Saturday, 11 August 2007

Stardust

Ever since he wrote Sandman, I have been a big fan of Neil Gaiman. I've also always enjoyed pre-Tolkien fantasy of the sort that Lord Dunsany wrote. For that reason the illustrated novel Stardust, written by Gaiman and illustrated by Charles Vess, is one of my favourite works that Neil Gaiman has written. Gaiman wrote the novel with pre-Tolkien fantasy precisely in mind. It is also the reason that I was looking forward to the film adaptation of Stardust.

Fortunately, the movie Stardust was not a disappointment. Like the novel, the film begins in the 19th century with the English village of Wall, so called because it is separated from the magical world of Stormhold by a rather long and rather tall wall. In the village young Tristan Thorn promises his beloved Victoria (played by Sienna Miller) to retrieve a star that has fallen on the other side of the wall, in Stormhold. As it turns out, however, stars have human form (in this case, Claire Danes) and names (in her case Yvaine). Having found the star Yvaine, Tristan must make their way back to the village of Wall across the sometimes dangerous kingdom of Stormhold.

For those Gaiman fans out there, the movie's plot is simpler than that of the novel, although for me this did not detract from enjoying the film. While it may not be 100% faithful to the novel's plot, Stardust is loyal to the book's spirit. The movie definitely has the feel of those classic works of fantasy predating Tolkien's books. It possesses both a sense of whimsy and imagination that one would find in the works of Lord Dunsany, Charles Kingsley, and William Morris. In fact, in many respects Stardust is comparable to the classic fantasy movie The Princess Bride, although with a greater emphasis on fantasy than on comedy. Its sense of whimsy drawn from Victorian fantasy writers sets Stardust apart not only from other movies, but from other fantasy movies as well.

Stardust succeeds largely because of its great cast. Indeed, while Claire Danes may be the "star," it is Michelle Pfeiffer who is the most celestial performer, giving a great performance as the villainous witch Lamia and looking far more beautiful than women nearly half her age. Rupert Evert also gives a solid performance as Secundus, the second son of the King of Stormhold (Peter O'Toole) anxious to ascend to the throne. Robert De Niro and Ricky Gervais of The Office (the original, British version) also do some good turns in their parts.

Director Matthew Vaughn also proves that Layer Cake was not a fluke. Dealing with a lot of material as he did in Layer Cake, Vaughn handles it quite neatly. The movie is easy to follow, despite its many plot threads. His direction also lends to the over all feel of the film, that of a Victorian fantasy where danger and adventure might lurk right around the corner.

Stardust is an enjoyable film and a welcome break from the usual summer blockbusters and inane family comedies so often released this time of year. I would encourage anyone who enjoys fantasy movies or simply good films to go see Stardust.

Friday, 10 August 2007

Makeup Artist Wlliam J. Tuttle R.I.P.

William J. Tuttle, one time head of MGM's makeup department, passed on July 27 at the age of 95. He worked on over 300 films.

Tuttle was born April 13, 1912 in Jacksonville, Florida. His father deserted his family when he was only 15, forcing Tuttle to leave school to support his mother and brother. He found work in Vaudeville playing violin and working with various comedy teams. He went to Hollywood in the early Thirties and became assistant to legendary makeup artist Jack Dawn, who would eventually become head of the makeup department at MGM. The first movie upon which he worked was Mark of the Vampire, as an assistant makeup artist. Tuttle was also an assistant makeup artist on The Wizard of Oz.

For the most part it was Tuttle's job to insure that the beautiful people of Hollywood looked beautiful on screen. In the Fifties he would work on such classic films as Father of the Bride, Singin' in the Rain, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, North by Northwest, and The Catered Affair. In the Sixties and Seventies he would work on such films as How the West Was Won, Mutiny on the Bounty, Marlowe, The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean, and Bogie. While Tuttle was an expert at making beautiful people even more beautiful, he was also adept in drastically altering the appearances of actors, even making them monstrous. He made Kirk Douglas up as Vincent Van Gogh for Lust for Life. He created the Morlocks in the 1960 version of The Time Machine. He was responsible for the makeup on the cyborg Box in Logan's Run. Beyond The Wizard of Oz, however, his crowning achievement may have been his work on The 7 Faces of Dr. Lao. In that film he transformed Tony Randall into Dr. Lao, the Abominable Snowman, Medusa, Merlin, Pan, and Apollonius of Tyana. For his work on the film Tuttle received an honourary Oscar, making him the first makeup artist to ever win the Academy Award. In 1981 the Academy Award for Best Makeup would finally be established.

Tuttle also worked in television. He created much of the fantastic makeup for the original Twilight Zone, including the classic episodes "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet " and "Eye of the Beholder." He also worked on the TV show Northwest Passage.

Tuttle also developed his own line of makeup, Custom Color Cosmetics. He taught at the film school at the University of Southern California as well.

William J. Tuttle is arguably one of the greatest makeup artists of all time. He worked on an inordinately large number of classic films, supervising the makeup on everything from Summer Stock to Young Frankenstein. With the exception of a few other makeup artists (Jack Pierce and John Chambers among them), his work is unmatched. We might have more advanced technology today, but even now the quality of Willim J. Tuttle's work holds up.

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Two Hollywood Figures Pass On

Recently two Hollywood figures have passed on, and both of them were Brooklynites at that. The average person probably has never heard of them, but both contributed to the motion picture industry in their own way.

Frank Rosenfelt, who served as chairman and CEO of MGM, died this past Thursday at the age of 85. Rosenfelt was born in Brooklyn on November 15, 1921. He served under General George S. Patton during World War II, earning a Purple Heart during the Battle of the Bulge. Following the war he studied law at Cornell University. In 1950 he was hired at RKO as part of their legal department.

It was in 1955 that Rosenfelt moved to MGM. By 1969 he became the studio's general counsel. When Kirk Kerkorian bought MGM in 1972, he appointed Rosenfelt its head. Even before he became MGM's chief, Rosenfelt was linked to some classic films. He acquired the rights for the novel Doctor Zhivago, a film adaptation of which the studio released in 1965. He also played a role in the making of 2001: a Space Odyssey. While Rosenfelt was MGM's CEO, the studio made such films as The Sunshine Boys, Network, New York, New York, and Escape from New York. Rosenfelt was so confident that Network would win the Oscar for Best Picture, that when it lost to Rocky he forbade anyone to mention Rocky in his home (I can't blame him one bit).

Rosenfelt also oversaw MGM's takeover of United Artists. After Frank Rothman took over his duties at MGM, Rosenfelt became CEO of UA.

Director and screenwriter Mel Shavelson died today at the age of 90. He was probably best known for such comedies as Houseboat and Yours, Mine, and Ours.

He was born Melville Shavelson on April 1, 1917 in Brooklyn. He began his career in show business by writing gags for Bob Hope's radio show. He accompanied the comedian when he made the move to Hollywood in 1938. By 1941 Shavelson received his first screen credit, for additional dialogue in the film Ice Capades. His first screenwriter credit (along with several other of Hope's writers) would be on the The Princess and the Pirate in 1941. From the Forties into the Fifties, Shavelson would write on several comedies, including Danny Kaye's Kid From Brooklyn, Milton Berle's Always Leave Them Laughing, and Doris Day's April in Paris.

In 1955 Shavelson directed his first movie, The Seven Little Foys starring Bob Hope as as legendary comic Eddie Foy. He would go on to direct such films as Houseboat, It Started in Naples, and the original Yours, Mine, and Ours. Shavelson was twice nominated for Academy Awards, Best Original Screenplay for Houseboat and The Seven Little Foys.

Shavelson worked very little in television, although he made some important contributions to television history. Along with producer Lou Edleman and star Danny Thomas, Shavelson created the classic sitcom Make Room For Daddy (AKA The Danny Thomas Show). Many years later Shavelson let a friend to use his own personal recording studio in his home to record the theme song for a new TV show, which his friend needed right away. That friend was Sherwood Schwartz and it was the theme song for Gilligan's Island he needed to record. According to Schwartz, Gilligan's Island would not have been possible without him.

Shavelson also wrote two novels and four non-fiction books. He also served as president of the Writers Guild of America, West.

There can be little doubt that Mel Shavelson was a talented comedy writer. He was responsible for many of the gags on Bob Hope's radio show. And while not every one of the movies he wrote were classics, all of them were funny. In co-creating Make Room for Daddy he was responsible for one of the greatest TV shows of all time. Working in the entertainment industry for sixty years, Shavelson definitely left his mark on the industry.

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Lee Hazlewood Passes On

Singer and songwriter Lee Hazlewood died on August 4 from kidney cancer. He is perhaps best known for penning the song "These Boots Are Made For Walkin'."

Hazlewood was born July 9, 1929 in Mannford, Oklahoma. He was drawn to music early, although he studied medicine at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. During the Korean War he served in the Army. Upon his release from the military Hazlewood worked as a disc jockey. As a DJ Hazlewood befriended future rock guitarist Duane Eddy. It was in 1953 that Hazlewood registered his first copyrighted song, "For Bell Love Alarm." By 1955 Hazlewood would produce his first record for the duo of Jimmy and Duane (pianist Jimmy Dell and guitarist Duane Eddy). By 1956 Hazlewood would have his first hit, "The Fool," recorded by Sanford Clark. Hazlewood would produced Duane Eddy at the height of his career (from around 1958 to 1962). In 1963 Hazlewood launched his solo career as a singer, with the album Trouble is a Lonesome Town.

It would be in 1966 that Hazlewood would have the hit for which he has become best known. That song was "These Boots Are Made For Walkin'." It was recorded by Nancy Sinatra and became not only her first hit, but arguably her biggest hit. It has since been recorded by such diverse artists as The Residents, Lydia Lunch, Primal Scream, Megadeth, Jewel, and The Fixx. Besides "These Boots Are Made For Walkin'," Hazlewood also wrote the songs "Rebel Rouser (with Duane Eddy)," "40 Miles of Bad Road (with Duane Eddy)," "Somethin' Stupid (recorded by Frank and Nancy Sinatra)," and "Houston" (recorded by Dean Martin). He has been credited with contributing to the genre known as "Saccharine Underground" or "Cowboy Psychedelia," a genre that blended elements of rock and country. Hazlewood continued recording until recently, his last album Cake or Death being released last year.

I can't say that I was a huge fan of Lee Hazlewood's solo work, but I cannot deny that he had an influence on me through the work he did with other artists. Like everyone else since 1966, I have heard the many versions of "These Boots Are Made For Walkin'." And I have always been a fan of Duane Eddy. There can be no doubt that Hazlewood had talent. And he influenced a large range of artists, from Vanilla Fudge to Sonic Youth to Nick Cave. It cannot be denied that he had an impact on music in late 20th century America.

Monday, 6 August 2007

There's No Need to Fear...Underdog is Here!

This weekend saw the release of yet another movie ostensibly based on a television cartoon, in this case Disney's Underdog (I'm calling it this to differentiate it from the classic TTV cartoon on which it was supposedly based). The movie has received largely bad reviews from critics (it has a dismal 14% on the Critics Tomatometer at Rotten Tomatoes). It also performed very poorly at the box office on its opening weekend. While it was the third highest grossing movie this weekend, it only earned $12 million--not a strong vote of confidence for any film.

For many Underdog fans like myself, this probably feels like vindication. We knew it was a bad idea when Disney announced that they wanted to adapt the classic cartoon using a real dog. When the first descriptions of the film's plot and the first trailers came out, we railed against how unfaithful it looked like the movie was going to be. And we were angered even more when, from the trailers, it appeared that Disney's Underdog was not even going to be any good as a family film. Of course, I am guessing that many fans may well have been concerned that the film might undermine the continued success of Underdog. I am guessing that many fans fear that others may mistakenly believe that because the movie wasn't any good, then the original cartoon mustn't have been either. Worse yet, many might fear that with the failure of Disney's Underdog, many Hollywood executives might veto any project featuring our Champion of Champions. Quite simply, they might brush off even projects which are faithful to the original with the words, "Well, that Disney movie bombed..."

Fortunately, while the latter is a possibility (Hollywood has an uncanny history for turning down good ideas while readily embracing bad ones...), I doubt the former will be the case. First, there have been enough horrible live action adaptations of classic cartoons that most people realise that a movie based on a cartoon doesn't reflect how good or bad the source material might have been (quite simply, George of the Jungle is still a classic cartoon even if the movie based on it sucked). Second, Underdog has been around for forty years. I doubt even something as abhorrent as Disney's Underdog is going to spell its doom.

For those of you who are not familiar with Underdog (and if you are under thirty you might not be), Underdog was a wildly successful, Saturday morning cartoon that ran a total of nine years on network television before going on to a highly successful syndication run, and new life on both VHS and DVD. The series centred on Underdog, an anthropomorphic, canine parody of Superman dressed in a red suit and blue cape. The series was set in a world where dogs (and apparently other animals as well) walked upright and were the equals of human beings. Indeed, Underdog was really Shoeshine Boy (his name was the same as his profession), a canine in a large metropolitan city. Whenever there was trouble, Shoeshine Boy would race to the nearest phone booth to become Underdog. Usually that trouble came in the form of some threat to Sweet Polly Purebred, a canine TV reporter for television station TTV. Although their relationship was platonic (this was a Sixties Saturday morning cartoon, after all), it was clear that Underdog was in love with Polly and vice versa. Unlike Superman, Underdog did not naturally possess super powers. His powers relied on taking a Super Energy Vitamin Pill contained in a ring on his left hand.

Like any superhero, Underdog had his own rogues gallery. His chief archnemesis was mad scientist Simon Barsinister. Balding and with a voice like Lionel Barrymore, Simon was trying to take over the world long before Pinky and the Brain were born. Assisted by his over sized, none too bright henchman Cad, Barsinister plotted to dry up the water supply of the world, developed a shrinking potion, invented a net that induces amnesia (the "Forget-Me-Net"), and even united Underdog's entire rogue's gallery (although he had to use his vacuum gun to do it) to battle the Caped Canine. Underdog's other primary archnemesis was Riff-Raff, a wolf who was also the chief crime boss of the city. With his right hand man Mooch, Riff-Raff was known for creating complex plots even for simple crimes. Among other things, he gathered a group of specialists to steal the painting "Whistler's Father," plotted to steal a gold shipment by disguising himself and Mooch as guards, attempted to frame Underdog with a look alike, and even took over a small Western town, turning it into a city of criminals! Beyond Simon Barsinister and Riff-Raff, Underdog faced a variety of colourful opponents, from the super powered alien Overcat to the shocking (literally) Electric Eel to the vampire like Batty Man. Underdog battled a number of aliens from other planets, including the inhabitants of the planet Zot, the Flying Sorcerers, and the Magnet Men.

Underdog was produced by Total Television (TTV, for short), who were also responsible for King Leonardo and His Short Subject and Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales. Following the success of those series, they needed to do another one. During a meeting Gordon Johnson, the head of the Dancer Fitzgerald Sample advertising agency, told producer and writer W. Watts "Buck" Biggers that if they wanted to do well in the ratings they needed a "super series" and that they should avoid frogs (the reason for this being the fact that Jay Ward was then producing a series called The Adventures of Hoppity Hooper, featuring a frog). At first they were at a loss for a concept, but then writer Chester "Chet Stover caught a rerun of the I Love Lucy episode "Lucy and Superman" on television. In that episode, Ricky manages to get Superman (played by George Reeves, of course) to show up at Little Ricky's birthday party. But when Lucy grows concerned that the Man of Steel might not show, she dons her own makeshift Superman suit and goes out on their apartment's ledge in order to make her entrance through the window. Chet Stover then came up with the idea of a hapless superhero.

The idea that the superhero should be a dog called "Underdog" came about when one of TTV's production staff (pretty much Biggers, Stover, and art director Joseph Harris) referred to them as "underdogs." Joe Harris then designed a canine superhero in a red baggy costume and oversized blue cape. Harris designed Underdog so that the colour scheme of his costume was the reverse of Superman's costume and so that he would not look cute and cuddly. Underdog's occupation of shoeshine boy came about as a result of Wally Cox being cast as the Caped Canine's voice; it was a fitting occupation for a character who spoke softly and slowly. For the other major characters on Underdog, Harris looked to the big screen. Underdog's romantic interest, Sweet Polly Purebred, was inspired by none other than Marilyn Monroe. His archnemesis, Simon Barsinister, not only took his appearance from Lionel Barrymore in It's a Wonderful Life, but his voice as well. His other archnemesis, Riff-Raff, was inspired by George Raft and other movie gangsters. Chet Stover and producer W. Watts "Buck" Biggers wrote nearly all of the scripts and provided Underdog with much of his mythos. Biggers would also write the famous theme song.

Underdog debuted on NBC on October 3, 1964. It was the first Saturday morning cartoon featuring a superhero. It was also an immediate success. Even in its earliest years, the cartoon produced a large number of merchandising tie-ins, including a Milton Bradley board game and the prerequisite lunch box. If there was any doubt that Underdog had arrived, it was squashed when Macy's approached TTV for an Underdog balloon in their Thanksgiving Day Parade. The debut of the balloon in the 1965 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade was even accompanied by a skit in which an actor dressed up as Simon Barsinister menaced an actress dressed as Sweet Polly Purebred. On NBC, following the broadcast of that Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1965, a special episode of Underdog was even aired--"Simon Says...No Thanksgiving." The Underdog balloon would be a regular in Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade for nearly twenty years. Underdog would also become the first Saturday morning cartoon character to appear on a cover of The New Yorker. The November 20, 1966 issue of that magazine featured an illustration of the famous Underdog balloon from the Macy's parade.

It was probably due to the show's success that it became one of the few cartoons to enter syndication while still in its initial, network run. In the '65-'66 season (the second season Underdog spent on NBC) there debuted a syndicated series called Cartoon Cut-Ups, which featured episodes of Underdog, Tennessee Tuxedo, and The World of Commander McBragg. Although still popular, Underdog would change networks in the 1966-1967 season, switching from NBC to CBS for a two year run. It returned to NBC in 1968 to run for another five years. In all, Underdog ran for nine years on network television. After its network run it continued for many, many years in syndication (indeed, it is probably still airing somewhere in the United States). Underdog merchandise even continued to be produced throughout the Seventies, everything from collectible glasses to a Little Golden Book. In 1970 Charlton started publishing what would be a ten issue run of Underdog comic books. Gold Key would publish another series of Underdog comic books started in 1975, this time lasting 23 issues. More recently there have been Underdog action figures and even bobble heads. Episodes of the series would be released on VHS and later on DVD.

Beyond the sheer length of its network and syndication runs, the lasting success of Underdog can also be seen in how far it has infiltrated American pop culture. The Underdog balloon made a memorable appearance in the Woody Allen movie Broadway Danny Rose and has been referenced in everything from the movie Detroit Rock City to episodes of In Living Color (a recurring line from the episode "Round and Round" occurs in a Handi Man sketch), The Powerpuff Girls (in the episode "Super Zeros," when the Girls adopt different identities, Bubbles paraphrases an Underdog catchphrase), Will and Grace, Friends, and Scrubs. Underdog appeared alongside various Marvel Comics characters in a famous Visa commercial (aired during Super Bowl XXXIX). In 2005 his image was featured on the No 37 R&J Racing Dodge Charger, driven by Kevin LePage, for two Nascar races. Its theme song has been remade by The Butthole Surfers, and the acapella group The Blanks (who performed it on Scrubs), and The Plain White T's (for Disney's movie). Underdog has also had a lasting impact on television cartoons. He was the first superhero created specifically for Saturday morning television. Only a few years after his debut, Saturday morning would be filled with superheroes from Space Ghost to Jay Ward's own Super Chicken. Craig McCracken has also acknowledged Underdog as one of the influences on The Powerpuff Girls. It may also have been an influence on the Nickelodeon series Kappa Mikey and the children's book series Captain Underpants. In TV Guide's Fifty Greatest Cartoon Characters from a few years go, Underdog was ranked #23 (which some thought was too low, just to show how beloved he is).

All of this points to the reasons why many adult human beings have been so upset by what they have perceived as Disney's lack of respect for the source material when they made Disney's Underdog. There are those who will say that Disney's Underdog is only a movie, and a children's movie at that, that ultimately it is not important whether it is very good or whether it respects the original cartoon or not. These people may think it is silly for many to take the new movie as an affront to their own childhoods. I think what these people are missing is that Underdog ceased to be a mere cartoon years ago and became a pop cultural icon. Indeed, if one listens to Underdog fans explain why they loved what was a low budget cartoon produced primarily to sell cereal (TTV and hence Underdog was sponsored by General Mills), one will soon find that Underdog goes far beyond the average cartoon from yesteryear's Saturday morning.

Underdog was indeed produced on a shoestring budget and at a pace that was hectic even for a Saturday morning cartoon. The animation was not done here in the United States, but at Gamma Studios in Mexico (the same studio which animated much of Jay Ward's work), who could not even afford to buy paint for the animation cels. Regardless, Chet Stover, W. Watts Biggers, and Joe Harris worked a good deal of magic on the show. The scripts were original and imaginative, going beyond simple superhero parody and Saturday morning antics. Perhaps only Stover, Biggers, and Harris could have imagined a plot in which Simon Barsinister develops a machine which turns people into Valentines. And in the Sixties I doubt even Jay Ward would have one of his heroes paraphrase Karl Marx (Shoeshine Boy did--in the episode "The Marbleheads")! The men at TTV weren't below the occasional in joke either. Parodying the old Superman radio show, whenever Underdog flew over the city, people would look up and exclaim, "Look, up in the sky! It's a plane," "It's a bird," "It's a frog..."--a reference not only to Gordon Johnson's advice that they avoid frogs, but a swipe at Jay Ward's The Adventures of Hoppity Hooper as well.

Not only did the series have great scripts, but some of the best voice talent of any Saturday morning cartoon. Joe Harris wanted Mort Marshall, the voice of the Trix Rabbit (which he also created) for the voice of Underdog, but TTV would choose someone else after seeing the movie Spencer's Mountain. In that film, playing Preacher Goodman was an actor who spoke very slowly and in a nearly rhythmic fashion--Wally Cox. Playing the eternal nebbish in most of his roles, Wally Cox had starred on the classic TV show Mr. Peepers in the Fifties and was already a movie veteran when he began giving the Caped Canine his voice. Cox never treated his role as Underdog as that of a mere cartoon character, giving the hero a personality all his own. Allen Swift, who provided the voices for both Simon Barsinister and Riff-Raff, not only voiced many of the puppets on Howdy Doody, but had already done over 10,000 commercials well before Underdog debuted. Comedian George S. Irving, a veteran of Broadway, not only narrated the show, but was the voice of Tap-Tap the Chiseler (Riff-Raff associate and Underdog lookalike). Despite its bargain basement animation, Underdog was very much the sort of cartoon adults could enjoy as well as children.

Beyond anything else, perhaps the reason Underdog remains loved by so many is the fact that, like all TTV shows, it was driven very much by its characters. If Underdog made TV Guide's Fifty Greatest Cartoon Characters, it was with good reason. For a Saturday morning cartoon character Underdog is a fairly complex character. As Shoeshine Boy he is soft spoken, even meek. And yet, upon racing into a phone booth (and blowing it up in the process), he can become Underdog, that Champion of Champions who can lift ocean liners with ease. Despite his great power and the fact that he speaks with a lower voice than Shoeshine Boy, Underdog isn't really that far removed in personality from his alter ego. Both have a strong sense of right and wrong, both seek to live their lives with honour, both are compassionate to others, and both lack any sort of ego whatsoever. It is inconceivable that either Shoeshine Boy or Underdog could ever take a life, even of a hardened killer like Riff-Raff. In many respects Underdog taught children of the Sixties and Seventies more about what is right and wrong than those cardboard, preachy cartoons that proliferated in the Eighties. Underdog was not simply a hero, however, as he also figured in what could be the only real romance Saturday morning ever produced. One does not have to read between the lines of episodes to realise that Shoeshine Boy (and hence Underdog) is in love with Sweet Polly Purebred. Their relationship is strictly platonic--the most either Shoeshine or Underdog might receive from Polly is a peck on the cheek. And yet it is clear that Polly loves Underdog (and possibly Shoeshine Boy as well--I always wondered if she really knew the truth) back. Beyond the fact that this was a Saturday morning cartoon, it is unclear why they never got together--perhaps they both realised that her life was already in enough danger without being married to a superhero.

Disney's Underdog looks like it will bomb. In a few years I suspect it will be forgotten along with such duds as the movie adaptation of The Flintstones and The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle. And while Disney's Underdog disappears into obscurity, the classic animated cartoon Underdog will still be remembered.

For those of you who have never seen the cartoon, here is a video of one of the theme song sequences Classic Media placed on IFilm to promote the Ultimate Underdog Collection Volumes 1 through 3. This one features Simon Barsinister. Another theme song sequence featured Riff-Raff and yet another featured a giant rampaging through the city. I remmeber the Simon Barsinister sequence being shown the most when Underdog was on the networks, although it seemed like it was shown the least when the series went into syndication. Anyhow, enjoy!

The Classic Underdog Cartoon Intro

Posted Aug 01, 2007

Classic Episodes now on DVD

Sunday, 5 August 2007

A Trailer for a Movie That Doesn't Exist

Warning: Here There Be Spoilers!

My favourite comedy currently on television is HBO's Entourage. For those of you unfamiliar with the show, the series follows young, rising star Vincent Chase (Adrien Grenier) and his entourage and their lives in the jungle that is Hollywood. As fans of the show well know, it was this season that Vince finally achieved his goal of filming the movie Medellin, a film based on the life of drug kingpin Pablo Escobar. While we did not get to see a trailer for any of the other fictional movies that have figured on the show (Queens Boulevard and Aquaman), there is a trailer for Medellin. Initially a few seconds of the trailer appeared in one episode, but then it turns out that there was a whole, 90 second trailer. The episode "Dream Team" (aired July 15) centred on the Medellin trailer being leaked to YouTube. At the end of the episode, HBO showed the whole trailer. They even got Don LaFontaine, AKA That Announcer Guy From the Movies, to do the voice over for the trailer! Of course, given that in real life any trailer is eventually going to find its way to YouTube, the trailer for Medellin can be found several times on the video sharing site. What is more, there is even a website for Medellin. Sadly, the website is rather sparse (where is the wallpaper and buddy icons?). Anyhow, here is the trailer for Medellin:



And if you want to see the official Medellin website, click here.