Charlie Chaplin – City Lights

Another masterpiece by Chaplin. This 1931 movie followed “The Circus” and is truly a classic. It is like watching poetry in action on the screen. The shooting of this movie was full of stops and troubles for Charlie but the finished product flows perfectly. Chaplin’s pantomime works so well in this silent movie that you never miss dialog.

While other movies at the time were going toward “talkies” Chaplin stuck stubbornly to silent and the film is all the better for it. Sound films at the time were in their infancy and they were more times than not very clumsy. The actors would talk too loud and be glued to a single spot because of bulky cameras and microphones they had to use.

The Gold Rush has been mentioned as Chaplin’s best movie but this one is just as good or better. The last scene is one of the best scenes I’ve ever seen in a movie…silent or otherwise.

Chaplin had trouble with Virginia Cherrill the leading lady. She wasn’t an actress, she was a Chicago Socialite. Chaplin liked working with someone with little or no acting experience. He spent weeks showing her how to hold a flower properly. Chaplin was a perfectionist and would think nothing of shooting a scene over 300 times.

He spent almost 3 years filming this movie and almost scrapped it all at the end and replace Virginia and refilm but decided against it when he looked at the cost. After all of the trouble he went through including a divorce at the beginning of filming…he turned out another masterpiece.

If you haven’t tried a silent movie…give this one a try. Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton made some of the best comedies ever…not just in the silent period.

Below the trailer is an outtake from City Lights that he didn’t use…it’s brilliant how he used a simple piece of wood on a city grate to make a great comedy scene that he deemed unworthy. I used this clip in an earlier post on the Unknown Chaplin…if you get a chance… watch it…it’s only around 7 minutes long.

Short plot description of City Lights from IMDB

A simple story of The Little Tramp who meets a lovely blind girl selling flowers on the sidewalk who mistakes him for a wealthy duke. When he learns that an operation may restore her sight, he sets off to earn the money she needs to have the surgery. In a series of comedy adventures that only Chaplin could pull off, he eventually succeeds, even though his efforts land him in jail. While he is there, the girl has the operation and afterward yearns to meet her benefactor. The tear-inducing closing scene, in which she discovers that he is not a wealthy duke but only The Little Tramp, is one of the highest moments in movies.

Batman 1966 – 1968

Cool hideout, Cool theme, Cool uniforms, Hot Batgirl and the Coolest car. The Batman TV series ran from 1966-1968 with 120 episodes. This was a fun campy show…not a dark drama searching for the reasons why Batman is a vigilante.

I was in the generation after this aired but I loved watching the reruns. Back in the mid-seventies, I was 8 and under the impression that Batman, Gilligans Island, and The Monkees were still making these fun shows. Batman was so colorful and expressive with it’s POW, BOOM, ZAP comic book play. The campiness played great in this show.

Adam West played the campy Batman perfectly and his ward…Burt Ward was just as good with his part. One of the great things about Batman was the villains. Cesar Romero did a great Joker. He may be my favorite Joker.  Burgess Meredith as the Penguin and Frank Gorshin as the Riddler was also perfectly cast. I always liked Catwoman played by Julie Newmar and Eartha Kitt. Last but certainly not least Bat Girl played by Yvonne Craig.

Lee Meriwether acted as Catwoman in the movie. Yes, there was a movie that they made in 1966! Like the series, it’s just as fun! It has the infamous bat-shark repellent in the movie.

The Batmobile! I loved that car. It started life as a 1955 Lincoln Futura concept car. George Barris did his magic and turned it into what we now know as the Batmobile. My personal favorite of all the Batman cars.

The cool theme song was composed by Neal Hefti.

I want to thank blainerestaurantreport for suggesting Batman to write about… He also told me that Burt Ward got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame…naturally beside Adam West. Congrats Burt!

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Classic TV Episodes: Are You Being Served? – Camping In

I watched this show on PBS when I was young but I started to watch it again during the 2000s and I haven’t stopped. I always loved this British sitcom. It wasn’t as clever as Fawlty Towers but not much is equal to that show. This show featured a very snobby class system with some silly gags but with no apologies. You could count on Mrs Slocombe’s “cat” being mentioned and would always hear…”Don’t worry…They’ll ride up with wear.” and Mr. Humphries declaring “I’m Free.” This show is the closest thing you will get to a time machine straight to the seventies.

Captain Stephen Peacock: Oh, yes, it brought back memories of the army. The lads, the heat, the sunset and the endless shifting sands.

Mr. Lucas: How long were you at Bognor Regis, Captain Peacock?

Captain Stephen Peacock: Mr. Lucas, when you were at school, I was with some of the toughest soldiers in the world, chasing Rommel through the desert.

Mr. Humphries: Some people have all the luck.

 

Are You Being Served: Camping In

The Characters: Mr. Lucas, Mrs. Slocombe, Captain Peacock, Mr. Humphries, Miss Brahms, Mr. Grainger, Mr. Rumbold, Mr. Mash, The Scottish Customer, The 38C Cup, The Large Brim with Fruit, The Secretary, The Man with the Large Bra, and The Leatherette Gloves

Due to a transport strike, the staff is forced to stay in the store overnight. Mr. Rumbold makes them sleep in tents—much to their displeasure. What at first seems to be a nightmare soon proves to be a chance for everyone to share in each other’s companionship.

Classic TV Episodes: M*A*S*H – Abyssinia, Henry

This episode was different from any comedies at the time and would influence others. Mclean Stevenson left the show (which he would later regret) after three seasons and the show killed his character off. When Radar walked in the operating room and told everyone what happened to Henry it was a memorable tv moment.

Sitcoms just didn’t kill characters off and Mash would start mixing comedy and drama more after this.

If it’s about my discharge, give it to me straight! I can take it!

You behave yourself, or I’m gonna come back here and kick your butt!

M*A*S*H: Abyssinia, Henry

The Characters: Capt. Benjamin Franklin ‘Hawkeye’ Pierce, Capt. ‘Trapper John’ McIntyre, Lt. Col. Henry Blake, Maj. Margaret ‘Hot Lips’ Houlihan, Maj. Frank Burns, Cpl. Walter ‘Radar’ O’Reilly, Cpl. Maxwell Q. Klinger and Father Francis Mulcahy

 

Radar has an announcement for Henry in O.R. Henry Blake has received his discharge: he is finally going home to Bloomington, Illinois, to his wife, Lorraine, and their children, the country club and his medical practice. The entire 4077 gang is thrilled for Henry and they wish him well; gifts are gotten, parties are thrown and all sorts of final memories are made. But, the entire gang is sad to be losing such an integral part of the 4077 gang. Radar, in particular, is losing the man who was a father to him. The final farewell formation is memorable; even Hawkeye and Trapper show up to tell their friend and leader a fond farewell. Some farewells are fonder than others. Klinger dresses to kill. As Henry starts to leave, Radar steadfastly holds his salute to his departing C.O. until Henry finally acknowledges him.

 

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0763200/

 

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