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Make Room for Daddy (1953)
An Intelligent, Funny and Entertaining Show And A Wonderful Experience
I appeared on three Danny Thomas Shows; first in 1955 as part of the Little League team from the episode of the same name which aired on Sept. 20, 1955. I played drums in a band called The Dixie Small Fry and we were part of "Good Old Days" -Season 5 Episode 25 from March 24, 1958 and then Season 6 Episode 13, "When The Saints Come Marching In" - Dec. 29, 1958.
Recently, I bought the Fifth Season DVD collection and watched "Good Old Days" for the first time since it aired originally. I remember being a big fan of the show before ever being on it and watching this episode brought back not only how much fun that week at Desilu was for the guys in the band, but how well written and acted the Danny Thomas Show was week in and week out. There was nothing phony about the set ups, or the people being presented as the Danny Williams family. There was an intelligence about the situations, funny always, with an edge at times, again which made it believable. Regardless of age, The Danny Thomas Show was both real and funny, no small accomplishment. Marjorie Lord was first rate, Sherry Jackson, besides being a major babe for guys my age, was also a very good actress who might have become great and Rusty Hamer at eight years old had comedy timing most seasoned adults couldn't match.
As great as all the parts and people were, it was Danny Thomas who made The Danny Thomas Show exceptional. He was what he was portrayed to be, an entertainer,a nightclub entertainer and as sitcom fathers go, unique in his make up. This was a real guy and not a silly characterization of a father. In fact, every character in the show seemed to be from real life.
Danny Thomas was a man of remarkable character and compassion for others. To use the phrase that came into being during the Vietnam war, he "walked it like he talked it", whether heading the drive for St. Jude Hospital or as Danny Williams giving us another brilliant Danny Thomas spit take over coffee with Sid. Through all the years the Danny Thomas Show was on the air, he stressed values, truthfulness and respect and that's what we as the audience got back each week. That, and humor with a real life edge to it.
And it was clear that people working on the show LIKED working on the show. Danny and producer Sheldon Leonard were in charge, but Thomas never acted like he was the star. In the first scene of "Good Old Days", I had a line to say as our band left the Williams apartment....I was not an actor and the line got tossed to me in dress rehearsal...the show was shot in front of an audience, in sequence using the three camera film technique that Desi Arnez had dreamed up. Anyway, Danny saw that I was nervous and so he made a big deal about going over the sequence where he fed me his line, then I said mine and as soon as I got it out of my mouth, Danny nodded my way and spoke loudly enough for the crew to hear...."Do it that way in the show tonight, Kid and we'll be fine."
One, Two, Three (1961)
One of The Ten Best Comedy Films Ever Made
If you're planning on screening "One, Two,Three" for the first time and you weren't alive in 1961, take a moment to acquaint yourself with the political climate of the time....then get ready to laugh A LOT ! I was 17 when "One, Two, Three" came out and all these years later I am still amazed at the majesty of this film. As most of you know, this was to be James Cagney's last picture, and it took a lot of convincing by Billy Wilder to get him to do it. Cagney did come back one more time for "Ragtime", but that doesn't lessen the greatness of this, his final starring role. I saw a comment posted about the film having the perfect cast and I agree, but it's not surprising when you consider this: name me a Billy Wilder film that didn't have the perfect cast ! William Holden and Gloria Swanson in "Sunset Blvd", Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine in "The Apartment", Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis and Marilyn Monroe in "Some Like It Hot", Jack Lemmon and..well, you get the picture: Billy Wilder knew precisely who he wanted for every part and usually got them, and if he had to go with choice # 2, then choice # 2 was one lucky actor. And each supporting role, no matter how small, got the same Wilder treatment. I know because my dad was the TV Movie Host in "The Apartment". Actors knew that being in a Billy Wilder film meant the script would be first rate and the director would get a first rate performance out of them, even if it took all night. Pamela Tiffin was just terrific in this film, but sadly she never got another role worthy of her ability. The same goes for Horst Buchholz, "The Magnificent Seven" not withstanding. At least they got to do "One, Two, Three" and that might have just been enough. Right up there in the same league with "The Philadelphia Story", "Annie Hall" and the original version of "To Be Or Not To Be" starring Jack Benny and Carole Lombard, Billy Wilder's "One, Two, Three" is a forever film classic for all the reasons I and others have mentioned, and for one more which it shares with every great film: "One, Two, Three" assumes you have a brain and treats you accordingly. " SCHLEMMER !!!!!"