Monday, June 28, 2021
Having focused on the career of the great Gene Wilder in our June 11 post, the comedy-crazed rapscallions at Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog have been thinking often of Mel Brooks lately.
Today, lots and lots and lots of websites are paying tribute to Mel Brooks, the toast of Broadway, Hollywood, Cannes and the Borscht Belt, on his 95th birthday, so we will, too.
We are required by law to post this clip of Mel and his pal Carl Reiner doing just one of many 2000 Year Old Man bits!
Gotta love Mel. Gotta love the late, great (and fearless) Anne Bancroft
We're big fans of Mr. Brooks and the ace comedy writers who worked with him on Your Show Of Shows.
The Producers would be the favorite Mel film of the gang at Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog.
Young Frankenstein would be a very clase second.
Arguably, Brooks' best known film is the hilarious and brilliantly written deconstruction of movie westerns Blazing Saddles.
The Twelve Chairs is a lesser known film of his we are particularly fond of.
We love the cinematic world of silent film comedians and comediennes, so of course, we love the 1975 film Silent Movie.
Also love Mel’s Hitchcock spoof, High Anxiety, notable - among other things - for yet another bravura performance by comedienne Madeline Kahn.
Mel and his colleagues from Your Show Of Shows, Caesar's Hour, The 2000 Year Old Man records and the TV show Get Smart! - preminent among them Carl, Sid, Imogene, Howie and Nanette - are not just among our favorite Americans but our favorite human beings.
The first time I recall seeing Mel Brooks is in this memorable sketch from Your Show Of Shows.
The second time would be via my favorite 1960's television program other than the shows of Ernie Kovacs - Get Smart! The spy spoof was brought back for numerous remakes and re-takes over the decades, but nothing tops those first episodes of the series. Mel and Buck Henry penned the pilot, which was directed by Your Show Of Shows and Caesar's Hour co-star Howard Morris.
Conan O' Brien, who just completed his decade long run with TBS, interviewed Mr. Brooks at length as part as his Serious Jibber-Jabber series.
Love the Mel appearance on WTF With Marc Maron as well.
We respectfully tip a top hat worn by Harpo Marx in Animal Crackers and wish a happy birthday to Mel Brooks.
Shall take a time out to revisit your movies (Spaceballs, viewed after a Star Wars flick, along with Ernie Fosselius' Hardware Wars, always), the Sid Caesar DVD loaded with your sketches, your appearances on The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson and the following American Masters documentary shortly.
In closing, here's Mel's first movie - and one of the funniest voice-overs ever.
Sunday, June 20, 2021
We at Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog are happy to hear that the Psychotronix Film Festival shall return this Saturday evening to the Orinda Theatre.
Happy to see my old friends and collaborators emerging from this extended coronavirus and lockdown-related hiatus to carry on their excellent work providing great entertainment, but NOT happy that I will not be there in person.
Feels like I have not been involved in a Psychotronix Film Festival for a decade, although I never miss hearing Psychotronix co-founder Robert Emmett work his movie and TV soundtrack mojo every Saturday morning on KFJC.
There will be a selection of hand-picked psychotronic goodness, on glorious 16mm film, from the Sci Fi Bob and Scott Moon/Cinema Insomnia Archives!
Yes, straight from Derek Zemrak's retro movie mecca in Orinda, California, there will be trailers from Z movies (starring non-union actors in cheap robot, gorilla and "thunder lizard" suits), theatre snack bar ads, weird cartoons, well-meaning but inept 1950's educational films, Soundies, Scopitones and more. . .
Love seeing how audiences respond to such vintage TV ads as the following. . .
Bums me out that I won't be in Orinda to bring vintage 1950's car commercials to the show! Surely, somebody out there finds TV commercials for the Rambler, Hudson Hornet and Mercury Comet as entertaining as I do.
Psychotronix Film Festival
Saturday June 26, 2021 at 7:00 p.m. PST
2 Orinda Theatre Square
Orinda, CA 94563
Movieline: (925) 254-9060
As one of the trifecta of founders of the festival (along with Sci Fi Bob Ekman and Robert Emmett), I hope this show is a big hit with an SRO crowd - like so many of those Foothill College extravaganzas.
In Brooklyn, across the country from my Psychotronix Film Festival friends but also presenting classic movies in glorious 16mm film for an audience will be our friends at the Tommy Stathes Cartoon Carnival.
Here, Tommy elaborates on his love of animation.
On Sunday, June 27th, 2021, the 95th installment of the animation extravaganza, presented and curated by Cartoons On Film, returns to the City Reliquary on 370 Metropolitan Avenue.
This will be the Tommy Stathes Cartoon Carnival's first non-online screening since February 2020.
Showtime is 8:00 p.m. EST. Show tix are $15 and are can be purchased in advance here.
Cartoon Carnival #95: Come On Out!
Quoting the press release for Cartoon Carnival #95:
It's the moment we've all been waiting over a year for: the big return of 16mm (no digital!) animated cartoons from the 1920s to the 1940s, straight from the Stathes Archives—screened *in person* at a beloved venue—The City Reliquary's lovely backyard, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn!
For program #95, our nearly two hours of animated fun shine the spotlight on that which many of us have sorely missed over the past year: going places, and being out on the town with friends and crowds.
The selection of shorts features a wide array of Cartoon Carnival favorites... from silent era superstars Bobby Bumps, Farmer Alfalfa, Koko the Clown, and Felix; to the Van Beuren Studios' Tom & Jerry (not the cat and mouse!) and Molly Moo Cow; then onward with Krazy Kat, Buddy, Egghead, and even Gumby—plus a few other oddities and surprises mixed in, as always.
In acknowledgement of Pride Month, we're also selecting a couple of 1930s shorts with brief cameos from queer-coded characters, whom we lovingly reclaim as part of our LGBTQIA+ inclusive Cartoon Carnival family.
Be sure to bring all your family and friends out for this much-anticipated opportunity to see these classic and now-rare cartoons the way they were meant to be seen—projected on 'reel' film, and enjoyed with a physical audience!
There is a GoFundMe campaign to relaunch both the online version of the Cartoon Carnival, and a series of animation screenings, in the near future. Stay t00ned! For more info, see TommyJose.com and Cartoons On Film.
Happening on Friday through Sunday (June 25-27): the 2021 edition of Charlie Chaplin Days presented by the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum.
This year's event, an online version of the annual weekend of presentations on the iconic comedian's life and career, corresponds with the 100th anniversary of the Chaplin classic, The Kid.
Charlie Chaplin Days spotlights all five films that Charlie made for the Essanay Studio in 1915: A Night Out (shot in Niles, with outdoor locations in Oakland and San Jose), The Champion (filmed in downtown Niles), In The Park (filmed at North Lake in Golden Gate Park), A Jitney Elopement (interiors filmed at the glass stage at Niles, exteriors at the Great Highway and Murphy Windmill at the edge of Golden Gate Park) and The Tramp, in which Chaplin firmly established his "little tramp" character (filmed March 1915 in Niles on 2nd Street and in Niles Canyon), as well as Charlie's First National Studio films Sunnyside, A Day's Pleasure and The Idle Class.
There will be a Zoom discussion of the 1914 Mack Sennett feature Tillie's Punctured Romance (co-starring Charlie with Marie Dressler, Mabel Normand and the Keystone stock company) and presentations by actor and Chaplin doppelganger Jason Allin, movie locations expert John Bengtson, Sarah Biegelsen, Nigel Dreiner, Dan Kamin (author of The Comedy of Charlie Chaplin: Artistry in Motion), Hooman Mehran and Lisa Stein Haven, as well as a Whiz Bang Talent Show, Trivia Quiz, Lookalike Contest and Goodtime Hour.
Links to the films and presentations for Charlie Chaplin Days 2021 will become active at 12:01am on each day of the weekend.
Friday, June 11, 2021
While there are lots and lots of 20th century luminaries born on June 11 - jazz great Shelly Manne comes to mind - can't think of any we love more than the superb actor-writer-director Gene Wilder.
First became aware of Gene by seeing Mel Brooks' The Producers on TV - and via the following scene in particular.
And his role as The Waco Kid in Blazing Saddles.
He shined in and co-wrote Mel's subsequent film, Young Frankenstein. Along with Blazing Saddles and Monty Python & The Holy Grail, Young Frankenstein represented the new frontier in silver screen comedy.
Of the films written and directed by Gene Wilder, The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother, featuring fellow co-stars from Mel Brooks movies Marty Feldman and the brilliant musical comedienne Madeline Kahn, remains a standout. Wilder's films have a whimsical flavor different from the Brooks movies.
Gene's 1977 film The World's Greatest Lover features another outstanding comedienne, Carol Kane.
The scariest thing about Haunted Honeymoon, Wilder's 1986 spoof of The Old Dark House and the many variants on the haunted house genre, is Dom DeLuise in drag, but at least the outstanding comedienne Gene married, Gilda Radner from Second City Toronto and Saturday Night Live, also appears in this goofy Gothic piece.
Sadly, Gilda was stricken by cancer, so she and Gene did not get to do a series of movies exploring different genres together.
Gene and Richard Pryor co-starred in a series of movies, all quite funny. Silver Streak and Stir Crazy are comedy gold.
Here, Gene recalls Richard's talent for improv and acting skill drove their work together.
Looking back, wonder how much better the Pryor-Wilder starring vehicles would have been had Gene and Richard also collaborated, not just on improvising dialogue, but on writing the screenplays.
Gene granted several interviews in his later years.
At Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog, we could not agree more strongly with Gene's frequent collaborator Mel Brooks. . . WE MISS GENE! And Gilda. . . and Madeline. . . and Richard. . . and Marty. . . and Dom.
Saturday, June 05, 2021
Blogging, A.K.A. partying like it’s 1999 means plugging upcoming events and, lo and behold, the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum a.k.a. NESFM has an excellent one scheduled tomorrow at noon PST, 3:00 p.m. EST.
Direct from the parking lot of the NESFM, there will be an event highlighting the ongoing renovations to the museum and Edison Theater and the unveiling of an architectural model of the building as it will look when the current work is finished. All online donations made between now and June 6 will go to the building renovation fund.
As museum members, the gang at Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog are happy as could be to chip in to the fundraiser - although it's a bummer we can't be there physically and then grab a sandwich at Broncho Billy's Pizza later.
NESFM's David Kiehn, historian, author of Broncho Billy and the Essanay Film Company and prime mover behind the museum's activities and programs, has been directly involved in amazing discoveries. Here, David elaborates on his detective work which located historic 1906 pre and post San Francisco earthquake footage shot by pioneering filmmakers the Miles brothers.
The museum's Zack Sutherland has produced the following promotional video for tomorrow's fundraiser.
Quoting the official press release:
For the first time in well over a year we're hosting a live...yes, live social distanced fundraising social for our museum in the parking lot.
For those of you who don't know yet, our landlord, Victoria (Vicky) Lopez passed away in late 2019. She lived a good long life and was kind enough to donate the property to our non-profit organization for which we will be eternally grateful.
With ownership also comes the responsibility for maintaining a 108 year-old building and the need to do major upgrades to the foundation, plumbing, electrical, and other tasks. We are also refurbishing the auditorium and bringing it back to its authentic heyday when it was a silent film theater from 1913 to 1923.
Your generosity will surely make our museum one of the crown jewels of the Bay Area.
NESFM's Saturday show host and newseditor Michael Bonham presents the vintage pre-1910 movie cameras on the premises with the author of Aviators In Early Hollywood, Shawna Kelly.
While it feels like we have not been to the museum for a decade, it turns out Madame Blogmeister and I last visited Niles on February 9, 2020. In the following 2018 YouTube video tour of the Historic Niles District, this blogger's much-missed now non-operational a.k.a. DEAD car can be seen parked in front of the museum (it's the silver sedan). Very much hope to return to enjoy a night (or two, or three) at the movies in the Edison Theater when it re-opens!
One can donate online by clicking here or go old school via snail mail and send a check to Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum, 37417 Niles Boulevard, Fremont, CA 94536.