Classic TV Episodes – SNL – Steve Martin/Blues Brothers

This Emmy-nominated episode has acquired a reputation as the best of all Martin’s hosting gigs. Its not my favorite episode…I do like it though… but it’s probably one of the most important in the show’s history.  It was a turning point for SNL. It went from a cult hit to a major player in the ratings during this period. Many people have picked it as the best episode.

Saturday Night Live has always been hit or miss in any era. The difference in the 70s is they would take more chances and Lorne made sure everyone had a chance in the cast.

The show introduced a lot of comedians and some unknown musical artists like Redbone and others that would not have gotten coverage on a network show.

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Saturday Night Live: Steve Martin/Blues Brothers

The Cast: Steve Martin, Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Jane Curtin, Garrett Morris, Bill Murray, Laraine Newman, Gilda Radner, The Blues Brothers, and Don Pardo

The host for the episode is Steve Martin (his fifth appearance), and the musical guest is The Blues Brothers (their second appearance). The skits for this episode are as follows: Concert promoter Don Kirschner presents footage of an old club performance by The Blues Brothers. For his opening monologue, Steve Martin talks about the inspiration for his comedy ideas, then does a magic act that ends with him tackling and beating a member of the audience.

The Festrunk brothers prepare their apartment for the two girls they believe are on the way, but their neighbor Cliff tells them they’ve been stood up. Medieval doctor Theodoric of York treats a series of patients by draining their blood. A man and woman catch each other’s notice in a crowded club, and dance together romantically as the rest of the club freezes in place around them. During the Weekend Update, Jane Curtain and Dan Aykroyd debate abortion, Jane reports on Carter’s energy policy and a new nasal contraceptive, and Dan berates Garrett Morris for short-changing him on the weed he bought. Steve performs a song about King Tut. The Nerds Todd and Lisa prepare their science fair projects. The Blues Brothers perform “I Don’t Know”.

 

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

This is my go-to Thanksgiving movie. Steve Martin and John Candy are a great team in this comedy. Personally, I think this is John Candy’s greatest movie. I watch it every year and always looked forward to it.

The movie is full of great scenes and some good lines from Candy and Martin.

John Hughes is the Director and writer. He shot over 3 hours and had to edit it down. Below is a short plot. For those who haven’t seen it…you are missing a funny movie. It was rated R because of a one minute scene with the F-Bomb used 18 times by mostly Martin. The movie was released in 1987.

Short Plot

In New York, a marketing executive Neal Page wants to travel home to Chicago for Thanksgiving. He has difficulties getting a taxi and his flight is canceled. He meets in the airport the clumsy and talkative shower curtain ring salesman Del Griffith who has taken his cab and they travel side-by-side to Chicago. However the bad weather shuts down O’Hare Airport and they land at Wichita, Kansas. They both want to go to Chicago and they decide to travel together.  Neal is cursed/blessed with the presence of Del Griffith, shower curtain ring salesman and all-around blabbermouth who is never short of advice, conversation, bad jokes, or company.

Along their journey, Neal changes his viewpoint about Del Griffith and his own behavior.

 

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0093748/

 

 

Avery Schreiber

I saw this man in the seventies on commercials and game shows but never knew his name. He was always funny and caught my attention. Avery was an actor and comedian. He is best remembered as part of the comedy team of Burns and Schreiber, which he formed with Jack Burns. He was a crowd standout with his huge trademark walrus mustache and thick curly black hair.

Jack Burns, Avery’s partner, played Deputy Warren Ferguson on the Andy Griffith Show. Burns was filling a void left by Don Knotts but it didn’t really work.

At their peak, Schreiber and Burns appeared as regulars on the summer replacement musical variety series “Our Place” (1967), then earned the right to front their own summer series with “The Burns and Schreiber Comedy Hour” (1973).

Schreiber is also remembered for his various Doritos corn chip commercial advertisements in various disguises (chef, sultan, pilot), all of them perturbed by people loudly crunching on the popular chip.

Avery appeared in a number of TV series and movies, including “My Mother the Car” and “Days of Our Lives” on television, and the Mel Brooks’ film “Robin Hood: Men in Tights.”He was a regular guest star on the television comedy “Chico and the Man” and was also a frequent guest on the game show “Match Game” and in a first-season episode of “The Muppet Show.” He continued to work in film, television and the Theater until the time of his death in 2002.

 

Burns and Schreiber

 

Classic TV Episodes: Seinfeld – The Soup Nazi

This show had great writing and cast. For my money, it was the sitcom of the 90s. It wasn’t like all the main characters were likable like other sitcoms…far from it…but it worked perfectly.

The Soup Nazi was based on Al Yeganeh, the real-life owner of Soup Kitchen International in Manhattan, New York City. After the episode aired, Jerry Seinfeld and members of the cast and crew went to the restaurant for lunch. Yeganeh yelled at them and stated that the publicity had ruined his reputation. After Seinfeld offered an apology, Yeganeh yelled, “No soup for you!” and ejected them from his restaurant. Any references to “Seinfeld” are forbidden in any Soup Kitchen International.

Yeganeh ran his soup kitchen as a very tight ship. All of his customers would line up and be forced to obey his strict and formal rules of standing, talking, paying, waiting and requesting the soup the desired. Anyone who deviated in the slightest and offended Yeganeh was immediately told to get out and refunded their money.

Yeganeh’s pat line, to any customer who offended him, was “No soup for you!”

Um… you know what? Has anyone ever told you you look exactly like Al Pacino? You know, “Scent Of A Woman.” Who-ah! Who-ah!

NO SOUP FOR YOU!

COME BACK ONE YEAR! NEXT!

Seinfeld: The Soup Nazi

The characters: Jerry Seinfield, Elaine Benes, Cosmo Kramer, George Costanza, Newman, Susan Ross, Sheila, Soup Nazi, Bania, Cedric, Bob, Super, and Furniture Guy.

Everyone goes to this new soup stand because the soup is so great. Unfortunately, the owner is obsessed about his customer’s ordering procedure. Jerry and his new girlfriend annoy everybody by using baby talk. George tries to do the same thing with Susan to show how annoying they are to everybody. Jerry and his girlfriend get rejected from the Soup Nazi’s kitchen when they’re caught kissing in line. Elaine buys an Armoire and asks Kramer to watch it. While watching it, Kramer is robbed by some gay, trash-talking street toughs who want nothing more than the Armoire. She then gets rejected from the soup kitchen when she offends the “Soup Nazi”. Kramer, who befriends the Soup Nazi, gets a new Armoire exactly like the one that was stolen from him. He then gives it to Elaine, who discovers the Soup Nazi’s recipes inside. Jerry pleads with her not to do anything, but Elaine threatens to put the Soup Nazi out of business.

 

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0697782/quotes/?tab=qt&ref_=tt_trv_qu

 

The Marx Brothers – Horse Feathers

Next to Duck Soup…Horse Feathers (1932) is my favorite Marx Brother movie. Their five movies for Paramount are great. When they moved to MGM their movies had more of a plot but were diluted and tame in comparison with the Paramount films.

They were the kings of being irrelevant or irrelephant as Groucho would say.

There are some 1930’s references in the movie and many double entendres. With the Marx Brothers, you either get them or not. They are chaos and anarchy all rolled into one. They were anti-establishment before the term was popular. In the 1970s their popularity soared again when college students would wait in lines around theaters to see their films that were 40 years old at the time.

Harpo has some of his best visual gags in this movie. Chico or Chicko gets lost sometimes when talking about the brothers but he plays a big part in the act. Zeppo was regulated as the straight man and Groucho…is Groucho.

In Horse Feathers, Groucho plays college president, Professor Quincy Adams Wagstaff. Groucho runs the school and chaos reigns. He finds out the college cannot support the football program. The professors are kissing up to Groucho (Wagstaff) because he is a President. Here is an exchange.

Wagstaff: This college is a failure. The trouble is, we’re neglecting football for education.

The Professors[in unison] Exactly, the professor is right.

Wagstaff: Oh, I’m right, am I? Well, I’m not right. I’m wrong. I just said that to test ya. Now I know where I’m at. I’m dealing with a couple of snakes. What I meant to say was that there’s too much football and not enough education

.The Professors: That’s what I think.

Wagstaff: Oh, you do, do you? Well, you’re wrong again. If there was a snake, you’d apologize. Where would this college be without football? Have we got a stadium?

The Professors: Yes.

Wagstaff: Have we got a college?

The Professors: Yes.

Wagstaff: Well, we can’t support both. Tomorrow we start tearing down the college.

This is the plot from Wiki…which for a Marx Brothers movie is not as important.

The film revolves around college football and a game between the fictional Darwin and Huxley Colleges.[a] Many of the jokes about the amateur status of collegiate football players and how eligibility rules are stretched by collegiate athletic departments remain remarkably current.[5]Groucho plays Quincy Adams Wagstaff, the new president of Huxley College, and Zeppo is his son Frank, a student at the school who convinces his father to recruit professional football players to help Huxley’s terrible football team. There are also many references to Prohibition. Baravelli (Chico) is an “iceman”, who delivers ice and bootleg liquor from a local speakeasy. Pinky (Harpo) is also an “iceman”, and a part-time dogcatcher. Through a series of misunderstandings, Baravelli and Pinky are accidentally recruited to play for Huxley instead of the actual professional players. This requires them to enroll as students, which creates chaos throughout the school.

The Cast

  • Groucho Marx – Professor Quincy Adams Wagstaff
  • Harpo Marx – Pinky
  • Chico Marx – Baravelli
  • Zeppo Marx – Frank Wagstaff
  • Thelma Todd – Connie Bailey
  • David Landau – Jennings
  • Robert Greig – Biology professor Hornsvogel
  • Reginald Barlow – Retiring President
  • E. H. Calvert – Professor in Wagstaff’s office
  • Nat Pendleton – Darwin football player MacHardie
  • James Pierce – Darwin football player Mullen
  • Theresa Harris – Laura, Connie’s maid
  • Walter Brennan – Football commentator (uncredited)

Edna Purviance

When I first started to read about and watch Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton in the 90s I noticed in most of Chaplin’s early short films this beautiful lady with expressive eyes as his leading lady. Chaplin never found a better leading lady than Edna.

Edna was born in Paradise Valley, Nevada in 1895. In 1900 her parents moved to Lovelock where they ran the Singer Hotel, though they later divorced. Edna was musically inclined and played the piano well. Shortly after her high school graduation, she moved to San Fransisco, took a business course and began work as a secretary.

While searching for a leading lady in 1915 an associate of Chaplin suggested a girl he remembered as a regular at a local San Francisco café. After rejecting several chorus girls, Chaplin arranged a meeting with Purviance, who he was impressed by her beauty and personality but still wasn’t sure she was right. They went to a party and Chaplin claimed he could hypnotize her and she said he could not in front of everyone… she ended up going along with the joke and pretended to be hypnotized and that won Chaplin over.

In real life as in the films, Purviance and Chaplin were romantically involved, and they remained close friends even after their affair was over in 1918. While he entertained serious thoughts of marriage, he also had doubts that he expressed in his 1964 Autobiography. Edna also had her reservations as well.

Chaplin continued to feel not only friendship but responsibility for Purviance, and she drew a small monthly stipend from his film company for the remainder of her life. Edna was his leading lady from 1915-1923.

Purviance eventually married John Squire, a Pan-American Airlines pilot, in 1938. They remained married until his death in 1945. Edna died of throat cancer on January 13, 1958.

A quote from Edna from IMDB

Mr. Chaplin asked me if I would like to act in pictures with him. I laughed at the idea but agreed to try it. I guess he took me because I had nothing to unlearn and he could teach me in his own way. I want to tell you that I suffered untold agonies. Eyes seemed to be everywhere. I was simply frightened to death. But he had unlimited patience in directing me and teaching me.

 

 

 

 

Charlie Chaplin – The Kid

This 1921 movie by Charlie Chaplin teamed him up with young Jackie Coogan. You may remember the adult Coogan as Uncle Fester on the Addams Family. It’s a great film with some classic scenes between Chaplin and Coogan. This was Chaplin’s first feature film. He was finishing up his First National contract as he co-founded United Artists with Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, and D.W. Griffith.

Image result for jackie coogan kid and adult

The Jackie Coogan and Chaplin…Jackie Coogan as Uncle Fester

The story starts off with a woman (Edna Purviance) that abandons her baby in the back of an expensive car hoping that the owners will give her baby a life that she can not. The car is then stolen and the baby is left on the street. The Tramp (Chaplin) finds the baby and takes it home and raises him. Five years pass and he loves the kid and together they have a great scheme going on.

The kid goes around throwing rocks through windows and out of nowhere later on comes The Tramp who would just so happen to have glass and materials with him to fix the window for a price.

The authorities soon find out that the Tramp is not the kid’s father. While this is going on the mother who is doing really well now is looking for her child. The Tramp and Kid are pursued and in this film, Chaplin had some serious and tender moments combining comedy with pathos which at the time was a turning point. The movie was considered a masterpiece when it was released.

One scene that jumps out is the scene where social services are physically taking the child away and Chaplin fights…not comically but really fights to keep the Kid.

The film was written, directed, produced and starred… Charlie Chaplin. Edna Purviance makes her last appearance acting with Chaplin. She would be directed by him one more time in a drama as a leading lady. This movie kicked off Coogan’s very successful child acting career.

Jackie Coogan would become a star in the twenties. He earned 3-4 million dollars acting and when he turned 21 in 1935 he thought he was set for life only to find out the money was gone. His mother and step-father spent all of his money on furs, jewelry, and cars. His mom said that Jackie enjoyed himself acting and no promises were ever made to give him any of the money. Jackie sued his mom in 1938 and only received 125,000 dollars of his money.

Coogan had financial problems for a long while and even went to Chaplin for help which Chaplin gladly gave him money.

One good thing came out of it. The “Coogan Act” which made parents set aside at least 15 percent of their child’s earnings to a trust fund.

If you get a chance this is a great short entertaining movie.