Thursday, December 24, 2009

It Started With (Christmas) Eve

At 4:00pm this afternoon, I will be winging my way over to “the House of Kat” to spend Christmas Eve and Day with my family, so except for a few bits and pieces that I’ve already preprogrammed for the blog, Thrilling Days of Yesteryear will be pretty much be silent for the next day or two. Christmas Eve dinner will consist of a workout with my sister’s fondue set, cooking portions of steak, chicken and shrimp in hot oil and then switching to dunking various confectionaries in chocolate afterward for dessert. I’ll also be spending the night on a newly purchased Aerostar air mattress my mother has purchased for the occasion, which probably means that with my bad back I’ll be impersonating Charles Laughton by breakfast time. (“Sanctuary! Sanctuary!”)

I promised to bake a small batch of cookies to take over so I’ll be getting started on that soon (don’t think I don’t hear you snickering out there) but I wanted to take a little bit of time to post a few items of interest before I venture into the kitchen.

Shahn of sixmartinis and the seventh art fame asked me last year if I had or knew anyone who had access to a copy of a December 25, 1949 broadcast of The Hotpoint Holiday Hour which stars OTR’s beloved skinflint, Jack Benny, as Sheridan Whiteside in an adaptation of The Man Who Came to Dinner. I looked around the ‘Net, made some inquiries, rounded up the usual suspects, etc. but ultimately came up empty. This morning, some generous soul who chooses to remain anonymous has offered up a link to where the show can be downloaded; that person put the information in the comments section of my “It’s beginning to look like Christmas #3” post so I thought I’d repeat it here just in case anyone interested in the show doesn’t read the comments. (Again, many thanks to “Anonymous” for their generosity and a Merry Christmas/Happy New Year to them for the nice gift.)

Speaking of old-time radio and gifts, I ran across an old TDOY post from June 2007 in which I reviewed a couple of Texaco Star Theatre broadcasts—the ABC Radio comedy program starring “Mr. Television” himself, Milton Berle—from 1948. The late Arnold Stang was one of Theatre’s regulars (along with Pert Kelton and Jack Albertson), and he could be heard not only as one of the “interviewees” on the show’s “Town Hall Forum” segment (though on Theatre, the name had been changed to “The Texaco Court of Human Goodwill”) but as Berle’s bratty son in the “At Home with the Berles” sketches. So, as a Christmas gift to Stang fans and TDOY’s vast readership, here’s the program from November 24, 1948 (“A Salute to Thanksgiving”). Plus, as an added bonus, here's a program in keeping with the spirit of the season from December 22 of that same year. (These files are pretty big, so those of you with slow connections might want to grab a snack while downloading. I tried to set up an mp3 player to present them on the blog but, again, their size kept getting in the way.)

On a corrective note, Mark Evanier of newsfromme has a nice post up discussing the history of how Arnold Stang was picked to be the voice of “the indisputable leader of the gang.” He also points out that a few blogs (he doesn’t mention any names, but I’m guilty all the same) have erroneously credited the late performer with vocalizing “Shorty” in more Popeye cartoons than he actually did in their obits/tributes. According to Mark, there were three cartoons featuring the Shortster as the spinach-eating sailor’s sidekick—Happy Birthdaze (1943), The Marry-Go-Round (1943) and Moving Aweigh (1944)—and Stang only voiced Shorty in the latter of these (the other two featured Popeye himself, Jack Mercer, as Shorty’s voice). I could have sworn there were more cartoons with Shorty—it’s sort of like thinking Stuart Margolin was in every episode of The Rockford Files, even though he wasn’t—but Mr. E is the acknowledged authority on subjects like this, so I sit corrected.

Finally, I wanted to make certain to remind everyone (Stacia of She Blogged by Night was also kind enough to give everyone a heads up) that TCM will kick off its Sherlock Holmes salute on Christmas night beginning at 8pm—the cable channel is capitalizing on the release of the new film (directed by Guy Ritchie) which goes into general release that same day. A Facebook friend made the observation that the trailers for the Robert Downey-Jude Law flick made it look sort of like The Wild Wild West (I wasn’t certain if he meant the TV series—which could only be a good thing—or the 1999 theatrical film, which would make it very, very bad) but from reading Stephanie Zacharek’s review at it sounds like it might be worth a look-see. Nevertheless, I will be spending most of my Christmas getting my Basil Rathbone-Nigel Bruce fix; the only downside in the TCM festival is that they won’t be showing The Woman in Green (1945) in the lineup (fortunately it’s in the public domain but I’d still like a better copy) which means I will have to inform my mother that she cannot sell her MPI Sherlock Holmes box sets on eBay. (She’s serious about this, which is incredible because she’s a bigger Holmesian than I am. I once told Phil Schweier—who once invited me to attend a little get-together of "Baker Street Irregulars" in Savannah—that he should ask my mom instead.)

Anyway, here’s the TCM line-up:

December 25 – Friday

8:00 PM Hound of the Baskervilles, The (1939)

Sherlock Holmes uncovers a plot to murder the heir to a country estate. Cast: Richard Greene, Basil Rathbone, Wendy Barrie. Dir: Sidney Lanfield. BW-80 mins, TV-PG, CC

9:30 PM Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, The (1939)

The famed sleuth tries to stop Professor Moriarty from stealing the Crown Jewels. Cast: Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Ida Lupino. Dir: Alfred L. Werker. BW-82 mins, TV-G, CC

11:00 PM Private Life Of Sherlock Holmes, The (1970)

The legendary sleuth becomes involved with a mysterious French woman while investigating the Loch Ness monster. Cast: Robert Stephens, Christopher Lee, Genevieve Page. Dir: Billy Wilder. C-125 mins, TV-14, Letterbox Format

1:15 AM Sherlock Holmes' Fatal Hour (1931)

Sherlock Holmes tries to stop a string of crimes masterminded by Professor Moriarty. Cast: Arthur Wontner, Ian Fleming, Philip Hewland. Dir: Leslie S. Hiscott. BW-81 mins, TV-G

2:45 AM Hound Of The Baskervilles, The (1959)

Sherlock Holmes investigates the haunting of an isolated British estate by a murderous canine. Cast: Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Andre Morell. Dir: Terence Fisher. C-87 mins, TV-PG, CC, Letterbox Format

4:15 AM Study in Terror, A (1965)

Sherlock Holmes tries to unmask Jack the Ripper. Cast: John Neville, Donald Houston, John Fraser. Dir: James Hill. C-95 mins, CC

December 26 – Saturday

6:00 AM Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror (1942)

Sherlock Holmes investigates acts of terrorism linked to Nazi radio broadcasts. Cast: Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Evelyn Ankers. Dir: John Rawlins. BW-66 mins, TV-PG

7:15 AM Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon (1942)

Sherlock Holmes fights to keep a new bombsite design from the Nazis. Cast: Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Lionel Atwill. Dir: Roy William Neill. BW-68 mins, TV-PG

8:30 AM Sherlock Holmes in Washington (1943)

Sherlock Holmes tries to recover a stolen document during World War II. Cast: Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Henry Daniell. Dir: Roy William Neill. BW-72 mins, TV-PG

9:45 AM Sherlock Holmes Faces Death (1943)

Sherlock Holmes investigates murders at a rest home where Watson volunteers. Cast: Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Hillary Brooke. Dir: Roy William Neill. BW-68 mins, TV-PG, CC

11:00 AM Spider Woman, The (1944)

Sherlock Holmes fakes his own death to expose a killer. Cast: Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Gale Sondergaard. Dir: Roy William Neill. BW-62 mins, TV-PG

12:15 PM Scarlet Claw, The (1944)

Sherlock Holmes investigates a haunting in a Canadian village vital to the war effort. Cast: Sherlock Holmes, Nigel Bruce, Paul Cavanagh. Dir: Roy William Neill. BW-74 mins, TV-PG, CC

1:30 PM Pearl of Death, The (1944)

Sherlock Holmes investigates the link between a stolen pearl and a series of murders. Cast: Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Evelyn Akers. Dir: Roy William Neill. BW-69 mins, TV-PG

2:45 PM Sherlock Holmes in the House of Fear (1945)

Sherlock Holmes investigates the murder of a group of seven club members. Cast: Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Aubrey Mather. Dir: Roy William Neill. BW-69 mins, TV-PG

4:00 PM Pursuit to Algiers (1945)

Sherlock Holmes tries to protect a foreign leader traveling on an ocean liner. Cast: Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Marjorie Riordan. Dir: Roy William Neill. BW-65 mins, TV-PG, CC

5:15 PM Sherlock Holmes in Terror by Night (1946)

Sherlock Holmes signs on to protect a priceless diamond from jewel thieves. Cast: Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Alan Mowbray. Dir: Roy William Neill. BW-63 mins, TV-PG

6:30 PM Sherlock Holmes in Dressed to Kill (1946)

Sherlock Holmes sets out to find why people are killing each other over a seemingly inexpensive music box. Cast: Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Patricia Morison. Dir: Roy William Neill. BW-71 mins, TV-PG

And on TCM’s Silent Sunday Nights at 12:00 midnight EST, they’ll be showing the 1922 version of Sherlock Holmes starring John Barrymore—a movie I am positively pumped about seeing. Well, those cookies aren’t just going to make themselves…but I wanted to make sure I wished everyone of you who continue to read and support Thrilling Days of Yesteryear the Merriest of Christmases and the Happiest of New Year’s! Feliz Navidad!

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Laura said...

Merry Christmas, Ivan!

Best wishes,

Pam said...

Ohh... inflatable furniture!!!

Philip Schweier said...

Jeez, Ivan, two references in a single week. During the busiest of the entire year, no less. Can you hear me blushing? I myself am looking forward to the new Sherlock Holmes film, and it's "new" take on an old theme. Two tidbits: Jude Law was once featured in the Jeremy Britt episode, Shoscombe Old Place. But for my money, my favorite Holmes outing has always been The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, directed by Billy Wilder. Unfortunately, the Savannah branch of the Irregulars died a quick death soon after my invite, hence the lack of a follow-up. My aopologies if I never made that clear.

Linda said...

Happy Christmas, Ivan!