Large Association of Movie Blogs
Large Association of Movie Blogs

Sunday, December 24, 2023

Merry Christmas 2023 from Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog

We wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! But first, a commercial. . .

Then, some quality time spent with Shaun the Sheep!

And, inevitably as snow in the U.S. Northeast, here are a few renditions of this blogger's favorite Christmas tunes, starting with the great Alex Chilton of Big Star and The Box Tops a.k.a. The King Of Covers. Alex' ability to play jazz chords on a rock guitar and commit himself 100% to whatever song he's playing still impresses the living daylights out of me.

If it's a rockin' Christmas you want, then it's time for an extended sleighride with The Brian Setzer Orchestra.

Best Blue Christmas? Lowell Fulson! Tough to top "Lonesome Christmas," just one of many masterpieces by the guitarist and vocalist.

This shall be our last post for 2023. See ya in 2024!

Saturday, December 16, 2023

Celebrating The Holidays With TV Funhouse

Some of the most cutting and brutal satire this writer has seen in the past quarter century can be found in Robert Smigel's TV Funhouse series, which provided provocative laughs to the Saturday Night Live mix in 1996-2008.

Since the holidays are just about upon us, it is worth noting that there were a slew of Christmas offerings by TV Funhouse. While I love A Charlie Brown Christmas, the following cynical take on Peanuts definitely has its share of guilty laughs.

The Globetrotters' First Christmas is an outstanding spoof of early 1970's animation, specifically the extra cheesy cheesiness of Filmmation, represented by such TV series as Fat Albert & The Cosby Kids. Did anyone who helped make this sendup of 1970's TV cartoons work at Hanna-Barbera or Filmation?

Rankin-Bass gets both a skewering and a homage in The Narrator That Ruined Christmas.

Many of us who celebrate Hanukkahchristmas or Christmashannukah relate to the following. Love the inspired vocalizing by the great Darlene Love - the not so secret musical weapon of Phil Spector - in this TV Funhouse, which makes me want to go out to a Cantonese, Hunan or Sichuan (a.k.a. Szechwan) restaurant on Christmas and/or Christmas Eve. Stylistically, this reminds me just a tad of Art Clokey and Aardman Animations. . . after all, there is a Shaun The Sheep Christmas.

One can't have too much stuff that is questionable taste - no make that bad taste - during the holidays, so we shall finish today's post with an episode of the TV Funhouse spinoff series. Is it both funny and in incredibly bad taste? Yes.

Tuesday, December 05, 2023

This Saturday: Christmas Psychotronix in Orinda!

YES, Virginia (Mayo), there is a Christmas Psychotronix.


It's in Orinda this Saturday.

Sci Fi Bob Ekman, Scott Moon, Robert Emmett and Paul F. Etcheverry will be there with Christmas bells on!

The place: Orinda Theater
2 Orinda Theatre Square, Orinda, CA 94563
The time: 8:00 p.m. PST

Orinda Theater Movieline: (925) 254-9060

Saturday, November 25, 2023

One Week From Today: The 31st Anniversary KFJC Psychotronix Film Festival

On Saturday December 2 of 2023, the KFJC Psychotronix Film Festival returns to Foothill College's Room 5015 with an indescribable blend of outrageous, hilarious, bizarre and fun forgotten (sometimes justifiably) footage.

That means B-movie trailers, 1930's cartoons, vintage movie theatre "snack bar" ads, Scopitones, Soundies and kidvid gone wrong, terribly wrong.

Personally, I will be more than ready for the "and now for something completely different - and now here's something completely different from what you just watched" philosophy that the KFJC Psychotronix Film Festival is all about. Never, ever know just what reels my co-conspirator archivists Sci Fi Bob Ekman and Scott Moon will bring to the show - and that's the way I like it! The Psychotronix dream team - Robert Emmett of KFJC, Sci Fi Bob, Scott and, presenting the always epic display of one sheets and lobby cards, Gary "The Poster King" Hascall - is back!

When: Saturday, December 2, 2023 at 7:00 PM
Where: Room 5015, Foothill College campus
12345 El Monte Road, Los Altos Hills (El Monte exit off 280)

Why: We like cheesy movies.
How Much? $5 Donation Benefits KFJC.
Parking: Lot #5
Public Transit: Cal Train and VTA
Info: Foothill College Transportation & Parking.

Note: some combination of the fellas who bring you Psychotronix will be on KFJC Monday evening on Thoughtline with Robert Emmett, starting at 6:00 p.m. PST.

A week after the Foothill College show, the crew will be back at the Orinda Theatre for a Christmas show. Now where the heck did I put that 16mm print of HOWDY DOODY'S CHRISTMAS?

31 years have passed since the first Psychotronix Film Festival - and we're amazed, thrilled and delighted to still be doing this. This Blogmeister shall return to his former stomping grounds, the San Francisco Bay Area, for another opportunity to put on, as the great impressionist Will Jordan would say, "a rilllllllly big shoe" - and be one of Foothill College's visiting professors!

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Happy Thanksgiving 2023

Well, it's Thanksgiving (and the start of hearing godawful holday season music everywhere) yet again!

Thanksgiving means turkey songs!

Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog posts the same Thanksgiving turkey cartoons every year. Alas, we have no plans to stop that practice anytime soon!

We'll start, not surprisingly, with an inexplicably odd one from the oddest and most inexplicable of all cartoon studios, Screen Gems. I personally get a big kick out of these cartoons but can certainly imagine the likes of Sid Marcus and Cal Howard pondering "what weird bit can we do to vex audiences now?"

There are a bunch of Warner Bros cartoons about Thanksgiving and turkeys. We've posted several repeatedly over the years. As fervent Daffy Duck fans, we note that at least two of the very best Thanksgiving cartoons feature the wacky fowl.

While it's tough to pick one favorite Thanksgiving-themed cartoon, the following ranks high on the list.

It's directed by Art Davis and stars a diabolical but not-too-bright Daffy Duck who becomes Tom Turkey's personal trainer, while devouring food in mass quantities.

Hugh Harman made a pleasing cartoon for MGM starring an all-turkey ensemble patterned on Borrah Minnevich & His Harmonica Rascals. Seems like I post this one every year!

Happy Thanksgiving! Keep calm and watch cartoons before and after the courses (and between football games)!

And, along with Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies, tomorrow's Turkey Day entertainment shall include George Pal Puppetoons!

Been watching Puppetoons volume 1 and eagerly await the latest volume (#3) on Blu-ray.

It bears repeating - Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 18, 2023

Remembering Johnny Mercer

For our monthly musical post, the respectful top hat tip goes to Johnny Mercer, singer-songwriter and founder of Capitol Records, born on Savannah, Georgia on November 18, 1909. Here, Johnny and Henry Mancini win the Academy Award for Moon River.

This writer finds the task of paying tribute to Johnny Mercer, founder of the Songwriters Hall Of Fame and celebrated by the Georgia Historical Society, a bit daunting due to the sheer quantity and breadth of material on him.

Classic movie tunes that feature Johnny Mercer lyrics - 19 were nominated for Academy Awards - in addition to "Moon River" (which was first seen in Breakfast At Tiffany's) include "Hooray for Hollywood" sung by Johnny "Scat" Davis and Frances Langford in HOLLYWOOD HOTEL)

And the ditty for which Mercer received a second Oscar, "In The Cool, Cool, Cool Of The Evening (music by Hoagy Carmichael)," sung by Bing and Jane Wyman in Here Comes The Groom. . .

AND "On The Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe" (music by Harry Warren), sung by Judy Garland in The Harvey Girls.

Johnny Mercer was a poetic lyricist on 1500+ songs in which he collaborated with a slew of top composers - the aforementioned Hoagy Carmichael, Harry Warren and Henry Mancini, as well as Richard Whiting, Harold Arlen, Jerome Kern, Jimmy McHugh, and Jimmy Van Heusen - interpreted by dozens of the greatest vocalists and instrumentalists.

Johnny's friend Louis Armstrong introduced his tune Jeepers Creepers in the 1938 Dick Powell musical Going Places. Pops would subsequently hit many Johnny Mercer songs out of the park for the musical grand slam.

The bourbon-soaked lost love lament ONE FOR MY BABY (AND ONE FOR THE ROAD) was introduced by Fred Astaire in The Sky's The Limit (1943), but became (along with Earl Brent & Matt Dennis' Angel Eyes) among the signature tunes for Frank Sinatra.

Yes, crooners dig Johnny Mercer's lyrics the most.

Two Of A Kind, a meeting of the musical minds between Bobby Darin and Johnny Mercer, with arrangements by Billy May, is one of this music aficionado's favorite albums. They are such a terrific team that I am a bit disappointed to have not found TV show appearances featuring the dynamic duo.

Today's cornucopia of clips continues with Johnny Mercer, the rare songwriter who was also an incredible performer.

Johnny and Steverino alternate tunes on The Steve Allen Show.

Pondered posting the outstanding Louis Armstrong, Mel Tormé and Ella Fitzgerald versions of Blues In The Night, but then realized that Johnny's rendition is fantastic.

As is Johnny's vocal on Something's Gotta Give.

Here's Johnny, singin' with Bing on The Kraft Music Hall.

And with Nat King Cole, a master musician who Johnny, as Capitol Records executive, signed as a cornerstone for the label.

Singing with Sinatra on The Chairman Of The Board's radio show in 1947.

Where do we end this tribute to Johnny Mercer? With performances and reflections on the songwriter's legacy by guitarist-vocalist John Pizzarelli, who devoted an album to Johnny Mercer tunes.

Friday, November 10, 2023

Born On This Day: Carl W. Stalling

Who was the man, the Big Kahuna in the field of music for animated cartoons? Well, there were several - Scott Bradley (MGM), Darrell Calker (Walter Lantz Productions/Universal), Leigh Harline at Disney's and the team of Sammy Timberg and Lou Fleischer - but in general, the first name in the "Password" answer is the incomparable Carl W. Stalling (November 10, 1891 - November 29, 1972).

Warner Bros. cartoon-meister elaborates on the greatness of Carl Stalling.

Carl W. Stalling, composer-conductor-arranger extraordinaire with Walt Disney Productions, the Ub Iwerks Studio and Warner Bros. (pre and post Leon Schlesinger), had a way of improving the films' quality wherever he went.

The Skeleton Dance (1929) in particular was innovative and a groundbreaking film by the Disney studio.

Carl Stalling contributed many wonderful scores to the cartoons produced by the studio of ace Disney animator and special effects inventor Ub Iwerks in 1930-1935.

Leon Schlesinger hired Carl to succeed Norman Spencer as the Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies music man and the improvement in the cartoons was immediate.

It's a tough call as to which individual Looney Tune or Merrie Melodie features my favorite Carl Stalling soundtrack. In addition to PORKY IN WACKYLAND, PORKY PIG'S FEAT directed by Frank Tashlin and THE GREAT PIGGY BANK ROBBERY directed by Bob Clampett immediately come to mind.

For more music and material on Carl Stalling, read Devon Baxter's splendid and thorough article about the score and voice work of the classic Bob Clampett Looney Tune cartoon Porky's Hero Agency (1937). Also check out this Carl Stalling Project volumes 1 and 2 playlist.

In addition, note that the new Flip The Frog Blu-ray from Thunderbean is officially available. If you don't have it yet, this set is chock full of excellent Carl Stalling scores and animated goodness from the talented likes of Grim Natwick, Berny Wolf, Al Eugster and Shamus Culhane.

Monday, November 06, 2023

Niles Cartoon Show Redux

Yesterday's animation matinee at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum's Edison Theatre was the equivalent of old home week for this writer, curator, schlepper of 16mm projectors and animation buff. Don't remember the last time this blogger has seen so many familiar faces from years and years and years doing film and animation presentations in one place. There's Jerry Beck, doing a Q&A after the cartoon-packed program.

Robert Emmett of KFJC's Norman Bates Memorial Soundtrack Show and the KFJC Psychotronix Film Festival and Mike Bonham of the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum

Gulliermo Gomez, Kevin Coffey, Steve Segal, Jerry Beck, Paul Mular of the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum and yours truly

Jerry Beck, Paul Mular, Psychotronic Paul and Robert Emmett from the KFJC Psychotronix Film Festival

Kevin Coffey (animator, The Nightmare Before Christmas) and Jerry Beck

They were all there: Jerry Beck, Kevin Coffey, Steve Segal, Robert Emmett, champion of George Pal's incredible movie and animation career Arnie Liebovit and Harry McCracken of Scrappyland. Tommy Jose Stathes of Cartoons On Film was there via his video introductions to classic cartoons by Earl Hurd, Walt Disney, Otto Messmer and Fleischer Studios.

We tip our top hats worn by Harry Myers in City Lights to co-host/curator Tommy Stathes and the aforementioned Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum staff - Mike Bonham, Paul Mular, Dorothy Bradley, Rena Kiehn and David Kiehn - for putting on this show!

Saturday, November 04, 2023

Tomorrow Afternoon at Niles: Silent Era Animation and Jerry Beck

Tomorrow at 3:00 p.m., the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum presents a classic cartoon matinee.

Author and animation historian Jerry Beck hosts this program, curated by Tommy Jose Stathes of Cartoons On Film.

There will be vintage silent cartoons from Bray, Messmer, Fleischer and Disney.

Topping off the program will be a cartoon that was lost for decades but found and restored by the UCLA Film & Television Archive: Buzzy Boop At The Concert.

For more info, check out the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum website.

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Happy Halloween 2023

What does Halloween mean to the guy who writes this blog? David S. Pumpkins! Don't know why this guy cracks me up, but he does. . . only every time, without fail! Kenan Thompson, Kate McKinnon and Beck Bennett, not surprisingly, shine in supporting roles.

Why post David S. Pumpkins two years in a row on Halloween? Because we MUST - David S. Pumpkins and his two dancin' skeleton assistants, played by SNL writer/performers Mikey Day and Bobby Moynihan, inevitably get this blogmeister at Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog ROFL! "Ah'm David Pumpkins, man! Any questions?"

There was an animated David S. Pumpkins Halloween Special made in 2017. It's not bad, albeit not anywhere near as funny as the previous two sketches. However, you do get the excellent comedienne and SNL stalwart Cecily Strong, along with Tom Hanks, among the voice talents.

On what day can it be considered a good idea to both watch David S. Pumpkins AND post a film in which comedian, actor and prolific cartoon voice artist Billy Bletcher is chased by a giant lobster? Halloween, of course!

It's no surprise to readers of Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog that we're big fans of Halloween cartoons.

Produced in 1942 for MGM by Rudy Ising, the musical cartoon BATS IN THE BELFRY is, while not at all scary, very odd and very enjoyable. Sounds like at least one of the three goofball bats was voiced by the ubiquitous Pinto Colvig.

Since we've posted numerous Halloween classics from Fleischer Studios, including BOO, BOO THEME SONG, a skeleton and ghost-filled 1933 "follow the bouncing ball" Screen Song, the brilliant 1934 Popeye opus SHIVER MY TIMBERS and the super-surreal Talkartoons SWING YOU SINNERS and MYSTERIOUS MOSE before, let's find a Halloween-themed Popeye never posted before on Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog.

Here's one: Popeye in GHOSKS IS THE BUNK (1939) - enjoy!

Is there something else we absolutely MUST do, while watching yet more spooky cartoons - or, as in the case of the following Columbia Color Rhapsody cartoon produced by the Ub Iwerks Studio, not that spooky - to get in the spirit of the holiday - and wishing all a Happy Halloween?

Yes - close today's Halloween post with a Count Floyd Monster Chiller Horror Theatre sketch from SCTV.

Friday, October 20, 2023

Born 130 Years Ago Today: Comedian Charley Parrott Chase

When asked the question who is your favorite comedian and who makes you laugh the hardest the answer, in a tie with Laurel & Hardy, is Charley Chase (1893-1940).

Along with L&H and Our Gang, he starred in very funny short subjects series produced in the 1920's and 1930's by Hal Roach Studios.

Charley, A.K.A. Charles Parrott, was the brother of director/comedian James Parrott and worked steadily in front of and behind the camera, beginning in 1913-1914, at Christie Comedies, Mack Sennett's Keystone, King Bee, Fox and Hal Roach Studios.

Charley was a brilliant comedian who could sing, dance, act, write and direct.

Charley Chase began directing with Sennett in 1915 and largely stayed behind the camera, piloting Snub Pollard's absurdist 2-reelers and contributing (with Robert MacGowan and Tom McNamara) to originating the Our Gang series, until beginning starring in 1-reelers for Hal Roach in 1924.

Charley is best known today for his role as the obnoxious, loudmouthed conventioneer in the 1933 Laurel & Hardy feature SONS OF THE DESERT.

In what unfortunately, with his untimely passing in 1940, ended up being a short career, Chase starred in numerous short subjects, while also directing other comics, from The Three Stooges to Smith & Dale to Lloyd Hamilton to the Hal Roach Studios "female L&H" team of Thelma Todd & Zasu Pitts. He directed comedy short subjects through his late career stint in 1937-1940 at the Columbia Shorts Department.

Chase's silents and early talkies produced by Hal Roach Studios crack me up!

The silent comedies Charley starred in, co-directed and wrote with Leo McCarey in the mid-1920's are certainly among the funniest ever made.

These are the classic comedy films that, no matter how many times I have seen them, get me ROFL!

Chase made a smooth transition to talkies and brought his musical talents and songs to the hilarious 2-reelers.

One of my favorites bits is the "asparagus" routine in YOUNG IRONSIDES (1932), featuring a recalcitrant green vegetable and, as Charley's co-star, the winsome Muriel Evans.

Collectors of classic movies, way back in the pre-VHS, Beta, DVD and Blu-ray days, much enjoyed the 16mm prints of Charley Chase comedies (silents and talkies) available through Blackhawk Films.

Ran 'em over and over and over. The following Chase classic, THE HASTY MARRIAGE (1931), co-stars Laurel & Hardy nemesis Jimmie Finlayson and the Gracie Allen-ish comedienne Gay Seabrook.

Charley Chase's patented comedy of embarrassment - a.k.a. "whatever the worst thing I fear can happen to me is about to happen - and worse than imagined" - translates quite well to talkies.

We thank Blackhawk Films for making these classic 2-reel comedies available on 16mm back in the 1960's and 1970's.

Charley played four roles in the appropriately titled 1934 short subject FOUR PARTS.

Every year on October 20, I make sure to thank Charley for the laughs and watch a few of his films.

I also tip the battered Max Linder top hat to the guy who designed many posters promoting Chase's Hal Roach comedies, the great Al Hirschfeld.