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Life on Mars (2006)
Hey! I was there in 1973!!
I started to watch this series on PBS a couple of weeks ago. All I can say is "WOW!!!" I was lucky enough to be around in 1973. In fact '73 was one of the best years of my life! This series brings back some fond memories, especially the music and the cheesy way they used to dress back then! This show is carefully crafted; from the music, the cars, even the "minor" things like the people being clueless about cell phones, PCs, and iPods! Even the televisions are ancient! I got a kick out of the Bobbie who thought a Jeep Cherokee was a "military vehicle"! And the way the main character screams about graduating from the police academy in 1988 and saying that '88 was "Star Trek" compared to 1973! And also the way he said, "You could have at least put me in a year from A.D. not. B.C.!" The irony of it all rests with the young kids today who are just as "clueless" about that way of life just as those living back then would be "clueless" about today's technology and changes. Highly entertaining, refreshing for us "old folks" and tremendously recommended to everyone!
Devil Dog Dawson (1921)
A rare treat to watch
I saw the same episode on History Detectives. Originally the detective tracked down the principal as Ed Polo, a big star of silent westerns who is all but forgotten. Some excellent sleuth work on the part of the History Detectives revealed that this film was made from stock produced in 1921 by Kodak. They then traced the film to that same year and discovered through visual identification that the actor was indeed Jack Hoxie, another famous western star of the silent screen. Helen Rossen made her only appearance with Hoxie in this film so the mystery of the 38 second movie was solved. It is a shame that over 90% of movies made before 1951 were made from nitrate which is flammable or degrades quite rapidly. Also, many of the movie theaters back then did not have to return the films so many of them were thrown away.
I'm Dickens, He's Fenster (1962)
A great show from a great era!
Yes, 1962 was part of that great golden era of television when creativity was crisp and original. Like "The Honeymooners", "I'm Dickens He's Fenster" was a short-lived comedy that should have lasted much longer. I was eight years old when this program aired on ABC and watched it every week (I think it was on a Friday night right after the Flintstones). I always remembered the ending that showed their tools, but thought that they used to hang on a pegboard. I was wrong; looking at YouTube, they're scattered about.
I also learned that this program outdrew the competition of NBC's "Sing Along with Mitch" and CBS's "Route 66". The latter program was extremely popular, by the way.
I finally got the chance to view some of the shows on YouTube and couldn't get over how fresh this program was. The opening tune resembled Laurel and Hardy's introductory music and that was understandably so since Leonard Stern was a huge admirer of that comedy duo. It was also refreshing to know that Stan Laurel was a great fan of the show. It's unfortunate that he wasn't instrumental in attempting to influence the executives of ABC to keep this show on the air.
Two things should be done: 1) this show SHOULD be on DVD and 2) there should be an attempt to redo this program for modern TV. The possibility of seeing it on DVD is very real, but redoing it probably is not a realistic move since modern television could never duplicate the originality of it.
Please join Imdickenshesfenster.com to make this show a reality on DVD.
A brief glimpse into the end of an era of "innocence"
Of all the various Beatles transformations out there, I have to admit that I liked them best from late 1964 to mid-1966. During this era, they morphed from the "innocent" fab four into the pre-mystical Beatles that came about in late 1965 with the advent of their wonderful "Rubber Soul" lp.
Yes, I loved these guys from this era of time. If you're old enough to have experienced the British Invasion, then you can show an appreciation of how the music once was: short and sweet. To put it simply, most pop music that came out of this era was short (around 2 minutes and 30 seconds) and sweet enough to reveal a new type of rock n' roll that never existed before the advent of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Yardbirds, Chad and Jeremy, the Dave Clark 5, etc, etc, etc.
It's too bad that this era didn't last long enough for us to enjoy. Before you knew it, it was gone like a morning mist. Even the American versions of garage rock, like Gary Lewis & the Playboys and the Turtles disappeared as discontent with the establishment and Vietnam sapped all of the collective innocence out of us.
It was an era of music that was, in essence, non-political; Beatles music, as well as other bands, were geared toward boy-girl love relationships and that was all. Barry McGuire then blew us out of the water with his "Eve of Destruction" around September, 1965. This, of course, caught the Beatles by surprise and they quickly changed their music from the typical "love songs" and became more creative in their talents by releasing "Day Tripper" with "We Can Work It Out" as a flip side.
"Help!" is a remnant of the final days of "innocence", when Vietnam was just entering the nightly news night after night after night and when the domestic disturbances on college campuses and ghettos was coming to a head.
This is what "Help!" represents to those who study this era. It was still a time when we could still help to avoid the problems that were beginning to plague American culture, society and politics. It still showed the Beatles as innocent and fun-loving mop tops that many people still prefer over their re-emergence as mystical, drug-experimenting replacements two years hence. I know that I still prefer them as innocent mop tops, but reality has shown that they were far from innocent even during their early days in Hamburg.
All that aside, this is still my favorite era of Beatledom.
Edge of the City (1957)
I cry at a lot of movies. Call me sentimental. Call me one of those viewers who always likes to see a happy ending. This movie, though it has a sad ending, was great! Of all of the actors that I would love to have lunch with, it would be Sidney Poitier. His acting, along with John Cassavetes and Jack Warden (of 12 Angry Men fame)is stellar. His character, who befriends a man on the run (Cassavetes) and helps him out in every way possible is incredible.
This is another one of those forgotten noirs made during the end of the noirish era. It is well done, has a superb cast, extremely talented acting, and great cinematography. It is a film worth watching over and over again. I highly recommend this one! This is just another truly great film done by Mr. Poitier and should be sold on DVD. Even though I cried, kudos to such great art!
Not exactly the Beav, but still a piece of television history
I remember watching "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet" back in the late 50's and early 60's. This was just one of those family sitcoms that spanned the decade, the others being Donna Reed, My Three Sons, Father Knows Best and Leave it to Beaver. When I was around 6 years old, I couldn't wait to see these programs. Ozzie and Harriet, to the best of my knowledge, is not even syndicated anymore. Leave it to Beaver, though, is the quintessential family sitcom from this era. I think that the latter outshines the former for a couple of reasons. First of all, the cast on Leave it to Beaver stayed fairly static; there was very little change in the makeup of the cast; one could expect the likes of Eddie Haskell to appear in every show and everyone loved it.
The fluidity of Ozzie and Harriet's cast in it's final years is compared with My Three Son's cast; both added wives to the cast, but by the mid 60's, this signaled an end to both of these shows. Also, Skip Young was sort of too old to play a fraternity brother of the Nelson brothers (by 1963 he was "only" 33 years old... kind of too old for an undergrad, but, perhaps, could have been cast at the very least as an associate Professor). By contrast, Leave it to Beaver didn't suffer this flaw; the cast remained the same; Lumpy Rutherford stayed as Lumpy Rutherford and was a contemporary of Wally's. Same deal with Gilbert, Toohey, et al with the Beav.
Secondly, Ward Cleaver's homespun wisdom far outshone that of Ozzie. In fact, Ozzie always looked sort of stilted on camera, so he wasn't as believable as Hugh Beaumont, Fred MacMurray or Robert Young.
However, I am partial here. Leave it to Beaver is by far my favorite family sitcom from this era. Ozzie pales to the likes of the Beav. Sorry.
The Hoaxters (1952)
An interesting historical piece that is reflective of it's era
I first had the privilege of watching The Hoaxters in 1974. My roommate in college actually had a 16mm print of this one reeler and I was captivated by it's effectiveness in propaganda. This is an interesting historical relic that is reflective of the era that it came out of. This film was produced during the height of the McCarthy "Red Scare" years and was a fitting example of Hollywood's fear of the House on Unamerican Committee "witch hunts". 1952 was a completely different world in contrast to how we live in this country today. People were more reverent then; their moral scruples were more intact and we must remember that we just emerged victorious from the Second World War and were then fighting the Korean War, so nationalism was more prevalent; respect for the flag and country was almost an anticipated action; no flag burning then! There is so much to comment on the mentality of the early 1950's.
If we were to become suddenly sucked into some time vortex and transported back to this era, we would probably go mad because of stricter standards demanded of us not only by government, be it local, State or Federal, but by our respective religious beliefs as well as the people around us who would demand that we conform to their thinking. Morals were stronger, religion had a firmer, influential hold and most people respected the authorities. This film demonstrates this and more. It also demonstrated fear; the fear of Communism was real; people felt that World War III would break out at any moment; the fear was valid; the fear was reflective in our leaders as well as the common man. And it was in this fear-driven time that Joseph McCarthy made a name for himself by using this fear to ruin many innocent lives.
MGM did a marvelous job producing this film. The voices of Walter Pidgeon and George Murphy are easily recognized; the animation is quite entertaining, especially when it showed the Swastika turning into a map of Germany or the dragon changing into the Japanese islands. Remember, these images were stronger in the minds of those who saw this film in 1952, because it was just seven years after these totalitarian regimes were defeated. Korea further exacerbated these feelings; it was the duty of every God-fearing American to struggle against those who wanted to enslave the free world.
The Hoaxters didn't just reflect the mentality of the times, but it also permitted those in Hollywood to pledge their allegiance (to a lesser degree compared to World War II) against a foe. This was partly due to nationalism, but mainly due to the fear of blacklisting by the HUAC. All in all, a great historical chestnut.
The Pip from Pittsburg (1931)
Top notch Roach comedy that deserves to be on a DVD
Hal Roach is best known as the genius behind many Laurel & Hardy shorts. However, Roach went far beyond the Laurel and Hardy series. This is one example of his genius. The talented Thelma Todd, who starred with the Marx Brothers, steals the show in this hilarious short. "The Pip From Pittsburgh" (aka Chasing Charley) was just shown on TCM and it was great from beginning to end. The dance scene appears to have been a Stan Laurel creation, as he was in the background of many a Roach production as well as some major films, most notably "Bringing Up Baby" (1938) when Katherine Hepburn tore the back of her dress in front of a crowded banquet room. The background music from this short was also standard for the Roach comedies and was so successful in conveying hilarity to a movie that it proved influential with other directors and producers later on.
This short should be marketed on DVD along with many other gems that Roach produced. Hopefully this will come to be in the future. Two thumbs up!
Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959)
Soooooooooo bad that it's great!!!
So much has been said (and written) about this movie over the past 45 years that there's really not much more to say! Ed Wood, attempting to ride the crest of the "B" Sci-Fi craze of the '50's came up with a real "winner" in "Plan 9 From Outer Space". Utilizing a bare bones budget, and marginal acting from largely substandard actors, Wood directed the most famous stinker of all time. And it proves it's mettle from the very excruciating beginning to the very excruciating end! Hey! even the great Bela Lugosi is in this one, but dies before it's completed!! His substitute looks as much like him as a banana looks like an apple! Who can ask for anything more?
The bottom line: Its worth viewing!
Just more evidence how inferior the movie industry has gotten.
The movie industry has definitely taken a nose-dive on this stinker. It's not worth gleaning the main points; everyone else who's seen this celluloid tragedy already have done this. What bothers me most is that this garbage will wind up on DVD and VHS, while great classics from the 30's through the 50's virtually go unnoticed because of ignorance on the part of the entertainment marketers. Let's face it: if one does not motivate himself to see what's not on the "radar screeen" and accept what the media offers in it's place, you have a pitiful situation. The majority fall into this. However, if one does have the ability to see through the media's machinations and is determined to find true quality (be it in the great classics or in contemporary obscure cinema) one can only benefit himself and broaden his taste.
Today's movie industry constantly churns out inferior products to an unsuspecting public. Today's Hollywood is a far cry from the superior directing and quality films that were made over fifty years ago. The public is too lazy to have any insight in this. The remedy to the problem of inferior acting, inferior directing and inferior plots is to boycott the cinemas. I haven't been to a movie since I saw "Inspector Gadget"; a real stinker and, of course, available on DVD and VHS.