Large Association of Movie Blogs
Large Association of Movie Blogs

Friday, March 01, 2024

This Blog Misses Standup Philosopher Richard Lewis


March 2024 is not rabbit season or duck season, but, continuing a pattern which was painfully evident throughout 2022, open season on those who, like Bugs, Daffy and Chuck Jones, made us laugh out loud. The latest is the brilliant Richard Lewis.



Richard Lewis was, bar none, the fastest standup philosopher in the East - and an excellent actor to boot.





Used to love seeing him on Letterman and Carson back in the day!










The late night host I REALLY REALLY wanted to see as the host of The Tonight Show was Craig Ferguson. He didn't get that gig, unfortunately, but did have Richard as a guest on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.





Richard also appeared on Conan O' Brien's late night show, which is also much missed.





There have been podcasts by several who were friends of Richard Lewis, since his passing on Wednesday, with the most eloquent tribute thus far posted by Keith Olbermann.

Saturday, February 24, 2024

Thinking About The World's Fairs


Thinking of phenomenons no longer seen in 2024, the world’s fair and/or exposition, beginning in 1791 and extremely popular internationally through the 19th century and first half of the 20th century, is seldom found in 21st century United States of America. The World's Fairs were incredible, massive global events spotlighting new technologies, and the posters promoting them are frequently astonishing.



The list of expos, those chronicles of technological progress, remains quite impressive. While the fledgling United States was embroiled in civil war and reconstruction, epic expos rocked the world from Canada to New Zealand. Grant Wong's article The Rise & Fall Of World’s Fairs from the outstanding Smithsonian Magazine and several favorite animated films piqued my interest in this topic. The pixillated Pete-Roleum and His Cousins was produced by stop-motion master Charley Bowers and acclaimed feature film director Joseph Losey for the Standard Oil exhibit at the 1939 New York World's Fair.



Then there are two all-time favorite cartoons, one from Fleischer, the other from Charles Mintz Studio. Fleischer Studios made some terrific cartoons as part of its Max Fleischer Color Classics series - and All's Fair At The Fair is one of the very best. This features the Fleischer Studio's keen interest in futurism, robots and gadgetry - and turns put to be a rather charming and sweet cartoon.



Among this animation buff's three or four favorite Scrappy cartoons, all from that 1931-1933 peak period in the series: The World's Affair (1933). Love the very funny futuristic gags and caricatures!



The World's Fair that Mintz Studio animators Dick Huemer, Art Davis and Sid Marcus referred to - and had a great time in the process - was the 1933-1934 in Chicago, that toddlin' town.



The A Century of Progress International Exposition was indeed epic. Big thanks and bigger gratitude to the intrepid stock footage archivists at PeriscopeFilm for the following!



The earliest footage this blogger has found is from 1915.



Fatty and Mabel at the 1915 San Francisco World's Fair is a very enjoyable film. The two Keystone Comedies stars were at that time Hollywood royality and only equalled or exceeded by Charlie Chaplin. Their playfulness, chemistry, charisma and charm is on display here in this reel.



While the World's Fairs are mostly a thing of the deep past, there is luckily amazing historic footage from the expos up on YouTube. The Martens family has generously posted home movies from the 1939 New York World's Fair, shot in glorious Kodachrome. Nice work, Gustave Martens!



We thank those who brought their Brownie movie cameras to these epic events. Here, from beautiful Brussels, again in lovely Kodachrome and glorious 8mm - World's Fair, Expo 58.



From the lifetimes of the "okay, boomer" crew such as this correspondent, the three World's Fairs actually remembered are the 1962 Seattle extravaganza, known for the epic space needle. . .





Followed by the 1964-1965 World's Fair in New York.



The collaboration between urban planner Robert Moses and Walt Disney dominated the NY World's Fair.



An important sub-topic is the infuence of World's Fairs in general on Walt Disney, Disneyland and Disney World. The "it's a big big beautiful tomorrow" exhibit from Disneyland has a strong World's Fair vibe about it.



Loved seeing such Disney TV programs as the following as a youngster. My response: dinosaurs - COOL! Walt was a surprisingly good on-camera host.



And last but not least, there was EXPO 67 in excellent Montreal, Canada.





As usual, we're a bit tongue-tied for an ending here. Long before the advent of the internet, expos were few and far between in America, with the 1950's being the last decade of heydey in the United States. Haven't seen one in the U.S. since 1984, the year the Apple computer emerged from Silicon Valley garages. For more, watch the following superb documentaries!



Thursday, February 15, 2024

Born On This Day: Saturday Night Live's Chris Farley


Powerhouse comedian Chris Farley (February 15, 1964 - December 18, 1997) of Saturday Night Live and Second City Chicago fame has been gone a long time but still makes this writer laugh out loud.



Especially noteworthy: the Schiller Visions decaf coffee crystals sketch. . . No decaf for Chris!



With apologies to Tony Robbins, Matt Foley is by far my favorite motivational speaker!



A key assist on the following sketch, featuring Chris' proudly and defiantly unkempt "Bennett Brauer" character, goes to fellow comic and stalwart SNL cast member Kevin Nealon.



Particularly enjoyed the sketches in which Chris co-starred with Phil Hartman, arguably one of the greatest comic character actors ever in the Saturday Night Live cast.



The larger-than-life comedian's appearances on late night talk shows, especially those of David Letterman and Conan O'Brien, are frequently memorable.









Of his movies, Tommy Boy would be the one in which Chris transitions from pure Roscoe Arbuckle style slapstick to character actor in the same film. In addition to Farley's signature physical comedy, there is a vulnerability and likability.



He works quite well with SNL co-star and friend David Spade.



Adam Sandler paid tribute to his friend with this song.



Had Chris survived "comedians' disease" - which has been seen from silent movie comedians Lloyd Hamilton, Jimmie Adams, Charley Chase and bis brother, director/comic James Parrott to Saturday Night Live's John Belushi - a second career excelling in character parts, a la John Candy, may well have been on the horizon.

Saturday, February 10, 2024

It's Gene Vincent Weekend at Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog



Today's post (the second music-themed one of 2024) shall delve into classic 1950's style rock n' roll and rockabilly. One of the very best early rockers was Gene Vincent (February 11, 1935 - October 12, 1971).



My personal favorite Gene Vincent clip is that of he and his excellent band performing in Brussels in 1963. TRUST ME, to get the opportunity to rock out like this, literally lying down on the stage while soloing at high intensity on those Fender axes, is every guitarist's dream come true.



More importantly, the preceding clip also illustrates that, due to severe injuries he suffered in motorcycle and automobile accidents, Gene pushed through difficulties and an extraordinary amount of physical pain all the time.



Paul McCartney, who crossed paths with him often during the Beatles' early days, remembers Gene.





Gene's band The Blue Caps were among the great early rock groups and featured guitarist Cliff Gallop.



Gene and The Blue Caps followed Elvis Presley in appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show.



The Stray Cats paid tribute to Gene and Eddie "Summertime Blues" Cochran with the following excellent tune, GENE & EDDIE.



Not surprisingly, the Stray Cats' rendition of Gene's biggest hit, Be Bop A Lula, is not too shabby!



The tune that Gene and Eddie did together, WHITE LIGHTNING, remains one of the blazing early rock classics.



Gene and Eddie often performed together.



Now let's hear the original, which appeared in Frank Tashlin's brilliant, prescient and often satiric 1956 movie The Girl Can't Help It.



John Waters, an enthusiastic fan of The Girl Can't Help It, agrees and clearly enjoys both the rock n' roll and the gnarly quality of Gene and he Blue Caps.



Turns out both Gene and Eddie were in The Girl Can't Help It. Eddie's performance of 20 Flight Rock inspired rockers in movie theaters around the world.



Fortunately, some good documentaries were produced covering the life and career of Gene Vincent.



The last Gene Vincent performance I have seen is his set from the 1969 Isle of Wight festival. While early rock n'roll and rockability had long since given way in popularity by then to psychedelia and prog rock, who cares - Gene still sounds great.



This Isle of Wight performance is also seen in the following documentary, Gene Vincent: The Rock N' Roll Singer.




Rockabilly fans, go for that double dose of Stray Cats, Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran, Carl Perkins, Sun Records era Elvis and early Beatles with gusto. Football fans, enjoy the 58th Super Bowl.



Pleased to see that my hometown team, the San Francisco 49ers, shall be in the game. I'm hoping for an exciting, high scoring and touchdown-filled contest that goes into overtime! Many outstanding players - tight ends George Kittle and Travis Kelce, running back Christian McCaffrey, wide receivers Rashee Rice, Deebo Samuels and Brandon Aiyuk and, last but not least, top-notch quarterbacks Patrick "MVP" Mahomes and the unassuming but remarkably effective Brock "underestimate me at your peril" Purdy - will rock the gridiron in Vegas.

Sunday, February 04, 2024

Remembering Ace Voice Artist Janet Waldo


Today we respectfully tip the Max Linder top hat to one of the all-time greats from the cartoon voice world, the super-talented character actress Janet Waldo (a.k.a. Janet Waldo Lee), born on this day in 1919.



The cornucopia of clips presented here barely scratch the surface regarding her 5+ decade career in radio, television and as, along with June Foray and Martha Wentworth, one of the top female voice artists in animated cartoons.





While diehard animation fans know all about Janet Waldo's many roles in cartoons, especially those of Hanna-Barbera Productions, what is less known is that she also had a prolific career as an on-camera character actress in television and guest starred, as she had on radio, in numerous programs.



Lucille Ball was definitely a Janet Waldo fan and cast her in both I Love Lucy and The Lucy Show.







Fortunately, Janet lived to be 97 and did lots of interviews over the decades.













In closing, to get an idea of how diverse Janet Waldo's acting career was, by all means check out the history she left to the Ohio State University Libraries Special Collections.

Saturday, January 27, 2024

Stop-Motion Saturday



Today, the spotlight's on "pixillated" content, since last weekend's post plugged Cartoon Carnival, which is presenting a stop-motion show, Peculiar Puppets vol. IV at NYC's Roxy Cinema tomorrow afternoon at 3:00 p.m. EST.


Kicking a very animated Stop-Motion Saturday off: a documentary about the incredible Willis O' Brien (1886-1962), the prehistoric world-creating genius behind The Lost World, King Kong and Mighty Joe Young - and the animation genius who inspired Bob Clampett to make cartoons.



Follow that by delving deeply into a Willis O' Brien playlist and then watching this piece on the great artist O'Brien mentored, Ray Harryhausen.



Can never see too many interviews with Ray Harryhausen.



LOVED seeing The 7th Voyage of Sinbad and Jason & The Argonauts on the big screen!



The new Blu-ray set of Harryhausen classics is a keeper.



Like director and dyed-in-the-wool animation buff Joe Dante, we're big fans of George Pal.



The stop-motion fans at Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog are especially fond of the George Pal Puppetoons.





Love the 1930's Puppetoons produced in Holland (often as advertising films promoting Philips high fidelity audio products), followed by the series made in America for Paramount Pictures in the 1940's.



The George Pal Puppetoons have been restored, thankfully.



The Puppetoon Blu-rays get our highest recommendation.



Of the restored Puppetoons, especially like volume #3.



There's very cool stop-motion animation on YouTube.



In particular, the Dutch Vintage Animation YouTube channel is quite a treasure trove, including a bunch of classic films by the brilliant Joop Geesink.



















How can one follow such blazing stop-motion genius? By watching more blazing stop-motion genius by delving deeply into the incredible work of entymologist turned filmmaker Wladislaw Starewicz (1882-1965).


Hope to see such outstanding Wladislaw Starewicz films as The Magical Clock released on Blu-ray in the United States.



The Starewicz family and Doriane Films have made a few of these terrific films available in Europe.



Could the great-grandchildren of Wladislaw and grandchildren of Irina Vladislavovna Starewicz please, pretty please, travel to the U.S. and remind us dumb American classic movie buffs of the stop-motion animator's greatness and present a retrospective on Turner Classic Movies while you're at it?



Wladislaw a.k.a. Ladislaw Starewicz, Ladislas Starevitch, Ladislaw Starevitch and Ladislaw Starewitch created astonishing cinematic works, first in Russia, then for decades in Paris.



Wladislaw and Irina Vladislavovna Starewicz produced exceptional stop-motion films from 1912 through the end of the 1950's.



When someone innocently asks this blogger, Paul F. Etcheverry (A.K.A. Psychotronic Paul), "what's your favorite film?" one response that always gets the conversational ball rolling is, "that love triangle tale in which all the characters are dead insects - LOVE IT, LOVE IT, LOVE IT!"



We dig the 1922 Wladislaw and Irina Vladislavovna Starewicz gem FROGLAND the most!



The Starewicz masterpiece The Mascot packs more startling and surreal imagery into its 33 minute length than can be found in 140+ minute feature films.



How do we finish a stop-motion Saturday? With the ridiculously talented filmmaker, animator, director, special effects innovator and movie comedian Charley Bowers.





Known to the French (very enthusiastic fans of his films) as "Bricolo," Mr. Bowers began his cinematic career in the teens as producer for the Barré-Bowers Studio (Mutt & Jeff cartoons), a decade before he starred in the Bowers Novelty Comedies, a series that blended stop-motion animation with live-action slapstick.



Charley Bowers remains our favorite eccentric inventor in the history of motion pictures! Within that eccentric inventor persona, Bowers merges Buster Keaton's understated style with elements of the equally unconventional and imaginative silent movie comedian Harry Langdon.















After Bowers' starring 2-reeler series for FBO and Educational Pictures (a.k.a. "The Spice Of The Program") ended in 1928, he did make a successful transition into talkies and continued producing highly original (and way-out) stop-motion animation showcases.





The last stop-motion films by Charley Bowers and frequent collaborator Harold Muller were produced in the late 1930's and early 1940's.



One, Wild Oysters, appeared as part of the otherwise undistinguished Animated Antics series released by Paramount Pictures in 1940-1941. Am hard pressed to think of another cartoon that features crustaceans not only as main characters, but as bad guys!



For more on Charley Bowers, read the following pieces by two of the best of the best film historians and authors: filmmaker John Canemaker's superb tribute (posted on his blog) and Imogen Smith's outstanding article in Bright Lights Film Journal.


It's likely that the usual suspects at Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog are finished - at least for the moment - overworking all the superlatives available in the English language when discussing such filmmaking innovators as Willis O'Brien, Ray Harryhausen, George Pal, Joop Geesink, Wladislaw & Irina Vladislavovna Starewicz and Charley Bowers.



Now we'll watch that Charley Bowers Blu-Ray. . .


Saturday, January 20, 2024

Tomorrow: Brooklyn Cartoon Carnival and Squirrel Appreciation Day!


On Sunday at 5:00 p.m. in beautiful Bushwick, weather willing, there will be a new installment in the Cartoon Carnival series, presented by Tommy José Stathes (the guy behind the projector here).


Sunday's extravaganza, 16mm Cartoon Carnival #110: Public Domain will be an extra long show, featuring more than two hours of film material.



The Cartoon Carnival is returning to Bugs Bunny's stomping grounds, Brooklyn.



Tommy's press release elaborates: For this special return installment, the theme centers around something prevalent in the news, lately: the public domain, copyrights inevitably lapsing, and the liberation of Walt's early 'Steamboat Willie' version of Mickey!



In addition to showcasing that beloved and notorious mouse film, we'll have fun with a whole slew of other classic early & Golden Age cartoons, featuring noteworthy characters, that have enjoyed public domain status for the past few years (or even decades).


Come and enjoy the likes of Koko the Clown, the original Tom & Jerry (the humans, not the cat & mouse!), Porky Pig, Bugs Bunny, Popeye, Betty Boop, Felix the Cat, Molly Moo Cow, Little Lulu, and others.




The cartoon fun commences at 5:00 p.m. Space is very limited.



For more info & advance tickets, go to cartoonsonfilm.info. There will be a followup stop-motion animation Cartoon Carnival matinee at the Roxy Cinema on 2 Avenue of the Americas on Sunday January 28 at 3:00 pm.



Am I guilty of getting my mind off unending terrible current events news over the past eight years by watching videos of squirrels eating nuts? Yes - guilty as charged.



It turns out there actually is a Squirrel Appreciation Day, which precedes Groundhog Day and in 2024 falls this Sunday (January 21). Am now pondering asking Madame Blogmeister to award me a nut gift bag along the lines of what these squirrels are perusing in the following video.



Is the following fake or real? I don't care - it's entertaining and the model airplane is very cool.




After writing a blog post about sleuths in cartoons on January 12, gave a thought to 1960's cartoon star and sendup of the 007/Secret Agent (Patrick MacGoohan version)/Man From U.N.C.L.E. spy craze Secret Squirrel (in the series produced by Hanna-Barbera, not the 1993 version by Genndy Tartakovsky of Dexter's Laboratory fame).



My favorite aspect of the series is the terrific voice acting by Mel Blanc and Paul Frees as Secret Squirrel and Morocco Mole.





Secret Squirrel was among a slew of mid-1960's Saturday morning shows - Magilla Gorilla, Peter Potamus, Adam Ant - that were quite literally pitched at my generation. All these decades later, these series leave me cold, especially in comparison to Jonny Quest and the more satiric competition from Jay Ward Productions and Pantomine Pictures (Roger Ramjet). On the other hand, I find Hanna-Barbera's Yogi Bear, The Flintstones and The Jetsons very enjoyable.

Couldn't finish a post Squirrel Appreciation Day post without a reference to Tex Avery's nose-thumbing anti-hero anti-cartoon Screwy Squirrel. Wally Maher plays the ultra zany protagonist who always has a head cold.



Screwy is a deliberately obnoxious cartoon character, sticking his tongue out at the camera while breaking the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh walls a la Bertolt Brecht - and strictly a vehicle for unrelenting gags.


First saw Screwy Squirrel on TV in the silliest cartoons ever made at a tender age, as a kindergartener, and loved the sniffling wiseguy - don't ask me why.



Would have written to Tex if I knew how in 1961!



Find the least funny of the Screwy Squirrel cartoons, Big Heel Watha, actually pretty hilarious. Has this writer been known to ROFL at dubbed versions of Screwy Squirrel cartoons? Yes.



Tex Avery provides several voices, including that of the dumb dog.



It's not the first time a cartoon studio took this formula and cast it with an aggressively obnoxious protagonist - there's the irritating mouse star of the Lou Lilly Columbia Fable Kitty Gets The Bird, as well as the pre-A Wild Hare loudmouthed version of Bugs Bunny (in Ben Hardaway & Cal Dalton's Porky's Hare Hunt and Hare-Um Scare-Um).



Now, if it is not possible to travel to these classic movie events (either the Cartoon Carnival at Rubulad in Bushwick, NY or the epic Noir City festival at the Grand Lake Theatre in Oakland, CA) - perhaps, as we are, you're snowed in - take heart, yesterday was Dolly Parton's birthday, her 78th - so break out some tunes and listen to her numerous excellent records, alternating with cool stop-motion animation made by Joop Geesink's Dollywood.