Friday, November 30, 2012

Coming distractions: January 2013 on TCM

Eagle-eyed Laura of Miscellaneous Musings fame gave me a heads-up early last month that The Greatest Cable Channel Known to Mankind™ had already posted their tentative schedule for the inaugural month of the coming year.  (Assuming this doesn’t end as the Mayans predicted, natch.)  As always, there are tons of goodies in store for my fellow classic movie maniacs including a salute to the “caper film” and a feting of an Oscar-winning actress who also hosted a popular dramatic anthology on NBC-TV from 1953-61 (which netted her three, count ‘em, three Emmy Awards).

As you may have already guessed, that actress is Loretta Young—who, because she celebrates her centennial birthday in January (January 6, for those of you keeping score at home), will be the focus of a 38-film retrospective taking place on every Wednesday night during the month.  While I certainly wouldn’t consider myself a dues-paying member of Gretchen’s cult, she did appear in some dandy movies (many of the pre-Code variety)…so fortunately TCM has seen fit to schedule them for the benefit of her fans (and me).  Here’s the lineup:

January 2, Wednesday
08:00pm Laugh, Clown, Laugh (1928)
09:30pm Platinum Blonde (1931)
11:15pm Taxi! (1932)
12:30am Life Begins (1932)
01:45am The Squall (1929)
03:45am Show of Shows (1929)

January 3, Thursday
06:00am Loose Ankles (1930)
07:15am I Like Your Nerve (1931)
08:30am Road to Paradise (1930)
10:00am The Truth About Youth (1930)

January 9, Wednesday
08:00pm Employees Entrance (1933)
09:30pm Heroes for Sale (1933)
11:00pm Born to Be Bad (1934)
12:15am Midnight Mary (1933)
01:45am They Call it Sin (1932)
03:00am The Hatchet Man (1932)
04:30am Play-Girl (1932)
05:45am The Ruling Voice (1931)

January 10, Thursday
07:00am She Had to Say Yes (1933)

January 16, Wednesday
08:00pm Man’s Castle (1933)
09:15pm Suez (1938)
11:00pm Kentucky (1938)
12:45am The Life of Jimmy Dolan (1933)
02:30am Beau Ideal (1931)
04:00am Big Business Girl (1931)

January 23, Wednesday
08:00pm The Doctor Takes a Wife (1940)
09:45pm Bedtime Story (1942)
11:15pm Wife, Husband and Friend (1939)
12:45am A Night to Remember (1942)
02:30am Week-End Marriage (1932)
03:45am Grand Slam (1933)

January 30, Wednesday
08:00pm The Farmer’s Daughter (1947)
09:45pm The Stranger (1946)
11:30pm Rachel and the Stranger (1948)
01:00am Along Came Jones (1945)
02:45am Key to the City (1950)
04:30am Cause for Alarm (1951)
05:45am The Unguarded Hour (1936)

Tuesday nights on Tee Cee Em, the channel will host 27 movies that spotlight one of the cinema’s most popular genres: “the caper film.”  Anything that can be boosted—jewelry, money, works of art—is fair game, with classic feature films spotlighting heists that are successful…and some that go south:

January 1, Tuesday
08:00pm The Pink Panther (1964)
10:00pm The Asphalt Jungle (1950)
12:00am Rififi (1954)
02:15am Big Deal on Madonna Street (1953)
04:00am Jack of Diamonds (1967)

January 8, Tuesday
08:00pm Ocean’s Eleven (1960; also January 25 at 12:15am)
10:15pm Seven Thieves (1960)
12:15am Bob le Flambeur (1955)
02:00am Kaleidoscope (1966)
04:00am 5 Against the House (1955)

January 15, Tuesday
08:00pm The League of Gentlemen (1960)
10:00pm $ (Dollars) (1971)
12:15am Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round (1966)
02:15am Odds Against Tomorrow (1959)
04:00am The Day They Robbed the Bank of England (1960)

January 22, Tuesday
08:00pm How to Steal a Million (1966)
10:15pm Topkapi (1964)
12:30am The Happy Thieves (1962)
02:15am Cairo (1963)
04:00am The Anderson Tapes (1971)

January 23, Wednesday
06:00am The Split (1968)

January 29, Tuesday
08:00pm The Italian Job (1969)
10:00pm The Lavender Hill Mob (1951)
11:30pm They Came to Rob Las Vegas (1969)
01:45am Armored Car Robbery (1950)
03:00am Guns, Girls and Gangsters (1958)
04:15am The Hoodlum (1951)

And if that’s not enough to satisfy your classic movie itch—here are some more highlights from January…keeping in mind, of course, that the films scheduled are subject to change (and that all times are EST).

January 1, Tuesday – Before you nestle in with this evening’s caper festival, the morning hours will feature film adaptations of some of Broadway’s biggest hit musicals.  Finian’s Rainbow (1968) kicks things off at 6am, and that’s followed by Funny Girl (1968; 8:30am), My Fair Lady (1964; 11:15am), Camelot (1967; 2:15pm) and Hello, Dolly! (1969; 5:30pm).

January 2, Wednesday – Oh, sure…you could spend most of your valuable television watching time engrossed in Ghost Hunters (and who knows—my father might even be up to joining you).  But here’s a spoiler warning for you: they never find any!  TCM, on the other hand, spotlights mesmerizing tales of folks trapped between this world and the next today with a festival featuring The Cockeyed Miracle (1946; 6am), A Guy Named Joe (1943; 7:30am), Cabin in the Sky (1943; 9:45am), Topper (1937; 11:30am), A Matter of Life and Death (1947; 1:30pm), Angel on My Shoulder (1946; 3:30pm) and Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941; 5:30pm).

January 3, Thursday – Marion Davies celebrates what would have been her 116th natal anniversary today…and while I’m kind of bummed the channel couldn’t squeeze in one of her silent features, fans of her sound flicks can nosh on The Bachelor Father (1931; 11:15am), Polly of the Circus (1932; 1pm), Page Miss Glory (1936; 2:15pm) and her cinematic swan song, Ever Since Eve (1937; 4pm).

As my Facebook chum Archie Waugh often says: “So…it has come to this.”  Moviedom’s most nauseatingly cheerful moppet raises the blood sugar of diabetic viewers in the evening with The Littlest Rebel (1935) at 8pm, followed by Captain January (1936; 9:30pm), Curly Top (1935; 11pm), I’ll Be Seeing You (1944; 12:30am), Fort Apache (1948; 2am) and Adventures in Baltimore (1949; 4:15pm).  (Well, at least I know where Page will be if I need her.)

January 4, Friday – Jane Wyman’s 96th birthday gets celebrated today…but you’ll have to wait until later in the day to see the film that nabbed her a Best Actress Oscar, Johnny Belinda (1948; 6:15pm).  Before that, it’s My Love Came Back (1940; 6am), The Body Disappears (1941; 7:30am), Honeymoon for Three (1941; 8:45am), Larceny, Inc. (1942; 10:15am), The Doughgirls (1944; 12noon), Night and Day (1946; 1:45pm) and The Yearling (1946; 4pm).

Come nightfall, a nice little sampling of director Jack Arnold’s outstanding science fiction film oeuvre; Creature From the Black Lagoon (1954) kicks the evening off at 8pm, followed by Tarantula (1955; 9:30pm), The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957; 11pm) and It Came From Outer Space (1953; 12:30am).  Not a bad one in the bunch—pay no attention to that smartass who wrote about Tarantula back in July 2011.

January 5, Saturday – In December 2012, TCM started scheduling films from the Torchy Blane franchise at the noontime hour…and in 2013; they continue that practice with the second of the Blane B-pictures, Fly Away Baby (1937), today.  January 12 features The Adventurous Blonde (1937), then Blondes at Work (1938) on the 19th and Torchy Blane in Panama (1938) finishing out January on the 26th.

But at 10:45am on each Saturday, it’s another Warner Bros. hero—Brass Bancroft!  Yes, the B-picture series that Ronald Reagan couldn’t quite disavow in his career kicks in with Secret Service of the Air (1939).  Code of the Secret Service (1939; January 12), Smashing the Money Ring (1939; January 19) and Murder in the Air (1940; January 26) complete the quartet of programmers that I wrote about in this post back in March 2009.

When evening shadows fall, TCM Essentials schedules at 8pm the classic Bogie & Bacall feature where “Baby” taught all the young horny guys in the audience that the only thing involved in whistling was putting your lips together “and blow”: To Have and Have Not (1944).  And that’s the channel’s cue to usher in “Blowing the Whistle”—an evening of films in which whistling or blowing (one’s cover) is involved.  It’s as silly as it sounds…but you’ll get an opportunity to see the first film in The Whistler franchise at 10pm, Fritz Lang’s 1931 masterpiece M at 3am, and TDOY fave Theodora Goes Wild (1936) at 4:45am.  Libel (1959; 11:15pm) and A Fistful of Dollars (1964; 1am) round out the offerings.

January 6, Sunday – At 8pm, a more mature James Stewart headlines one of the feature films from later in his career: Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation (1962), a fairly lame comedy (despite the presence of Maureen O’Hara)  whose sole bright spot is when he calls some kid “a little creep.”  (Well, it’s funny the way Jimmy says it.)  That’s followed by Take Her, She’s Mine (1963; 10pm), in which father Jimmy attempts to keep college-age daughter Sandra Dee from being embroiled in scandal.  (It’s Sandra Dee—what could she have possibly done, worn white after Labor Day?)

On TCM’s Silent Sunday Nights: a Sessue Hayakawa double feature…beginning with Cecil B. DeMille’s The Cheat (1915) at midnight—a film I recently purchased in a Kino Lorber DVD sale (it was paired with DeMille’s Manslaughter…I couldn’t resist).  The Dragon Painter (1919) follows at 1am, and on TCM Imports it’s The Story of Oharu (1952; 2am)…one of those Mizoguchi films I keep meaning to watch in an effort to class up this place.

January 7, Monday – Bill Paxton is the channel’s guest programmer, and has chosen Juliet of the Spirits (1965; 8pm), The Spirit of the Beehive (1973; 10:30pm), California Split (1974; 12:30am) and The Last Detail (1973; 2:30am) as the four films with which he’ll discuss with Bobby Osbo.  And then it’s game over, man…game over!  (Okay, I have no idea if Robert Osborne has returned to his hosting duties on TCM yet or not…I just wanted to make an Aliens joke.)

January 8, Tuesday – The King celebrates his 78th birthday today…and since we all know Elvis did not die (he just went home), he’ll be able to pick up TCM on his home planet and watch some of his greatest movies.   Okay…except for Jailhouse Rock (1957) at 2:45pm they’re all pretty much mutts—the canines include Speedway (1968; 6:15am), Kissin’ Cousins (1964; 8am), Live a Little, Love a Little (1968; 11:30am), Viva Las Vegas (1964; 1:15pm), It Happened at the World’s Fair (1963; 4:30pm) and Love Me Tender (1956; 6:30pm).  (Oh…they’re also showing my favorite Elvis guilty pleasure—Tickle Me at 9:45am.  A movie written by the two men who guided both the cinematic fortunes of the Three Stooges and the Bowery Boys?  Who couldn’t love that?)

January 9, Wednesday – OTR film alert: the second in the short-lived I Love a Mystery movie series, The Devil’s Mask (1946), is scheduled at 1:30pm.  (I like the Columbia ILAM films, though I’ll readily admit they can’t measure up to the radio show.)  Oh, and if you’re strapped for cash and can’t afford the recently released The Iron Petticoat DVD (the 1956 Ninotchka with Bob Hope and Katharine Hepburn) it will also air at 4:45pm.

January 10, Thursday – Sal Mineo celebrates what would have been his 74th birthday today.  Start movin’ in his direction with the 1966 telefilm The Dangerous Days of Kiowa Jones at 8:15am, followed by Cheyenne Autumn (1964; 10am), The Gene Krupa Story (1959; 1pm), The Young Don’t Cry (1957; 2:45pm), Crime in the Streets (1956; 4:15pm) and Rebel Without a Cause (1955) winding down the celebration at 6pm.

Come nightfall…well, if Bobby Osbo is back by this time he’s got some movies to show.  Demetrius and the Gladiators (1954) kicks things off at 8pm, and then it’s Roughly Speaking (1945; 10pm), Old Acquaintance (1943; 12mid) and The Hurricane (1937; 2am).

January 11, Friday – The channel devotes the daylight hours to the cinematic oeuvre of George Raft…who, despite his thespic limitations made some pretty good flicks including Each Dawn I Die (1939; 7:15am), They Drive by Night (1940; 9am), Manpower (1941; 10:45am) and Background to Danger (1943; 12:30pm).  Johnny Angel (1945; 2pm), Nocturne (1946; 3:30pm), Race Street (1948; 5pm) and A Dangerous Profession (1950; 6:30pm) are also on tap.

At 8pm, “Epic Roadshow Comedies” are the theme with a double feature of It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (1963) starting things off, followed by The Great Race (1965) at 11pm.  (World has its moments, but Race just goes to prove that bigger isn’t necessarily better.)

January 12, Saturday – The TCM Essentials scheduling of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962) at 8pm ushers in a night of films with a “sibling rivalry” theme…though I can’t for the life of me find any evidence of that in the film that follows at 10:30pm, A Streetcar Named Desire (1951).  (Blanche DuBois has more serious issues than competition with her sister, it seems to me.)  The theme does gets stronger afterward with The Little Foxes (1941; 12:45am), East of Eden (1955; 2:45am) and Steel Against the Sky (1941; 5am).

January 13, Sunday – An Irene Dunne double feature of Anna and the King of Siam (1946) (The King and I without the music) and Magnificent Obsession (1935) occupies the evening hours at 8pm and 10:15pm respectively.  But those of you who’ve stopped by here every now and then know that I’d be more jazzed about the Silent Sunday Nights presentation at midnight, which features three shorts from the Holy Trinity of Silent Comedy: Bumping Into Broadway (1919; Harold Lloyd), The Scarecrow (1920; Buster Keaton) and The Pilgrim (1923; Charlie Chaplin).

Later in the wee a.m. hours: one of the most beautiful examples of cinematography can be found in Nicolas Roeg’s cult classic Walkabout (1971), which starts at 3:30am.

January 14, Monday – The October 11 tribute to Lew Landers must have been an unqualified success…because the channel is giving Louis Friedlander another go-around with a day of his quickies.  Living on Love (1937) starts things rolling at 7:15am, followed by Crashing Hollywood (1938; 8:30am), Double Danger (1938; 9:45am), Law of the Underworld (1938; 11am), Fixer Dugan (1939; 12:15pm), Twelve Crowded Hours (1939; 1:30pm), The Boogie Man Will Get You (1942; 2:45pm), Stand by All Networks (1942; 4pm), Submarine Raider (1942; 5:15pm) and The Truth About Murder (1946; 6:30pm).

The evening hours will feature another segment in TCM’s American Film Institute Master Class series, The Art of Collaboration – Robert Zemeckis & Don Burgess…which will air at 8 and 11:30pm (a showing of 2000’s What Lies Beneath is sandwiched between the two showings at 9pm).  Since I lost interest in Zemeckis’ work about the time he got an Oscar for the execrable Forrest Gump, I’ll find something else to do until 12:45am, when a trio of Jack Nicholson films will be the focus: Carnal Knowledge (1971), Five Easy Pieces (1970; 2:30am) and Easy Rider (1969; 4:15am).

January 15, Tuesday – Academy Award-winning actress Susan Hayward gets a salud from the channel this morning that kicks off with her first credited film, Girls on Probation (1938) at 7amThe Hairy Ape (1944; 8:15am), Deadline at Dawn (1946; 10am), They Won’t Believe Me (1947; 11:30am), Tulsa (1949; 1pm), I’ll Cry Tomorrow (1955; 2:30pm), Top Secret Affair (1957; 4:30pm) and I Thank a Fool (1962; 6:15pm) round out your viewing choices as far as Hayward is concerned.

January 16, Wednesday – Here’s a birthday that doesn’t get celebrated on TCM too often: that of stage and screen legend Diana Wynyard.  You’d think that with Rasputin and the Empress (1932) occupying a shelf in their film library it would get off the bench…but no, the channel is going to go with Men Must Fight (1933) at 6am, and then follow that with Where Sinners Meet (1934; 7:15am) and Gaslight (1940; 8:30am).  With the Wynyard entries apparently exhausted, the focus then shifts to Alec Guinness with Oliver Twist (1948; 10:15am), Malta Story (1953; 12:15pm), The Detective (1954; 2pm), The Prisoner (1955; 3:45pm) and Cromwell (1970; 5:30pm).

January 17, Thursday – The Godfather of Noir, Eddie Muller, will be sitting in with Bobby Osbo this evening for “A Night in Noir City” (and Osborne will be there, as you can see in this picture on the right I liberated from Muller’s Facebook page).  Two movies of interest…well, they’re all pretty great but for our purposes I’m going to single out 99 River Street (1953; 9:30pm) because a reprint of a review I wrote on this film was recently posted at my friend Richard’s Noir Babes site.  Cry Danger (1951), a film restored by Muller’s Film Noir Foundation is on before Street at 8pm and after Street it’s a film that I’ve yet to see the end of: Tomorrow is Another Day (1951; 11pm).  (I’m not making this up, by the way; I watched it one evening when it was playing on Encore Mystery back in the late 90s…and never got to see the conclusion.) TDOY faves The Breaking Point (1950) and The Prowler (1951) follow at 12:45 and 2:30am.

January 18, Friday – Happy birthday to Cary Grant!  That Bristol boy will celebrate what would have been his 109th birthday today, and TCM is ready, willing and able to accommodate him with a festival of his films: Suzy (1936; 6:15am), Mr. Lucky (1943; 8am), None But the Lonely Heart (1944; 10am), Gunga Din (1939; 12:00noon), The Philadelphia Story (1940; 2pm), Notorious (1946; 4pm) and Monkey Business (1952; 6pm).

Come nightfall—an evening of shorts featuring the greatest movie comedy team of all time.  Stan Laurel & Oliver Hardy star in Chickens Come Home (1931; 8pm), Blotto (1930; 9:45pm), Be Big (1931; 11:30pm) and Laughing Gravy (1931; 12mid).  But what many classic movie fans may not know is that several Laurel & Hardy shorts were also adapted for Spanish audiences…with Stan & Ollie reciting Spanish dialogue phonetically and some of the supporting roles cast with Spanish-speaking actors.  You’ll get the opportunity to see some of these shorts: Politiquerias (1931; 8:45pm), La Vida Nocturna (1930; 10:15pm) and Les Carottiers (1931; 12:45am) following the English versions of these classic comedies.

January 19, Saturday – Academy Award-winning actress Shelley Winters takes charge of the evening’s viewing choices beginning at 8pm with the TCM Essentials showcase of Lolita (1962).  Afterward, it’s The Big Knife (1955; 10:45pm), The Chapman Report (1962; 12:45am), I Died a Thousand Times (1955; 3am) and Tennessee Champ (1954; 4:45am).

January 20, Sunday – Loretta Young is not the only celebrity celebrating her centennial this month…Danny Kaye would be having cake and ice cream on this day as well if he had lived to reach the century mark.  The movie that I contributed a review for both The Paramount Centennial Blogathon and The Camp & Cult Blogathon in September, The Court Jester (1956), will be one of several films showcased…not to mention a classic telecast from the entertainer’s 1960s variety show.  The lineup is as follows:

06:00am The Danny Kaye Show
07:00am Up in Arms (1944)
08:45am Merry Andrew (1958)
10:30am The Dick Cavett Show (with guest Danny Kaye from 1971)
12:00pm The Kid from Brooklyn (1946)
02:00pm The Inspector General (1949)
04:00pm Me and the Colonel (1958)
06:00pm The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1947)
08:00pm Hans Christian Andersen (1952)
10:00pm The Court Jester (1956)
12:00am A Song is Born (1948)
02:00am Wonder Man (1945)
04:00am The Man from the Diners’ Club (1963)

January 21, Monday – Great viewing awaits TCM devotees today with a slew of films featuring Sidney Poitier: No Way Out (1950; 6am), Blackboard Jungle (1955; 8am), Something of Value (1957; 9:45am), Edge of the City (1957; 11:45am), A Raisin in the Sun (1961; 1:15pm), A Patch of Blue (1965; 3:30pm) and To Sir, With Love (1967; 5:30pm).

Then as evening shadows fall, the channel pays tribute to the star of what I continue to maintain is the greatest television situation comedy of all time: Dick Van Dyke, who will receive the Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Award on January 27, gets his due on TCM with Divorce American Style (1967; 8pm), Cold Turkey (1971; 10pm), Stacia holiday fave Fitzwilly (1967; 12mid), Bye Bye Birdie (1963; 2am) and Some Kind of a Nut (1969; 4am).

January 22, Tuesday – One of the drawbacks to marriage is that happy ever after sometimes means that you might have mistakenly said “I do” to a lunatic murderer.  The films scheduled for today on the channel will offer perspective on this matrimonial hazard, beginning with Cast a Dark Shadow (1955) at 6am, followed by Gaslight (1944; 7:30am), The Two Mrs. Carrolls (1947; 9:30am), Autumn Leaves (1956; 11:30am), Undercurrent (1946; 1:30pm), Experiment Perilous (1944; 3:30pm) and Rebecca (1940; 5:15pm).

January 23, Wednesday – Bad movie aficionados are well acquainted with the moniker of “Arch Hall”—though there were actually two Arches, Senior and Junior.  Arch, Sr. was the auteur of such vehicles as Eegah and Wild Guitar (both 1962)…with Junior his nominal star (“Wowzie-wow-wow!”).  But The Sadist (1963) is actually a decent little B-thriller (Arch, Sr. didn’t have much participation in this one, save for the opening narration and some radio announcements) and has earned a little cult cachet of its own.  Judge for yourself when TCM runs it at 7:30am; it precedes a day of horror films—The Terror (1963; 9:15am), The Reptile (1966; 10:45am), The Nanny (1965; 12:30pm), The Mummy (1959; 2:15pm), The Body Snatcher (1945; 4:45pm) and The Haunting (1963; 6pm).

January 24, Thursday – No one was more surprised than I when the legendary Ernest Borgnine passed away in July of 2012 at the age of 95.  I would have bet cash money that the actor was going to live forever…even to the point of wondering if that really was makeup on him in the movie The Devil’s Rain (1975).  TCM spotlights some of Borgnine’s first-rate film work on what would have been his 96th natal anniversary with From Here to Eternity (1953; 6am), Bad Day at Black Rock (1954; 8:15am), The Catered Affair (1956; 9:45am), Torpedo Run (1958; 11:30am), The Badlanders (1958; 1:15pm), The Flight of the Phoenix (1966; 2:45pm) and Howard Hughes fave Ice Station Zebra (1968; 5:15pm).

At 8pm, the channel begins what will ultimately be a two-night salute to Academy Award-winning composer Jimmy Van Heusen, the tunesmith responsible for such ditties as Swingin’ on a Star (written with Johnny Burke) and High Hopes (with Sammy Cahn).  On Thursday, the movies featuring Van Heusen’s music are Road to Morocco (1942; 8pm), Welcome Stranger (1947; 9:30pm), Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967; 11:30pm), Some Came Running (1958; 2:15am) and Under the Yum Yum Tree (1963; 4:45am).  For Friday (January 25): The Tender Trap (1955; 8pm), Robin and the 7 Hoods (1964; 10pm) and Ocean’s Eleven (1960; 12:15am).

January 25, Friday – Since I missed it the last time TCM had it on, I must remember to catch Night Flight (1933) at 8:15am.  (I’ll stand a better chance of seeing it then because my father’s got his nose buried in the newspaper at that time in the morning.)

January 27, Sunday – Three of the best films from the Master of Suspense’s “British period” are showcased on the evening schedule, with the Hitchcock classic The 39 Steps (1935) at 8pm, then The Lady Vanishes (1938; 9:30pm) and Sabotage (1936; 11:15pm) after that.  That pushes the Silent Sunday Nights presentation up to 12:45am…but since it’s a doozy of a Lon Chaney film, The Penalty (1920), hopefully there won’t be too much heated discussion.

January 28, Monday – “It’s just another Pre-Code Monday/I wish it was Sunday…”  No, I don’t—what am I saying?  On the schedule are After Tonight (1933; 6:15am), Hat, Coat and Glove (1934; 7:30am), Let’s Try Again (1934; 8:45am), Dance Hall (1929; 10am), She’s My Weakness (1930; 11:30 am), Lovin’ the Ladies (1930; 12:45pm), The Public Defender (1931; 2pm), The Royal Bed (1931; 3:15pm), Secret Service (1931; 4:30pm), No Marriage Ties (1933; 5:45pm) and No Other Woman (1933; 7pm).

TCM schedules one of Tyrone Power’s best showcases, The Mark of Zorro (1940), at 8pm…and the exchange of cold steel follows at 10pm with ClassicBecky heartthrob Errol Flynn in The Adventures of Don Juan.  The swordplay continues through the night with Cyrano de Bergerac (1950; 12mid), Raiders of the Seven Seas (1953; 2am) and At Sword’s Point (1951; 3:45am).

January 31, Thursday – We close out the month with a double ice-cream-and-cake celebration!  The morning hours honor the natal anniversary of actor-singer Mario Lanza, with schedulings of The Toast of New Orleans (1950; 7:15am), Because You’re Mine (1952; 9am) and Serenade (1956; 10:45am).  Come afternoon, it’s Jean Simmons’ turn in the birthday spotlight: Home Before Dark (1958; 1pm), Divorce American Style (1967; 3:30pm) and The Actress (1953; 5:30pm) are on tap.

Then the channel selects TDOY god Lee Marvin as the focus for the final night of classic film viewing in January; Marvin’s Oscar-winning turn in Cat Ballou (1965) at 8pm, followed by the underrated oater Monte Walsh (1970) at 10. The Dirty Dozen (1967; 12mid), Point Blank (1967; 2:45am) and the Walter Matthau-directed Gangster Story (1959; 4:45am) play us out.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wednesday’s sticky note

I’ve got a “Coming Distractions” post in the works that will highlight some of the goodies headed our way in January 2013 on The Greatest Cable Channel Known to Mankind™…but until that’s done, I thought I’d bring a few odds and ends to your attention.

Ben Model e-mailed all the backers for his “Accidentally Preserved” Kickstarter pledge drive yesterday to let them know…that the project has been 102% funded!  (Golf clap) As of this post, $4,165 has been raised (the goal was $3,600) so if you were able to drop a few shekels into Ben’s tambourine—good on ya.  But if you haven’t contributed yet, you can still do so—there’s six days left in the drive and every little bit helps; excess fundage will go towards future AP projects, don’t ya know.

My BBFF Stacia almost made me choke on a cream-cheese-and-jelly bagel this morning when she gave me a shout-out regarding the Dick Tracy: The Complete Serials Collection giveaway currently underway here at TDOY.  (By the way—the response to this has been tremendous: this post has the details on how to enter.)  Here’s the part of her post that made me break out in giggles:

Meanwhile, at Thrilling Days of Yesteryear, Ivan is asking readers to help decide which serial he’s going to do next for Serial Saturdays! See, he is a normal human being, which is why in the time it’s taken me to finish Phantom Creeps, he’s done three serials, maybe four, plus wallpapered the hallway and dug up a few old stumps in the back yard. Braggart.

In my defense, part of the reason why this is so is because I have abandoned all serious pursuits of cinema, preferring to spend my copious free time watching reruns of The Underdog Show.  (I wish I could say I was making that up…but it’s true.)  Stacia’s the serious film scholar in the family, and I offer into evidence Exhibit A, a well-done piece on one of my favorite oaters, 3:10 to Yuma (1957).  (It’s compared with the 2007 remake—which I have not seen and don’t plan to make room for anytime in the future.)  Other exercises in fine Stacia film writing that might interest the TDOY faithful include her takes on Quatermass and the Pit (1967), Greetings (1968) and The Green Slime (1968).  (Okay, maybe I should have excised that last one.)

There’s a couple of upcoming classic TV-on-DVD releases that might be of interest to readers of the blog, beginning with a definite date for the Wagon Train: Season 6 set I mentioned in passing here.  Wagon Train: The Complete Sixth Season will be available for purchase on March 5, 2013…and the eighth and final series of the hardy western perennial will be out sometime in the summer of that same year.  If you’re curious as to why Timeless Factory Video seems to be skipping a season, it’s because the seventh season has already been released to disc as Wagon Train: The Complete Color Season in 2008.

Timeless Factory Video has also announced that another oater from the television of yesteryear will be released to stores on February 19th: it’s The Restless Gun: The Complete Series, an 8-DVD set (priced at $59.97 SRP) containing all seventy-seven episodes of the western series starring John Payne that ran on NBC-TV from 1957 to 1959.  (The TSOD blurb doesn’t mention this information, but I suspect that the show’s Schlitz Playhouse of Stars pilot will also be included, seeing as how it was present and accounted for on a previously released “Best of” 3-disc collection in 2007.)  I mentioned this show in a write-up I did on Timeless’ The Classic TV Western Collection in December of last year, and having enjoyed the episode of Gun that was included (“Cheyenne Express”) was kinda sorta hoping they’d tackle a complete series set.  (Fans of the show know that the program was loosely based on the short-lived but excellent old-time radio drama starring James Stewart, The Six Shooter.)

On a final Timeless Factory note…TSOD has a snapshot of the cover art for the box set The Loretta Young Show – The Best of the Complete Series: 100th Birthday Edition here.  (The set is scheduled for release on February 12.)

One final TV-on-DVD note: Image Entertainment is announcing the February 19th release of a 5-disc collection of Naked City shows entitled Naked City – Fan Favorites.  This shouldn’t be confused with the Madacy release due out on January 8 (Best of Naked City), even though there is duplication with eighteen of the episodes on both sets.  But the Fan Favorites collection will contain two episodes from the series’ first season (1958-59), when it ran thirty minutes: “Line of Duty” (10/14/58) and “Lady Bug, Lady Bug” (12/9/58).  To my knowledge, none of the thirty-nine half-hour installments from City’s freshman season have been released to disc…so the conundrum is: will I be willing to shell out the necessary drachmas just to get two half-hour episodes?  Well, the set is priced at $24.98 SRP…so this will indeed be a weighty decision.

Oh…one more thing…I got a nice Christmas card from the True Classics crew (Brandie, Carrie, Nikki, Sarah and Shlomo…no, wait—I think that last one’s a typo) in the mail today.  Many, many thanks for the wonderful sentiment—the ‘rents and I are most appreciative, and I would be remiss if I didn’t share it with the rest of the TDOY readership:

Monday, November 26, 2012

Mayberry Mondays #66: “Mike’s Project” (12/14/70, prod. no. 0312)

Well, after a temporary hiatus of one week where I conducted an experiment to see what it would feel like to be The Laziest Human Alive, Thrilling Days of Yesteryear’s own Mayberry Mondays returns with a vengeance…and an interesting episode of R.F.D. entitled “Mike’s Project.”  It’s not a particularly funny installment (those are few and far between), but it does offer up some fascinating revelations regarding the learning skills of the son of poor-but-honest-dirt-farmer-turned-town-council-head Sam Jones (Ken Berry), affectionately known here at TDOY as Mike the Idiot Boy (Buddy Foster).  There will also be some disturbing disclosures about the father of Mike’s loyal lisping sidekick, Harold Henderson (as played by child pugilist Richard “Fishface” Steele).  Yes, we finally learn Harold’s last name in this one…and sadly, that’s more information than we needed.

The episode opens with an establishing shot of Mayberry Elementary School, and inside the building, the future minds of tomorrow are being molded by Miss Pringle, a schoolteacher played by OTR veteran Alice Backes.  This is Alice’s second appearance on the show; she previously played a schoolteacher (only her last name was “Fawcett”) in “Goober’s New Gas Station.”  Miss Pringle, we can only guess, is new to the education biz in that she has invited a “distinguished” guest speaker to lecture before her students…and that speaker is pedantic county clerk Howard Sprague (Jack Dodson).  (This is why I have speculated that Miss Pringle is a new teacher…an assumption that will later prove to be incorrect.)  Howard, a member of the school board—and pretty much every other freakin’ committee in that burg—is here to speak to the soon-to-be nodding-off heads about Mayberry Elementary’s “Open House.”

HOWARD: It’s always a pleasure to get out into the classroom and meet the new students…I…I can remember what a thrill it was when a member of the board came to my class…if he talked long enough, we always got out of spelling or something…

The kids politely titter at this, but the expression on Miss Pringle’s face would seem to suggest “Mmmmm…bomb-o!”

HOWARD: Well…as Miss Pringle indicated, I’m here to emphasize…just…how important the projects are that you’ll be making for display at next week’s Open House…

With Howard’s statement, we learn that one of Miss Pringle’s charges has apparently not been paying attention in class.  “We have to make projects?” hisses Harold at Mike.

“Sure we do,” responds Mike to his ADHD chum.  “All about the Wild West.  Where were you?”

Mike’s last comment earns him a rebuke from Miss Pringle in the form of a pencil tapping and a sharply worded “Children…”  Then Howard continues the love affair with his own voice.

HOWARD: The…uh…American West was a very significant part of our culture…and the reason we encourage the making of these projects is because…we learn from the research we do and we learn when we build things from our hands…what you’ll be making in the next few days will…stay with your for the rest of your lives…

Not satisfied that the classroom is now in a deep sleep, Howard begins to drone on about how he made a replica of the Great Pyramid when he was but a mere tad.  “Four thousand, two hundred and eighty-three sugar cubes,” he beams proudly.  This prompts a funny reaction from Miss Pringle, who’s probably realized that that…is a lot of acid.  “Well,” Howard continues, bringing it on home, “all I can say, boys and girls, is do your best.  The eyes of Mayberry will be upon you.”  (“All the live long days…”)

As Miss Pringle politely applauds Howard’s spiel, she is careful to mention to the class that “there will be no prizes given…however—a little blue ribbon will be given for the best entry.”  (Way to motivate, teach!)  She thanks Howard, and as she’s rushing him out of the classroom Howard stops:  “By the way…if the class would like to see it, I still have my pyramid.”  It’s positively astonishing that Howard has remained a bachelor all these years.

A scene dissolve finds Howard and Sam walking down Mayberry’s main thoroughfare, with Howard heading back to his office for another riveting day of government busywork.

HOWARD: …then you should have seen their little faces light up when I told them about my pyramid…

Every episode…one laugh-out-loud moment (and this one gets extra points for the sexual innuendo).  As Sam and Howard reach the outside entrance to the county clerk office, a man with a camera steps out and greets the two of them.  (I only hope he doesn’t want to take a picture of Howard’s pyramid.)

HOWARD: Gonna be taking some pictures, huh?
BRIAN: Oh, you better believe it!  At the Open House!  You know what that kid of mine is building?  A real western fort!
HOWARD: Harold’s building a whole fort?
BRIAN: Not only building it…but researching it, designing it—the whole ball of wax!

As you’ve no doubt gleaned from this conversation, the guy with the camera (and cigar) is Brian Henderson, father of little Harold.  The above screen capture is from a later scene in the show; I used it so you could get a better look at the actor, William “Bill” Mims.  Mims was an all-purpose utility player whose regular TV gigs were pretty few; he turned up in a few installments of The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp as a newspaper editor named Dameron, and also had brief semi-regular stints on shows like The Long Hot Summer, The Beverly Hillbillies and Petticoat Junction.  I seem to remember Mims best for a lot of show-ups on TV westerns (he guested several times on Lawman), notably Wagon Train, Tales of Wells Fargo, Cheyenne, Have Gun – Will Travel and The Virginian.  (My learned colleague Dr. Tobias O’Brien remembers that Mims played the Governor of California in the classic Wild Wild West episode, “The Night the Wizard Shook the Earth.”)  Among Bill’s feature film appearances: Sanctuary, Wild in the Country, The Children’s Hour, Lonely are the Brave and the ever-popular The Day Mars Invaded Earth.  Mims passed away in 1991.

BRIAN: It oughta knock their eyes out!  Sam…isn’t Mike gonna enter a project?
SAM: Ah…yeah…yeah…sure…
BRIAN: Ah…what he’s making?
SAM (awkward pause): Oh…ah…oh, he’s…uh…it’s a…it’s a… (He mumbles some word)
BRIAN: I beg your pardon?
SAM: What?
BRIAN: I mean…I didn’t understand you…uh…what did you say Mike was making?
SAM: Uh…a teepee… (He looks embarrassed)
BRIAN (laughing): Teepee, huh?  Well, you know…to build a fort…well, that takes a lot of ingenuity…well, that’s Harold…takes after his old man…you know what I mean?
SAM: Yeah…I know what you mean…

I believe the word Sam is ransacking his vocabulary for is “wanker.”  Well, Brian has other people to annoy, and so he takes his leave of Howard and Sam.  So before we continue on, let us examine the mystery of this…Brian Henderson.  If this…Brian Henderson is Harold’s father…then who is this guy?

This actor, James McCallion, played Harold’s pop in the first season R.F.D. episode “The Camper.”  If we apply the rules established by the aforementioned Dr. O’Brien on his blog, we clearly have a problem here.  I have two theories on this—the first is that shortly after the events in “The Camper,” Mr. Henderson suffered major disfiguration in an industrial accident and required intensive plastic surgery…which is why he looks so radically different now.  But although “Camper” only features Henderson briefly, his demeanor is not that of the Henderson in this episode: brash and obnoxious.  (Unless that accident produced a personality change as well.)

So my second theory is that the Mr. Henderson featured in “The Camper” is actually Harold’s step dad.  Originally it made more sense for him to be the real dad since he appeared first, but as the “Project” dad tells Sam and Howard, Harold “takes after his old man.”  And having witnessed Harold in several installments of R.F.D., it’s patently obvious that the kid can be a real unlikable buttmunch.  So I hereby declare the Brian Henderson of “Project” to be the one and only true dad of Harold.  (Besides, in “Camper” he’s identified only as “Father.”)

But enough of this folderol.  The scene shifts to outside stately Jones Manor, where Sam is trying to repair his truck, ably assisted by village idiot Goober Pyle (George Lindsey).  Mike the Idiot Boy emerges from the house, carrying a homemade teepee.

GOOBER: Hey, Mike—whatcha got there?
MIKE: My teepee for the Open House…I thought I’d let ‘er sit out here to dry…
SAM: Yeah…well…put it right there…
(Goober moves some tools off the top of a barrel next to the truck, and Mike puts the teepee down on top of it)
SAM: Wow!  (He chuckles)
MIKE: Well?  Whaddya think of it?
SAM: Oh…gee…that’s…that’s really nice, Mike!  That’s really nice…he made that all by himself, Goob—isn’t that something?
GOOBER (without enthusiasm): Yeah…it sure is…
(Sam gets ready to say something to Goober, and then spots Harold in the distance)
SAM: Oh…there’s Harold!  Hi, Harold!
MIKE: Hi, Harold!
(As Mike walks over to greet his friend, Sam turns back to Goober for a stare down)
SAM: You could have hurt his feelings
GOOBER: Well, I didn’t mean to…
SAM: Well…
GOOBER: Well…I guess it’ll be all right when he’s got it finished maybe…
SAM: He is finished…

Yes, I did snicker at the implications of this.  (“It’s not going to get any better, Goob…”)

GOOBER: You’re kiddin’!  (Sam gives him a look) Aww…I see…then you step in and put it into shape…
SAM (shaking his head): No…
GOOBER: Well…then you…rework it a little...
SAM (still in the negative): No!
GOOBER: Then you’re not gonna help the boy at all?
SAM: Of course not!  This is Mike’s project!  He’s got to…rise or fall on his own!
GOOBER (gulping): What’d the boy do?
SAM: Whaddya mean, what’d the boy do?
GOOBER: Well he musta done something pretty bad to get you this mad at him…
SAM: I’m not mad at him!
GOOBER: Well, you must be or you wouldn’t let him go to Open House with a piece of junk like this!

There’s a lot of irony in this next exchange, seeing as how Goober, Mayberry’s resident Manchild, is lecturing Sam on his parenting skills.

SAM: It’s not a piece of junk!  Where did you learn about teepees, anyway?
GOOBER: Well, in comic books—that’s where!  And I’ll tell you one thing—you wouldn’t catch Tonto squattin’ around a thing like this…do you know what happens to kids whose daddies don’t help ‘em out?  Well, they turn rotten…they go to California and play gi-tars!
SAM: Well, I don’t reason that…look—I want Mike to learn to be self-reliant…now, by not helping him with this teepee, I’ll be helping him…ten years from now!
GOOBER: Well, if he’s still makin’ teepees ten years from now…he’s in trouble

And the over/under says he probably will.  Finally Goober gives up.  “Okay…okay,” he says to Sam.  “If you want him to take this in and get laughed out of school…”  As Goober heads for his own truck, he stops and gives Mike a reassuring pat on his shoulder.

“So long, Mike.  I’m sorry,” observes Goober sadly.  (As are we all.)  Mike then brings Harold over to show off his project, and you would think that after the events in “Mike’s Birthday Party”—where Harold turns up his nose at a bunch of cheap party prizes purchased to celebrate Idiot Boy’s natal anniversary—he would know not to expect Harold to be too impressed with his handiwork.

HAROLD: Is that the whole thing?
MIKE: Uh-huh…
HAROLD: Sure is little
MIKE: Nobody said it had to be big
HAROLD: You should see my fort!  It’s gonna be a lot bigger than that!

I just wanted to take a quick second to point out that Harold’s hair is starting to get a little shaggy.  Wise up, you little hippie—this is Mayberry, not Haight-Asbury.

MIKE: Forts are supposed to be a lot bigger than teepees…
HAROLD: It’s gonna have a flagpole!  And a real gate that opens and everything!

“And a cannon that fires, knocking down a guard turret!”

MIKE: Gee…that must be hard to make…
HAROLD: Of course it is!  But my pa says I got a knack with tools

Or he could have meant that his kid is a tool.  But Harold has tipped his hand here, and Sam is all ready to call bullsh*t…

SAM: Uh…is your pa…helping you, Harold?
HAROLD: Uh uh… (Pause) Well, he says I’m practically doing it all by myself…
SAM: I see…
HAROLD: Wait till you see my fort!  It’s gonna be one-sixteenth scale!
SAM: You’re making it to scale?
MIKE: What’s that mean?
HAROLD: Well…it means… (Pause) My pa explained it to me…but I forgot

And with that, Harold has more work to do on his fort, utilizing his mad skillz with tools.  But he offers the same words of consolation as Goober: “Don’t worry about the teepee, Mike—they’re not giving prizes away anyway.”  Man…when two characters with lower SATs than your son start dissing his schoolwork, you know you’ve hit rock bottom.

MIKE: Pa…what do you really think of it?
SAM: Uh…it’s…it’s very nice, Mike…really…
MIKE: Well…what would you think of it if I were just a plain kid?  Instead of someone you love?

“I’d say I hope you get special supervision in shop class.”  Okay, Sam really doesn’t say that…but in a scene shift, we find him perusing the Pulitzer Prize-winning Mayberry Gazette as his cousin Alice (Alice Ghostley), chief cook and bottle washer at Jones Farms, sits at the dining room table in the background, snapping beans.

ALICE: Emily Jackson says there’s a light in Harold’s father’s garage every evening…
SAM: Mm-hmm…

“Emily Jackson has best put that telescope away or she’s gonna get a visit from Deputy Sheriff Pyle…”

ALICE: That’s where he has his workbench, you know…
SAM (a bit steamed): Alice, I don’t care where he has his workbench!  If Harold’s father is helping him, that’s his business!  He’s Harold’s father…I’m Mike’s father, and my concern is for Mike
ALICE: Uh-huh…
SAM (after a pause while he rattles his newspaper): I mean…my concern is for his character…not whether his…teepee is better than some…dumb fort
ALICE (nodding): Uh-huh…
SAM: If Harold’s father wants to set that kind of example, it’s up to him—he can build the whole fort, for all I care!

Alice continues to nod dutifully, but it’s as if Aunt Bee never went back to West Virginia—Alice has planted a seed of doubt in Sam’s mind (and that’s probably the only thing that’s growing on that alleged farm) and so Sam gets up from the couch to announce he’s going for a walk.  “He lives on Spruce Street,” Alice reminds Sam as he grabs his jacket.

“I know where he lives…I’m just going to take a little walk,” Sam replies.  And as sitcom would have it, he ends up at the Spruce Street residence of the Hendersons…where we find father Brian and son Harold working hard on their one-sixteenth scale fort.

BRIAN: There we go…
HAROLD: Pop…shouldn’t I be doing that?
BRIAN: Whuh…what are you talking about?  You’re doing the important stuff!
BRIAN: Well, sure!  You put the glue on, didn’t ya?

“And that glue isn’t going to sniff itself, you know!”

HAROLD: Well…yeah….
BRIAN: Well, if it wasn’t for the glue the whole thing would fall apart!

Outside the secret laboratory where Project One-Sixteenth Scale is being conducted, Sam begins to stealthily make his way toward the garage.  He stands outside the door, as if getting ready to eavesdrop…and then he pauses as if to reconsider how childish this all is.  But then he hears the unmistakable sound of a power drill, and knows in his very heart of hearts that Brian Henderson, Esq. would not allow a kid like Harold access to power tools unless he had suddenly become insane, so it’s only his proper duty to investigate.  He enters…the workbench room:

HAROLD: Oh—hi, Mr. Jones!
SAM: Hello, Harold…Brian…
(Brian turns off the drill and then hides it behind his back)
BRIAN: Hi…hi, Sam…what…what can I do for you?
SAM: Oh…uh…nothing…I was just…looking by, and…er…walking by…I thought I’d stop in and say hello…gee…this…must be your project…huh, Harold?  Looks great!
HAROLD: Thanks!
SAM: You…uh… (He sneaks a look at what’s behind Brian’s back) You’re not helping him…are you, Brian?
BRIAN: Well…no…no no no…I was just supervising…I…I…I got the…uh…drill down for him, that’s all…
SAM: Uh-huh…
BRIAN (placing the drill on the bench): Here you are, son…
HAROLD: Gee, Pa…you told me never to touch your power tools!
BRIAN: That’s right!  (He pulls the drill away) Never touch the power tools…you can…you can use the hand drill later on…

Though you would think that a man who hangs out with idiot friends on a weekly basis might himself become an idiot over time…Sam has managed to avoid that trap.  He’s not buying any of this.

HAROLD: Look, Mr. Jones!  (He moves a piece of the fort) The gate really works!
SAM: Say…that’s…that’s something, all right…looks like a real…professional job!
BRIAN: Thank you very much!  (Correcting himself) I mean…well…I…I’m very proud when anybody compliments my…my son’s talents!
HAROLD: I’ll bet it’ll be the best project at the Open House!
BRIAN: Harold, I…I’ve told you a hundred times—it’s not important who has the best project…the important thing is that you did your best…isn’t that right, Sam?
SAM: Oh, yeah…right…right…
HAROLD: I put on all the glue!
BRIAN: Yes…and…and everything else, too!

Well, Sam has grown weary of watching Brian uncomfortably tell fib after fib that he’s not helping his idiot son with his school project…and so he takes his leave in order to return home and help his idiot son with his school project.

MIKE: Whatcha doin’, Pa?
SAM: Oh, I’m just…looking at your teepee…
MIKE: It hasn’t fallen down since I stuffed it full of paper!

“I like cheese!”

SAM: Uh…you know something, Mike?  One thing that I’ve learned in life…is that your first effort…isn’t always your best effort…now I bet you by now…you’ve got a whole bunch of ideas…on how you could have made that even better, huh?
MIKE: Uh-uh…I’m just glad it’s finished!
SAM: Uh…well, yeah…but…uh…I’ll bet if we put our heads together—we can even improve it!
MIKE: We?  I thought I was supposed to use my own ideas…?
SAM: Uh…yeah…yeah…well, I did say that…but there’s nothing wrong with a father and son talking over a project—is there?
MIKE: Yeah…but we’d probably think of something I couldn’t make…
SAM: I could show you how
MIKE: I thought I was supposed to build it myself…?
SAM: Well, yeah…yeah…I-I-I said that, too…uh…but…there’s certainly nothing wrong with a father showing his son how to use tools—is there?
MIKE: No…but you said…
SAM: I know what I said!

Sam’s hypocritical parenting takes a quick commercial break…and when the episode returns, the reconstruction of an authentic Hekawi teepee has started.  Mike is holding the poles of the dwelling while Sam is tying them together, and when Mike asks whether or not he should be the one doing that Sam starts to channel his inner Brian Henderson.  “You’re doing all the hard work, Mike…holding the poles and everything.”  Sam then tells his son that they’re going to knock off for dinner, and when Mike leaves he is replaced by Goober, an idiot.

GOOBER: Well…what have we got here?
SAM: It’s…uh…Mike’s teepee…
GOOBER: Mike’s teepee?  Boy, it sure has grown—whaddya been feedin’ it?  (He playfully smacks Sam on the arm)
SAM (chuckling): Well, uh…he started it all over again…you know, the boy wasn’t quite satisfied…
GOOBER: Well…that boy sure is doin’ better work this time…
SAM: I’m just…giving him a few pointers, that’s all…
GOOBER: Good!  Hey—you know whatcha oughta do now?  Jazz it up!  Stick a totem pole in front and…and a birch bark canoe, and a lake right over there
SAM: No…
GOOBER: You can fake it with a mirror!  It’ll look just like the shores of Gitche Gumee…
SAM: Will you hold it a minute, Hiawatha?

Sam continues to lie to himself that he’s not doing the project for Mike—he’s only “guiding” him.  Goober remains unconvinced, and tells his pal that he just came by to install a “flutter valve” on Sam’s truck, so Sam tells him to get to work.  Goob leaves, and then rushes back in with a wood log that “will be perfect when you carve your totem pole!”  Sam again protests, but when Goober goes back outside Sam stands the log up near the teepee…and decides that it’s not such a bad idea.

A scene dissolve finds Mike yelling for Harold over at Harold’s house, where he invites his smarmy friend out to play some ball.

HAROLD: I thought you had to work on your teepee!
MIKE: Well, the new one’s almost finished…wait until you see it…it’s ten times as good as the first one…
BRIAN: Oh…you’re making another teepee, Mike?
MIKE: Yeah!
BRIAN: Sam’s helping you…?
MIKE: Uh-uh…Pa says I’m practically doing it all by myself!

Annnnnd that’s Brian’s cue to mosey on over to Jones Farms to spy on Project Teepee.  Sam is embarrassed at being caught painting Native American signs on the outside, particularly when Mike is allegedly doing the work…but that’s not what has Brian’s undies in a bunch.  He’s scornful of “Mike’s” efforts, saying “A teepee is a teepee—what can you do with it?”

SAM: Now, wait a minute, Brian…wait a minute…these are all authentic Indian signs here…you know…authentic…I resear…M-Mike researched those himself…that’s sunshine…and that’s rain…and that’s a snake!
BRIAN: Now, Sam…don’t get upset!  I’m not saying your boy doesn’t have talent!  But you know…kids develop at different rates…Mike will come along…

As you can imagine, I laughed long and hard at that little pearl o’wisdom.  “This teepee is a whole lot better than that dumb fort!” Sam says angrily.

Brian is livid.  “Dumb fort?!!  You obviously haven’t seen it since the night you came sneaking around my garage!  You know what Harold’s got in there now?  He has got twinkling lights in…in the barracks!  It looks just like real firelight!  And a real well with real water!”  (“And if you look real close…there’s the headquarters of O’Rourke Enterprises!”)

The jig is up: Sam’s not buying that Harold is smart enough to install electrical lights in his project, and Brian has already witnessed the paint brush Sam is hiding behind his back.  “I’ll see you at the Open House!” bellows Brian as he exits Sam’s workplace.  As he gets on his bicycle and starts to pedal off, he warns Alice to watch what she says: “Sam’s off his feed!”

Sam comes charging out of the shed, so mad he can hardly spit.  “Do you know what he did?  Do you know what he did?” he badgers Alice.

Alice has no idea what the hell is going on.  “What?  What?”

“He put twinkle lights in his barracks!”  Sam then decides he needs to step up his project game.  “I’m going to the lumberyard!”

It’s the night of Open House at Mayberry Elementary.  Miss Pringle is complimenting a piece of Native American pottery designed by a student, who boasts that she made the colors all by herself by using ground mustard seeds for the yellows, “and my sister’s eye shadow” for the blues.  (Yes, I chuckled at this.)  “That’s very resourceful, Susan,” Pringle tells the young girl…who is played in this episode by former child actress Patti Cohoon-Friedman.  This is Cohoon-Friedman’s second appearance on the show—the first was in the aforementioned “Mike’s Birthday Party,” in which her character’s name was “Cheryl.”  But here’s the freaky part…

she’s wearing the same dress as the earlier episode.  Either the continuity girl went out for a smoke, or Susan/Cheryl is associated with one of Mayberry’s poorer families, adding a note of melancholy to this dreadful episode.  In another part of the room, a nondescript man (Bob Beban) chats with Howard, declaring “Say, these kids have come up with some pretty impressive projects.”

“Yeah, they sure have,” drones Howard.  “You know, I remember when I was a kid I made a replica of the Great Pyramid—out of sugar cubes!”  The man Howard is boring to tears then gets a break because he’s just spotted Harold and Brian bringing in their replica of Fort Courage

Harold and his father set the fort down on several tables, and Miss Pringle is gushing with praise:

ALICE: My goodness, Harold!  That’s certainly impressive!
HAROLD: Wait’ll I plug it in!
BRIAN: No…I…I’ll plug it in, Harold!  (He runs over to the other side and grabs the plug, then makes for the outlet)
PRINGLE: Isn’t that beautiful!  (With a sardonic smile) You must have put in quite a lot of time, Harold…
BRIAN: Well…h-h-he sure did!  The kid’s got a real knack for tools!

And speaking of tools—here’s Jones pere and fils, with their simple sculpture entitled “Big Ass Teepee.”

Goober and Mike are helping Sam haul this monstrosity in, and Goob cracks: “Sam, put it next to that little log cabin over there…”  (He is, of course, referring to Fort Henderson.)

HOWARD: You mean that…Mike…you…you made that?
MIKE: Well…kinda…
BRIAN (sotto voce, to Sam): You mean to tell me that Mike made that all by himself?
SAM: Just as much as Harold made yours…I mean, his
GOOBER: Turn it on, Mike…
MIKE: Well…maybe we shouldn’t
GOOBER: Of course you should!  (To the crowd) You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!

Goober goes over to the teepee and, reaching inside, activates this little handy-dandy feature:

I’d like to be able to say that the teepee then catches fire and no one in that schoolroom makes it out alive because there’s a mad panic for the fire doors.  But as always…we simply aren’t that lucky.  As the puffs of smoke continue, an infuriated Brian storms off as Sam displays his best sh*t-eating grin.

These two actors aren’t mentioned in the credits at the always reliable IMDb—the man is played by the aforementioned Bob Beban (the guy who was trying to get away from Howard), and the only credit he has at the site is an appearance in a 1951 Republic film, The Wild Blue Yonder.  I’ve not seen the film (though I am curious to check it out; with a cast including Wendell “Hic!” Corey, Phil Harris, Walter Brennan, Ruth Donnelly, Richard Erdman and Ken Berry’s F Troop co-star Forrest Tucker it certainly sounds worth a watch) so I can’t confirm it’s the same actor.  The actress playing the woman is Ann Raymond…who has no other credits at the database.

WOMAN: What do you think of that?
MAN: All I want to know is…who’s the contractor?
WOMAN: It certainly outshines Debbie’s headdress…
MAN: Yeah…and Billy’s tom-tom just went down the tubes…

And as for the impoverished little girl known as Susan?  “I stayed up all night making my pottery,” she says sadly.  Hey…that’s what happens when you wait until the last minute, angel drawers.  (Don’t ask me how I know this.)

MIKE: Pa…?
SAM: Yeah, Mike?
MIKE: Can we go home now?  I think I’m getting a stomachache
SAM: But they’re about to award the blue ribbon, Mike…
MIKE: I think that’s why I’m getting the stomachache…

The penny has dropped for Sam.  He now realizes that he succumbed to a silly game of one-upsmanship with the loathsome Brian, so he walks over to Miss Pringle to confess his project sins.  But she blows him off, telling him she’s about to announce the winner of the best project blue ribbon…

PRINGLE: Everybody…can I have your attention?  Parents?  Children?  (She raps her clipboard with her pencil as the kids and their folks fall into line like obedient sheep.)  Thank you…ladies and gentlemen…I’m sure we’re all pleased with the projects we’ve seen on display here today for our Open House…and I think all of our children deserve a round of applause… (Applause)  And now it’s time for the Grand Award…

Look at Harold’s dad.  “It’s in the bag, my boy!”

PRINGLE: As you know, the judging was based on the children’s imagination, ingenuity and execution…the grand prize…this blue ribbon…goes to Susan McBain, for her homemade Indian pottery!

Mike, decent kid that he is (if incredibly stupid), starts clapping the loudest as a surprised Susan goes up to collect her blue ribbon.  (But really, folks…couldn’t someone have passed a hat around and took up a collection for that poor girl?)  Harold is clapping for her, too…until his father tells him: “Knock it off!”  (That little mook is going to get the beating of his life when he gets home.)  Miss Pringle tells everyone to get a sugar high on the punch and cookies, then walks back over to Sam.

PRINGLE: Uh…what was it now, Mr. Jones?
SAM: Uh…oh…it…it…uh…really isn’t important now, but…maybe I’d better explain…you see…Mike’s project…
PRINGLE: Mr. Jones…I understand…I’ve been teaching for a long time, and…well, every father goes overboard at least once
SAM: Oh?
PRINGLE: Mm-hmm…but I will say this for you…when you go bad—you go all the way!

“It’s too bad they don’t give blue ribbons for that, huh?” Sam asks, as this lame episode comes to an end, with Susan stuffing her pockets with as many cookies as she can carry for her hungry siblings.

I had planned to cut the coda short on this one but there’s an interesting development in that even though we bade fare-thee-well to town curmudgeon Elmo Halpert (Vince Barnett) in last week’s “The Bicycle Club,” he makes an appearance (sort of) in this episode—a cameo in which he’s apparently on the other end of a phone conversation Sam is having as Alice putters in the kitchen.  “Another joker,” mutters Sam to Alice as he covers up the mouthpiece with his hand.  “Elmo wants to know if he can borrow the teepee to go camping.”  He ends his call by saying “Ugh to you, too, Elmo.”

SAM: Oh, boy…I’m really getting razzed…
ALICE: Oh, well…they’ll forget all about it as soon as someone else makes a boo-boo…
SAM: Oh…thanks a lot!  You’ll recall I had a lot of encouragement from a certain cousin of mine…

Chew on that, Esmeralda!  As Sam turns to exit the kitchen, Alice asks him if he’s seen that mirror that was hanging on her closet door.

SAM: Hmm…yeah…yeah…I’ll have to get you another one…
ALICE: You mean you took it?
SAM: Don’t tell me you didn’t recognize Lake Gitche Gumee?

Mayberry’s bakery doyenne Millie Swanson (Arlene Golonka) and the town’s fix-it savant, Emmett Clark (Paul Hartman) were sorely missed this week (well, for some of us anyway) but because Cousin Alice was on hand to offer up her kitchenly wisdom that means that Thrilling Days of Yesteryear’s patented Alice-o-Meter™ moves up a notch to five appearances for actress Ghostley in the sitcom’s final season.  Next week on Mayberry Mondays—it’s an episode that at one time was voted the best of all the R.F.D. shenanigans by the nameless minions at  (It’s actually got a few laughs—though I don’t think I’d choose it as the funniest.)  The guest star is a person who’s no stranger to Mayberry though they’re working under a pseudonym…so please join me for all the fun on “Howard, the Dream Spinner.”