11/23/03 - SUPERMAN'S PALS: NOEL NEILL & BOB HOLIDAY!
Both were self-published labors of love, and both are loaded with information and rare photos on their main subjects.
First, TRUTH JUSTICE & THE AMERICAN WAY: The Life And Times Of Noel Neill, The Original Lois Lane an authorized biography by Larry Thomas Ward. This is a teriffic scrapbook, biography, filmography of our favorite Daily Planet reporter.
I love spotting Noel in numerous comedy shorts and small parts in Hollywood movies, B-westerns and serials. I attended one of her personal college appearences in 1975 (at Queens College in New York) and have seen her at conventions - she is just as charming in real life as she seems on the screen.
It was interesting to read about her post-SUPERMAN career as an exec for west coast television sales at United Artists. (Could she have sold your local TV station the A.A.P. cartoon package?) She worked for UA in Los Angeles until 1981! (I worked at UA from 1978-84, in New York - I worked for the same company/same time as Lois Lane! Who knew?)
She's since been a manager for Tom Selleck (handling his fan mail). What an intersting career.
If you have any interest in the SUPERMAN TV show or serials, or Noel Neill, this is a MUST-HAVE!
Though I've never seen him in action as Superman, I did live in New York at the time, and the publicity he recieved as "the new Superman" was quite effective.
And what a nice guy Bob Holiday is. This book collects all his memories of the experience, clippings, stills, TV appearences, just everything... plus the story of his showbiz career before the tights and cape - and his subsequent business in home design.
Both books lack the professional slickness of a major publisher - but who cares! It's great to hear these stories and meet these people. I highly recommend both books to all Superman fans!
9/21/03 - 3-D Blog - Final Weekend
Yesterday was amazing. MELODY and BOO MOON were outstanding. Mint 35mm prints were run and the 3-D was teriffic.
MELODY is by far the best cartoon made in 3-D, the flat UPA designs and the three dimesional layouts were incredible.
It raises the question: Why is MELODY such a forgotten cartoon? It came out months before TOOT WHISTLE PLUNK AND BOOM, but it is just as innovative. TOOT WHISTLE was put up for the Oscar and won. History is written by the victors. However, all the praise heaped on TOOT WHISTLE (which is one of my all time favorites) could be equally lavished on its "Adventures In Music" predecessor MELODY.
MELODY was released by RKO (print screened had full RKO titles), TOOT WHISTLE was put out by Buena Vista. Was Disney championing his own distributor by ignoring MELODY? Was the industry fed up with 3-D and embracing CinemaScope - thus reflected by a TOOT WHISTLE nomination, and win?
The print of BOO MOON was incredible! The original titles, like POPEYE THE ACE OF SPACE stated it was "A Stereotoon". The depth layouts were great. Even the title card (at right) is "in depth" - the bottom of the title is closer to our eyes, the top of the lettering (and skyline) is in the distance.
9/18/03 - 3-D Blog - Days #5 & 6
B'WANA DEVIL was fun but perhaps the worst feature film made in 3-D (at least ROBOT MONSTER was hilarious throughout). The five minute black & white introductory film featuring Lloyd Nolan, Miss 3-D and Beany & Cecil, was hilarious! Stan Freberg was here in person and spoke before the film - as was "Miss 3-D" (Sorry I forgot her real name).
9/16/03 - 3-D Blog - Day #4
Last night we saw MGM's rodeo romance ARENA, starring Gig Young and Harry Morgan. Director Richard Fleischer was there to do a Q&A.
One of the questions he answered in depth was how/why Walt Disney hired him to direct 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA (directly after ARENA). Walt told him that anyone who could make an actor out of Bobby Driscoll (in Fleischer's THE HAPPY TIME) was a great director. Richard brought rivals Max & Walt together and he said Walt & Max were good friends for the rest of their lives.
This was followed by REVENGE OF THE CREATURE (with co-star Lori Nelson Q&A). This was preceeded by Disney's cartoon WORKING FOR PEANUTS (animator Tony Anselmo introduced the film in Donald's voice!). While just a routine Donald versus Chip and Dale chase around a zoo -- WORKING FOR PEANUTS (Directed by Jack Hannah) does boast great backgrounds by Evind Earle and the use of 3-D is superb.
9/14/03 - 3-D Blog - Over the weekend!
Saturday we saw five feature films and three shorts.
IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE (with a Q & A with actress Kathleen Hughes, Ray Bradbury and Forry Ackerman), GOG (with Joe Dante hosting a Q & A with director Herbert Strock), GORILLA AT LARGE and CAT-WOMEN OF THE MOON, were very enjoyable in 35mm & 3-D.
The evening ended with a Universal Nat King Cole musical short, but the wacko highlight of the day (for me) was THE ADVENTURES OF SAM SPACE, a 1953 stop-motion short with voices by Paul Frees!
The animation was crude, and the character designs of the puppets ranged from amaturish to delightfully bizzarre. It's about two boys and a professor who blast off into space to ward off an attack by robotic space creatures. Great sets. I suspect this short was a pilot for a TV series.
This 3-D festival is providing a fantastic film education about a transitional time in motion picture history. Four more features today... bring 'em on!
9/13/03 - 3-D Blog - Day #1
Friday night was the opening and it was packed. I spotted big name directors Joe Dante, Quentin Tarentino and John Landis in the crowd - all apparently planning to attend (like me) every show.
Dante is expected to introduce GOG today at 4:15pm.
Last night was teriffic. The sound and picture superb (best 3-D presentation I've ever seen). You can buy cardboard glasses for 25 cents or fancy plastic ones for $3.00 (or clip-on glasses for $15.00).
Last night was HOUSE OF WAX (with a Q & A with co-star Paul Picerni) and STRANGER WITH A GUN (a B+ Western with Randolph Scott).
The Randolph Scott picture was a hoot. Production values and locations were consistent with Columbia's 1953 B-Westerns and serials (but it was really cool to see it in color & 3-D) and the 3-D "gags" (shooting at the audience, throwing a rope toward the camera, etc.) were corny - but the film was a lot of fun.
Also screened was the RKO stop-motion animated short MOTOR RHYTHM, which was originally made for and shown at the 1939 New York World's Fair. It shows a Plymouth automobile being constructed, via stop motion, piece by piece to a jazzy score - including the Stooges theme, "Listen To The Mocking Bird".
Today, LUMBERJACK RABBIT, KISS ME KATE, CAT-WOMEN OF THE MOON and others...
8/12/03 - Gold Key's DICK VAN DYKE Comics!
Just a heads up for a very funny series of entries on Mark Evanier's NEWS FROM ME web blog.
The thing is, Gold Key never did a series of DICK VAN DYKE SHOW comics! Mark is just makin' them up - with perfect visualzations of what the covers might have been.
I wish these could be drawn up and published! And maybe next Mark can do up other 1960s series Western forgot (though they're aren't many). Personally I'd love to see recent shows like SEINFELD, FRAISER or DREW CAREY given the Gold Key treatment...
11/2/02 - LEON SCHLESINGER'S JOHN WAYNE B-WESTERNS!
In 1932, with his Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series firmly established at Warner Bros., producer Leon Schlesinger made a deal with his distributor to remake a series of Ken Maynard silent movies (originally produced by First National Pictures which Warner Bros. acquired in 1928).
The Leon Schlesinger westerns were:
10/21/02 - THE RAGTIME EPHEMERALIST!
If you enjoy Ware's time-warp graphics in his award winning Acme Comics Library series (or his amazing book, Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth) you will equally enjoy this 260 page squarebound paperback journal. If you happen to love Ragtime, or music trivia, this is a must-have.
This thing is literally packed with information and visuals. Editor Ware presents over a dozen in-depth articles, on such subjects as "Ragtime's Women Composers", "The Tronbone In Ragtime", "Scott Joplin In Chicago" and a fictional piece by Seth and Kim Deitch!
This is an incredible publication - I've never heard of it or seen it before (and the first two issues are sold out) but I highly recommend it. It's visually wonderful, very entertaining and loaded with information. Check out the website and enjoy!
10/15/02 - GENE AUTRY!
I was first introduced to Gene as a kid, when I saw his 12 chapter Mascot serial THE PHANTOM EMPIRE on TV.
Later on when I got interested in B-Westerns, I realized how fitting the science-fiction-musical-western (with comedy) was as Gene's first film.
Autry became a movie cowboy superstar in the late 1930s. His films usually try to be traditional westerns, but for some reason, they usually veer off into some bizzarre situations.
My favorite Autry bizzaro moment comes in the middle of COMIN' ROUND THE MOUNTAIN (1936) when Gene, trying to raise the spirits of a flood ravaged town, starts to lead them in song. At the mid point, he turns to the camera, breaks the fourth wall, and asks the movie theatre audience to sing along as well - the words to are suddenly superimposed over the action in "bouncing ball" style!
There is much more to say about Gene Autry (I haven't even mentioned his sidekick "Frog" (Smiley Burnette) and his sidekick's sidekick "Tadpole" (Joe Strauch, Jr.), but I'll be doing so in later entries to this Journal.
10/14/02 - TV PARTY!
This compendium of short articles is loaded with facts and trivia about all the oddball and cherished TV shows we grew up on. Even if you didn't grow up on these series, the book is a revelation - filled esoteric memories and rare photos, and all sorts of proof of how much TV shows (and commercials) of the 1950s & 60s warped our minds (in good way).
Winky Dink, Shrimpenstein, Bob McAllister, "Hank", Jot, The Hathaways - If these names mean anything to you, run out and get this book immediately!
There are articles on My Mother The Car, Paul Lynde, Groucho, George Reeves, Shazam, Bette Davis, Robert Blake and much much more. And a fantastic CD-Rom is included featuring a montage of great clips and commercials from the rarest TVparty archive material.
This isn't just the website in book form. It's a great read and is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
10/12/02 - CURT SWAN!
Curt Swan was my first favorite comic book artist, and I have to admit, he's still my favorite. Don't get me wrong, I love Kirby, Ditko, Wood, Gil Kane, Will Elder, and many others are high on my list. But Swan was my first love - I hold a special place for his Superman family comics of the 1960s. Inked by George Klein, edited by Mort Wesinger, lettered by Ira Schnapp, they made the impossible seem realistic - at least to this eight year old kid.
One of the few pieces of original comic art I own is a Swan piece from a 1962 Superman issue. I have it framed and hanging in my living room. Swan's Superman was the "real" Superman. We all knew it in our hearts.
And now, a fellow fan Eddy Zeno has put together a loving tribute in a new illustrated biography, CURT SWAN: A LIFE IN COMICS, just out from Vanguard Productions.
There is also tons of great Swan DC comic art from his greatest era (in my opinion), the 1960s and early 1970s.
There hasn't been enough said about Curt Swan and his influence on American comics. This book is long overdue - and much deserved.
10/11/02 - THE LOST PLANET!
The lightning-bolt jumpsuits, the wire-tube space helmets, the funky ray guns, the mad inventions of evil Dr. Grood - It's got everything!
Judd Holdren stars and gives an incredibly bland performance as "Fighting Rex Barrow". He knows this is a turkey and his career is going very badly. This is his last starring role. He was previously CAPTAIN VIDEO (1951) and COMMANDO CODY (1952) - as well as "Larry Martin" in Republic's ZOMBIES OF THE STRATOSPHERE (1953). After THE LOST PLANET (1953) it was all downhill from there.
I understand Holdren left acting and drifted into real estate - later committing suicide in the 1970s.
Chapter titles like "Trapped By The Axial Propeller!" (chapter 2), "Dr. Grood Defies Gravity!" (chapter 11), and "In The Grip Of The De-Thermo Ray!" (chapter 14) are more exciting than the actual film itself.
Released at the height of the early 1950s "Space Cadet" craze, THE LOST PLANET tried to cash in the popularity of such TV kids shows as Space Patrol, Tom Corbett-Space Cadet, Rocky Jones-Space Ranger and of course, Captain Video.
It's very frustrating because they had the gadgets, they had the costumes, they had the ultra low-budget special effects (including the Howard Swift animated "Cosmo-jets"). They could have made a good film - or at least as good as CAPTAIN VIDEO (which I think is excellent).
The screenplay tries to recall FLASH GORDON with its regular Earth guy hero (Holdren, as a newspaper reporter) who discovers a power mad Ming-like dictator (Michael Fox as Dr. Grood) and a captive scientist ally (Forrest Taylor as the Zarkov-like Professor Dorn). If only the filmmaking (directing, acting, script) was as competent as that descriptive sentence.
I do not recommend that anyone should see this serial, but I admire it because it represents a lost genre of Saturday morning kids entertainment - the genre that was inspired Buzz Lightyear - and was a whole lot of fun.
All of a sudden, all of my friends are seemingly jumping into the fanzine business!
Old friend's Ed Hulse and Mark Trost are behind the publication of BLOOD N' THUNDER (pictured above), a magazine with a new perspective on old-time radio drama, pulp magazines, cliffhanger serials and B-Movies - shedding light on the origins of current popular culture by highlighting their original inspirations.
I recommend both these publications highly.
MORE TO COME!