Friday, April 26, 2013

Tales of shameless self-promotion

Over at the Radio Spirits blog (the paying gig), glasses are raised in tribute to the eighty-second anniversary of Lum and Abner, one of the true delights of the Golden Age of Radio and, as I stated in the first post on this blog (that would be the non-paying gig) so many years ago, the very first old-time radio program I listened to.  (It was broadcast over WCAW in the city of my birth, Charleston, WV—and according to my paisan Jeff Lane, is still heard weekday mornings around 7:30am on WVOW in Logan.)  Nothing puts a smile on my face than visiting from time to time with the residents of Pine Ridge and for those of you who are interested RS has several collections available of this one-of-a-kind comedy serial.

Some outside RS projects are going to keep me occupado for the next couple of weeks, so I won’t be able to get to any of the usual shenanigans involving Don Winslow or the gang that make up Mayberry Mondays.  I do, however, want to thank a couple of my fellow classic film scribes for doling out coveted blog trophies to TDOY within the past few weeks or so: from the irrepressible Brian Schuck (I don’t actually know if he’s irrepressible—I just like using that adjective) at Films from Beyond the Time Barrier (dun-dun-DUN!!!), the highly-sought-after and green-with-envy-coveted Liebster Award.  (“Liebster” is German for “meme,” by the way.)  I profusely apologize for not thanking Brian earlier for this award (he slid it my way back in the early part of April); I had it in my “to-do” box and for one reason or another kept ignoring it until it finally grew to gargantuan proportions and went on a rampage, heckbent on destroying the world!  (Well, in keeping with the theme of his blog and all.)

Just when I was convinced that this couldn’t possibly be topped, Aurora at Once Upon a Screen risked certain embarrassment and ostracization through cue card reading by bestowing upon this ‘umble scrap of the blogosphere the Versatile Blogger Award.  (Aurora also maintains a classic TV blog, How Sweet it Was—I need to remind myself to mention this more often.)  Multiple mea culpas to her for not acknowledging her kind gesture in a more timely fashion...and suffice it to say, both of these honors have left my gob positively smacked.

And now here’s the disappointing part: I’m supposed to be a good net citizen and pass these on to other worthy blogs but I’ve just recently started a rebellious phase whereupon I’m breaking all the rules.  Seriously.  (Just yesterday, I only waited a half-hour to go swimming after eating.  Born to be mild, baby.)  These awards also want people to reveal things about themselves, and I’ve just run out of interesting things to say about me.  (I could make some up—“I’m married to…uh…er…Morgan Fairchild...yeah...that’s the ticket!”—but it wouldn’t be right.)

Besides, if you’re curious to hear me prattle on about myself, I invite you to walk, single file, over to All Good Things—where my friend Monty had me over as the subject of his monthly “Be My Guest” feature.  I had a lot of fun answering his questions despite the fact that I always get a little self-conscious about things like that…as a famous cartoon rabbit once remarked: “Oh, I’m so unimportant!”

The next time we get together on the blog, it will be to talk about a classic episode of the TV series Checkmate, “Brooding Fixation” (03/14/62)—which I will be writing as my entry in The Mary Astor Blogathon, sponsored by Dor at Tales of the Easily Distracted and Ruth at Silver Screenings.  (I’m scheduled for May 7.)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

TV is the thing this year

Hi-dy hi there, friends and neighbors!  This is your old pal, Honest Ivan—and I’m going to do whatever I can to put you behind the wheel of this little beauty right here…um…yeah.  Sorry about that, cartooners—just a new character I’m trying out for my one-man show that will be touring in a city near you as soon as I convince some sucker angel to put a little mazoola into it.

I thought it might not be a bad idea to check in on the blog since it’s been about a week since I posted last (and it’s a good thing, too, because one of you has been drinking my Sun Drop)—I had originally planned to have something up Sunday for the Terrorthon! that was to be hosted by my pal Page at My Love of Old Hollywood and equally good chum Rich at Wide Screen World.  It was about twelve noon on Sunday (April 21) when I had the oddest feeling I had forgotten something and then I got that stomach knot you get when you realize that thing you forgot had a due date but you can’t remember when it was.  So after moseying on over to Page’s, I learned that my entry for her blogathon was due that very day…but upon further reading, was told that the ‘thon had been postponed for a myriad of reasons—chiefly the craziness that went down in Massachusetts and Texas last week (promoting a “terrorthon” seemed a little…unseemly).  They will reschedule at a later date, and in the meantime I’ll probably change the movie I’m going to write about to Dimples (1936).  (Okay, I’m just teasing about that…kinda.)

But I am most certainly not teasing about the upcoming blogathon to be sponsored by Comet Over Hollywood—it’s scheduled for May 24 thru May 26th, and the subject will be…wait for it…child stars!  (You know the mantra of the blog by now: irony can be pretty ironic sometimes.)  I thought maybe I could push aside my lifelong enmity for kiddie thespians and be able to participate in this…but I just can’t bring myself to do it.  (I did discuss this with J.P. on the Twitter machine, and she understands why I have to opt out.)  J.P. doesn’t have a banner up yet (she’s currently having a blast at TCMPalooza, as is roughly 80% of the classic movie blogosphere) but when she finishes them in the lab, I’ll stick one up here as a reminder.  (I thought about making one myself, but was unable to find any online photos of Shirley Temple with a spike through her head.  Internets, you have failed me again.)

Although Thrilling Days of Yesteryear tendered its resignation with a certain gargantuan movie blog association shortly after its one-for-the-record-books clusterfudge last year, when they awarded the Inigo Montoya Classic Movie Blog Prize to a blog that was anything but, the organization did nominate several friends of TDOY for this year’s Classic Movie trophy…and I’d like to single them out for praise: The Ol’ Perfesser (no, not Kay Kyser) at Where Danger Lives, Aurora at Once Upon a Screen and Kristen from Journeys in Classic Film. (The other two nominees, Criterion Reflections and 100 Years of Movies, are also represented on the blogroll.)  Despite my detailed e-mail to this movie blog aggregation (though it’s really more like aggravation) informing their officers, founders and any other dumbasses defending the decision to award that Best Classic Movie Blog attaboy (to a blog that, once again, couldn’t quite measure up to the parameters of such) that they could go pound sand, I’m still getting notices inviting me to participate in their democratic process.  It’s worse than trying to get off the mailing list for Entertainment Weakly Weekly.  (As for voting…I’ll get right to that as soon as I finished alphabetizing my DVD’s.  But I do wish the nominees all the best, and if you still participate in that strokefest vote for one of these fine bloggers.)

Well, with that rant out of the way…what’s doin’ in the world of TV-on-DVD?  Only this little bauble, which I hope to be able to offer a good home come July 2:

The Shout! Factory press release for this set is available for your perusal at the go-to website for all vintage TV shows on disc,…and though the SRP on this collection is a king’s ransom at $139.99, I’ve found it (the lowest price so far) at for $80.79.  I’ve ordered two TV-on-DVD collection from ImportCDs so far; the second season of The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp and the fourth and final season of Route 66.  Even though it’s a slight inconvenience in that I have to have these mailed to my P.O. box (some nonsense with my bank card), they have not disappointed me.

The other must-have Timeless Factory collection is The Jack Benny Show: The Lost Episodes…which I’ve talked about here on the blog a couple of times, but if you want the skinny on just what is on the setTSOD has that covered. 

Now…faithful TDOY readers know that when it comes to purchasing TV-on-DVD sets, I often display the bartering ferocity of a rug merchant.  If I can get the price down on any collection, I will venture down any dark avenue to do so.  (It’s not for nothing that Jack Benny is one of my comedy idols—the man who made cheapskatedness a virtue.)  But I’m going to make an exception for this one: the Benny set will be available only on the Shout! Factory website beginning June 18th…and will then have its official release on July 23rd.  You can probably get a good deal on the set at Amazon, or even my new favorite online shopping place…but if you’re willing to pre-order it on June 18 and pay the Factory price (heh) by using this link and clicking the “buy” button—a portion of the proceeds will go to The International Jack Benny Fan Club.  And that, my friends, is a cause most worthy of the extra shekels.  To quote an e-mail from IJBFC President Laura Leff: “So smash that piggy bank, tell Ed to let you into the vault, and order with abandon!  The more you buy, the better the chances of future volumes!”  (You had me at future volumes, L.L.)

In other disc news, here’s a little further information on that Lone Ranger: Collector’s Edition collection to be released on June 4th.  It will contain all 221 episodes of the iconic TV western series (plus some eye-popping extras), and because it will be presented in coffee book form it should be a cinch to smuggle this into Rancho Yesteryear.  (I’ll also have to smuggle in a coffee table…but those are just minor details.)  $125.99 is the asking price over at ImportCDs…oh, I’m going to have to go into major hand-kissing schmooze mode to pull this one off.

Shout! Factory also has the sixth season of the veteran forensics drama Quincy, M.E. scheduled for release on July 9th—all eighteen episodes from the 1980-81 season (due to the strike) will be made available in a 5-DVD collection that will retail for $39.97 SRP.  (I need to get cracking on these—I’m a few seasons behind.)  One final stop before we leave the Factory—their Timeless Media Group (TMG) subsidiary has announced the release of the eighth and final season of The Virginian for July 16th; a 9-disc set that will contain all twenty-four episodes from the last season the show was officially called The Virginian (with a SRP of $59.97).  (The following season, the show changed its name to The Men from Shiloh—and those episodes were already released to DVD in October 2011.)

Which brings me to a brief detour in this post—only because the segueways are working so well.  TDOY’s good friend Melissa Prince at the INSP Network was kind enough to send me an e-mail last week promoting the family cable channel’s upcoming The Virginian Cast Favorites Marathon which will get underway this Saturday (April 27) at 1pm and feature seven episode favorites from members of TV’s first ninety-minute western series.  The lineup is as follows:

01:00pm The Mountain of the Sun (James Drury)
02:30pm Beloved Outlaw (Sarah Lane)*
04:00pm The Evil That Men Do (Roberta Shore; also repeated @ 11:30pm)
05:30pm Felicity’s Spring (James Drury)
07:00pm Yesterday’s Timepiece (Don Quine)
08:30pm Duel at Shiloh (Gary Clarke)
10:00pm Nobody Said Hello (Diane Roter)

Here’s a link for a sneak peak at the presentation, and if you see something on that page about a giveaway for seasons 1-7 of The Virginian on DVD (plus season 9, The Men from Shiloh)…do not under any circumstances enter it.  I have already entered, and if I knew that your participation would lower my chances of scoring this sweet collection it’s liable to make me cranky.

Well, back to the TV-on-DVD announcements…and it’s fitting that the next one is a western: CBS DVD-Paramount will bring the sixth season of western perennial Bonanza to disc July 9th.  This shouldn’t come as any surprise, of course, but the company will be releasing Season 6 in split-season sets (Volume 1 with eighteen episodes on 5 discs, Volume 2 the remaining sixteen episodes on 4 DVDs), with both sets priced at $45.98 SRP.  Now…here’s the dun-dun-DUN! moment: if you buy both sets in a shrink-wrapped bundle it will only run you a SRP of only $58.98.  How did they allow this to happen, you may be asking?  I have no response to this—my theory is that they experienced a temporary state of amnesia and completely forgot they were money-grubbing weasels.

This generosity seems to have spread to the Warner Archive, which has announced that the long-awaited debut season of TV medico fave Dr. Kildare will be released on May 7…and even though it is a split-season set (and MOD), they’re charging a solitary price for it ($49.95 SRP for all thirty-three episodes from the first season).  About three years back, I got an e-mail from someone who stumbled across the blog (my fault, really—I have a bad habit of leaving it out in the driveway at night) and she asked about the availability of the Kildare series; I had to tell her at the time that I knew of no plans from anyone to release the show to disc and sadly suggested she might have to make arrangements with her friendly neighborhood bootlegger.

She had inquired in particular about an episode from the show that “crossed over” to another medical series on the air at the time, The Eleventh Hour (1962-64)—a short-lived program about psychiatrists that starred Jack Ging (as Dr. Paul Graham) and Wendell “Hic!” Corey (as Dr. Theodore Bassett).  (Our pal Wendell was replaced in the show’s second season by former man against crime Ralph Bellamy, who played Dr. L. Richard Starke.).  Both Kildare and Eleventh Hour episodes were titled “Four Feet in the Morning,” with the story starting on one and ending on another.

I sent her a recent e-mail alerting her to the Warner Archive release—for which she was most grateful, since the set she bought was of pretty crappy quality—and once again she brought up the episode; I replied that I didn’t know of any plans from Warner to release Eleventh Hour to disc but if or when the Archive got to Kildare’s third season I’d give someone over there a shout-out.  It sounds as if the Archive is ahead of us; there’s a bonus episode of Eleventh Hour to be included in the set—not the episode which my friend asked about, but “the ORIGINAL, never-aired pilot for the Wendell Corey psychiatric drama.” (Quotes theirs.)  Also in the description: “Initial quantities of this release will be traditionally replicated (pressed) in anticipation of high consumer demand.”—which sounds like if you get in on the ground floor of this, you won’t get a MOD set.

That’s all the news to report from the TV-on-DVD front but I do have one last addendum: I had high hopes this past Saturday that AMC’s acclamation of Rawhide might mean I could avoid shelling out some dough for the DVD sets (I’m stopped at Season Three, and was gambling that they might do them up right in the manner of Encore Westerns) but after witnessing their marathon presentation of the show I knew it was not meant to be.  They “squash” the closing credits to promote that other garbage on the channel, not to mention running promos at the bottom of the screen during each episode for more AMC garbage.  So I’m forced to save every nickel and dime I can scrape together and put them toward the purchase of the missing sets.  (It’s tough out there being a TV-on-DVD collector.)

*This is also, I believe, the favorite episode of Linda at Yet Another Journal…though to my knowledge she has not been asked to participate in the marathon.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Coming distractions: May 2013 on TCM

With less than two weeks away before the arrival of the merry month of May, I figured I’d better get cracking on putting together Thrilling Days of Yesteryear’s regular feature spotlighting some of the goodies to come in that particular month on The Greatest Cable Channel Known to Mankind™.  (By the way—the individual responsible for coining that appellation, distinguished pop culture analyst and dedicated Pittsburgh Pirates [meh] fan Rick Brooks, has returned to his proper place in the blogosphere at Cultureshark.  Stop by and say hi-dy when you get a chance.)  As always…many thanks to fellow classic film fanatic Laura of Miscellaneous Musings fame for alerting me to the news that Tee Cee Em had May’s tentative schedule up (I should stress that it’s not her fault I’m so darn late with this).

The channel has chosen to go with a potpourri theme for their May Star of the Month…which will be most welcomed, since it was getting kind of musty in here.  All seriousness aside, every Tuesday night in the month TCM will present a total of 22 films featuring some of cinema’s best known Tough Guys: Bogie, Cagney, Mitchum, Garfield, Franklin Pangborn.  (Wait, what?)  Here’s the rundown on what films will be featured:

May 7, Tuesday
08:00pm The Asphalt Jungle (1950)
10:00pm Crossfire (1947)
11:30pm Out of the Past (1947)
01:45am Out of the Fog (1941)
03:15am The Naked City (1948)

May 14, Tuesday
08:00pm Kiss of Death (1947)
10:00pm Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950)
11:45pm Point Blank (1967)
01:30am A Better Tomorrow (1986)
03:15am The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974)
05:00am The Secret Six (1931; also May 23 @ 5:30pm)

May 21, Tuesday
08:00pm Little Caesar (1930)
09:30pm The Petrified Forest (1936)
11:00pm Le Jour Se Leve (1939)
12:45am White Heat (1949)
02:45am Brute Force (1947)
04:30am The Big House (1930)

May 28, Tuesday
08:00pm Hard Times (1975)
10:00pm Bullitt (1968)
12:00am Pale Rider (1985)
02:00am Shaft’s Big Score! (1972)
04:00am Shaft in Africa (1973)

Boy, it would be nice if TCM would go back to indicating which of the films they’re going to show will be in a letterbox presentation…because I’d like to see Hard Times as such—even the DVD release is pan-and-scan, ferchrissake.  Well, what can you do—stuff happens.  On Friday nights in May, the channel will roll out a series of 26 films that fit under the category of “Second Looks”—movies that have been critically underrated and are worthy (in TCM’s estimation) of reevaluation.  The lineup is as follows:

May 3, Friday
08:00pm Alice in Wonderland (1933)
09:30pm No Greater Glory (1934)
11:00pm The Bride Wore Red (1937)
01:00am I Take This Woman (1940)
03:00am Three Comrades (1938)
04:45am Parnell (1937)

May 10, Friday
08:00pm The Great Moment (1944)
09:30pm The Horn Blows at Midnight (1945)
11:00pm Under Capricorn (1949)
01:15am Above and Beyond (1952)
03:30am Battle Cry (1955)

May 17, Friday
08:00pm Ace in the Hole (1951)
10:00pm Top Banana (1954)
12:00am It’s Always Fair Weather (1955)
02:00am Our Man in Havana (1960)
04:00am Autumn Leaves (1956)

May 24, Friday
08:00pm Inside Daisy Clover (1965)
10:15pm The Loved One (1965)
12:30am Mickey One (1965)
02:15am The Arrangement (1969)
04:30am The Fortune (1975)

May 31, Friday
08:00pm A New Leaf (1971)
10:00pm 1941 (1979)
12:15am Those Lips, Those Eyes (1980)
02:15am Absolute Beginners (1986)
04:15am Night of the Comet (1984)

To be honest, I’m a little more intrigued by the “Second Looks” offerings than “Tough Guys”—I think they were very eclectic in their choices (I’ve long championed movies like The Horn Blows at Midnight, Ace in the Hole and Night of the Comet) and I’m curious to see a couple of these: Under Capricorn is one of the few Hitchcock’s I’ve not viewed and I don’t think I’ve ever watched It’s Always Fair Weather, at least not in its entirety.  (Then there are some that I’ll just never warm up to: saw Mickey One in a film class one time and am just not a fan; same goes for 1941, though I imagine there’ll be much rejoicing and hoisting of mead at Castle Cozzalio on that night.)

Finally in May, a fitting filmic tribute over the Memorial Day weekend to commemorate the memory of those who served:

May 25, Saturday
06:00am Hell Below (1933)
08:00am Thunder Below (1939)
10:00am Destination Tokyo (1943)
12:30pm Torpedo Run (1958)
02:15pm Run Silent, Run Deep (1958)
04:00pm Up Periscope (1959)
06:00pm Operation Pacific (1951)
08:00pm Friendly Persuasion (1956)
10:30pm Sergeant York (1941)
01:00am Men Must Fight (1933)
02:30am The Deep Six (1958)
04:30am Foreign Correspondent (1940)

May 26, Sunday
06:45am Reunion in France (1942)
08:45am The Sea Chase (1955)
11:00am Back to Bataan (1945)
01:00pm They Were Expendable (1945)
03:30pm The Green Berets (1968)
06:00pm Flying Leathernecks (1951)
08:00pm Battleground (1949)
10:15pm Battle of the Bulge (1965)
01:15am Homecoming (1948)
03:15am The Coward (1915)
04:30am The Cranes are Flying (1957)

May 27, Monday
06:15am The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
09:00am The Guns of Navarone (1961)
12:00pm The Devil’s Brigade (1968)
02:30pm Kelly’s Heroes (1970)
05:00pm The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
08:00pm Air Force (1943)
10:15pm Command Decision (1948)
12:15am God is My Co-Pilot (1945)
02:00am Flight Command (1940)
04:00am Dive Bomber (1941)

Say that again?  You want to know what else is in store for us on TCM in May?  You people are never satisfied—I don’t know where you put it!  Well, let’s take a look at some of the other highlights…keeping in mind, of course, that films are subject to change and all scheduled times are EDT.

May 1, Wednesday – It’s a good thing today is Glenn Ford’s birthday, because TCM has got a DVD collection of five of the actor’s films to promote (which was released in March).  Fortunately, the channel’s not showing any of the movies on that set today—instead, you get The Doctor and the Girl (1950; 6:15am), The White Tower (1950; 8am), Young Man with Ideas (1952; 9:45am), Terror on a Train (1953; 11:15am), Blackboard Jungle (1955; 12:30pm), Interrupted Melody (1955; 2:15pm), Trial (1955; 4:15pm) and Ransom! (1956; 6:15pm).  Truth be told, I’ve only seen the last two and Jungle—and if anyone thinks I’ll be able to pry my father away from Prospectors to catch any of the others you’re living in a dream world, pallie.

Come nightfall, TCM turns the schedule over to actress Priscilla Lane, featured in six movies beginning at 8pm with Brother Rat (1938), then it’s Four Daughters (1938; 9:45pm), Silver Queen (1942; 11:30pm), Cowboy from Brooklyn (1938; 1am), Arsenic and Old Lace (1944; 2:30am) and Varsity Show (1937; 4:30am).

May 2, Thursday – A Facebook chum of mine mentioned some time back that the channel was going to be showing a Mercedes McCambridge movie I’ve not seen, Lightning Strikes Twice (1951; 12mid)—and he was not messing around, boy; it’s part of a primetime tribute to director King Vidor.  The other movies scheduled are Duel in the Sun (1946; 8pm), Ruby Gentry (1952; 10:30pm), An American Romance (1944; 1:45am) and Comrade X (1940; 4am).

May 4, SaturdayTCM continues to showcase films from RKO’s popular Falcon franchise (all films are shown at 10:45am) with a movie they later remade two years later (as Murder, My Sweet): The Falcon Takes Over (1942).  The last of the George Sanders (and first of his brother Tom Conway’s) Falcons, The Falcon’s Brother follows a week later on May 11 and then it’s The Falcon Strikes Back (1943; May 18).

At noon, the channel will feature westerns with tall-in-the-saddle Randolph Scott for the next three weeks: Fighting Man of the Plains (1949; May 4), Canadian Pacific (1949; May 11) and Ride the High Country (1962; May 18).

And when evening rolls around, Bobby Osbo and Drew Barrymore pull out a copy of Gold Diggers of 1933 to show on The Essentials at 8pm, then they follow that with two more Busby Berkeley-choreographed classics, Footlight Parade (1933; 10pm) and 42nd Street (1933; 12mid).

May 5, SundayTCM has a Fanny Brice double feature on tap for the evening…but I need to give you a heads-up and tell you that the two movies do not star Fanny—they’re fictionalized versions of her career.  Rose of Washington Square (1939) is up first at 8, and though 20th Century Fox couldn’t come right and say it was based on Brice’s career star Alice Faye sings Fanny’s signature tune, My Man…and also, too, Al Jolson is in it—so draw your own conclusions.  (Ms. Brice did, by the way; she sued Fox for $750,000 and the studio settled with her for an undisclosed amount.)  Following at 9:45pm is Funny Girl (1968), featuring Barbra Streisand’s Oscar-winning turn in the role she originated on stage.  Personally, for undiluted Brice I would recommend you invest in Radio Spirits’ fine Baby Snooks collection, Why Daddy?  (Oh, I’m so ashamed I resorted to that last bit of brazen self-promotion.)

On TCM’s Silent Sunday Nights—a special presentation will unfold for the nest three weeks: the 1917 Louis Feuillade serial Judex will be shown!

May 5, 12:30am: The Prologue (1917), The Mysterious Shadow (1917), The Atonement (1917), The Fantastic Dog Pack (1917)
May 12, 12:30am: The Secret of the Tomb (1917), The Tragic Mill (1917), The Licorice Kid (1917), The Woman in Black (1917)
May 19, midnight: The Underground Passages of the Chateau-Rouge (1917), When the Child Appeared (1917), Jacqueline’s Heart (1917), The Water Goddess (1917), Love’s Forgiveness (1917), The Epilogue (1917)

And following each of these Judex segments will be TCM Imports’ showing of three Yasujiro Ozu classics: Late Spring (1949; May 5-2:45am), Early Summer (1951; May 11-2:30am) and Late Autumn (1960; May 18-2:30am).

May 6, Monday – Three different birthdays will be celebrated by the channel in the daytime hours: Rudolph Valentino’s with The Sheik (1921; 6:45am) and The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921; 8:15am) Orson Welles’ with The Magnificent Ambersons (1942; 11am) and The Lady from Shanghai (1947; 12:30am); and Stewart Granger’s with The Wild North (1952; 2pm), Soldiers Three (1951; 4pm) and King Solomon’s Mines (1950; 6pm).  (Always good to share the wealth.)

As evening shadows fall, it’s Uncle Bobby Osbo and another session of his universally beloved “picks,” it says here.  On tap are The Shopworn Angel (1938; 8pm), Boom Town (1940; 9:30pm), That’s Entertainment! (1974; 11:45pm) and Gentleman Jim (1942; 2:15am).  To round out the evening, another film with ClassicBecky fave Errol Flynn will be shown at 4:15am, Montana (1950).

May 7, Tuesday – The daytime hours are devoted to movies released in the year 1940—I saw the first one kicking things off at 6am, Cross Country Romance, a Saturday or two back and it left me with more questions than answers, chiefly: are there any movies where Cliff Clark doesn’t play a policeman?  (Okay, I do know Clark is a fireman in Henry Aldrich, Editor…but it’s practically the same thing.)  The rest of the films on the schedule: Gambling on the High Seas (1940; 7:15am), Irene (1940; 8:15am), Virginia City (1940; 10am), Strange Cargo (1940; 12noon), We Who Are Young (1940; 2pm), South of Suez (1940; 3:30pm), Brother Rat and a Baby (1940; 5pm) and Little Men (1940; 6:30pm).

May 8, Wednesday – The channel starts out the morning with five films featuring the incomparable Judy Garland:  Thoroughbreds Don’t Cry (1937; 6am), Little Nellie Kelly (1940; 7:30am), Babes on Broadway (1941; 9:15am), Gay Purr-ee (1962; 11:15am) and I Could Go On Singing (1963; 12:45pm).  And since this last one pairs her with actor Dirk Bogarde, TCM decides to shift gears for the rest of the afternoon and concentrate on some of Dirk’s work with Song Without End (1960; 2:30pm) Night Ambush (1957; 4:45pm) and So Long at the Fair (1950; 6:30pm).

The primetime hours will see the debut of a TCM documentary, Don’t Say No Until I Finish Talking: The Story of Richard D. Zanuck.  (The title references not the song but the biography written about the late Richard D.’s equally famous pop, one-time 20th Century Fox head Darryl F.—only with a “no” replacing the “yes.”)  As you might have guessed, it’s an overview on producer Zanuck’s career—it will be shown at 8 and 11:30pm, and will be supplemented by three Zanuck-produced films, Driving Miss Daisy (1989; 9:45pm), Cocoon (1985; 1:15am) and Compulsion (1959; 3:30am).

May 9, Thursday – French actor Alain Delon “gets a dinner” with a scheduling of some of his feature film appearances in the daylight hours, beginning with Rocco and His Brothers (1960) at 6amPurple Noon (1960) follows at 9, then it’s Have I the Right to Kill (1963; 11am), The Yellow Rolls-Royce (1964; 12:45pm), Once a Thief (1965; 3pm) and Spirits of the Dead (1969; 5pm).

The theme for the primetime hours is “50’s Families”: There’s Always Tomorrow (1956) starts the ball rolling at 8pm, followed by A Summer Place (1959; 9:30pm), Our Very Own (1950; 11:45pm), A Hatful of Rain (1957; 1:30am) and Man on Fire (1957; 3:30am).  (I’ve seen a few of these—they should change that to “50’s Dysfunctional Families.”)

May 10, Friday – Spend a day with the Best Actor Oscar winners from 1935-41: The Informer (1935; 6am), The Story of Louis Pasteur (1936; 7:45am), Captains Courageous (1937; 9:30am), Boys’ Town (1938; 11:30am), Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939; 1:15pm), The Philadelphia Story (1940; 3:15pm) and Sergeant York (1941; 5:30pm).

May 11, Saturday – My BBFF Stacia will probably be wide awake and watching The Strangler (1964; 7:30am), a nifty little chiller starring her fave Victor Buono as a lab technician who indulges in a rather unpalatable hobby as a serial killer.

Come nightfall, the “Drewsentials” showing of How Green Was My Valley (1941) at 8pm ushers in a three-film festival of movies dealing with “Memory Lane”; Valley is followed by A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945; 10:15pm) then Stand by Me (1987; 12:30am).

Then on TCM Underground, it’s all the Conried you can get your “Hans” on (oh, that’s gonna leave a mark)—OTR god Hans Conried stars in The Twonky (1953) at 2:15am, then encores with The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T (1953) at 3:45

May 12, Sunday – “M” may be for the million things she gave me…but the channel is serving up nine films to commemorate Mother’s Day today.  Lady by Choice (1934; 6am), The Reckless Moment (1949; 7:30am), Stella Dallas (1937; 9am), So Big (1932; 11am), Light in the Piazza (1962; 12:30pm), Gypsy (1962; 2:30pm), Peyton Place (1957; 5:15pm), Roughly Speaking (1945; 8pm) and I Remember Mama (1948; 10pm).

May 13, Monday – The channel kicks off the early morning hours with a pair of Laurel & Hardy shorts—Helpmates (1932; 6:45am) and The Live Ghost (1934; 7:15am).  Then for most of the rest of day, you can watch the antics of the greatest movie comedy team of all time en Español!  Ladrones (1930; 7:45am), La Vida Nocturna (1930; 8:30am), Tiembla Y Titubea (1930), Noche de Duendes (1930; 9:45am), Politiquerias (1931; 10:45am), Les Carottiers (1931; 11:45am) and Los Calaveras (1931; 1:00pm).

Then beginning at 2:15pm, a four-film hat doff to character great Walter Connolly with Washington Merry-Go-Round (1932), The Captain Hates the Sea (1934; 3:45pm), The Girl Downstairs (1938; 5:15pm) and Coast Guard (1939; 6:45pm).

After the Connolly session, TCM oracle Robert Osborne invites police woman Angie Dickinson to be the evening’s guest programmer…and Ang selects for her program Gigi (1958; 8pm), Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942; 10:15pm), Dog Day Afternoon (1975; 12:30am) and The 400 Blows (1959; 2:45am).  (Pretty eclectic choices there, Pepper!)

May 14, Tuesday – How many times have you heard yourself saying: “If only I had enough time in the day to step away from the computer and start reading selected works by author-playwright Edna Ferber like I’ve always wanted?”  Well, Tee Cee Em has that covered with a day of Edna: Cimarron (1931; 6:15am), Giant (1956; 8:30am), Saratoga Trunk (1945; 12noon), Stage Door (1937; 2:15pm), Show Boat (1936; 4pm) and So Big (1953; 6pm).

May 15, Wednesday – Happy birthday, Joseph Cotten!  Normally I celebrate the actor’s birthday by listening to every episode of Suspense on which he appeared…but since I’m kind of pressed for time, I’ve decided to check out TCM’s lineup that starts with Lydia (1941) at 6:30am, then Journey into Fear (1942; 8:15am), The Third Man (1949; 9:30am), Walk Softly, Stranger (1950; 11:30am), The Man with a Cloak (1951; 1pm), The Steel Trap (1952; 2:30pm), The Angel Wore Red (1960; 4pm) and Jack of Diamonds (1967; 6pm).

The evening theme is “Movies for Grown-Ups.”  I have no idea what the hell that is supposed to mean; I generally associate that with flicks that have a little “bow-chicka-wow-wow” in them, if you know what I mean.  But don’t let me detain you from watching Forbidden Planet (1956; 8pm), Spellbound (1945; 10pm), Rome, Open City (1946; 12mid), Pennies from Heaven (1981; 2am), The Projectionist (1971; 4am) and Born Yesterday (1950; 5:30am).

May 16, ThursdayTCM devotes the evening hours to “the lives of saints,” with a four-picture gathering of religious-themed films beginning at 8 with The Big Fisherman (1959).  That’s followed by Francis of Assisi (1961; 11:15pm), Joan of Arc (1948; 1:15am) and A Man for All Seasons (1966; 3:45am).

May 17, FridayTDOY fave Maureen O’Sullivan celebrates what would have been her 102nd birthday on this date…and the channel serves up some of her feature films in tribute beginning with My Dear Miss Aldrich (1937) at 11am, followed by Spring Madness (1938; 12:15pm), Sporting Blood (1940; 1:30pm), Where Danger Lives (1950; 3pm), Mission Over Korea (1953; 4:30pm) and Never Too Late (1965; 6pm).

May 18, SaturdayBride of Frankenstein (1935) is in the spotlight on TCM’s The Essentials at 8pm, so it seems only fitting that the three films scheduled afterward feature the “Bride” herownself, character great Elsa Lanchester.  The movies to be shown are The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933; 9:30pm), Murder by Death (1976; 11:15pm) and Passport to Destiny (1944; 1:15am).  Then on TCM Underground, a double feature guaranteed to force Craig Zablo to fiddle with his DVR: Below the Belt (1980) at 2:30am, followed by director Robert Aldrich’s cinematic swan song, …All the Marbles (1981; 4:15am).

May 19, Sunday – Fans of director Fritz Lang (raises hand) know that the director was rather fond of the Western and directed three oaters in his career, the first being The Return of Frank James in 1940.  The movie will be shown in TCM’s evening hours at 10pm, following the movie that preceded it, Jesse James (1939) at 8.

May 20, Monday – Happy birthday, James Stewart!  The Indiana, PA native celebrates what would have been number one-oh-five, and TCM dishes up cake, ice cream and movies: Speed (1936; 6:30am), You Can’t Take It With You (1938; 7:45am), The Mortal Storm (1940; 10am), Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation (1962; 12noon), Carbine Williams (1952; 2pm), Winchester ’73 (1950; 3:45pm) and The Flight of the Phoenix (1965; 5:30pm).

After the party favors are stored away in the channel’s closet, it will be time for an evening devoted to spy movie spoofs: two of TDOY’s faves are on tap, back to back—the 1964 Carry On romp Carry On Spying at 1:45am, followed by Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine (1965; 3:30am).  (The 1966 follow-up, Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs follows Bikini Machine at 5:15am.  You have been warned.)  But before all this—it’s Our Man Flint (1966) at 8pm, followed a pair of Matt Helm vehicles, The Silencers (1966; 10pm) and Murderers’ Row (1966; 11:45pm).

May 21, Tuesday – Both Kay Kendall and Robert Montgomery celebrate birthdays today, so the channel once again demonstrates fealty to democratic principles by allowing ladies to be first in the morning hours beginning at 6:45am with Quentin Durward (1955), then it’s Les Girls (1957; 8:30am) and The Reluctant Debutante (1958; 10:30am).  Bob takes over in the afternoon: The Easiest Way (1931; 12:15pm), Hide-Out (1934; 1:30pm), Night Must Fall (1937; 3pm), Three Loves Have Nancy (1938; 5pm) and Mr. & Mrs. Smith (1941; 6:15pm).

May 22, WednesdayTCM splits the day up between Ronald Colman (“If I were king…”) and Anne Baxter—neither of whom are celebrating a birthday (Baxter’s is May 7), but that’s just how Tee Cee Em rolls.  Representing Colman’s oeuvre: Her Night of Romance (1924; 7am), My Life with Caroline (1941; 8:30am), Kismet (1944; 10am) and The Story of Mankind (1957; 11:45am).  Then it’s Anne in the Afternoon with The North Star (1943; 1:30pm), The Blue Gardenia (1953; 3:30pm), Bedevilled (1955; 5pm) and Chase a Crooked Shadow (1958; 6:30pm).

Come nightfall, the channel sets aside the schedule for some films from the oeuvre of Robert Duvall—the best of the bunch is slotted for the night auditor hours (of course) of 4:15am, Francis Ford Coppola’s underrated The Rain People (1969).  Before that, it’s The Natural (1984; 8pm), The Outfit (1973; 10:30pm), True Confessions (1981; 12:30am) and Countdown (1968; 2:30am).

May 23, Thursday – Two documentaries, Without Lying Down: Frances Marion and the Powerful Women in Hollywood (2000; 6am) and Complicated Women (2003; 7pm), bookend a day filled with pre-Code goodies and films featuring women who called the shots in the industry.  The lineup features Coquette (1929; 7am), The Last of Mrs. Cheyney (1929; 8:30am), Voice of the City (1929; 10:15am), The Divorcee (1930; 11:45am), The Life of the Party (1930; 1:15pm), The Office Wife (1930; 2:45pm), Kept Husbands (1931; 4pm) and The Secret Six (1931; 5:30pm).

The primetime schedule today is one that I’m really juiced about—the fun kicks off at 8pm with Safety Last! (1923), which ushers in an evening of films featuring The Third Genius himself, Harold Lloyd…including some shorts that I’ve not seen:

09:30pm Bashful (1917), Take a Chance (1918), A Gasoline Wedding (1918), The Big Idea (1917), By the Sad Sea Waves (1917), Lonesome Luke, Messenger (1917), Look Pleasant, Please (1918)
11:00pm The Freshman (1925)
12:30am Young Mr. Jazz (1919), A Sammy in Siberia (1919), Just Neighbors (1919), Spring Fever (1919), Next Aisle Over (1919), The Marathon (1919)
01:45am The Kid Brother (1927)
03:15am Captain Kidd’s Kids (1919)
03:45am His Royal Slyness (1920)
04:15am Now or Never (1921)
05:00am Hot Water (1924)

May 24, Friday – Another day of women to be reckoned with—and they name names, too!  Sadie McKee (1934; 6am), Lilly Turner (1933; 7:45am), Ann Vickers (1933; 9am), Ruby Gentry (1952; 10:30am), Esther Waters (1948; 12noon), Harriet Craig (1950; 2pm), Kitty Foyle (1940; 4pm) and Nora Prentiss (1947; 6pm).

May 29, Wednesday – But I just wanna tell ya…comedian Bob Hope celebrates what would have been his 110th natal anniversary today.  Unfortunately, except for The Seven Little Foys (1955; 6am) and maybe The Road to Hong Kong (1962; 11:30am), most of the offerings are from the nadir of his film career (I’ve yet to see 1956’s The Iron Petticoat, which will run at 7:45am, so my judgment may be a bit hasty).  So if your tastes run toward Hope vehicles like Bachelor in Paradise (1961; 9:30am), Call Me Bwana (1963; 1:15pm), A Global Affair (1964; 3pm), I’ll Take Sweden (1965; 4:30pm) and Boy, Did I Get a Wrong Number! (1966; 6:15pm)—your prayers have been answered.

Once the dinner dishes are put away, the channel reserves the rumpus room for “Classic Disaster Films”: Titanic (1953; 8pm), In Old Chicago (1938; 10pm), The Hurricane (1937; 12mid), San Francisco (1936; 2am) and The Crowded Sky (1960; 4am).

May 30, Thursday – The 1933 James Cagney film The Mayor of Hell (7am) was remade in 1938 as Crime School (8:45am) with Humphrey Bogart and the Dead End Kids.  That establishes the pattern for the rest of the films scheduled today: Two Against the World (1932; 10:15am) and One Fatal Hour (1936; 11:30am); Libeled Lady (1936; 12:30pm) and Easy to Wed (1946; 2:30pm); and Five Came Back (1939; 4:30pm) and Back from Eternity (1956; 6pm).

Finally, TCM sets aside the evening schedule for two showings of a new documentary, Eastwood Directs: The Untold Story (2013), at 8 and 11:15pm.  As the title suggests, the doc explores the work of actor Clint Eastwood behind the camera, and supplements this as such with the Clint-directed White Hunter, Black Heart (1990; 9:15pm) and Bird (1988; 12:30am).  On a related note: what has two thumbs and is excited to see Clint’s classic TV oater Rawhide come to the once-proud AMC this Saturday (April 20)?  This guy!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Mayberry Mondays #76: “Goober, the Hero” (03/15/71, prod. no. 0323)

I’m starting to see daylight, knowing that with the completion of this week’s installment of Mayberry Mondays we have but two episodes to finish in our grand R.F.D. experiment…and then our long national blogging nightmare will be over.  (And the next two episodes—oh, dearie me, do they stink to high heaven.)  The title of our little sojourn to television’s favorite small town this week is a bit of a misnomer—village idiot Goober Pyle (George Lindsey) does not in any way resemble a hero; it probably should have been titled “Goober, the Potzer.”  But leave us not tarry over such trivial details: as our little playlet unfolds, we find the show’s main character, poor-but-honest-dirt-farmer-turned-town-council-head Sam Jones (Ken Berry), in the city council office stamping envelopes…and assisting in the licking of stamps is his idiot son Mike (Buddy Foster).  This scene produced a mild chuckle from me, since it subtly suggests that the only useful purpose the kid serves is as a moistener when there are letters to be mailed.

SAM: Well, Mike—you’ve been a big help… (Handing him the last envelope) And that’s…about it…
MIKE: That’s good…my tongue’s starting to curl…and it tastes funny!

“I like cheese!”  The audience is spared any more of this Cowardesque banter with the arrival of pedantic county clerk Howard Sprague (Jack Dodson), sorely missed from last week’s proceedings (and as commenter basura rightfully points out, an episode without Howard is like a PB&J with just the white bread).

HOWARD: I’m glad I caught you two together…I just dropped in to remind you about Saturday…
SAM: Saturday?
HOWARD: Well, yes!  The ten-mile hike for the Junior Woodsmen!

Isn’t that the group to which Huey, Dewey and Louie belonged?

HOWARD: I’m counting on you to come along to help with Mike and his young friends…
SAM: Ohhh…oh, yeah…uh…well, uh, how many are we going to have this time, Howard?
HOWARD: Oh, just five or six young lads…the right number for a rewarding sojourn with Mother Nature…

The fact that Howard is completely unabashed about using the word “lads” is the reason why he’s the gift that keeps on giving.  This is amenable to Sam, who says he’ll get with Howard later about what they need to bring and all.  Howard gives them a snappy salute and heads out the door, nearly colliding with Goober…who gives Howard a quick greeting before coming into the office.

GOOBER (to Sam): I got your car outside if you want to run me back to the gas station…

Goober punctuates this line with an unusual “Pop—vroom” sound as he tosses the keys to Sam…but that’s not what’s so odd about this—it’s the fact that he has to be driven back to his Gas ‘n’ Lube.  “Goober’s New Gas Station” established that he moved his business into town, and both Sam and Emmett have walked to it at various times since the relocation.

GOOBER: What did Howard want?
SAM: Howard?  Oh…he was here in his official capacity as head of the Junior Woodsmen…
GOOBER: He still circulatin’ that petition to save the swamp rat?
SAM (chuckling): He just wanted to remind us about our hike next Saturday…he hasn’t had an outing with the boys for a couple of months now…

“And the restraining order’s finally been lifted, so…”

MIKE: Do we have to go, Pa?
SAM: Well, what do you mean, do you have to go?  I thought you and the other kids enjoyed those hikes…?
MIKE: We do…but the way Mr. Sprague does it…I mean…

“Jesus H. Christ on a nature trail…that man is the most boring individual on the face of this planet…”

MIKE: …well…we never get to go where we want to go!  We always end up at Myers’ Lake
SAM: Well…I guess I could suggest going someplace else this Saturday…where would you like to go?
MIKE: Indian caves!
GOOBER: Out Mill Creek Road?
MIKE: Yeah!  Aw, but Mr. Sprague is always saying they’re too dangerous to go in without a guide…we might get lost or something…
SAM: Well…he might be right, there…you know, those…those old caves go way, way back into those hills—I don’t think anybody’s ever traced them all the way…
GOOBER: I could be your guide…

Warning!  Warning!  Danger, Will Robinson!  Weak sitcom premise alert!  Because, golly, what could possibly go wrong with allowing Goober to explore caves while supervising “five or six young lads”?

SAM: You, Goob?
MIKE: No fooling?
GOOBER: Yeah!  As a kid I explored every nook and cranny of them Indian caves…I know my way around in there like I do the back of my hand…

“My mama used to leave me in them when I was…hey!  What’s this on the back of my hand—I never noticed that before!”

SAM: Hey!  You know, I wouldn’t mind seeing those caves myself!
GOOBER: Well, yeah—we could take some flashlights and lanterns and stuff…pack a lunch and make a day out of it!

Sam’s only reservation about this patently terrible idea is that Howard might have other plans as far as the Junior Woodsmen excursion goes…and not that he’s entrusting the lives of his son and his friends to a man who used to be able to lift a hog clear over his head.  But Mike tells him Howard shouldn’t object too strenuously to including Goober: “With only five or six guys goin’…one more kid wouldn’t hurt any.”  (Every episode…one laugh-out-loud moment—though this one is punctuated by Goober’s slightly-hurt expression.)

The scene shifts to the outside of the manor house located on Jones Farm, where…

Why the hell do I even bother to call it “Jones Farm,” anyway?  This program has been carrying on the charade for seventy-six episodes that Sam Jones makes a living from the soil, and I’m telling you right now—this is bullsh*t.  No real farmer would have the time to do everything he does—namely, sit around and philosophically jaw with his idiot friends—and still grow anything resembling a cash crop, unless it’s the kind that’s popular in some states for medicinal purposes if you know what I mean, and I think you do.  That guy is getting a subsidy check—no two ways about it.

All right, rant over—the Junior Woodsmen are all backpacked up and ready to go on their hike to Miller’s Cave or whatever the hell it’s called, and are appropriately assembled by Mistah Sprague, who looks like a drill sergeant that’s suddenly discovered he’s got news for himself.  There is then a shift to a scene just outside the Indian Caves, and as the Woodsmen eagerly rush toward them in order to be attacked by bears that much more quickly, Troop Leader Sprague rains on everyone’s parade.

HOWARD: Let’s all line up here, fellas…now there are certain set procedures we have to follow before we can enter the caves…do any of you boys know what the first step should be in order to make this a more satisfying and rewarding experience?

“Toss you into the lake so we can continue trying to have fun?”

GOOBER (raising his hand): I do!
HOWARD: Yes, Goober…?
GOOBER: Let’s eat!
(The kids break out in laughter and cheers)
HOWARD: Well, I have to admit—that is an excellent suggestion…

Sam instructs the kids to shed their packs and start gathering wood for a fire, and then a dissolve finds Howard tying knots in a rope in front of the group.

HOWARD: Now, you know these caves are uncharted and they have many twists and turns…but Goober here knows them pretty well, and he…well, he’s going to act as our guide…
GOOBER (beaming as he holds up a lantern): I’ll go in first with the lantern!
HOWARD: I’ve made a large knot every five feet or so in this guide rope…that’s so each of you boys can hold on to his place in the line as we move through the caves—all right?
SAM: Good idea, Howard!
HOWARD: Well…the result of careful planning…
GOOBER: Everybody ready to go?
SAM: How about it, fellas—you all set?
(The kids acknowledge agreement)
GOOBER: All right, men—let’s go!
HOWARD: Wait a minute, Goober!  I’ll give the orders here… (Goober rolls his eyes) All right, men—let’s go!

Let the spelunking begin!  The kids are impressed with the breadth and depth of the caves (and rightly so—they’re the best Hollywood money can build), and as Goober leads the party through the innards of Indian Caves, we have this conversation between Mike and his little pal Richard:

RICHARD: Do you suppose we’ll find any buried Indian treasure?
MIKE: Only pirates have buried treasure…
RICHARD: Well…maybe there were some pirate Indians

Only when Pittsburgh is playing Cleveland, son.  Richard is played by former kiddie thesp Brian Morrison (who turned 52 last Wednesday, so a belated birthday shout-out to Bri) in his second R.F.D. appearance…having introduced the character in the episode “The Kid from Hong Kong.”  Suddenly, a dramatic twist in the narrative!

GOOBER: Wait a minute!  Wait a minute!
HOWARD: What is it? What is it?
SAM: What’s the matter, Goob?
GOOBER: My stomach’s beginnin’ to rumble…you guys mind waitin’ here while I go back and get ‘nother sandwich?

You know I don’t like to nitpick…but if all they ate was sandwiches, why did Sam ask the kids to go gather firewood?   (Well, I suppose they could have been grilled cheese…)

HOWARD: Please…just keep moving, Goober…
GOOBER: Well, yes, Captain…okay, General… (He gives him a sarcastic salute)
SAM: Goob…wait a minute…wait…are you sure you’re going in the right direction here?  Maybe you ought to check the compass, huh?
GOOBER: Well, not me—I’ve been in here a hunnerd times!  Just follow ol’ Goober!

A syndication mandated edit finds our explorers in a large area of the cave that has Howard very impressed, particularly with some of the formations on the walls:

HOWARD: Hey!  Look at this!
MIKE: What is it, Mr. Sprague?
HOWARD: Why, it’s a perfect example of inclined stratification!  Yeah…these lines were…were formed by crimping and folding many centuries ago…
MIKE: Oh…that’s very interesting, Mr. Sprague…

Always likes to keep his audience riveted!  Howard continues to drone on about the formation of the cave rocks as only he can do, and as such Goober decides to wander up ahead.  It does not take too long before the spelunkers realize that their “guide” is no longer with them.

MIKE: He’s gone, Pa!
SAM: Well…you don’t suppose he went on ahead, do you?
HOWARD: Oh, no…even he wouldn’t do a thing like that!

I don’t think Howard really believes that statement.

HOWARD: He must have seen us stop!
RICHARD: You want me to run up ahead and see if I can find him?  (He starts toward a passageway)
HOWARD: No no no no no!  Definitely not!  No no no no no…we don’t know where that leads!  The best thing we can do is to stick together…
SAM: Where, Mike?
MIKE: He said something about being hungry…and wanting another sandwich…I’ll betcha while we were standing here talking…he went back for food…
HOWARD: You know, Sam—I wouldn’t be surprised if that was exactly what he did…

“It’s a well-known fact that it’s the nature of the primitive Goober to forage for food.”  So the group decides the only course of action is to retrace their steps and head back for base camp, and as they make tracks for the exit…

…yes, you’ve already guessed it—Dumbass is lost in the cave.  (Oh, this irony is delicious—have some seconds, and try some of that dipping sauce!)  Outside where it’s safe…

SAM: Nah…he’s not here, Howard…
HOWARD: Well—he hasn’t been here; either…his food wasn’t touched…

Yes, I laughed out loud at that for reasons I can’t explain.  (“There are no signs of his stool, either…”)

MIKE: Gosh, Pa…he must have kept on going in the cave…

“This is probably not the best time to tell you this, Mike…but I’ve been living a lie.  Goober is your real dad.”

SAM: Yeah…I’m afraid he’s lost in there, Howard…maybe he can find his way out but maybe he can’t
MIKE: Do you suppose we should go in and try to find him?
HOWARD: Nah…we couldn’t do that, Mike—none of us knows our way in the cave…and besides, we’ve lost our guide rope…
SAM: Yeah…well…he’s safe enough in there temporarily…with that big lunch he ate, he’s not going to starve to death…look, I think we’d better get these kids home before it gets too dark, Howard…and get back out here with some kind of help, huh?
HOWARD: Yeah…I think you’re right…

“Or…we could meet Millie at Morelli’s and grab a bite to eat…then head over to Siler City and catch The Andromeda Strain—I hear that’s supposed to be good!  I’m sure there’s no real rush to get to Goober…he is a cave expert, after all…”  Come on—you can’t tell me that Howard won’t jump at the prospect of leaving Goober to be devoured by bears, freeing him to a life where he no longer has to explain things to his dim chum.  Well, Howard tells the kids to get their gear together and meanwhile, back in the cave…

…Goober eats his last candy bar.  You know what they say—sometimes you eat the bar…and sometimes the bar, he eats you.  (Oh, like you weren’t thinking of that joke yourself.)

Back from commercial, we find a worried Sam getting off the phone in the city council office.  He walks over to grab a cup of free city-subsidized Sanka, and at a table sits Howard, fix-it savant Emmett Clark (Paul Hartman) and Sam’s main squeeze, bakery doyenne Millie Swanson (Arlene Golonka).

SAM: The, uh, Sheriff’s department over in Mt. Pilot…be happy to help…but they don’t have anybody over there who’s familiar with the caves either…it’s out of their territory…

There’s a tip for you local police departments out there—next time someone reports a drowning, simply stroke your chin and say: “Well…technically, water isn’t in our jurisdiction…”

HOWARD: Well, this…this, uh, Barnsdale you mentioned—who’s he?
SAM: Oh, that’s, uh, Ted Barnsdale…he’s the county geologist…he’s explored the caves several times, he has all the equipment and he probably knows them better than anyone else around here…

“Well, with the exception of the dipsh*t who’s trapped in them now…”

SAM: He’s coming back off a field trip late tonight, and we’re going to meet ‘em all out at the cave first thing in the morning…
EMMETT: You mean you can’t do anything till then?
SAM: Well, they’re sending a couple of deputies to stake out the entrance to the cave till morning—just in case Goober finds his way out…but, uh, they feel it’s too risky to go in there without the expert…
MILLIE (sighing): Oh, dear…
EMMETT: Well, if Goober gets hungry in there before morning he can eat sand lizards
(Millie is repulsed by this notion)
HOWARD (to Millie): Don’t think he won’t!
(Sam and Emmett laugh)
MILLIE: Poor Goober…it’ll be so terrible for him…trapped in a cold, dark cave all night…
SAM: Actually, he’ll be safe enough…
MILLIE: Oh, Sam…it’ll be so depressing and uncomfortable for him in there…
SAM: Have you ever seen that furnished room he lives in?

We rarely get to see the soft white underbelly of the sweetness-and-light that is R.F.D.—so watching these alleged friends of Goober joke about his predicament is actually sort of amusing, in a black comedy sort of way.  We then are taken back to the cave, where a terrified Goober continually yells “Help!” and to add insult to injury, his lantern finally goes out.  In pitch darkness, we hear him wail: “Now I lay me down to sleep…”  Why the network didn’t go to the show’s producers and propose a crossover with Lassie (also on CBS at this time) is an idea gone unexplored—she would have found Goob before the General Foods break.

It is morning, and as Sam, Emmett and Howard (still hilariously wearing that dorky ranger’s hat) wait by the cave entrance we are introduced to two of the guest dramatis personae in “Goober, the Hero.”  One of them is Sheriff Fred Matson, who’s played by one of the character greats, James Westerfield.  The burly Westerfield appeared in such films as On the Waterfront (as Big Mac), Three Hours to Kill, Lucy Gallant, Decision at Sundown, Cowboy and Birdman of Alcatraz—Disney devotees know him as “Officer Hanson” in three films: The Shaggy Dog, The Absent Minded Professor and Son of Flubber.

The other gentleman is the previously mentioned Ted Barnsdale, played by another veteran from the character actor trenches—Len Wayland.  If you’re a Dragnet junkie like I am, you know Wayland from multiple appearances on the 1967-70 version; his friendship with creator Jack Webb even led to a co-starring role in Webb’s final TV series Sam, which was on for about twelve minutes in 1978 (it was about a crime-fighting German Shepherd, and starred Mark Harmon in one of his earliest boob tube gigs…no, he did not play the dog).  Wayland also had recurring roles on such series as Dr. Kildare, Felony Squad (as the D.A.) and Dallas, in addition to soap operas like A Time to Live and From These Roots.

HOWARD (to Ted): I understand you know these caves fairly well…

“Well, enough not to go blundering around in them like a damn fool and risk being eaten by…uh…well, I’m sure he’s still alive…”

TED: Yeah—they’re a pretty complicated headwork of tunnels…but if we examine all the branches systematically, we’re bound to find your man…

“Or his remains, surely…”  The sheriff tells Barnsdale to lead the way, and now all we can do is wait.

HOWARD: I hear The Mount Pilot Clarion got wind of this last night—most the news media will probably be here to cover Goober’s rescue…
SAM: Yeah?
EMMETT: We ain’t had so much excitement since they dragged the lake for old Mrs. Venable!

Emmett’s joke about “Mrs. Venable” is the second time for the series—he refers to her mysterious demise in the previously mentioned “Goober’s Gas Station.”  I don’t claim to be a scholar in the ways of Mayberry, but I’ve often wondered if this wasn’t an in-joke directed toward Alma Venable, a one-time hairdresser who did the hair of Geneva Griffith, mother of Andy.  Venable operates the Mayberry Motor Inn in Mount Airy, NC and is owner of a large collection of memorabilia once belonging to actress Frances Bavier, which she houses in the “Aunt Bee Room”—she also has the “Mayberry Squad Car” on the premises, as well as “Emmett’s Truck”…though I don’t remember Emmett ever driving any other vehicle besides a DeSoto.

Sam suggests to Howard and Emmett that they saunter over to see what they can do to help…and the camera then cuts to the inside of the cave, where our little lost Goober is now waking up.  He’s puzzled by the fact that the cave is bathed in light, and he looks up to see an opening.  Emerging from his cave prison, Goober is amazed to see…

…a Tyrannosaurus Rex chasing Rick, Will and Holly Marshall!  Okay, just a little Land of the Lost humor there…he actually finds this:

A little shack in the North Carolina woods.  And because the first priority of the Goober is to always forage for food, he ventures down to the cabin where this gentleman resides inside…

It’s Gus!  So this is where he retired after leaving Mayfield!  I am, of course, referring to the iconic role of character legend Burt Mustin, that of “Gus the Fireman” on the sitcom Leave It to Beaver.  Let me just say for the record…that if there is a President Emeritus of the “Hey!  It’s That Guy!” fraternity—Mustin surely must have pasted it in his scrapbook shortly before the dawn of time.  He’s no stranger to Mayberry, of course—he appeared multiple times on The Andy Griffith Show, usually as a codger named “Jud Fletcher” (also spelled “Judd”…as in “For the Defense”)…and I even wrote about his guest appearance one time in a twisted episode of Gomer Pyle, USMC.  Other shows on which Burt had recurring roles: The Great Gildersleeve, A Date with the Angels, The Beverly Hillbillies, Petticoat Junction, All in the Family and Phyllis.  (My favorite Mustin guest role is a Dragnet episode in which he plays Calvin Lampe, dismissed by Friday and Gannon as a meddlesome old coot as they try to solve a homicide until they learn he’s a retired police detective…and then they nearly kill one another trying to be the first to kiss his ass.)

GOOBER: My name is Goober Pyle from Mayberry, and I’m lost…

“And in other breaking news…sugar is sweet.”

GOOBER: Could I come in a minute?
BENSON: You ain’t one of them hippies, are ya?

Goober assures him that he is not, and so Benson—Harvey Benson—invites him in.  When he introduces himself to Goober, our favorite manchild remarks: “You must be Old Man Benson!”  (“No, that’s my father…schmuck…”)

BENSON: The oldest Benson there is that’s still kickin’…you’re a good seven miles from Mayberry…hmm…got lost in the woods, huh?
GOOBER: No…lost Indian caves…

Goober keeps staring over at a pot of stew that Benson has bubbling on the stove, and though the old man is reasonably sure Goob’s not a member of the Manson family he decides it might not be a bad idea to let his guest fill his belly with some grub.  As Goober generously ladles it on a plate, he explains to old man Benson how he stupidly got into the cave in the first place.

BENSON: Bad place to be iffen you don’t know your way around…
GOOBER: Well, I thought I did—but I kept runnin’ into blind alleys…I’d still be there if I hadn’t woke up and found the exit…
BENSON: You stumbled onto the old north entrance…don’t hardly anybody know about that…over a mile from where you went in…

This starts to cast a shadow of doubt on the cave “expertise” of Ted Barnsdale, County Geologist.  Scarfing down the stew, Goober glances at his watch.

GOOBER: Wow—it’s almost ten o’clock…my friends must be goin’ crazy lookin’ for me—have you got a phone I can use?
BENSON: Got no car…got no phone…

Got no light.  Not a single luxury.  Like Robinson Crusoe, it’s primitive as can be.  As Benson himself explains: “Fella has either one, his friends keep droppin’ in or callin’ up…people’s what I come out here to get shed of.”  (Oh, Gus…they must have done you so wrong back in Mayfield.)  Goober then notices Benson’s antique television set…

…and asks “Holy smokes, that old set still work?”  “Like a charm,” boasts OMB.  “That thing’s stuck with me since Kukla, Fran and Ollie.”  (“Plus I’m smart enough not to let that cretin at that Mayberry fix-it shop get his greasy mitts on it!”)  Because this is a sitcom, as soon as Benson turns it back on we get this gentleman…

Anytime a character in either a movie or TV show switched on a TV set—it was even money that the announcer-reporter-newscaster-sportscaster-what-have-you would be Bill Baldwin.  Baldwin has a long list of credits at the IMDb, but he’s primarily remembered for narrating such series as Harbor Command, Bat Masterson and Animal World.  We take you now to an on-the-spot report from the venerable Mr. B:

BALDWIN: Friends, as this rescue operation moves into its third hour this morning, there is still no sign of the unfortunate victim who disappeared into the winding catacombs…of Indian Caves
GOOBER: Hey!  That’s…that’s the entrance!  That’s where I went in!
BENSON: That’s it, all right!
GOOBER: Then…I must be the unfortunate victim!

“Son…level with me…you’re not really that stupid, are you?  You’d never have made it out of that cave if you were…”

BALDWIN: …after an all-night vigil by two deputies here at the entrance to the cave…Sheriff Matson this morning rushed Mr. Ted Barnsdale—an expert on subterranean exploration—to the site…Mr. Barnsdale has twice entered the gaping maw of this treacherous cavern…and twice come out with no clues whatsoever…no evidence as to whether Mr. Goober Pyle is alive and well…or instead has…been swallowed up forever in some uncharted abyss…in this dangerous chasm…
GOOBER (horrified): Wow!  Did you hear that!  If I didn’t know I was sittin’ here watchin’ I’d be scared to death!

We then go back to the entrance to the cave, where Baldwin—reporting for Mt. Pilot’s TV station WZAZ—conducts an interview with Sheriff Matson:

BALDWIN: Sheriff—perhaps you could summarize for us the progress that’s been made so far?
MATSON: Well, our county geologist tells me that…this here cave has four main branches…and he’s already checked, uh, two of them with the help of my men…
BALDWIN: I see—well, besides that…do you have a backup plan to…facilitate the operation?
BALDWIN: I beg your pardon?
MATSON: We’re flyin’ in a couple of bloodhounds by helicopter…from Burleigh County…we’ll turn ‘em loose in the cave and they’ll sniff out the culprit…uh…the, uh, victim…

After strapping on the ol’ feedbag at Benson Estates, Goob is about ready to bid his benefactor goodbye since his friends are probably worried about him.

GOOBER: I gotta get movin’…let my friends know I’m safe…helicopters, geologists, dogs…they’re spendin’ a fortune huntin’ me…
BENSON: Sure are…
GOOBER: If I follow this road out here will that take me back to the cave entrance?
BENSON: Yep…if you’re crazy enough to go there…
GOOBER: Whaddya mean by that?
BENSON: Son…you breeze up to that cave entrance right now…with all them cameras and reporters and sheriffs swarmin’ all over the place…you’re gonna be the most unpopular man in these parts!

Got a TL for you, Harve…he wasn’t held in particularly high esteem before he went into that cave.

GOOBER: Well, how you figure?  I’m the one they’re lookin’ for!
BENSON: That’s right!  But they’re lookin’ for you in the Indian Caves, where you’re supposed to be trapped underground!  They’re usin’ a lot of money and manpower to rescue a poor, unfortunate victim…now you go waltzin’ up there good as new—Sheriff Matson and them men are gonna be mad as hornets!
GOOBER (sitting down): I never thought of that…
BENSON: You can’t cheat them boys out of a rescue!  Besides—you’d be the laughin’ stock of the county!

Got another TL for you, Harve…he…oh, never mind.  At this point in the narrative, reporter Baldwin is back on the air with geologist Barnsdale to report a couple of new developments in l’affaire Goober…and he also asks two of Mr. Pyle’s friends, Mr. Jones and Mr. Sprague, to join him on camera.  Faithful Mayberry Mondays fans know that the program’s surefire formula for comedy is to simply point a television camera at Howard…but since the dialogue here isn’t particularly knee-slapping, I can now guess why the writers insisted he leave the hat on.

BALDWIN: Fellas…could you identify these items or connect them with the missing victim, please…?
HOWARD: Yeah…well…uh…uh…this is Mr. Pyle’s comic book, all right…Captain Whammo—he never goes anywhere without it…
SAM: Yeah, and the candy bar wrapper…that’s definitely his…I saw him eat five or six of those after breakfast yesterday…
BARNSDALE: I found these in a section called “the Grotto”…
(Barnsdale is interrupted by the sounds of barking dogs)
BALDWIN: Sheriff!  What have we here?
MATSON (coming into camera view): Dogs!  Dogs!  The dogs just got here!  Bring ‘em on in here, fellers!
BARNSDALE: Good…we’ll take them in with us and give them the scent…I think we’re closing in on our man!
BALDWIN: Thank you, Ted…and thank you, Sheriff…
MATSON: Now them dogs is trained by my cousin over in Burleigh…Clyde Matson…runs the pet shop at 16 Brill Street…open nine to five…

Goober is at this point so concerned that he pours himself another glass of milk.  “With all that trouble and expense looking for me—well, them guys are liable to kill me if I just walk up now and say ‘what’s new?’”  Old Man Benson did not become the crafty unsociable hermit he is today without learning a few things along the way, however…he tells Goob he’s going back in that cave!  (Prompting Goob to quickly make himself a mayonnaise-and-bean sandwich for the road.)

At the other entrance, as Millie gets coffee for everybody because, female, Sheriff Matson emerges from the cave to excitedly announce that Goober has been found!  (I know, I know—I was hoping the same as you…that Goober would instead elect to stay with Harvey as the focus of a Mayberry R.F.D. spin-off, Goober and the (Old) Man.)  “He looks a little beat-up from bein’ trapped down there,” asserts the sheriff, “but otherwise he’s fit as a fiddle.”  Naturally, Goober’s friends and loved ones are pleased that he’s safe and sound.

GOOBER: Thank you, everybody!  Thank you!  I’d like to thank all of you for snatchin’ me from the jaws of death
(Reporter Baldwin runs up and makes his way through the crowd)
BALDWIN: Oh, Mr. Pyle…if you’re not too exhausted, can you say a few words to our television audience?
GOOBER: I’ll try

Baldwin walks Goober over to where the cameras are waiting, and the interview begins.

BALDWIN: Ladies and gentlemen…I want you to meet the heroic survivor of twenty-four terrifying hours in Indian Caves…Mr. Grover Pyle…
GOOBER: Goober…Goober Pyle…
BALDWIN: Of course…but Mr. Pyle—briefly for our audience…could you tell us the secret of your successful underground struggle with the forces of Mother Nature?
GOOBER: I-I-I just tried to figger what one of my favorite heroes would do and I done that…
BALDWIN: One of your favorite heroes?
GOOBER: Uh…Captain Whammo…

This provokes priceless reactions from both Howard and Sam.

GOOBER: …he always keeps his head…and don’t never panic…
BALDWIN: I see…well…how did you manage twenty-four hours without food or water?
GOOBER: Uh…will power…
BALDWIN: By sheer will power…that’s an absolutely remarkable story, absolutely remarkable…well, I know you want to get back to civilization and a well-deserved meal, so I won’t detain you any further…
GOOBER: Yes, sir…
BALDWIN: Thank you very much, Mr. Grover Pyle…
GOOBER: Uh…Goober…Goober Pyle…

When Goober steps off camera, another idiot is there to take his place.  (I just love the expression on Hartman’s face—it is prime rube, ladies and gentlemen.)  Goober then runs over to where Sam and Howard are standing, asking “Didja see me on TV?”  As he grabs his comic book from Howard, Millie comes up with a couple of sandwiches.

MILLIE: Here, Goober—this isn’t much but maybe it might tide you over until you get home…
GOOBER: Oh, thanks, Mill…but I’m so full I couldn’t eat another thing…I… (Realizing once again he’s said something stupid) Whuh…what I mean is, I really had a big lunch yesterday!

Goober nibbles at one of the sandwiches, and we can’t get to the coda of this thing quickly enough.

The Indian Caves snafu has made the front page of The Mount Pilot Clarion—demonstrating for all that there is simply not enough news for a paper like that to print a daily edition.  But Howard, in the council office with Sam, still has some unanswered questions regarding Goober’s mysterious “rescue”:

HOWARD: I don’t know, Sam…what do you think?
SAM: What—about Goober’s…ordeal?
HOWARD: Yeah!  And about the sandwiches!  “I’m so full I couldn’t eat another bite”…there’s something strange about the whole business…
SAM: Yeah…yeah, I agree…
HOWARD: …and when they were helping him into the Sheriff’s car—a mayonnaise-and-bean sandwich fell out of his pocket…

Sam cuts Howard off quickly because he’s spotted Goober getting ready to enter the office.  Goob is carrying a small stack of Mount Pilot Clarions under his arm, and he’s about to come clean to his friends that “somethin’ ain’t quite right.”

GOOBER: If I let you in on it…you promise not to tell anybody?
SAM: If you say so…
GOOBER: Well…it says there “Mr. Goober Frederick Pyle was rescued after twenty-four hours without food or water”?
HOWARD: Yeah…?
GOOBER: That ain’t exactly right…
(Howard shoots Sam a knowing look)
SAM: It isn’t?
GOOBER: No…I just tole them my middle name was “Frederick”…what it really is is “Francis”…

And scene!  Two more episodes, friends and neighbors—and I’m going to be honest and upfront with you like I always am unless it conflicts with my plans for world domination.  The next episode is plenty bad—it’s one of those Millie-is-going-to-be-jealous escapades.  But “The City Planner” does feature a guest appearance from a seasoned actress who will (knock wood) celebrate her seventy-seventh birthday come this May 30…and an OTR veteran making her third and final appearance on the show.  As for Cousin Alice (Alice Ghostley)—she’s the only regular who had nothing to do on the show this week, so Thrilling Days of Yesteryear’s patented Alice-o-Meter™ stays right where it is at twelve appearances for the third and final season.  Will I be able to overcome the guaranteed lethargy and ennui to talk about “The City Planner” next week?  Keep an eye on this space to find out!