Tuesday, June 8, 2010

All the news that’s fit to blog

As the immortal Billy de Wolfe once uttered on a classic animated Christmas special: “Busy, busy…busy! That’s the perfect way to describe current events taking place at Rancho Yesteryear (where I found the time to do the obits is still a mystery) so until I can push some of the projects that I’m working on off my plate, you should catch up with some of these fine folks who fly in the face of social norms by allowing themselves to be associated with this ‘umble blog:

Sarkoffagus at the Classic Film and TV Café has an entertaining write-up on the Warner Home Video/Turner Classic Movies DVD release The Charlie Chan Collection, which hits the street today and consists of four films cranked out by Monogram between 1946 and 1947 (these programmers star Sidney Toler as the inscrutable Asian sleuth...save the last, which stars Roland Winters): Dark Alibi (1946), Dangerous Money (1946), The Trap (1946) and The Chinese Ring (1947). Sark” is a bit generous in his praise for these films (let’s be honest—most of the Chan Monograms aren’t much to write home about) but I think his take on the merits of supporting players Mantan “Feets don’t fail me now” Moreland and the great Benson Fong in these films is first-rate. I’m curious as to why Warner/TCM didn’t make this an all Toler set, however—I’m guessing that maybe the existing prints of The Red Dragon (1945) and Shadows Over Chinatown (1946) weren’t up to snuff?

Our pal Stacia of She Blogged by Night fame will kick off that blog’s first blogathon on July 5th (which, in an amazing coinky-dink, happens to be my sister Debbie’s natal anniversary) and I can barely contain my excitement. (In fact, I have decided to label all of the posts that I plan to contribute to this momentous occasion “A Piece of Shat.”) The great thing about the “Shatnerthon,” however, is that there are fabulous prizes to be awarded—let’s let Stacia tell us what we could win!

The good news is that the rules are simple: Blog about William Shatner. Doesn't matter what you blog about; anything that bears the golden touch of the Shatman is fair game. You could blog about movies, sure, but you could also blog about TV shows, interviews, musical performances, cartoons, satire, you could even send me a link to something you have already written and submit it for the Shatnerthon! That is how generous I am, my friends. Submit your entries to me in comments or via email, preferrably during the week of July 5th through 9th, but I'm not gonna turn down earlier submissions. I'll post daily links to every submission I get.

And. AND! Everyone who submits an entry to the Shatnerthon will be entered into a random drawing for free DVDs! Two people will win a "Twilight Zone" compilation DVDs, either Volume 9 with "Nick of Time" or Volume 2 with "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet." These are an almost $6 value! Very exciting! Note you don't have to tell me your name or anything unless you win, but if you do, you'll have to give me some kind of address to send these to. You are welcome to give me a fake name if you're concerned about privacy, though, but you can't use the name "Italian Director Frappucino Tentacles" because I've taken that one already.

I’m convinced that this is going to be one of the most popular blogathons ever perpetuated in the blogosphere, so Stacia doesn’t need to worry (as she states: “Don't make me force my husband to create a blog just so I have at least one participant!”). I’m still mulling over what to write about—Stacia suggested one of my favorite “pieces of Shat,” Kingdom of the Spiders (1977), since it’s playing on IFC this month—but unless they put that bad boy on IFC On Demand I’m seriously boned. But no worries—I recorded Incubus (1965) off of TCM Underground a while back, and there is plenty of material in the dusty TDOY archives (episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Thriller, Naked City, Route 66, Burke’s Law, etc.) to get this party started, fo’ shizzle. (The kids love it when I use their street lingo.)

They say for every boy and girl there’s just one love in this whole world…

…and that’s when I wake up screaming. Creepy! (Another tip of the TDOY derby to M. Bouffant.)

The hit count here at TDOY has been rather hefty of late, owing to the fact that Wikipedia has linked to my obit of former Our Gang moppet Dorothy “Echo” DeBorba-Haberreiter. But the man whom I’ve always considered to be my classic movie “mentor,” Leonard Maltin, has a superior write-up over at his Movie Crazy blog (I love how the late Dorothy used to sing Happy Birthday into Len’s answering machine every year on his natal anniversary), as well as a blurb about the recent discovery of the 1914 short A Thief Catcher (and the incredible New Zealand silent films find—apparently Maltin had to “swallow” this news and ended up getting shut out of the scoop like the Siren and Ferdy).

The details of the Catcher find are nicely outlined by film historian Scott Eyman in this article from The Palm Beach Post online; Brent Walker at the Mack Sennett blog also has a brief take on it as well—not to mention news of some rare Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle shorts from the Library of Congress that will be screened tomorrow evening (June 9th) at the Cinefamily in Los Angeles. Brent will be hosting the event, which will also include a screening of the 1928 Marion Davies romp The Cardboard Lover (1928)—so you people within driving distance have no excuse to miss out on what sounds like an amazing evening!

RGJ at Television Obscurities chats about a subject that I, as a fan of the series, was completely unaware—a proposed third season for the classic TV comedy-western F Troop. Apparently Warner Brothers put the kibosh on a junior run despite its respectable Nielsen numbers because the show was too expensive to produce; a commenter on this post observes: “Ken Berry had to be the unluckiest actor back in those days. Both F Troop and Mayberry [R.F.D.] got canceled at the height of their popularity.” (Maybe I should institute an F Troop Fridays?)

When people ask why I don’t write as extensively on old-time radio as I once did, I joshingly retort that Harry Heuser at Broadcastellan is doing most of the heavy lifting nowadays. But I really don’t mean to be all that flippant; Harry’s written a top-notch piece about the late radio pioneer Himan Brown (the part about Brown’s legendary “frugality” makes for fascinating reading)…and I’m not just saying this because he mentioned seeing Brown’s obituary at TDOY. In fact, to be completely unbiased you should also check out another fun read of Harry’s—one that deals with a classic broadcast from Duffy’s Tavern.

Marilyn Ferdinand of the oft-mentioned Ferdy on Films has a great interview with one of the important names in film preservation, Rick Prelinger of the Prelinger Archives fame. (I thought pointing readers to this chat would be a good idea in light of the recent New Zealand archive/presentation news.)

Saturday, a trip to my mailbox resulted in the arrival of The Three Stooges Collection, Volume 8: 1955-1959 from Amazon.com to Castle Yesteryear. I can now say with a great degree of smugness that I now possess all of the Stooges’ two-reelers on DVD—and when I broke this news to Ivan, Sr…he was not nearly that impressed. (My father doesn’t care much for Moe, Larry and Curly/Shemp/Joe, etc.—which puts a serious crimp on his "man credentials," as my old high school pal The Duchess observed.) This collection also has that “Includes Shemp Howard” disclaimer on the front—is this something mandated by the FDA?

In conclusion, I’d like to thank Dylan “Fletch” Fields—the hardest working man in the movie blog bidness—for passing along the latest TotalFilm newsletter to me yesterday…he thought I might get a kick out of this item:

I’m not sure if I can handle all this respectability (I’m even on the blogroll at Libertas Film Magazine!)…but I sure do appreciate the shout-out.

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Stacia said...

Haha that picture of Shatner is great! Thanks for the shout out.

Congrats on being listed on Total Film ... again! Nothing shamelessly self promoting about it. You are, as they say, the man.

I was surprised that you mentioned Maltin's blog because I thought it was abandoned. Turned out my RSS feed wasn't updating it. Wow, I have some catching up to do.

KC said...

I plan to start using the phrase "natal anniversary" as often as possible.

Hal said...

Great minds thinking alike, maybe? I've been considering starting an episode by episode F TROOP at the Section for a while, since I have a bit of exhaustion going on with the film series right now. I do have mini-reviews of each episode on the 3 part series on the DVD's.

Though there is a Shatner flick I have DVR'd that isn't on DVD yet also.... ;)

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

Great minds thinking alike, maybe? I've been considering starting an episode by episode F TROOP at the Section for a while, since I have a bit of exhaustion going on with the film series right now.

I say go for it, Hal -- you're one of the biggest F Troop fans I know, and I'd love to read those pieces. I'll even plug the heck out of them here!