Saturday, May 19, 2018

Son Of "Still More Unfortunate Print Ads"



When that topic for the day's post is truly elusive, more elusive than the Elusive Butterly Of Love sought by Bob Lind, about all that can be done is to say "I've got it - let's find cheesy print ads and post 'em!





Here's a post-flapper era Lucky Strike ad, featuring a couple that gets fully dressed post-whoopee faster than Joan Crawford and Clark Gable in Possessed. "Everybody's doing it!"



Here's a doozy promoting Crunchie candy bars: a "bright sunny day + beach + exciting biting of Crunchie = subsequent hours and hours of sex" advertisement which very likely sold lots and lots of chocolate bars to hopeful Brits. At long last this writer understands that joke in the Monty Python's Flying Circus episode The Cycling Tour in which Michael Palin, as the gloriously clueless "Mr. Pither," says "severely damaged my Crunchie."



In the "it sounded like a good idea at the time" department, here's a 1957 print ad for Kool-Aid, found in the DesignCrowd blog's 100 Year Evolution Of Print Advertising. While this golden color works for a lager beer from Munich or Canada, the implications for a tall frosty glass of Kool-Aid prove less than appetizing. Don't know what lasted longer, the Edsel or "Golden Nectar" Kool-Aid.



Then again, Rheingold Beer, with the aid of the accordion-wielding Miss Rheingold of 1956, maybe could have gotten away with calling the New York brew "golden nectar," as long as it was also dry. . . extra dry!



Admittedly, the following Lucky Strikes ad isn't cheesy by any stretch of the imagination, due to the presence of Marlene Dietrich.



There's some truth in advertising here as well. It is not a stretch to imagine Marlene chain-smoking backstage after delivering 27 consecutive songs for an adoring audience - and pondering the set list for the next performance. Maybe the boys in the back room will have cases of Rheingold Beer and Lucky Strikes.



What we at Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog would have really liked in a print ad would have been an even longer, ridiculously long cigarette holder, Tex Avery MGM cartoon long, followed by a sign saying "Long Darn Cigarette Holder, Isn't It?" The one Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly in Breakfast At Tiffany's uses, which barely fits in the film frame, would be a start.



There must have been a favorite cigarette holder of Tallulah Bankhead exactly along those lines, but, alas, Tallu didn't do cigarette commercials. She did, however, do radio shows with Groucho Marx!



Even before he hosted You Bet Your Life, Groucho did his share of print ads. He was quite an avid reader, so this one for G.E. lightbulbs seems appropriate. One wonders if when Groucho did these ads, "Chico needed the money."



Acknowledgements:
23 Vintage Ads That Would Be Banned Today from Bored Panda.com

Collectors Weekly

The New York Historical Society, for their post, The Fashion Of Beer: Miss Rheingold Of 1956

And, last but not least, Gilbert Gottfried and Gilbert Gottfried's Amazing Colossal Podcast for the "Chico needed the money" line!

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Locomotion Cinema


Watching Richard Fleischer's amazing thriller The Narrow Margin on TCM's Noir Alley recently, realized that Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog has never devoted an entire post to movies with trains in them or set on trains. Fritzi Kramer of Movies Silently wrote an entertaining post on the origins of the Silent Movie Myth: Tied to the Railroad Tracks - that damsel in distress image from stage, deftly spoofed both by the likes of Mack Sennett's studio and, 45 years later, Jay Ward's Dudley Do-right of the Mounties cartoons - so by golly, we'll give this the old college try, starting with a musical interlude!



Since one of the first American-made movies to be a boffo hit was Edwin S. Porter's The Great Train Robbery, this sounds like a plan. So let's do the locomotion, first with Bulgarian-French Scopitone queen Sylvie Vartan.



Since today's compendium of clips and cartoons will have one unifying factor, locomotives, we'll kick this off with possibly the greatest train cartoon ever made, the 1936 Max Fleischer Color Classic Play Safe. There is a psychedelic quality to both the painted layouts and the 3-D tabletop sets a.k.a. the Fleischer setback camera technique throughout. The patented Fleischer 3-D effects in Play Safe are only surpassed by the studio's 1936 piece-de-resistance, Popeye The Sailor Meets Sindbad The Sailor.



Animation buffs have been arguing over The Fleischer Studio’s ‘Setback’ Camera vs. Disney realism for eight decades and maybe shall do this for at least eight more decades. Whether you prefer the Disney or Fleischer approaches, the multiplane camera or the revolving tabletop mini-sets, enjoy Play Safe, one of the greatest and most imaginative cartoons to emerge from the Fleischer Studio.



Now, the Fleischer studio made lots of cartoons on trains over nearly 30 years in production. A few years before Play Safe, the one, the only Betty Boop hosted her own train in The Betty Boop Limited. We assume Miriam Hopkins didn't want the job - and we are certain Marlene Dietrich and Josef von Sternberg were NOT interested, either!



La Boop, under contract to Paramount Pictures, no doubt had to do this cartoon, since the Fleischer Studio's #1 rival Walt Disney and ace animator Un Iwerks had already made Mickey's Choo-Choo in 1929.



That said, The Betty Boop Limited was at least the second train cartoon - well, that we know of - featuring Betty Boop.



The Fleischers had plenty of experience with train cartoons even before talkies. They were not alone; Disney made at least one train cartoon, Hungry Hoboes, starring Oswald The Lucky Rabbit. One of the numerous cartoons from the Fleischer studio's Inkwell Imps series features Koko The Clown as an engineer in Koko's Toot Toot.



As far as feature films set on trains go, this blogger's favorite, hands-down, remains Richard Fleischer's classic Narrow Margin, co-starring macho tough guy Charles McGraw with macho tough gal Marie Windsor. Yes, that's right - Richard Fleischer, son of Max Fleischer and nephew of Dave, the producers of the last three cartoons.



The very first train film this blogger was ever aware of was a silent movie starring comedian Monty Banks, Chasing Choo Choos. If Mr. Blogmeister remembers correctly, first saw this in one of the Robert Youngson comedy compilation features.



The Robert Youngson comedy compilation features, Laurel & Hardy’s Laughing 20's and Four Clowns in particular, constituted this writer's introduction to the films of The Hal Roach Studio.



There are so many Roach comedies involving trains - Get Out & Get Under, Now Or Never (Harold Lloyd), Berth Marks (Laurel & Hardy), Sundown Limited, Railroadin’ and Choo-Choo (Our Gang) and Show Business (Thelma Todd & Zasu Pitts), just to name a few - it would take further posts to come close to getting into all of them.



The mention of daredevil Harold Lloyd recalls another intrepid, triple-jointed acrobatic comedian from silents, Al St. John, who, very likely in response to John Ford's big budget epic of epics The Iron Horse, starred in the stellar silent comedy The Iron Mule. Roscoe Arbuckle, Al's uncle and frequent co-star (at Sennett and Comique) directed. And whenever there's a post-1922 Arbuckle and/or St. John picture, it's worth looking carefully for Buster Keaton, known to make cameo appearances in his friends' films.



And speaking of Buster Keaton, had the pleasure of seeing Buster's epic of epics to out-epic The Iron Horse, The General in one of the San Francisco Silent Film Festival programs and was completely, entirely blown away. If one is lucky enough to have an opportunity to see it on the big screen with an audience, don't miss it. The General is truly spectacular and loses a fair amount of its magic when viewed on the small screen.





One guy who very likely saw The Iron Horse, The Iron Mule and The General was cartoonist, animator and movie director Frank "Tish Tash" Tashlin. Among a slew of excellent Looney Tunes cartoons Tashlin directed, Porky's Railroad tackles the "modern vs. old reliable" storyline, bringing creative uses of pacing, editing, camera angles and great gags to the process.



Back to features, a big screen epic that very likely loses a great deal of its impact seen on TV, iPad or (God help us) smart phone is Cecil B. DeMille's 1939 Paramount opus Union Pacific, starring Barbara Stanwyck and Joel McCrea. Haven't seen it and thus cannot comment further with any authority or knowledge, but . . . WOW - the iconic Babs and McCrea are on hand and if the film is 1/10 as cool as the titles, it's movie fun exemplified. And besides, the Fleischers spoofed it with the Popeye cartoon Onion Pacific!



Out the same year as Union Pacific: one of the last British feature films of Alfred Hitchcock, The Lady Vanishes. Did Hitchcock have a thing about trains? Yes - both the prim Sir Alfred Hitchcock who made Number Seventeen and The Lady Vanishes and the not-so-prim Sir Alfred of Shadow Of A Doubt and Strangers On A Train. There are Hitch cameos three of the films!



Given that Hitchcock's 1936 feature Sabotage is not at all prim and in fact shockingly diabolical in its denouement, the character of Bruno Anthony in Strangers On A Train, played brilliantly by Robert Walker, remains the personification of the all-American movie psychopath and just one among several in the Hitchcock catalog: bloodthirsty scum of the earth, yet unnervingly clever.



It was no accident that when Patricia Hitchcock made an in-person appearance at an SRO screening of Strangers On A Train at the Stanford Theatre in Palo Alto, CA many years ago (but decades after the film's original theatrical release), the line ran around the block!



Now just what the link between The Master Of Suspense and mid-1960's pop music is, we don't know, have no idea, but while this blogmeister can't remember a specific episode of The Monkees TV show that takes place on a train offhand, what the hey, who cares, Last Train To Clarksville is a great tune - one of their best!




Fittingly, since we can't find a clip from Scrappy in Railroad Wretch, we'll stick to 1960's pop music and let recording artist Little Eva get the last word on today's post.


Saturday, May 05, 2018

Trashy Trailers For A Saturday




It's a don't worry, we'll think of a title kind of day and, as we're enjoying listening to The Norman Bates Memorial Soundtrack Show on KFJC, the topic of today's post shall be trailers a.k.a. coming detractions.



While we're not big fans of sunshine, lollipops and rainbows at Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog, we do like trailers from bad movies. No, let's make that trailers from very bad movies.



Have seen many of these movies in their entirety on Mystery Science Theater 3000, Cinema Insomnia or the live Cinematic Titanic and Rifftrax shows.



The following trailers are some lulus, and they come in extra cheesy flavors, just the way we like them at Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog. We're amazed these fly-by-night production houses could even afford to make a trailer!



Then again, in the words of Mr. Lobo of Cinema Insomnia, they're not bad movies, just "misunderstood".



There's always the trailer to alert one to NOT watch the feature.



Some trailers actually show the ending of the film!



Others tip off the entire idea of the movie, in this case, "say, since that Batman TV show is the biggest boffo thing in showbiz, let's get a girl with ample cleavage and have her wear a Batwoman mask, then find a bunch of kids to dance the frug. Who needs a storyline?"



Continuing this cornucopia of cheap cinematic crap, the "coming detractions" trailer from The Mighty Gorga. Can a hard-working independent filmmaker produce a "rampaging dinosaur" epic on a budget of $1.50 and a three hour shooting schedule? No - definitely and emphatically!



If there could be a list of WTF??? and "why why why did this get produced???" movies, The Wild Women Of Wongo might be #1. Too bad Arthur Q. Bryan was not available to narrate the trailer in the voice of Elmer Fudd.



The YouTube channel of Something Weird Video, a company that specializes in the netherworld of "misunderstood" low, lower and no budget grindhouse movies, is the motherlode of schlock, trash and exploitation trailers.



Something Weird Video has assembled a vast lot of cinematic car wrecks one can't stop rubbernecking at - and we mean that as a compliment.



Here's a trailer for an indescribably terrible movie about a guy who, after a car accident, ends up as a preacher and ends up with a floozy - the cheap floozy to end all cheap floozies, strictly non-Screen Actors Guild variety. One imagines Doris Wishman, director/writer of Bad Girls Go To Hell and many more proudly sleazy (produced on-time and on-budget) exploitation flicks watched this one and took notes on how to make the tawdry storyline even more tawdry, with even less of a budget, less actors, less dialogue and less clothing.



The 7th Commandment was directed by Irvin Berwick, most certainly not a fan of sunshine, lollipops and rainbows, who also helmed the nearly as atrocious Monster Of Piedras Blancas. Funny, for some reason, it's always a pretty girl seen undressing before the gruesome murderous monster appears, as opposed to, say, Billy Sands, Maurice Gosfeld or Allan Melvin.



How does one close a post dedicated to flicks that will never, ever, be seen as part of the TCM Classic Film Festival? It is clear that, back in the 1980's, some fellows in the Twin Cities were watching these cinematic rejects and seeking the actual coming attractions trailers for said B-movies, as the boys of the KFJC Psychotronix Film Festival were doing in California.



Among the films this blogger has seen on Mystery Science Theatre 3000, Cinema Insomnia and Creature Features (and could not find a trailer for on YouTube), most infamous would be the one made by an El Paso fertilizer salesman, Manos: The Hands Of Fate.



Now THAT'S a great way to get the weekend started on the wrong track!