Bedazzled… 1967

Dudley Moore is probably best known in America as Arthur and Peter Cook is not known much at all which is a shame.

This is one of my favorite comedies. Peter Cook and Dudley Moore were always a great team and in this movie, they work very well together. It’s the old story of selling your soul to the Devil for wishes…but as always the wishes are not exactly what the wisher has in mind.

Dudley Moore plays Stanley Moon who is a shy and pathetic figure who pines for a waitress (Eleanor Bron) who works at Wimpy’s Burger and is employed as a cook. Peter Cook is the devil… He is perfect for this part. He is a hilarious devil and at times likable but does the most annoying things like tearing the last page out of mysteries, scratching LPs, and just petty things to aggravate people.

The movie is very British and very funny. The chemistry is great between Moore and Cook and by this time they had been together for a while. There was a version of this movie released in 2000 but it is not as smart and subtle as this one. This is an offbeat quirky film.

This film also features Raquel Welch appropriately as Lust. She is only in it for a few minutes but she plays Lust to the hilt. The film had no name at first and in an interview, Peter Cook said he wanted to name the movie “Raquel Welch”…when asked why he wanted to name it after the actress when it wasn’t about her he said because the Marquee would read “Peter Cook and Dudley Moore in Raquel Welch”… The producers didn’t like that.

Eleanor Bron plays Margaret the waitress and the object of Stanley’s desire…she was also in HELP! with The Beatles.

Check this film out if you can. Personally, I think it beats the remake by a mile.

If you want to hear something else by them…check out Peter and Dudley as Derek and Clive.

Below is the trailer…this is the link for the complete movie. 

TV Draft Round 3 – Pick 8 – Adam 12

Welcome to the Hanspostcard TV Draft. The remaining 8 rounds will be posted here. We will have 64 different TV Shows by 8 different writers. I hope you will enjoy it! Today’s post was written by Max from https://powerpop.blog

Adam 12

The show was simple… it focused on a pair of beat cops doing their everyday jobs… responding to calls and patrolling the city of Los Angeles

I watched this in syndication in the late seventies after school. I never thought much of it at the time. When I started to watch it as an adult, I was surprised at how good this show was. I thought it was strictly a kid’s show. I couldn’t believe how realistic it was for that time and some now. They covered subjects like child pornography, drug addiction, gangs, racial tension,  and everything else criminally related. It was on for 7 seasons from 1968 through 1975.

Sometimes as an adult and you watch shows or movies you did as a kid you think wow…how did I like this? Now I’m thinking why didn’t I like Adam 12 more? The show starred Martin Milner as Officer Pete Malloy and Kent McCord as Officer Jim Reed. It was created by Jack Webb and Robert Cinader. The pair also created a spinoff from Adam-12…Emergency. Jack Webb also created Dragnet. Emergency and Adam 12 did crossover in a few episodes.

Adam-12 had a crossover with Emergency! and the very idea was a huge plot  hole

Before this show, Martin Milner was in the fantastic tv show Route 66 that would film in different locations every week. Kent McCord knew Ricky Nelson well and appeared on The Adventures of Ozzy and Harriett. They both knew Jack Webb and were cast for Adam 12.

How realistic was it? The LAPD would use some episodes as training guides for new policemen. The reason for that is that the LAPD worked with the show for realism. Kent McCord said that more than once while filming…someone would come up to them and thought they were real policemen.

They wanted to capture a typical day in the life of a police officer. There was no Dirty Harry on this force. These officers went by the book even if it would have benefitted them at times to stray off. The episodes were written around actual police cases to add some realism. They showed all that the censors would allow.

Some of the guest stars were… Tony Dow, Willie Aimes, Ed Begley Jr, Karen Black, David Cassidy, Micky Dolenz, Tim Matheson, Ozzie Nelson, and many others. It was odd seeing Robert Donner…who played Yancy Tucker on The Waltons a few years later…playing a heroin addict-informant.

Reed is happily married, and Malloy is the happy bachelor. The interplay is natural and not forced. The one big thing I like about the show is the continuity from beginning to end. You see a raw rookie in Jim Reed with Malloy slowly training him up and eventually both becoming friends as seasons pass by. The conversations that take place between the crimes happening are things we all talk about so you can relate to these two.

TV's 'Adam-12' in Los Angeles – Then & Now

Los Angeles historians have a field day with the episodes. They show how the city was at that time. They recorded the bulk of this show on location. On youtube you can find “then and now” film segments. Many policemen have said that this show inspired them to join the force.

Martin Milner passed away in 2015. The LAPD hosted a ceremony in Milner’s honor at its downtown Los Angeles headquarters. I binge-watched this show last year and the quality never went down in the 7 seasons.

The Spirit of 76… Movie

This movie is a B movie all of the way…and it plays up that fact… It was released in 1990 and if you are wanting to watch something that spoofs the 1970s… This movie is for you. You will also learn the word tetrahydrozoline.

This movie stars David Cassidy, Lief Garrett, Carl and Rob Reiner, and Olivia d’Abo… Citizen Kane, it is NOT. It’s a fun film about the future where all is gray and they lost every record because of a magnetic storm including the US Constitution.

Adam-11 (David Cassidy) has built a time machine because he wants to go to a beach…beaches don’t exist anymore in the future. The government wants him to use the time machine to go into the past to 1776 and get a copy of the US Constitution so they can rebuild their society with it. To make it work he needs a chemical that’s rare in the future… tetrahydrozoline (the main ingredient to a very popular item in the ’70s… Visine).

The government agrees to give him some tetrahydrozoline but sends two more travelers Chanel-6 (d’Abo ),  Heinz 57 (Geoff Hoyle) with Adam-11 to retrieve the document…but instead of going back to 1776 the time machine malfunctions and goes to 1976.

Devo makes an appearance as the “Ministry of Knowledge”…

It’s a corny movie but they have the 70s down in many parts of the movie. After meeting up with two teenage stoners (The group Redd Kross) they look for the constitution but lose the tetrahydrozoline. If you are looking for a second Gone with the Wind…don’t watch this but it’s funny and silly enough to entertain you.

You have to know a little about the 70s to get some of the jokes…Like David Cassidy’s character looking around a garage in 1976 asking “am I going to be stuck here forever?” while looking at a Partridge Family lunch box.

If you are bored, try this one. The trailer is below the complete movie is below that.

The complete movie

The trailer

Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton

Back in the 90s I got into silent films. I would send off for VHS tapes of 1920s classics. The one actress I wanted to see was Clara Bow. After reading about her I started to learn more about Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin. I did know of Chaplin but had never seen one of his films. I still love silent cinema from that era.

Charlie and Buster were two of the best screen comedians ever to walk the earth. They both had similar upbringings. Buster and his family in American vaudeville. Charlie worked in British music halls. Charlie rose to stardom in silent movies in the 1910’s beginning with Keystone, Mutual (where he made his best short comedies) Essanay and then he confounded United Artist with Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, and W. D. Griffith. After that Charlie went into full feature films.

Buster started silent shorts in 1917 with Roscoe Arbuckle. After Roscoe broke out on his own so did Buster….he did some more short films which were brilliant. He then went into full features. Buster was just so different than anyone else. He was so still while the world moved into chaos around him. He was a brilliant actor-director and also writer which he often didn’t take credit for doing. If Buster would have just made “The General” his place in film history would be cemented. The same can be said of Charlie Chaplin and his masterpiece “The Gold Rush.”

There was no competition between the two in popularity. Charlie won hands down over Buster and probably everyone else in comedy and drama. His character “The Tramp” was internationally loved. All in all, I’ve always thought Keaton was a better filmmaker but Chaplin the better character. The most recognized character in movie history.  They were two different comedians. Chaplin would reach for pathos…sometimes a little too much. Keaton seemed much more real.

Keaton’s sight gags were incredible and sometimes dangerous to his health…like have a front of a building that weighed a ton (so it wouldn’t twist in the wind) fall on him with the upstairs opening clearing him around 2 inches on each side. He never smiled because it would have ruined his character. Both are worth watching and with Keaton’s films like Sherlock Jr…you wonder how he did some of the things he did with the primitive camera’s they used.

Both were funny men. The other big comedian was Harold Lloyd but he was more of an actor playing a comedian….he was really successful though… second to Chaplin in making money.

Charlie and Buster older both appear in Charlie’s Limelight. This is the only time they ever appeared together in a movie.

Fawlty Towers…TV Draft

This is my second selection in the first round of the SlicetheLife TV Draft. And my choice is Fawlty Towers.

A great BBC sitcom…some have rated it as the best BBC sitcom ever.
The series is quick, well written and well-acted. The show was made in the mid and late seventies after John Cleese left the Monty Python TV series. I watched it when our PBS station carried it in the 80s.

There is not a bad episode of Fawlty Towers. John Cleese and his wife Connie Booth wrote all of the episodes. The scripts are solid and there is some physical comedy blended in with Sachs and Cleese. Cleese and Booth spent two-and-a-half weeks working out each plot before they wrote a single line of dialogue, generally spending the time most sitcom writers used for a whole series on a single episode.

There was a four-year gap between season one and two. That was because Cleese and Booth had divorced. They still wrote the second season together. The first season aired in 1975 and the second season in 1979.

Fawlty Towers centered around Basil… a rude, class-conscious hotel owner with a domineering wife Sybil a commonsense maid Polly, a Spanish waiter Manuel who could not understand English and took Basil’s abuse, and a retired senile military officer Major Gowen.

Cleese and Booth were inspired by the manager of a real Torquay hotel, Gleneagles, where they had stayed while filming Monty Python. They found the manager, Donald Sinclair, to be entertainingly rude. There were only 12 episodes made…two seasons with six episodes each. Instead of milking it dry they stopped at 12 because Cleese and Booth didn’t think they could write anymore up to the standards they set.

My favorite episode is the 6th episode of the 1st season called The Germans. The episode is a classic.

The Characters:

Basil

Basil Fawlty (John Cleese) – Basil seems to spend most of his life alternating between fawning over any guest who he perceives as being worthy of his attention, and then trying to berate them when they didn’t quite have the social standing, he first thought they had. Basil’s trouble is that he thinks his hotel is a higher-class establishment than it really is. The real thorn in his life is his wife Sybil. For all of his bluster, Basil can quickly be brought into line with a curt “Basil!” or two from Sybil. Basil never could stand up to his evidently better half.

Sybil

Sybil Fawlty (Prunella Scales) – She spends her time keeping a tight rein on her husband Basil. She never misses an opportunity to close off an avenue of pleasure for Basil, such as betting on the horses.  She can be domineering and controlling but with Basil you can’t blame her.

Polly

Polly Sherman (Connie Booth) – She probably has more common sense than anyone in the hotel. She struggles to calm down Basil, placate Sybil, and to instruct Manuel.

Manuel

Manuel (Andrew Sachs) – Poor Manuel takes Basil’s abuse constantly. He was the waiter, bell-boy, porter, and all around do anything guy. Basil hired him with the intention of teaching him English because he’s cheap, but due to Basil’s only rudimentary grasp of Spanish it goes wrong.

Major Gowen

Major Gowen (Ballard Berkeley)- A very forgetful retired Major who is a constant guest at the hotel.

Miss Gatsby and Miss Tibbs

Miss Gatsby and Miss Tibbs (Gilly Flower and Renee Roberts,) – They are two sweet natured spinsters who have taken a fancy to Basil, feeling that they need to take care of him.

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Barney Miller… TV Show Draft

This is my first selection in the first round of the SlicetheLife TV Draft. And the envelope says……..Barney Miller.

I’ve watched Barney Miller at least 7 times through. Why is it my favorite show? It would be the writing, the acting, and that glorious dirty set that only got dirtier as the show went along. Another reason would be the continuity of the show. My pet peeve with shows is when you would meet someone’s “Uncle Joe” as his only uncle…and a season or two later…the same person never had an uncle. That is lazy writing and research…Barney Miller doesn’t have that. The show ran from 1975 to 1982 for 171 episodes.

You will see the same actor play different criminals (great 70s-character actors and actresses) but the storyline is set. Barney Miller was a comedy but also would dip in drama at times. Whatever was going on…the characters stayed true. It doesn’t hurt that the show had one of the best…if not the best theme songs. Dig that bass!

Many real life detectives were asked about the most realistic police show on television. Barney Miller was picked because they showed the drudgery parts like the paperwork involved that is a part of every policeman’s day. I’ve read where some officers today still say it is accurate in that way.

The guests on the show every week were usually the criminals they captured. They never had serial killers or anything like that (save for one episode when they were switched to homicide for that one show) …usually just people who caused a disturbance. You had every known petty criminal in the world on that show. Pickpocket, prostitute, madams, thieves, white-collar crime, and etc.

The jail cell in Barney Miller encapsulated the seventies and its times. The show could be topical about New York in the seventies. One episode has the squad listening to an actual speech given by President Ford only a few weeks before the show aired, in which he refused to bail out a near-bankrupt New York City while still committing aid to essential services like the police.

The show was ahead of its time. Barney Miller had diversity in the cast and guests. The diversity wasn’t there just to have diversity…it fit the story…it was never forced.

Danny Arnold created this show. He also wrote and produced some of Bewitched, That Girl, McHales Navy, and more.

Hal Liden has mentioned that they would film until 2-3 in the morning with script changes at the last minute. That was normal, not the exception. They had a studio audience at first but soon dropped that partly because of the script changes. The show never went down in quality. It was never a big ratings show because frankly, it was written well with subtle humor that it wasn’t as accessible as other shows.

If you haven’t given Barney Miller a chance…it’s worth one.

I’m going to list the characters in this show because it is such a character-driven show.

The characters are:

Barney Miller (Hal Linden) The man that leads with common sense and wisdom over his squad of quirky detectives and officers. Hal Linden has said that his character could not get as crazy as the other ones because the audience had to identify with him and have someone to compare the others to.

Det. Stan Wojciehowicz..”Wojo”(Max Gail) – An ex-Marine who fought in Vietnam who is sometimes naive and childlike but really looks to Barney as a mentor. Wojo is not always tolerant of people with different views than him but is a good detective but highly emotional.

Det. Ron Harris (Ron Glass) – A well-dressed man who lives beyond his means at times. He wants the finer things in life and can be a little snobbish at times but he is a good guy. As the show continued, he was trying to establish a writing career and he wrote the best-selling book called “Blood on the Badge” that sometimes disrupted the station but he would stay loyal to Barney even through their differences.

Sgt. Nick Yemana (Jack Soo) – A Japanese Detective that always had an answer, loved gambling and he would call his bookie often… and he made the coffee for the office…and supposedly the worse coffee ever…To me, he was one of the funniest characters on the show. Actor Jack Soo passed away while the show was in its 5th season in January of 1979. During that season the cast did a tribute show speaking as themselves and showed clips of Jack.

Sgt. Arthur Dietrich (Steve Landesberg) – A one-of-a-kind character and my favorite on the show. Dietrich was a know it all…not in the usual way. He really knew about every statistic on any subject that came up. He was an intellectual but also could have fun with it. One of the funniest and deadpan characters I’ve ever seen on television. He never lost his cool in any situation.

Sgt Philip Fish (Abe Vigoda) – The senior member of the crew who was played by Abe Vigoda always looked older than he was at the time. It was a running joke about him having hemorrhoids, needing to go to the bathroom, being old, and delivering many marriage jokes. He would leave the show for a spinoff “Fish” officially in the 4th season. He would come back and make guest star appearances. He was the break-out star of the show.

Sgt. Chano Amenguale (Gregory Sierra) – He was Puerto Rican and would be very talkative and emotional. Whenever he was really upset, he would start speaking Spanish loudly. I really liked Sierra’s character, but he left after the second season.

Officer Carl Levitt (Ron Carey) – Levitt was a short overachiever and kept hounding Barney for a promotion. He would not be too subtle to Barney about his hard-working habits. The rest of the station would pick on him but all of them respected his hard work. He would fill in when a Detective was out. He finally got promoted at the end of the show’s run.

Deputy Inspector Frank Luger (James Gregory) – A totally old school superior who would drop by “the old one two” to talk with Barney. Luger never even tried to keep up with the times. He would tell Barney of the good old days…sometimes to Barney’s annoyance. Overall Luger was a great character who was brilliantly played by James Gregory.

Elizabeth Miller (Barbara Barrie) She was Barney’s wife who always wanted him to quit the force because she worried about his safety. She was on regularly at first but the show started to concentrate on the station rather than their home. She was involved in a story later on in the series when Elizabeth and Barney separated for a while…they eventually got back together.

Det. Janice Wentworth (Linda Lavin) She was a detective in the squad room who had a romantic interest in Wojo. Prone to excitement trying to prove herself in a room full of men. The writing for her character was great…it was realistic and always suited Lavin’s character. The character would have stayed on the show but Linda Lavin got her own show…Alice.

Ben Scanlon(George Murdock) – Scanlon worked in Internal Affairs and was the one bad guy in the show. He would try to find trouble when he visited…always wanted to find some wrongdoing to bring down the 12th Precinct because they had a perfect record.

I’ve searched on youtube for some different scenes…most of what they have is the “best of” each character. The good news is… youtube has many full episodes. I’m including the full episode of one the best….It’s called Hash. I’m also including the super theme song…again you gotta love that bass!

The theme song to Barney Miller

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….

The Magnificent Seven

Hanspostcard is hosting a movie draft from 12 different genres…this is my Western entry.

There have been actors and musicians that exuded cool…Steve McQueen would be one of the top ones…and he was just starting in this movie…and not the star. 

This cast is just incredible… Along with McQueen, you have Charles Bronson, James Coburn,  Eli Wallach, Robert Vaughn, Horst Buchholz,  Brad Dexter,  and the great Yul Brynner. We are not talking about cameos here…Brynner is the unquestioned leader of this band of mercenary gunfighters…but money is not the most important thing to most of them. They believe in Brynner’s character and the adventure.

I could go through talking about each actor, but I won’t…there are a few I’ll touch on. Eli Wallach… did a masterful portrayal of Calvera. He is one actor that I would have loved to have met. His personality was so big in films, but he didn’t over act…he was just that good.

The actor that caught my attention the most in this was the newcomer of the seven. Chico, played brilliantly by Horst Buchholz. His character was young, impatient, cocky, but a nice kid who you saw grow in the movie. He wanted to join the six fighters, but he wasn’t accepted until he persisted and wore Chris Larrabee Adams (Yul Brynner) down.

John Sturges directed this movie and also The Great Escape plus Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. This movie was not shot on some studio backlot somewhere. It was real locations and it showed.

A brief look at the plot. A gang of bandits terrorizes a small Mexican farming village each year. They ride in and take what they want like the village is their own personal store. Several of the village elders send three of the farmers into the United States to search for gunmen to defend them. They end up with seven, each of whom comes for a different reason. They must prepare the town to beat an army of thirty bandits who will arrive wanting food. In came the Magnificent Seven to defend the village and teach the farmers how to fight.

A little trivia about the movie. Yul Brynner had a major role in casting, and he wanted Steve McQueen in the movie. At the time McQueen was in a television western called Wanted: Dead or Alive.

They ended up not getting along because McQueen supposedly was trying to upstage Brynner. When McQueen was dying of cancer he called Brynner and made up with him for the trouble in the film. McQueen said: “I had to make it up with Yul ’cause without him I wouldn’t have been in that picture.”

It’s not only a great western, it has comedy, drama, and most of all…all the characters are real. There is a reason some of them were huge at the time and others went on to be not only popular but legends. 

CAST

Yul Brynner … Chris Larabee Adams
Eli Wallach … Calvera
Steve McQueen … Vin Tanner
Horst Buchholz … Chico
Charles Bronson … Bernardo O’Reilly
Robert Vaughn … Lee
Brad Dexter … Harry Luck
James Coburn … Britt
Jorge Martínez de Hoyos … Hilario (as Jorge Martinez de Hoyas)
Vladimir Sokoloff … Old Man
Rosenda Monteros … Petra
Rico Alaniz … Sotero
Pepe Hern … Tomas
Natividad Vacío … Villager (as Natividad Vacio)
Mario Navarro … Boy with O’Reilly

 

Andy Kaufman…An Original to Remember

I like original people…Andy was that completely. This post is a little long…for me.

He covered the bases…Mighty Mouse, Foreign Man, wrestling women, Elvis Impersonator (I think the best), Tony Clifton, bongo player, Great Gatsby reader and generally pissing people off, boring them or making them laugh. He was a performance artist – a comedian who sometimes was uncomfortable to watch but great as well. He was not a joke comedian…not remotely close.

I remember seeing him on a clip from the Tonight Show… as the very innocent childlike foreign man talking for a while and doing terrible celebrity impersonations and then suddenly shedding that character like a used coat and did Elvis impersonation…no, he WAS Elvis… I’ve read where Elvis said that Andy was his favorite impersonator but whether that is true or not I don’t know.

His first SNL performance… All he did was to get on stage with a record player playing the “Mighty Mouse” theme and mime along in certain spots. He made it work. He was only doing what he did growing up alone in his room as a child…he translated that to a national audience.

He loved to be the bad guy… At his performances, he would sometimes threaten to read the Great Gatsby…the complete book…just to piss everyone off…He would read a chapter or so and then ask the crowd if they wanted to hear some music from his record player….the audience, thinking of Mighty Mouse would applaud and he then would start playing a record of him reading The Great Gatsby from where he left off right before.

Andy grew up loving wrestling. After he achieved his fame he started to wrestle…wrestle women. I’m sure many people at the time were baffled.

That led to the infamous guest shot on The David Letterman Show with wrestler Jerry Lawler in 1982. Jerry slapped Andy off a chair who had a neck brace on already…at the time people really bought into it. Lawler says he still gets hate mail to this day from people who think he caused Andy’s death. Of course, both planned this and they were friends.

A couple of years before his death he made a film with Fred Blassie… a wrestler Andy admired. He filmed it at a restaurant and called it “Breakfast with Blassie.”

Andy once played Carnegie Hall and took the entire audience out afterward for milk and cookies. Being Andy, some probably didn’t believe it but he had 20 buses waiting outside for them and they all went to have milk and cookies.

He will be remembered best for Taxi and his character Latka Gravas. It amazes me that he was on Taxi…that he was on any normal show…though Taxi was great…It worked out well that they found a place for Andy’s foreign man character…but Andy wasn’t always happy being on the show.

He also had an alter ego character he played called Tony Clifton. Tony was a loud, obnoxious. sleazy lounge singer that would rip the audience. Usually, the person getting ripped was Andy’s writing partner and friend Bob Zmuda. Later on, to really mess with people’s minds…Andy had Bob to play Tony Clifton and they would appear together. “Tony Clifton” even got himself thrown off of the Taxi set.

Some people loved Andy, some hated him, some thought he was irritating and some all three. I just appreciated the fact he was different.

Andy died in 1984…or did he? Bob Zmuda has said that Andy did say he was going to fake his death and said that he actually helped Andy plan it. More people have come forward saying the same thing. Every few years we get an Andy sighting in Albuquerque or somewhere else. No, I don’t believe he did fake it…but hey I would love if he popped up well and alive anytime in the future. The world needs original people. You know he would be loving the rumors about him being alive…if he is alive or not.

REM had a song that was based on Andy called Man on the Moon. It was about questioning everything like the Moon landing, Elvis dying, religion, Andy dying and etc… from REM’s bassist Mike Mills “He’s the perfect ghost to lead you through this tour of questioning things. Did the moon landing really happen? Is Elvis really dead? He was kind of an ephemeral figure at that point so he was the perfect guy to tie all this stuff together as you journey through childhood and touchstones of life.”

In 1999 a movie called Man on the Moon starring Jim Carrey was released about Andy’s life. I went to see it when it came out and enjoyed it. I’m not sure how close Carrey got to Andy’s non-public side because of course, I didn’t know him. Marilu Henner said that he was a warmer person than the movie portrayed and Judd Hirsch said that while not performing, Andy was a very normal, quiet guy but Judd admits he really didn’t know him. I do think Carrey did a good job portraying him.

I like one of a kind people like Andy Kaufman and Keith Moon. Expect the unexpected…it keeps life interesting.

First SNL Appearance

Andy on Letterman

Milk and Cookies

Elvis

REM…Man on the Moon

Home Improvement

Tim Taylor (Tim Allen), Jill Taylor (Patricia Richardson), Al Borland (Richard Karn), Wilson W. Wilson (Earl Hindman), Randy Taylor (Jonathan Taylor Thomas), Mark Taylor (Taran Noah Smith), Brad Taylor (Zachery Ty Bryan), and Heidi Keppert (Debbe Dunning), and Lisa (Pamela Anderson)

This show is not deep nor did it change television like All In The Family or Seinfeld…but it was fun. A lot of fun with Tim, Jill, Al, Wilson, and the kids. Before I started working in IT I had different jobs. When this show was on I was a supervisor in a woodworking shop. Needless to say this was very popular with everyone there. The show ran from 1991 – 1999 with 204 episodes. To my surprise Home Improvement beat Seinfeld in ratings for a few years.

The shows followed a formula…someone, usually Tim, would do something stupid or say the wrong thing. An argument would ensue and then they would go to their neighbor Wilson and he would give them a quote or a story that would go over Tim’s head. The problem would more or less be solved after that.

The formula was an open secret and the writers would often poke fun at it and themselves.

Tim is what some people would call a modern Neanderthal but he had a heart and learned…but not always too well. More power, more power and Tim would blow something up. He was the host of “Tool Time” a fictional cable show about home improvement and tools. Tim would then get into trouble by adding power to the simplest thing (lawn mower which ran at 60 mph, dish washer with a motor that cranked, a vacuum cleaner that sucked up the drapes) and ended up electrocuting himself, gluing himself to a board, falling through a port a potty, and etc.

Home Improvement': Behind-the-Scenes Facts Not Even Superfans Know ...

If Tool Time would have been a real show…I would have watched just to see what trouble Tim would get into next.

Jill was the typical “straight man” character to her goofy husband. She often gave advice to her boys about girls that exemplified how gentlemen should act. She had a sophistication that was totally opposite of her husband. The more she pushed theater and ballet the more Tim would push a Monster truck rally. She was my favorite 90s sitcom mom hands down. She grounded the show and to me was the most important member. She kept it real and believable.

Home Improvement — See the Cast Then and Now

Tim’s ever suffering Tool Time partner was Al Borland who actually had knowledge and knew what he was doing. A bonafide unhip square but a lovable one, who only wanted the best for everyone. He had a much softer side than Tim and talked about his feelings which horrified Tim. He always wore flannel and Tim always made jokes about that and Al’s very large mother. Al was extremely popular with the fictional viewers of Tool Time.

Home Improvement - Albert E. "Al" Borland is a master plumber and ...

Wilson was a peculiar neighbor with very odd habits but was a wise one. The poor guy couldn’t go outside without solving the Taylor’s problems…even the kids came to him for advice. The show played on the gimmick of only showing Wilson from his nose up…or they covered his face entirely if he wasn’t in front of the fence.

The Savage Brothers: 5 Deceivingly Wholesome Sitcom Characters

There were two tool time girls… Heidi and Lisa

Heidi, the lovely assistant from Tool Time on Home Improvement ...Lisa | Home Improvement Wiki | Fandom

All in all I still enjoy watching the show. It still makes me laugh and the show highlighted the problems most couples have…it was Disney so you will not see them face too many serious topics …just everyday problems that we all have…minus some guy blowing things up.

Groucho Marx…August 19, 1977

43 years ago Groucho Marx died on August 19, 1977 and the news of his death was swallowed up by Elvis dying 3 days before. Groucho was 87 years old and still was popular among college kids partly due to a resurgence of the Marx Brothers movies. He was constantly photographed with Rock Stars (Alice Cooper, Queen) and movie stars in the mid-seventies. 

The Marx Brothers remain my favorite comedy team hands down. All of them were talented and Harpo and Groucho in particular never fail to make me laugh.

I’ll leave you with some Groucho Quotes.

He may look like an idiot and talk like an idiot but don’t let that fool you. He really is an idiot.

Some people claim that marriage interferes with romance. There’s no doubt about it. Anytime you have a romance, your wife is bound to interfere.

I have nothing but respect for you — and not much of that.

Man does not control his own fate. The women in his life do that for him.

Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them… well, I have others.

Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.

I intend to live forever, or die trying.

A man’s only as old as the woman he feels.

Marriage is a wonderful institution, but who wants to live in an institution?

I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn’t it.

I never forget a face, but in your case I’ll be glad to make an exception.

I sent the club a wire stating, PLEASE ACCEPT MY RESIGNATION. I DON’T WANT TO BELONG TO ANY CLUB THAT WILL ACCEPT ME AS A MEMBER.


Death Wish 1974

When I started to watch this movie…I thought it was going to be Charles Bronson randomly mowing down the people in New York City…but it had a purpose and was a pretty good movie.

There was some controversy when this movie was released because of Bronson being a vigilante in the movie. The critics who disliked the film complained that it irresponsibly exploited fear. They also claimed the film gave an exaggerated picture of crime in New York and that it glorified vigilantism… that it endorses violence as a solution to violence.

I enjoyed the film. New York in the mid-seventies makes a great atmosphere…although not a safe one. The movie is brutal but realistic.

On a side note…this movie is Jeff Goldblum’s film debut.

From IMDB

Open-minded architect Paul Kersey returns to New York City from vacationing with his wife, feeling on top of the world. At the office, his cynical coworker gives him the welcome-back with a warning on the rising crime rate. But Paul, a bleeding-heart liberal, thinks of crime as being caused by poverty. However, his coworker’s ranting proves to be more than true when Paul’s wife is killed and his daughter is raped in his own apartment. The police have no reliable leads and his overly sensitive son-in-law only exacerbates Paul’s feeling of hopelessness. He is now facing the reality that the police can’t be everywhere at once. Out of sympathy, his boss gives him an assignment in sunny Arizona where Paul gets a taste of the Old West ideals. He returns to New York with a compromised view on muggers…

 

Night Shift 1982

This is one of the first movies I ever rented. It was one of the few left on a shelf at the video store…remember those? I had never heard of it but it was a good comedy.

This little movie from the early 80s gets forgotten but it a very good comedy. Ron Howard directed this movie about straight-laced morgue attendant Chuck Lumley (Henry Winkler) who gets a wonderfully crazy co-worker Bill Blazejowski (Michael Keaton in his breakout role) who talks Chuck into running a brothel out of the morgue…Chuck and Bill become unlikely pimps (or Love Brokers) after a group of call girl’s pimp gets killed by being dropped out of a window. Chuck falls for one of the prostitutes who is his neighbor named Belinda (Shelley Long).

Henry Winkler plays a character far removed from his Happy Day’s character…the cool Fonz. Henry is very good in this movie and is perfect as the straight man for Michael Keaton.

Micheal Keaton is great in this movie. His timing is perfect and foreshadows some of his comedies such as Mr. Mom and Beetlejuice.

Shelley Long had reservations about playing a call girl but decided to do it…Long, Winkler, and Keaton worked really well together. This was released a few months before she starred in Cheers.

Something to watch for…Kevin Costner makes one of his first big-screen appearance in a nonspeaking role in this movie.

Some quotes:

Chuck Lumley: As we sit here and idly chat, there are woman, female human beings, rolling around in strange beds with strange men, and we are making money from that.

Bill Blazejowski: Is this a great country, or what?

If you get a chance to watch this movie…give it a chance. It even has a 80s music montage.

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Dan Blocker

I didn’t watch Bonanza as much as Gunsmoke as a kid but I knew this guy. He looked so big on the screen and he seemed like a nice and gentle guy. He played Hoss Cartwright and that was an appropriate name for him. Dan’s other claim to fame was that he was the largest baby ever born in Bowie County (14 lbs.), in the town of DeKalb Texas in 1928. While still in school Dan stood six-foot-three and weighed 300 pounds.

His parents, Ora “Shack” Blocker and Mary Arizona Blocker managed to open up a grocery store after the depression in O’Donnell Texas where a young Dan helped out, carrying groceries to customers’ cars. He football skills earned him a scholarship to Sul Ross State University where he played football and studied English.

He appeared in a play Arsenic and Old Lace and was hooked on acting. He fought in the Korean War, where he served with distinction, earning a Purple Heart, among several other medals, citations and awards.

He got bit parts in television and soon landed the Bonanza role which he would forever be known.

On May 13, 1972, Dan entered a Los Angeles hospital for simple gall bladder surgery. A blood clot in his lung changed everything. Dan Blocker died and left a wife and four children. He was on Bonanza for 13 seasons

Dan was part owner of the successful, once popular chain restaurant, Ponderosa/Bonanza Steakhouse… He also owned a race car.

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Ric Ocasek found dead today

Sad news from New York tonight. Ric Ocasek was found dead in his Manhattan apartment on Sunday, law enforcement confirmed. Some reports say he was 75 and some say he was 70.

Ric wrote some of the best pop hits of the late seventies and eighties for the Cars. The Cars were a big part of my teenage years.

https://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/Ric-Ocasek-Cars-Singer-Dead-in-NY-at-75-560430391.html

https://pagesix.com/2019/09/15/the-cars-frontman-ric-ocasek-found-dead-in-manhattan-townhouse/

 

Higgins (Benji)

Probably the most famous dog actor in the 60’s and 70’s. The two roles he is best known for were Benji and “The Dog” on Petticoat Junction.

In 1960, animal trainer Frank Inn found Higgins at the Burbank Animal Shelter as a puppy. A fluffy black-and-tan mixed-breed dog, he was marked like a Border Terrier, and Inn believed him to be a mix of Miniature Poodle, Cocker Spaniel, and Schnauzer. He took an immediate liking to Higgins and saw a real potential for acting in him. Higgins ended up being his biggest star.

Frank Inn, also trained Arnold Ziffel (the pig) and all of the other animals used on The Beverly HillbilliesPetticoat JunctionGreen Acres, and The Waltons TV series.

Higgins won a Patsy Award in 1967, and he was cover-featured on an issue of TV Guide magazine. He was really close to Edgar Buchanan who played Uncle Joe on Petticoat Junction. They were both in the movie Benji and it would be the last role for each actor.

From 1964-1970 he was in 174 episodes of Petticoat Junction. He also appeared in The Beverly Hillbillies, Village of the Giants, Green Acres, and in the early 1970s appeared in Lassie. In 1971, at the age of 14, Higgins starred in a TV movie with Vincent Price  called “Mooch Goes to Hollywood.” Frank Inn retired Higgins, but in 1974, he brought him out of retirement to star in his greatest role, the loveable dog “Benji.”

Higgins was born December 12, 1957 (per wiki), and sadly passed away November 11, 1975…he was 4 weeks shy of his 18th birthday. Frank Inn had Higgins cremated and wanted his ashes buried with him when he died. Frank died in 2002 but because of changes in the law…Higgins could not be buried with him.

After Higgins passed away his daughter played “Benji” in the next Benji movie in 1977.

 

History of the “The One Take Dog”