Sunday, December 30, 2018

Ending 2018 with 20th Century Coolness



Watching Double Indemnity on Turner Classic Movies' Noir Alley and then listening to the following excellent tunes by the chubby yet dapper Stubby Kaye, this blogmeister shall dedicate the last blog post of 2018 to a look back at, like the aforementioned Billy Wilder flick, serious coolness from the last century.



Here at Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog, we love Stubby's penultimate song in Guys & Dolls.



How cool was Stubby Kaye? Here he is, singing alongside the coolest of them all, Nat "King" Cole, in Cat Ballou.



Speaking of Nat and unforgettable music, here's a place Mr. Cole very likely played with his trio: the 52nd Street jazz club The Three Deuces. The brilliant photographer William P. Gottlieb snapped these shots of one of THE places to be for transcendent music right after World War II.



The Three Deuces, where music history was made!



These incredible shots were just two of many by Gottlieb. The following shows Thelonious Monk, Howard McGhee, Roy Eldridge and Teddy Hill at another venue where music history was made, Minton's Playhouse in Harlem.



Found on the Heritage Auctions website, this poster promotes an all-star show at Greensboro Coliseum that rocked the Carolinas on November 12, 1967. There's Moms Mabley, if not the first female standup comedian certainly one of the first, as well as Johnnie Taylor, known for his Stax Record hits Who's Makin' Love and Jody's Got Your Gal and Gone and soul/gospel king Solomon Burke, an ace for Atlantic Records. Indeed, the North Carolinians seeking entertainment in November 1967 got serious bang for their buck with this concert.



And, dear readers wondering who Peg Leg Moffett was, here's one of his records.



Yes, this record was indeed produced and written by the legendary William Bell, Stax Records soul singer and recording producer who also worked with Johnnie Taylor at that label. Nothing if not prolific, Mr. Bell founded Peachtree Records in Atlanta, and produced recordings with several who performed at this Greenboro concert: Mitty Collier, Johnny Jones & The King Casuals, and, yes, Peg Leg Moffett.



So the residents of Greenboro think they can party? Imagine attending the following show in Trenton, a.k.a. When Dracula Did Jersey. If fans had cell phones in 1950, there would have been LOTS of selfies with Bela.



There were many rockin' Alan Freed shows in the 1950's. The headliner on the following concert: the great guitar slinger Bo Diddley.



No doubt Bo Diddley raised the roof at the Brooklyn Fox theatre.



Completing this look at the past century, I'm reading William T. Garver's It Came From The Bottom Shelf website that reviews classic movies in quantity. Now checking out Garv's Picks of the year - 2018, covering many of the rather amazing array of epic Blu-ray and DVD sets released over the past 12 months. Almost all are 20th century movies, many looking absolutely stunning on Blu-ray.



Among Mr. Garver's top picks for 2018, there's, in addition to classics produced in the 1930's, 1940's and 1950's, The Misadventures of Biffle & Shooster, a very entertaining and very funny 21st century homage to 20th century coolness, the classic comedy teams of yesteryear, starring Nick Santa Maria and Will Ryan, and directed by Michael Schlesinger.



Laughs are king, in 2018 or 1938.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Merry Christmas 2018 from Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog



We are happy to wish all of you a Merry Christmas - and nothing says "Merry Christmas" quite like William Shatner a.k.a. Shatner Claus!





Or, for that matter, the McKenzie brothers!


What would Christmas be without Eddie "The Old Philosopher" Lawrence?"



Enjoy watching showbiz king Bing Crosby and the always innovative David Bowie sing "The Little Drummer Boy/Peace On Earth" together every year. Pay no attention to what the scriptwriters for this program penned; Mr. Bowie was an advanced student of music and very likely knew tons more about the songs, instrumentalists, classical music artists and vocalists who preceded him that Der Bingle did. Love David's vocal here and always love Bing, whose 1942 White Christmas album was a staple of our family Christmas playlist and those of millions of other households around the world.



We also find that a bit of funk at Christmastime always makes the holidays go even better! MACEO!



While there are lots of great Christmas flicks, many running in rotation right now on Turner Classic Movies, our favorite here at Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog (other than Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol) is the 1926 short subject There Ain't No Santa Claus, produced by the Hal Roach Studio (a.k.a. The Lot of Fun) and starring Charley Chase and Noah Young.



Could there be more jokes about ill-fitting Santa suits and ridiculously long beards? No.



Nothing makes a Cool Yule like Joan Crawford selling Royal Crown Cola! In Joan's case, said cola would be mixed with rum - and plenty of it, possibly along with two shots of Jack Daniels for good measure! Santa, watch your back - Mama's horny now!



To all my family and friends, as well as readers of this blog, lots of Yuletide good cheer! Feel very, very lucky today.

Monday, December 24, 2018

An "Across The Pond Christmas Eve" at Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog



Had it with that "family Christmas" business? Like TV commercials hawking $45,000 stocking stuffers for the holidays about as much as stomach cramps? Avoiding shoppers and malls as if they carried live Ebola virus? Can't bear the thought of seeing one more graphic advertising anything for Christmas?



Then, watch this Christmas Eve compendium of clips and cartoons! Here at Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog, we find that, unlike shopping, British humor (by jove) is our cup of tea. Let's start with a cartoon featuring absolutely no holiday content whatsoever, Loch Ness Legend (1948), from George Moreno, Jr. and his crew at British Animated Productions, creators of Bubble and Squeek. Mickey, Pluto, Donald, Mulan and the Disney Princesses, feh. . . Willie the Worm and Colonel Rat, YEAH!



We searched for a complete Red Dwarf Christmas show and did not find one online, but did find this compliation of clips from Red Dwarf episodes with a holiday theme.



The Goons suggest something I absolutely enjoy doing under the tree, provided there are no glass ornaments and plugged-in chainsaws on the floor - walking backwards.



Nothing says "Merry Christmas" quite like . . . The Beatles!





And Peter Cook and Dudley Moore. . . with special guest John Lennon!





And The Goons, Beyond the Fringe and the Beatles begat. . . the Pythons.



If only John Cleese was doing our holiday season commercials!



This British comedy fan awards the mantle of spiritual descendent of Monty Python and Fawlty Towers to Rowan Atkinson's series Blackadder.



A subsequent series starring two key cast members from Blackadder, Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie, also did a pretty darn funny Christmas show.





A frequent guest star on Blackadder was the late, great Rik Mayall, who played the always randy, revved up and rarin' to go Lord Flashheart. Here's Rik, playing a character about as far from the swashbuckling Lord Flashheart as imaginable, although equally energetic. The following series, Bottom, astonishingly, did a Christmas show.



John Cleese, who wrote the two Fawlty Towers series with Connie Booth, no doubt was familiar with the acerbic 1950's situation comedies, on both radio and TV, of the ever-cranky and sardonic Tony Hancock.





We close with an episode of the television version of Hancock's Half Hour and raise our eggnog-filled glasses in a Christmas Eve toast!

Friday, December 21, 2018

Cigarettes For Christmas!



Nothing says "Merry Christmas" quite like Arthur Godfrey firing up a Chesterfield while simultaneously firing Julius DeRosa on-air!



Or, for that matter, receiving a case of Old Golds during this festive time of year!



Or surprising your sweetie under the tree with that well-known and potent aphrodisiac, Pall Mall Cigarettes!



And don't forget, wifie digs Viceroy Filter Tips! This semi-swinging, rhyming 1964 commercial is about as close as suburban white people ever get to doing something remotely resembling hip-hop: "not too strong, not too light, Viceroy's got. . . the taste that's right!"


Saturday, December 15, 2018

Next Wednesday Night at the Castro Theatre: The Night Of The Hunter for Christmas!



With the Film Noir Foundation's murder and mayhem filled holiday show on Wednesday night at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco, movie fun kicks Santa and the elves to the curb yet again, leaving them to get smashed on Christmas ale.



Just in time for this festive time of year, Noir City Christmas presents the ultra-gothic struggle between good, evil and very evil, directed by Charles Laughton, The Night Of The Hunter.



The Night Of The Hunter was the only directorial effort by actor Charles Laughton - and he created a startling and original melding of southern Gothic, thriller, Americana and folk tale. Laughton opted to train himself for the director's chair by multiple viewings of D.W. Griffith features. The Griffith touch, plus a touch of German Expressionism, plus the Laughton touch (his ability to work with actors) creates the nightmarish netherworld of The Night Of The Hunter.



Just in case the homage to Griffith and the larger-than-life dreamscape of silent movies is not as obvious as the nose on Jimmy Durante's face, there, in the cast, ruling the silver screen yet again, is Lillian Gish.



The studio and the backers weren't ready for this and maybe America was not, either. This was 1955, and even given that Laughton's masterpiece was created in an era when key music milestones from Sun Records, Chess Records and Blue Note Records hit the zeitgeist like a hurricane, The Night Of The Hunter presented a vivid, affecting, profoundly disturbing movie. . . not light entertainment.



If one thinks the murderous preacher played by Mitchum is scary on Blu-Ray or DVD. . . check him out in terrifying big screen glory.



At Wednesday night's program, author, historian and "Czar Of Noir" Eddie Muller, who describes The Night Of The Hunter as a fairytale noir, will host and also reveal the program for the upcoming Noir City 17 festival, which will transpire on January 25-February 3, 2019.



Noir City 17 Passports (all-access passes) will officially be on sale. For more info, check out the Noir City Film Festival - Film Noir Foundation website.

Monday, December 03, 2018

This Saturday At Foothill College: Start Holiday Festivities with the KFJC Psychotronix Film Festival!



Poster by Scott Moon. Lobby cards by Sci Fi Bob Ekman.




For over 25 years, the KFJC Psychotronix Film Festival has presented a film archivist jam session - and we'll be back at Foothill College's Room 5015 with another freewheeling improvised program of questionable entertainment this Saturday!



Our mission: wreak a winter non-wonderland of pop culture mayhem, riding hallucinatory shotgun through the irritated bowels of 20th century popular culture.



Tonight from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. you can hear us who have been perpetrating this festival since 1992 jabber about all about it (A.K.A. attempt to explain something that utterly defies rational explanation), on KFJC 89.7 FM, on Robert Emmett's Thoughtline.



In the "And Now For Something Completely Different" approach to film programming, archivist-producers Bob Ekman, Scott Moon and yours truly create the cinematic extravaganza on the fly, responding to audience reaction and choosing films accordingly.



The Master of Ceremonies for the evening's Festivities: expert on all things involving film and TV soundtrack music and "host with the most" Mr. Robert Emmett of KFJC-FM's "Norman Bates Memorial Soundtrack Show," who shall preside over the "rilly big shoe" with style, bon mots and door prizes aplenty.



The visual music (cacophony?) draws from a diverse range of oddly tuned instruments: trailers from the worst movies, well-intentioned but now unintentionally hilarious 1950's commercials and "educational" films, phantasmagorical clips from the early days of silent movies, not to mention Incredibly Strange Cartoons!





Also among the usual suspects: bizarro comedy shorts, snack bar ads, trailers from the worst movies and the uber-campiest of uber-campy musical shorts (especially Scopitones and Soundies).





Also love clips from double-entendre packed Pre-Code goodies, thunder lizards", kidvid, serial chapters, puppet animation, 1950's car commercials and whatever not-exactly-cinematic drek we can dredge up for the occasion. And we don't know what riff we'll play until the show is underway!



What? The KFJC Psychotronix Film Festival
Where? Room 5015, Foothill College campus, Los Altos Hills, CA (El Monte exit off of Highway 280)
When? Saturday December 8, 2018 from 7:00 to 11:15 PM
Why? Because it's big screen fun, we give away cheesy door prizes at intermission, and $5 admission benefits our favorite radio station, KFJC 89.7.



While showtime is at seven o'clock (pretty darn sharp), get there early - these shows sell out.


Friday, November 30, 2018

Coming Soon - Silent Movies and the KFJC Psychotronix Film Fest!



Vintage silent movies and the KFJC Psychotronix Film Festival return to the San Francisco Bay Area and start December with a bang: silents on December 1, a week later at Foothill College, the KFJC Psychotronix Film Festival.



Tomorrow, December 1, the San Francisco Silent Film Festival returns with A Day Of Silents.



The program at the spectacular Castro Theatre begins early in the morning with a Laurel & Hardy program and continues throughout the day. Among a bunch of incredible classic movies, the program's piece-de-resistance is the hit late silent from Fox, 7th Heaven, the very definition of a "no dry eye in the house" tearjerker.



Jam-packed with Frank Borzage's roving camera, unabashed romanticism and blazing cinematic brilliance, 7th Heaven is just one of several pairings of Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell (who TV-watching baby boomers know quite well from his role 25 years later on the Gale Storm sitcom My Little Margie). For more info, check out the San Francisco Silent Film Festival website and peruse the complete schedule.



FINALLY, at long last, the KFJC Psychotronix Film Festival is back! The news provokes a big time hallelujah from this writer, who has much missed doing big screen extravaganzas with his friends and colleagues, archivist/projectionists Sci Fi Bob Ekman, Scott Moon and host Robert Emmett from KFJC.



We shall bring to Foothill College's unsuspecting room 5015 that certain KFJC Psychotronix Film Festival trademark tsunami of Scopitones, Soundies, trailers, cartoons and vintage snack bar ads. Can't wait - and thank you again, Judy Zillen, for the fabulous graphics in today's post!

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Truly Unfortunate Print Ads: Grotesque Holiday Foods Edition



Like hosers Bob & Doug McKenzie, we're stuck for a topic today. Here's an idea: there's always that old reliable, 20th century print advertisements, especially disgusting food ads that invariably provoke "WTF?" and "what were they thinking?" reactions. Please pardon me whilst I periodically check my blood glucose level. . .



Frankly, the words "white," "mystery" and "fruitcake" constitute a trifecta one never wants to see in the same sentence and especially in the same recipe. Was Betty Crocker drunk off her prim derriere from way too many generous swigs of cooking sherry while devising this "surprising new way to make fruitcake" recipe? You be the judge!



Back in the 1930's, 1940's and 1950's, there was a most pronounced tendency in advertisements to use shame as a motivator, make American women feel horrible about themselves and, thus, sell products. Still happens in 2018, but more subtly and not as often.



Shaming housewives in particular was big time currency. In the following ad for Knox Gelatin, after a pal corrects wifie's embarrassing awfulness in the kitchen by instructing her how to make a "he-man salad', hubby says "Good girl, Mary" most patronizingly. In 1948 or 2018, this guy's an ungrateful chump richly deserving a LaWanda "Aunt Esther" Page as his spouse "Shut up! You're eatin' my salad and likin' it - SUCKA!"



There was, for some reason, an advertising push to combine savory salads and Jell-o. Do we at Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog have difficulty believing that there was a time for Jell-o salads? Yes.



God only knows if there was ever a time for Jell-o salads, even given the utterly inexplicable post-WW2 tastes in food products.



The only thing that could make these gelatin salads more devastatingly unappetizing would be a generous spritzing of Cheez Whiz.



In the "are you ABSOLUTELY SURE you want to eat this?" department, there's always SPAM. At the very least, one must be wary upon hearing the phrase "miracle meat."



While Sweden has produced its fair share of depressing motion pictures, we find it rather uplifting that the Scandinavian wonderland also offers the Disgusting Food Museum. The fellows who founded it, Samuel West and Andrea Ahrens, clearly have a superb sense of humor.



Not sure if the late, great Anthony Bourdain ever got to the Disgusting Food Museum in Malmö, Sweden. In the museum's logo, perhaps it's just as well that they opted not to have something green and hideous spewing out of the mouth of the head on the left.