sequels. Well, Yul Brynner as Chris showed up in Return of the Magnificent Seven, which came out in 1966.

More “Magnificent Seven” movies were made, but Brynner abandoned the role. At least, people thought he abandoned the role. In 1973, he donned the black hat in Westworld, a movie about a futuristic theme-park where people can play out their fantasies with robots. This time, the gunslinger is not the hero. He is a robot in the middle of a robot overthrow. As people are killed across the park, Brynner chases Richard Benjamin, the last surviving human. Once again, he is the most memorable character.

Westworld was a hit, and it begat another film. Futureworld came out in in 1976, and the gunslinger came back to life. I may be wrong, but that could mean that Chris the Gunslinger is the only character to appear in two different pairs of sequels.

I started thinking about this because the character has made a return. The other night, we watched the 2016 version of The Magnificent Seven. This one stars Denzel Washington as the man in black who brings together a collection of tough guys to help out the citizens of a farming town. His name is not Chris, but it is the same character.denzel-magnificent

However, that is not the only time 2016 brought the gunslinger to new audiences. Westworld is an HBO show inspired by the old movie. In this one, Ed Harris plays a gunslinger in a black hat. However, he is human. He is not the character. In an homage to Yul Brynner, the gunslinger is seen standing in an old underground lab. Apparently, he has been taken offline.westworld

That may be true of the robot, but I am not sure it is true about the character. After all, how many characters have spanned the world of movies and television for 57 years? It looks like this gunslinger cannot be killed.

The John Russell Effect

27 Dec

The other day, I visited my parents and found my dad watching the Western Channel. He always watches that channel, and I am usually familiar with whatever is on. After all, me and my brother were raised watching old Westerns. However, I had never seen what he was watching this time.

It was a television show called Cheyenne that stars Clint Walker. Some of you Western aficionados probably know it. As I watched it, my mind focused on the actor playing the bad guy. With his features and his voice, I knew that I had seen him, and I had a feeling where. Despite my dad jumping on me for looking at my phone, I did a quick search.

The actor in question was John Russell, and I knew him from Rio Bravo. In that movie, he plays Nathan Burdette, the local land baron who goes up against John Wayne, Dean Martin, Ricky Nelson and Walter Brennan. Obviously, he loses in the end.john-russell

That discovery was not surprising. However, it was surprising to learn that John Russell was in another of my favorite movies, The Outlaw Josey Wales. In that one, he makes a brief appearance as Bloody Bill Anderson.

Wait, there is more. He also plays the bad guy in Pale Rider and appeared in Honky Tonk Man, which was partially filmed in Nashville. Of course, The Outlaw Josey Wales, Pale Rider and Honky Tonk Man have something in common other than John Russell. They also star Clint Eastwood. Apparently, they were buddies.

I thought that I had seen John Russell in one movie. As it turns out, he has shown up in several places. Heck, he just got shot on my television screen as I typed this. The mysterious stranger got him in Pale Rider before disappearing into the distance. Coincidence? I am not so sure. It could be the John Russell Effect.

Movie Wisdom – Bernard Fox Edition

16 Dec

Bernard Fox passed away. Most people probably remember him as Dr. Bombay on Bewitched, but I have always been a fan of The Andy Griffith Show. That is where he played Malcolm Merriweather, the Englishman who showed up on a few episodes to take care of the Taylor family.bernard-fox

He appeared in a ton of great television shows, but he also appeared in some great movies. In honor of Bernard Fox, here is some words of wisdom that can be found in his movies.

By the way, can you find the similar trait of two of the movies.

From A Night to Remember

People first, things second.

From The Longest Day

Anything mechanical, give it a good bashing.

From Big Jake

You shouldn’t butt into things that aren’t your business.

You know what the problem with money is? Somebody’s always trying to take it from you.

From The Rescuers

Faith is a bluebird, we see from far. It’s for real and as sure as the first evening star, you can’t touch it, or buy it, or wrap it up tight, but it’s there just the same, making things turn out right.

From Titanic

Our choices are never easy.

From The Mummy

No harm ever came from reading a book.