Sunday, January 16, 2022

Screen Capture Theatre: "Hell's Angels on Wheels," or Diff'rent Spokes

This time around on Screen Capture Theatre we look at the 1967 film "Hell's Angels on Wheels," or as I like to think of it ...

Who is this fine, upstanding citizen? Kindly Father Harrigan
of the local parish? No, it is only Psycho -- er, Cycle Sid,
a member of the upstanding Hell's Angels.

The Angels are a fun-loving group, dedicated to making
things better everywhere they go!

Jack is providing outstanding customer service at the local
gas station when he decides to join the Angels.

He leaves with his boss's blessing.

At first he alienates some of the members ...

... but Jack proves his mettle by giving a rival gang member
a swirly in a ladies' room toilet.

As a Hell's Angel, Jack receives continuing education
in subjects such as auto safety ...

... art appreciation ...

... guest speakers ...

... swimming ...

... and animal husbandry.

Then someone uncovers Jack's terrible secret ... he can't draw.

The revelation rips the Angels asunder and Jack
has no choice ... 

... he joins a rival group.

Friday, January 14, 2022

Forgotten Sitcoms: "Dave's World"

The final episode of "Dave's World" aired on CBS the night of June 27, 1997.

And I'll bet you a quarter that the last time you thought about "Dave's World," if you have thought about it at all, was on June 27, 1997.

"Dave's World" ran on CBS from 1993-97. Four seasons, 98 episodes. It was based on the work of Dave Barry, a newspaper columnist. (Remember them?) Specifically it was based on two books by Barry -- beyond that he had nothing to do with the show, which is a shame, because he's a pretty funny guy.

(Side note: One of my favorite Barry lines came in a column about being awakened at dawn by his toddler. Barry's wish was that someone would create an early-morning TV show for kids called "Let's Go Back to Bed.")

Harry Anderson, late of "Night Court," played Dave Barry, a columnist with a Miami newspaper. DeLane Matthews played Beth, his wife. (They stayed together all four seasons, even though in real life Dave and Beth split during the show's run.) Meshach Taylor, late of "Designing Women," played Dave's lifelong friend Sheldon, a plastic surgeon. Shadoe Stevens, late of "Hollywood Squares," played Dave's editor, Kenny. J.C. Wendel played Dave's assistant, Mia.

If "Dave's World" had any kind of ratings success, it was due to its location on the CBS schedule. It aired on Monday nights, nestled snugly between two popular shows -- "Evening Shade" and "Murphy Brown." It finished the season tied with "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" in 21st place. It stayed in the same slot the next season, sandwiched between "The Nanny" and "Murphy Brown," and again finished in 21st place.

In the fall of 1995 "Dave's World" was moved to Wednesdays, and the slide began. The show fell out of the top thirty, and Patrick Warburton was added to the cast as a love interest for Mia.

Then came the end -- a move to Friday nights for the 1996-97 season. Competition was tough -- this was the heyday of ABC's TGIF sitcom lineup that included "Family Matters," "Sabrina the Teenage Witch" and "Boy Meets World." "Dave's World" kicked off the night for CBS, followed by a new show, "Everybody Loves Raymond." "Dave's World" was yanked in January, with remaining episodes burned off in the early summer. "Everybody Loves Raymond" was saved by a move to Monday nights.

"Dave's World" received one Emmy nomination -- in 1996, for Outstanding Cinematography for a Series. Congratulations, Tony Yarlett! Sorry you didn't win. Its theme song was Billy Joel's "You May Be Right," performed by Southside Johnny. But because of rights issues, you won't hear it on the DVDs of the show. And as far as DVDs go, only three of the show's four seasons are available. There is no discernible online outcry or petition to make season four happen.

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Screen Capture Theatre: "The Hindenburg," or It's Hard Out Here for a Blimp

We go once more into the breach with Screen Capture Theatre and explore the 1975 film "The Hindenburg." Please fasten your seat belts and grab your sickness bags. 

Gutentag and welcome aboard the Hindenburg,
Germany's glorious lighter-than-air craft powered
solely by the bottled ecstasy of Hitler youth! 

The Hindenburg is the ultimate in transatlantic travel,
1937-style. The amenities are so posh, you'd think you
were on the Titanic! Elegant salons, cozy bedrooms,
sleek observation decks -- and don't forget the Sunday
Night Sauerkraut Supper!

Naturally, such a majestic craft has an impressive guest list,
beginning with Col. Erich Von Blowheim, the reluctant Nazi.

Blowheim is on board to foil the plot of a saboteur, and to
go through everyone's luggage as often as possible. 

Also aboard is the Countess von Mrs. Robinson, who keeps
calling Blowheim "Benjamin" in honor of a lost love.

And then there is LeBeau from "Hogan's Heroes" --

-- and future Gil Grissom from "CSI."

Meanwhile, in America, officials are anxiously awaiting the
Hindenburg's arrival. Says one: "Its like landing a crate
of eggs. A boobytrapped crate of eggs. A boobytrapped
crate of eggs balanced on the back of a bucking horse.
A boobytrapped crate of eggs balanced on the back of a
bucking horse in a windstorm. A boobytrapped ..."  

Meanwhile, back at the Hindenburg ...

... LeBeau is offering a one-man performance of
"Fiddler on the Roof."

The Nazis are so offended they clear the room.
Or maybe it's just excessive flatulence from the Sunday Night
Sauerkraut Supper. 

As the Hindenburg nears its New Jersey destination,
Blowheim is getting tired of re-folding everyone's

But then he finally finds the explosives that will destroy
the Hindenburg! Can he defuse the bomb in time? 

(Spoiler alert.)

Monday, January 10, 2022

Podcast: When Louis Met Dolly

When Louis Armstrong first saw the sheet music for "Hello, Dolly," he was in low spirits. It was just 11 days after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and Armstrong was in a career lull. He also didn't think much of the song. But he recorded it like the pro he was, and while he was off playing other gigs, it displaced the Beatles as America's top pop song. It also helped Armstrong transition from a jazz pro into a pop-music idol.


Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong, by Terry Teachout

What a Wonderful World: The Magic of Louis Armstrong's Later Years, by Ricky Riccardi

Friday, January 7, 2022

The Horror! Scary Made-for-TV Movies of the 1970s

When I was writing my "Incredible Inman" column I received a lot of questions about made-for-TV movies of the 1970s -- scary ones, specifically. Here are the top five, from the bottom up:

5. "Gargoyles" (originally aired November 21, 1972 on The New CBS Tuesday Night Movies): Set in the American Southwest, this story is about what happens when an expert on demonic mythology (Cornel Wilde) and his daughter (Jennifer Salt, at left) come into possession of a horned skull that the locals claim is from a gargoyle. This leads to an encounter with gargoyles, gargoyle eggs, and a gargoyle queen. The film's eerie visual style (the movie was released theatrically in Europe) and the creepy costumes (shout-out to the head gargoyle, played by Bernie Casey) embedded themselves in the memories of millions of terrified teenyboppers.

4. "The Night Stalker" (originally aired January 11, 1972 on ABC Movie of the Week): Upon its original airing, this vampire story set in Las Vegas became the highest-rated TV movie ever, leading to a 1973 sequel and a short-lived TV series. Darren McGavin plays Carl Kolchak, a disheveled reporter covering a series of murders where all the victims have been drained of blood. With the help of his girlfriend (Carol Lynley), Kolchak finally realizes that the killer is a vampire. This movie was a great favorite of Chris Carter, creator of "The X-Files," and he cast McGavin as the Kolchak-like Arthur Dales on the show.

3. "Trilogy of Terror" (originally aired March 4, 1975 on ABC Movie of the Week): Based on three short stories by Richard Matheson (who also adapted the screenplay for "The Night Stalker"), it is the final story, "Amelia," that has become the most notorious, thanks to the presence of a very determined little Zuni fetish doll determined to kill its terrified owner (Karen Black). If you've never seen the movie, that plot may sound too goofy to be scary. It isn't.

2. "Bad Ronald" (originally aired October 23, 1974 on ABC Movie of the Week): When Bad Ronald (Scott Jacoby) accidentally kills a little girl, his bad mother (Kim Hunter) does the natural thing -- she renovates her house so that he can hide within the walls and elude the authorities. Then she dies and the house is rented by the Wood family -- mother Pippa Scott, father Dabney Coleman and three teenage daughters. All of them begin wondering why food suddenly starts disappearing and why there are noises inside the walls, and Mr. and Mrs. Wood plan to deal with the problem just as soon as they leave their daughters at home and take an out-of-town trip!

1. "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" (aired October 10, 1973 on ABC Movie of the Week): All you need to know about this film is that Guillermo del Toro produced a 2010 remake because he loved it so much as a kid. Kim Darby plays Sally, a woman who inherits her grandmother's house and, despite warnings, is bound and determined to open an old bricked-up fireplace where demons live who are determined to make her one of them. Del Toro says that as a kid, he and his siblings mimicked the movie by whispering "Sally, Sally" to scare each other.

What are your nominees for scariest made-for-TV movie? Let me know! 

Thursday, January 6, 2022

Screen Capture Theatre: Zero Hour!, or Plane Crazy

On Screen Capture Theatre we condense a movie into a concise, but thrilling, handful of images. Today we feature the first airplane disaster movie, "Zero Hour," from 1957. A great film tells its story solely through visuals. And I guess "Zero Hour!" does, too.

Herewith we present the film in a unique pictorial form utilizing pictures of a visual nature designed to tell the story through images in a visual, pictorial manner that includes the use of pictorial images that are visual.

Our story begins on a beautiful day during World War II.

Dana Andrews plays Ted Stryker, a World War II squadron leader who
caused all of his men to crash. A lot. Now he is haunted and stuff.

Stryker's wife (Linda Darnell) is tired of having a haunted husband,
so she has taken son Bobby and left Stryker. Little does she know that the plane they have boarded is on a flight to disaster, with a quick connection at Kansas City.

In pursuit of his wife and son, Stryker boards the same plane and ends
up sitting 
next to Rob Petrie's neighbor, Dr. Jerry Helper.

Bobby visits the cockpit, where co-pilot Clutch Cargo gives him a toy plane.

Jerry Helper has a neurotic condition where he can talk only through his
puppet, Dr. Yarnfinger. When asked whether he wants halibut or lamb chops for dinner, Dr. Yarnfinger chooses lamb chops. Well played, Dr. Yarnfinger.

The special effects could be better.

Turns out most of the passengers and both of the pilots have eaten
bad halibut and have food poisoning. To save his family,
Ted Stryker must fly a plane again!

Unfortunately, it's been so long since Stryker flew that he's forgotten
where his ears are -- and that, for best results, a pilot's eyes must be open.

And yet Stryker's wife bravely supports him every step of the way.

Stryker gets off to a rough start, and knows that only one man can help him ...

... Gen. Jack D. Ripper. He knows Stryker's history, and even gave him an
affectionate nickname -- "cowardly pilot-killing incompetent sissy who
 crashes a lot." He is the ideal man to instill confidence in Stryker.

A doctor on board tries to distract the passengers with a singalong:
"Who knows 'The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald'?"

The passengers seem calm ...

"Dr. Yarnfinger ate halibut off of someone's plate and he
has food poisoning, too. He's doing weird things down my sleeve."

Ripper tells Stryker that thanks to the potency of his bodily fluids, he's doing a great job, and pay no attention to the hundreds of emergency vehicles lining the runway. They're just curious because they've never seen a disastrous crash before.

Finally the plane makes a smooth, relaxed landing.

And who knew this was one of those experimental planes
that used fire instead of landing gear?

Somebody's gettin' a little somepin-somepin tonight, oh yeah.

"Wait till Dr. Yarnfinger tells Millie about this!"