A quick look at Gomer Pyle USMC and Frank Sutton

I watched a few episodes this weekend. The show has a local connection for me because of Frank Sutton.

The show ran from 1964 to 1969 and was a spinoff from The Andy Griffith Show. The character of Gomer Pyle was portrayed by Jim Nabors and he left The Andy Griffith Show in the 4th season in an episode entitled Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.

Gomer was a naive country boy from Mayberry North Carolina who joined the Marines and Andy went with him for the induction and helped the clueless Gomer get accepted. Frank Sutton played quick tempered Sgt Carter who would be tormented by Gomer Pyle for five seasons. I would watch the show as a kid and I thought Sgt Carter was mean to Gomer…as an adult I could understand if Carter would have choked him.

The show was a major hit. It never placed lower than 10 in the Neilson ratings. In 1969 Jim Nabors wanted out because he wanted to do a variety show. No one could understand why he wanted out of a hit show but he wanted to be in a program where he could sing, dance, and do different bits.

CBS offered Nabors a variety show so he was happy. They also offered Frank Sutton his own show Sergeant Carter–USMC. It would employ a black recruit who, unlike Gomer, would always be one step ahead of the Sergeant. It could have been a big hit but he turned it down because he felt like he did everything he could do with the character.

Sutton ended up co-starring with Nabors on his variety show and Sutton worked well in the comedy bits but was not a dancer or singer. CBS told Nabors he had to fire Sutton but Nabors refused and the show was canceled.

The local connection with Sutton is he was born in Clarksville Tennessee, a few miles from where I live. Sutton appeared in movies and shows from the 50s thru the 70s. The Twilight Zone, Have Gun Will Travel, Gunsmoke, Route 66 and many more.

He took acting in East Nashville High School and graduated in 1941.

After high school, Sutton returned to Clarksville to become a radio announcer. He enlisted in the U.S. Army during World War II and served in the South Pacific, taking part in 14 assault landings. Sutton was a sergeant who served from 1943–1946 in the 293rd Joint Assault Signal Company. He was awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart; he had been medically rejected by the Marine Corps.

Frank, a heavy smoker,  would only live to be 50. He would die of a heart attack in 1974 just a few months shy of his 51st birthday. In 2017 a statue of Frank Sutton was unveiled in Clarksville Tn. Here is a link to the story of the unveiling. Statue of Frank Sutton in Clarksville.

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This is an interview with Frank Sutton that was never published around the time of the variety show.

 

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Sutton

 

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.

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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.

 

 

This is Spinal Tap

I remember seeing this movie with some buddies in the 1980s and we all loved it. A great mockumentary of the fictional rock group Spinal Tap and their dying drummers. There are many quotable lines in this movie and they have stayed with me since I saw it the first time. I’ve met some people who didn’t get this movie at all and some who loved it.

The movie starred Michael McKeon as singer/guitarist David Saint Hubbins, Christopher Guest as guitarist Nigel Tufnel (reminded me of Jeff Beck), Harry Shearer as bassist Derek Smalls, Tony Hendra as manager Ian Faith, David Kaff as keyboard player Vic Savage and R.J. Parnell as drummer Mick Shrimpton…also Rob Reiner as the Marty DiBergi the filmmaker.

Harry Shearer, Michael McKean, and Christopher Guest actually wrote, played, and sang the music.

The movie was released in 1984 and started slow but built a cult following. At first, some people thought it was about a real band and they would ask Reiner why he would do a documentary on a band no one had heard of.

Christopher Guest said he was inspired at an LA hotel in 1974 when a British band came in and the manager of the band asked the bass player if he left his bass at the airport. The bass player replied I don’t know if I left it…did I leave it? Do you get my bass at the airport? Guest said this went on for 20 minutes back and forth and it stuck with him.

They did have a basic story but the movie was ad-libbed with no script. They had over 100 hours of film and had to edit it down. They have regrouped many times and played live concerts as Spinal Tap.

This Is Spinal Tap was selected for preservation by the National Film Registry because it is a film that is considered “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the Library of Congress.

My favorite bits? Stonehenge, Nigel’s “Mach” piece, these go to 11, Nigel’s bread, you can’t dust vomit… there are too many to name them all. check the videos out at the bottom.

 

Some of it hits home according to some rock stars.

Quotes about the movie

The Edge – “It’s so hard to keep things fresh, and not to become a parody of yourself,”. “And if you’ve ever seen that movie Spinal Tap, you will know how easy it is to parody what we all do. The first time I ever saw it, I didn’t laugh. I wept. I wept because I recognized so much and so many of those scenes.”

Ozzy Osbourne reportedly thought it was a real documentary. ” “They seemed quite tame compared to what we got up to”

Joe Perry from Aerosmith –  “It was great, every bit as brilliant as it was supposed to be, so good. Even then, we had been through it all six times. I told Steven the next day, ‘You’ve got to see this movie! It’s so good. It’s hilarious.’”

Steven Tyler from Aerosmith – “That movie bummed me out, because I thought, ‘How dare they? That’s all real, and they’re mocking it’

Pete Townsend –  “Keith Moon “was ‘Spinal Tap incarnate.”

Stonehenge

 

These go to 11

 

Nigel’s Bread

 

Can’t dust vomit

 

Trailer

 

 

 

A Look at The Andy Griffith Show

There has been so much written about this show and the writing will never stop. It was a show about the quirky citizens in a fictional town called Mayberry. The Andy Griffith Show is not just another show. The series will be around long after we are gone and still being discovered by future generations.

Some of the love I have for the show is about escapism. The low pressure of living in Mayberry where you are allowed to live slow and friends are only a few miles away. Nowadays our lives are so full of technology and rush that it would be tempting to walk through the screen.

Mayberry was based on a small North Carolina town called Mount Airey where Andy grew up. Griffith has also said that although the show was in the sixties, Mayberry had a 1930s-1940s feel to it.

Andy Griffith and Don Knotts were a great comedy team. I wish they would have made a few movies together. Knotts wanted to do that but Griffith always backed away from it. You can put them up there with other great comedy teams. Andy was a great straight man and Don played off of him so well.

I’ve seen parents play episodes to their kids for lessons, schools play episodes for students and heard of preachers writing sermons around episodes. The humor wasn’t dirty but it wasn’t sterile either. Most if not all of the first 5 season episodes are classics.

The show offered a little of everything… One of the things I liked was the bluegrass music of The Dillards who appeared on the show as the Darlings. Denver Pyle played Briscoe Darling Jr. and played the jug with the Dillards.

Seasons 1-5 were in Black and White with Don Knotts as Barney Fife. Don’s last season was the 5th season and seasons 6-8 were in color.  I have all of the Griffith Show episodes but I will admit…I don’t really watch the color episodes as much as the black and white ones. Yes, there are some good later episodes but it’s Andy. He walks around Mayberry like he is owed money. Andy later admitted on many of the later episodes he was going through the motions.

He started to get a little tenser on screen in the 5th season but Barney was still there and kept things light. In the 6th season with Barney gone, Andy acted impatient with his fellow odd citizens where at one time he enjoyed them.

It was one of the most successful television shows ever. The Series went out on top and had a successful spinoff called Mayberry RFD.

In the early 70s Mayberry RFD and other shows such as  The Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres, Mister Ed, Lassie, Petticoat Junction, and Hee Haw were canceled because of the rural purge the network did… everything that had a tree got canceled it seemed.

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A Novelty Song from the 70s – Wildwood Weed

I usually don’t post novelty songs but I grew up with this one.

This song made me laugh as a kid. It’s about as corny as you can get but fun all the same. Jim Stafford had some novelty hits. His prime was 1973-1974. I had in my possession (from my sister) three of his hits. The Wildwood Weed, Swamp Witch, and his biggest hit “Spiders and Snakes.”

Jim has a sense of humor.

It didn’t take a genius to know what Wildwood Weed was about but the first time I heard it as an eight-year-old, an older neighbor had to tell me about it.

It made it to number 7 on the Billboard charts. It actually made it to #57 on the country charts which surprises me knowing how conservative country was at that time.

The song contains one of my favorite lines of all time. “Take a trip never leave the farm.” It’s about a bunch of country guys living on a farm and discovering pot…

Wildwood Weed
Jim Stafford

The wildwood flower grew wild on the farm,
And we never knowed what it was called.
Some said it was a flower and some said it was weed,
I never gave it much thought ……
One day I was out there talking to my brother,
Reached down for a weed to chew on,
Things got fuzzy and things got blurry,
And then everything was gone!
Didn’t know what happened,
But I knew it beat the hell out of sniffin’ burlap.

I come to and my brother was there,
And he said, What’s wrong with your eyes?
I said, I don’t know, I was chewing on a weed.
He said, Let me give it a try.
We spent the rest of that day and most of that night,
Trying to find my brother, Bill.
Caught up with him, ’bout six o’clock the next morning,
Naked, swinging on the wind mill!
He said he flew up there.
I had to fly up there and bring him down,
He was about half crazy …..

The very next day we picked a bunch of them weeds,
And put ’em in the sun to dry.
Then we mashed ’em up and chopped ’em up,
And put ’em in the corncob pipe.
Smokin’ that wildwood flower got to be a habit,
We didn’t see no harm.
We thought it was kind of handy,
Take a trip and never leave the farm!

All good things gotta come to an end,
And it’s the same with the wildwood weed.
One day this feller from Washington came by,
And he spied it and turned white as a sheet.
Then they dug and they burned,
And they burned and they dug,
And they killed all our cute little weeds.
Then they drove away,
We just smiled and waved ……….
Sittin’ there on that sack of seeds!

Y’all come back now, hear?

That Elusive 70’s House

As anyone who has read this blog knows, I like the 60s and 70s. I collect things from that era and even looked for a house in that era…I just didn’t know how many houses we would visit.

In 2004 my wife and I thought it was time to move from our starter home. We were learning to jump from the hall to living room to kitchen because we were getting crowded with our small home with a 4-year-old son, a mutt and a Saint Bernard running about.

We didn’t know what we wanted and were totally naive about house hunting. We only had so much money when we bought our starter home so it was easy…the second house we saw we bought. This time we had options and wanted to find our final house…THAT house…  We found an agent and she said: “I’ll show you 6 houses but you need to pick one of them and that will be it.” We didn’t like any of the houses she showed us that weekend.

We told the agent to forget it and started to freelance and ended up looking at 11 more by just going around and making appointments to visit houses. Ok, we are up to 17 now. But by this time we knew what we wanted. We wanted a 1970s style house…split level if possible.  An open floor plan with some land…and some room. My wife would not go for shag carpet (dang it) or an avocado refrigerator but she did like the older designs.

At the 18th house we looked at, we found an agent as crazy as we were named Naomi. She was new at being a real estate agent and said she would stick with us through the complete process. We kept going when we could and the number kept rising. I then got laid off my job in May of 2006…and it slowed us down but in July I was working again and the adventure continued.

Naomi could not understand why we would want an older house. She would try to dissuade us. She would try to slip in a new townhouse…we would arrive and say no…but she said she had to try. We looked in multiple counties to see if we could find what we wanted. We found nothing that was remotely close to my work.

We found many houses that we wanted. But it never failed that something would happen. The house would fail inspection, someone would beat us and sign first, at one house someone paid cash and got the house, or they would not take a contingent contract on our house selling…one time the owners changed their minds.

The total kept climbing but Naomi stayed with us…and we reached the 50s…We became really good friends with her and still are to this day. She still invites us over every year to her July 4th party. Namoi was learning with us and enjoyed looking at houses and actually started to appreciate the older houses.

Then it happened in 2007…We found a house (insert angels singing here)…the 55th house we looked at! We got there and drove down the driveway… I knew this was the one… the driveway was shadowed by the top of the trees hanging over it. It was an A-frame (with a 60s  vibe) with five bedrooms and surrounded by green everywhere…trees and woods…For some odd reason “Uncle John’s Band” kept playing in my mind. We got there and found out it was built in 1992. We were shocked… We thought it was older.

We talked to the man and wife who owned it. They were two public attorneys (Jim and Diane) and both were so nice. They talked with us a little and said the house was not on the market yet but Diane said we had good “Karma” …and if we wanted it…it was ours.

She bought the house when it was a 900 square foot A-frame on three acres. She then met her husband Jim and had a child…they built a wing and garage on one side…had more kids and built another wing on the other side. It is one of a kind with an open floor plan…and we bought it for under market value because they wanted to live near their work in Nashville and had already bought another house. They were offered more money by someone else but stuck with us…I was surprised but our “karma” must have won out. The inspection passed with flying colors…and nothing went wrong.

So we moved in…The Wife, the son, the Mutt and our Saint…and me of course…The irony of it all? We had searched all over for 3 years and even 60-100 miles away…and this house was 2 miles from where we were living. It’s hidden from the road and we had never laid our eyes on it.

After we bought the house Jim and Diane invited us to dinner at their new home. Turns out Jim knew Bob Jackson…if you don’t know Bob Jackson, he was in Badfinger right before Pete Ham passed away (see I tied pop culture into this). He had some interesting stories and they are great people.

The house has been a great investment…it’s climbed in value but we want to stay here till the end. I don’t have another search left in me…

By the way…We made it up to Naomi…we referred her to two of our friends who bought and sold their houses through her as the agent. She still calls us asking us if we want to go with her at times and visit houses. She said she misses going to see houses with us.

Since it wasn’t a seventies house I thought I would bring the seventies to it… the corner of my music room where I read.

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I still hear Uncle Johns Band when I come down my drive…it doesn’t get better than that

 

Tucker and Dale vs Evil

This is a 2010 comedy/horror movie. I just watched it 2 years ago on a recommendation from a co-worker. It is more comedy than horror. If you like dark humor combined with stupid humor you might like this movie.

It’s a parody on horror movies and the film goes over the normal cliches. Tucker and Dale are West Virginia mountain men that bought a cabin in the woods and are excited for their “vacation cottage.” It is an old beat up cabin but they plan to fix it up.

They meet some college kids that are staying near them and the kids think Tucker and Dale are killers. You have sympathy for Tucker and Dale right away. They are nice guys just happy to have their cabin. Tucker is trying to teach Dale with his limited knowledge on women and how to be social.

The movie surprised me and I really liked it. The director is Eli Craig, Sally Field’s second son.

If you are looking for another Gone With The Wind…this is not it but if you are in a mood for a stupid comedy/horror that is funny…give it a try.

This review is from Screen Rant.

https://screenrant.com/tucker-and-dale-vs-evil-reviews/