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Buddy Overstreet was an everyday, ordinary sort of guy... until the one day he overheard a member of "The Syndicate" (a crime organization) say the words "Chicken Little!" Now The Syndicate has decided Buddy knows too much and must be silenced for good. The show follows the comic misadventures of Buddy as he travels from town to town, trying to evade people who are trying to kill him. It is kind of like "The Fugitive", only played for laughs. Written by
Stephen J Cobert
Excellent Spoof of the Organized Crime-type Gangster Film, with a little 'Reverse Polarity' of "THE FUGITIVE" tossed in, for good measure.(and Laughs, too!)
One good thing about the Movies and Television is there are so many different types of screen stories out there. We may see Westerns, Romances, Cops and Robbers, Bio-Pics, Historical, Musical, Adventure and any combination of two or more of these types. There is also another classification that we enjoy and that is the Gangster Picture.
SINCE the earliest of times of the Silver Screen this variety of shoot-em-up has captivated our collective fascination. From the earliest of the Silents like THE BLACK HAND (1906) up through the Age of the strictly visual medium's lifespan to the Sound Era we saw many films with Organized Crime themes.
With the coming of Sound and the "All Talking", "All Singing" and "All Boogalooing" movies. Sound was everything and the "Rat-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat .." of the Thompson Sub-Machine or 'Tommy Gun' soon was familiar to the American Movie-Going Public; indeed, as well as the rest of the World* We ere bombarded with such outstanding Gangster Fare as THE BIG HOUSE, LITTLE CEASAR, THE PUBLIC ENEMY, SCARFACE, THE PETRIFIED FOREST, MANHATTAN MELODRAMA, 20,000 YEARS IN SING-SING, DEAD END, ANGELS WITH DIRTY FACES, THE ROARING TWENTIES and ROGER TOUHY GANGSTER.
In the 1950's, the Genre underwent a revival, due at least in part to the success of THE UNTOUCHABLES TV Series (Desilu/Langford Prod./ABC TV, 1959-63). We then saw a seemingly endless of parade of titles; leading right to the present day. Names we saw come along were the likes of: AL CAPONE (Rod Steiger), THE PURPLE GANG, THE ST. VALENTINE'S DAY MASSACRE, CAPONE (Ben Gazarra), THE YAKUZA, THE BROTHERHOOD, THE GODFATHER, THE GODFATHER PART II, THE GODFATHER PART III, THE FRIENDS OF EDDIE COYLE, BUGSY, GOODFELLAS, DONNIE BRASCO, CASINO and most recently American GANGSTER with Denzel Washington.
We sure do love our Gangster Flix! And the one thing we like even more is Gangster Film Spoofs!
Both JOHNNY DANGEROUSLY and BUGSY MALONE were good examples of the theatrical cinematic film; as are ANALYZE THIS and the sequel, ANALYZE THAT. (We anxiously await ANALYZE VARIOUS OTHER THINGS, the working title.) #As for the old Tube, we saw a couple there too. One comes to mind is THE CHICAGO TEDDY BEARS (Warner Brothers/CBS Television, 1971) and the other is our honored guest of the day, the recipient of the award at today's "roast', RUN BUDDY RUN (Talent Associates/CBS Television, 1966-67). Neither lasted into a second season; but we preferred the BUDDY Saga and thought it deserved a better fate.
OUR STORY (At Long Last!) .Main character Buddy Overstreet (Jack Sheldon) accidentally overhears some improper phrase, "Chicken Little", as uttered by some lower ranking Organized Crime member of "the Syndicate". Whatever the meaning, it caused a Nation-wide search and destroy mission seemingly on the part of every Gangster in the country! (The ones in the City, too!)
Week to week, we would see Buddy Overstreet on the go; relocating from one town to another burg, always managing to stay a jump ahead of the bad guys! The plot line was not serialized, but rather had a neat relationship with the other episodes; yet each stood on their own. The plot line would truly grow stale in short order if it hadn't been for the humor generated by some of the principal players; the first one being Jack Sheldon's Buddy Overstreet and the other is Mr. Bruce Gordon, by this time the grand old man of the TV Gangsters.
Acting as a sort of "Straight Man" to Buddy's comical bumbling (even though the two seldom shared the screen) it was Bruce Gordon who made the series what it was. He displayed a heretofore largely unknown sense of comic improvisation and timing. Who knows perhaps under other circumstances he would've been another Clarence Kolb or a Bud Abbott; arguably the best straight men of all time!
But the real element was this self-parodying of Gordon's "Frank Nitti characterization from hid days on THE UNTOUCHABLES. As this Nitti-variant addresses his Nationwide Criminal Enterprise via a super Closed Circuit Television Hook-Up. In all sorts of offices in establishments, underlings receive their instructions via TV screens; monitors hidden behind paintings, in back of mirrors, in drawers or in a tropical fish tank. And we can remember the Frank Nitti-like speech that Mr. Gordon made. Holding a photo of the wanted Buddy Overstreet up to the TV the Crime Chieftain states: "This is Buddy Overstreet; Male, 5'10", 160 lbs., brown hair, kinda cute!" The assignment was to get Buddy, dead not alive!
The premise was simple, but as we said before, very workable thanks to these principal players. The presentation and pacing of each week's story seemed very similar to another Talent Associates' production, GET SMART. Even the communications hook-up via the closed circuit TV was a ploy used by C.H.A.O.S. at least once or twice. Though meeting with a degree of success, the series had an uneasy life on the Network's bubble.
Bruce Gordon, whom we have met several times at Courts' Hollywood Collectibles Show here in Chicago, explained it like this: "The network executives had a meeting with the cast and crew in order to pledge their support to the series. Next thing we knew; we were canceled!" Treachery in Gangland, betrayal in Hollywood; it's just another case of "Life imitating Art!
NOTE * Our Dad, Clem Ryan (1914-74) was in the U.S. Navy during World War II; being stationed in Southampton, England, U.K. When some English kids near the base asked him, "Hey Yank, where're ya' from?" and he answered "Chicago"; the kid said "Oh yeah", then feigning having a Machine Gun in his hands, mimicked the "Ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah" sound. We still get that attitude about Chicago!
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