Saturday, September 30, 2023

Hammer Horror on TCM in October 2023

This October, as they always do, Turner Classic Movies is showing a lot of horror movies. This time they are doing it under the heading of "Terror-thon," several hours worth of frightening films. And, as usual, TCM is showing a lot of the beloved classics made by the legendary British studio Hammer Film Productions, Ltd. There is a very good reason that Hammer Horror fans look forward to October on TCM every year!

Below is a schedule of the Hammer Films being shown on Turner Classic Movies this October. All times are Central.

Monday, October 4
2:15 AM Frankenstein Created Woman (1967)

Monday, October 9
8:45 AM The Mummy's Shroud (1967)

Sunday, October 22
3:15 PM The Nanny (1965)

Sunday, October 27
10:00 PM Dracula/Horrror of Dracula(1958)

Sunday, October 30
5:15 PM The Devil Rides Out (1968)
8:45 PM The Witches/The Devil's Own (1966)

Monday, October 31 (Halloween)
3:45 AM The Plague of the Zombies (1966)
5:30 AM Rasputin--The Mad Monk (1966)
7:15 AM Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970)
9:00 AM The Mummy (1959)

Friday, September 29, 2023

The 60th Anniversary of My Favorite Martian

It was sixty years ago, on September 29 1963, that My Favorite Martian debuted on CBS. In many ways, it was a pioneering show. It was the success of My Favorite Martian that would lead to such shows as Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie. It would also prove popular. While on the air, My Favorite Martin produced merchandise from comic books to a board game. After it had gone off the air, it would have a successful syndication run, and it would result in a Saturday morning cartoon and even a feature film.

My Favorite Martian centred on a 450-year-old anthropologist from Mars, later revealed to be named Exigius 12 1/2 (Ray Walston), who crashes lands on Earth. He is found by Tim O'Hara (Bill Bixby), a reporter for The Los Angeles Sun. With the Martian stranded on Earth due to damage to his spaceship, Tim takes him in and tells others that he is his Uncle Martin. Tim agrees to keep Martin's identity secret and not to reveal that he is from Mars. By the same token, Martin decides not to exhibit his special abilities around Earthlings. As to Martin's abilities, they are numerous. He has retractable antennae in the back of his head.  He has telekinesis and can lift and move objects by moving his index finger. He can read minds. He can become invisible. He can also speed himself or others up, and even freeze people and objects in place. On top of all this, he is an inventor who can develop advanced technology. Tim and Martin live in a garage apartment they rent from Lorelei Brown (Pamela Britton).

According to an article from the Newspaper Enterprise Association in October 1963, My Favorite Martian was created by John L. Greene, who had earlier written for shows such as My Friend Irma and Our Miss Brooks. John L. Greene had created Uncle Martin in a script that he had sent to a major talent agency. It was three years after he had sent the script to the agency that Jack Chertok, who had produced Private Secretary and The Lone Ranger, among other shows, found John L. Greene's script at the bottom of a stack of scripts at the agency. Jack Chertok informed the agency that he liked the script. One of the people at the agency told Mr. Chertok, "It's the worst idea around here. It has been read by everyone and always winds up at the bottom of the stack." Jack Chertok told him, "That's why I want it."

From the beginning Ray Walston and Bill Bixby were wanted for the roles of Uncle Martin and Tim O'Hara respectively. Ray Walston had appeared in the London production of the musical South Pacific and in the 1958 film version as well, and he played the Devil in both the Broadway musical Damn Yankees and the 1958 film version of that musical. He also appeared in the movie The Apartment (1960). Bill Bixby has made guest appearances on such shows as Dobie Gillis, Make Room for Daddy, and The Andy Griffith Show. The role of landlady Lorelei Brown was conceived as being an older lady, but actress Pamela Britton was able to persuade Jack Chertok that she should be younger. Pamela Britton had appeared in the classic film noir D.O.A. (1950) and had played Blondie in the 1957 sitcom Blondie, based on the popular comic strip of the same name. The first season of My Favorite Martian featured J. Pat O'Malley as Tim's boss at The Los Angeles Sun, Mr. Burns. In the second and third seasons, Alan Hewitt played Detective Bill Brennan, who was very suspicious of Uncle Martin. Roy Engel appeared in six episodes of the third season as a police captain.

The pilot for My Favorite Martian differed from the regular series. It was filmed in 1962 and it was on the basis of that pilot that CBS bought the show in January 1963. The original pilot featured Ina Victor as Mrs. Brown's twenty-year-old niece Annabelle. She would not appear in the regular series.  Mrs. Brown's fifteen-year-old daughter Angela, played by Ann Marshall, only appeared in three episodes of My Favorite Martian (including the pilot), all during the first season.

For seven episodes of the first season of My Favorite Martian, Sherwood Schwartz, later of Gilligan's Island fame, served as the show's script consultant. CBS had been having trouble with new episodes beyond the pilot. According to Mr. Schwartz, after looking at unfinished episodes, he determined that the problem was that instead of focusing on Uncle Martin as a fish out of water, the episodes were focusing more on Tim O'Hara. Sherwood Schwartz then threw out many of the scripts and kept five or six scripts that could be salvaged through rewriting.  In his own words, Mr. Schwartz felt that he simply put the show back on the track set by the pilot.

For the most part, My Favorite Martian was well-received by critics, if not overwhelmingly so. Associated Press television and radio writer Cynthia Lowry gave My Favorite Martian a largely positive review, noting "The big problem, of course, will be achieving audience acceptance--adult acceptance, that is, because children are accustomed to taking out-of-this-world creatures in stride." Columnist Bob Foster wrote, "My Favorite Martian probably will cause quite a sensation, although personally I don't warm up to this type of thing." Columnist Erskine Johnson noted, "My Favorite Martian, at least, has imagination and is a departure from most of television's domestic comedies, all of which boil down to My Favorite Husband (or Wife)."

My Favorite Martian proved to be a hit in its first season, coming in at no. 10 in the Nielsen ratings for the year. In its second season, My Favorite Martian dropped in the ratings, although it came in at a still respectable no. 24 for the year. The third season would see major changes for the show. It shifted from being shot in black-and-white to being shot in colour. While during its first two seasons, My Favorite Martian was shot at Desilu, for its third season it was shot at MGM's studios in Culver City. It was during the summer of 1965 that Lucille Ball, the head of Desilu, decided that the studio needed the soundstages then being rented to Jack Chertok for a new show they were producing called Star Trek. Of course, this meant that the show now had access to MGM's large backlot.

The success of My Favorite Martian would result in merchandise associated with the show. Gold Key published nine issues of a My Favorite Martian comic book from 1964 to 1966. Transogram put out a My Favorite Martian board game. There was also a beanie with antennae, a magic set put out by Gilbert, a colouring book published by Golden Press, and various other items.

Unfortunately, it was during the third season that My Favorite Martian also had something of a crisis. Ray Walston was unhappy with the quality of many of the scripts and decided as a result that he wanted to appear less on the show. It was because of this that Uncle Martin's eleven-year-old nephew Andromeda was introduced on the show, played by Wayne Stam. As it turned out, Andromeda only appeared in one episode, and CBS did not particularly care for the idea. He only appeared in the 24th episode of the third season, "When You Get Back to Mars, Are You Going to Get It," and did not appear in the remainder of the season.

As it turns out, My Favorite Martian dropped in the Nielsen ratings during its third season, so it no longer ranked in the top thirty of the year. CBS cancelled My Favorite Martian, perhaps due to the show's ratings and the fact that Ray Walston wanted to reduce his participation on the show. My Favorite Martian.

While My Favorite Martian had ended its network run, it was neither gone nor forgotten. The show went into syndication as a rerun, where it proved to be popular. The continued popularity of the show resulted in a revival of sorts as a Saturday morning cartoon titled My Favorite Martians. The show was produced by Filmation, in conjunction with Jack Chertok Productions. Neither Ray Walston nor Bill Bixby returned to voice their characters from My Favorite Martian. Instead, Jonathan Harris (best known as Dr. Smith on Lost in Space) voiced Uncle Martin, while Howard Morris (of Your Show of Shows and The Andy Griffith Show fame) voiced Tim O'Hara. Lorelei Brown was voiced by Jane Webb, who also voiced the new character of Tim's niece Katy. Howard Morris also voiced multiple characters, including Detective Bill Brennan and the new characters of a Martian dog called Okey, a chimp named Chump, and Detective Brennan's son named Brad. Despite the additional characters, My Favorite Martians did use scripts meant for the unrealized fourth season of the original television show. My Favorite Martians debuted on CBS on September 8 1973. It spent only one season on Saturday morning and was rerun the following season on Sunday morning on CBS.

In 1995, Ray Walston appeared in a commercial for AT&T. It was implied that his character was Uncle Martin looking for affordable long-distance rates to call Mars.

In 1999 a feature film based on the TV show, also titled My Favorite Martian, was released. It starred Christopher Lloyd as Uncle Martin and Jeff Daniels as Tim O'Hara. Ray Walston appeared as a Martian who had been stranded on Earth for years. The film was not particularly well-received by critics. It also did not click with audiences and failed at the box office.

Regardless, My Favorite Martian continues to be popular. It has aired on AmericanLife TV, TV Land, COZI TV, and Antenna TV. The show has been released on both VHS and DVD. My Favorite Martian is available on multiple streaming services, including Peacock, Pluto TV, Tubi, Vudu, Prime Video, Plex, Freevee, and others.

As mentioned earlier, Esrkine Johnson noted that My Favorite Martian was different from television's domestic comedies, which might well explain its success. There had only been a few fantasy sitcoms on the air before My Favorite Martian, and only two had seen any real success. Topper may well have been the first fantasy sitcom, debuting in 1953. It was followed in 1961 by Mister Ed, starring the famous talking horse. The success of My Favorite Martian would spark an entire cycle of fantasy sitcoms. The following season would see the debut of such shows as The Addams Family, Bewitched, The Munsters, and My Living Doll. The following seasons would see such sitcoms as I Dream of Jeannie, The Smothers Brothers Show, The Flying Nun, and The Ghost & Mrs. Muir. It seems possible that none of these shows would have aired if My Favorite Martian had not been a hit. It seems likely My Favorite Martian was responsible for further sitcoms centred around aliens, including Mork & Mindy, ALF, Third Rock from the Sun, and the short-lived show The Neighbors. Sixty years after its debut, the influence of My Favorite Martian is still being felt.

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Close Channel D: The Late, Great David McCallum

For many Baby Boomers and older Gen Xers, David McCallum was their first crush. For others, like myself, David McCallum was one of their childhood heroes. He played ultra-cool Russian U.N.C.L.E. agent Illya Kuryakin on The Man From U.N.C.L.E., a phenomenon when it first aired and later a popular rerun in syndication. For younger audiences he may be best remembered as Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard, the eccentric, intellectual chief medical examiner on NCIS. As identified as he was with both roles, David McCallum had a career that spanned seventy years and played numerous other roles, from Lieutenant Commander Eric Ashley-Pitt ("Dispersal") in The Great Escape (1963) to Steel in the British cult television show Sapphire & Steel. Sadly, David McCallum died yesterday, September 25 2023, only a little under a week after having turned 90.

David Keith McCallum Jr. was born on September 19 1933 in Glasgow. His father was, David McCallum Sr., was an orchestral violinist and his mother Dorothy McCallum (née Dorman) was a cellist. He was only three when his family moved to London where his father played as leader in the London Philharmonic Orchestra. With World War II young David McCallum was evacuated to Gatocharn, Scotland, where he lived with is mother.

David McCallum was encouraged by his parents to pursue a career in music. He learned to play the oboe as well as the piano and the English horn. As it turned out, David McCallum learned he was more interested in acting. He played the Little Prince in Shakespeare's King John when he was only eight years old, and he believed that is what led him to decide to be an actor. David McCallum attended University College School in Hampstead, London. When he was 13, he began providing voices for BBC radio shows. For his National Service, David McCallum served in the British Army's 3rd Battalion the Middlesex Regiment. He attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Among his classmates was Joan Collins. He played with the Oxford Repertory Group.

David McCallum made his television debut in the television mini-series The Rose and the Ring in 1953. His film debut was an uncredited role in Ill Met By Moonlight (1957). That same year he was cast in Clive Donner's directorial debut The Secret Place (1957), playing rebellious Cockney Mike Wilson. David McCallum signed with the Rank Organization. In the late Fifties he appeared in the films These Dangerous Years (1957), Hell Drivers (1957), Robbery Under Arms (1957), Violent Playground (1958), A Night to Remember (1958), and Jungle Street (1960). On television he was a regular on the TV program The Eustace Diamonds. He appeared in the mini-series Our Mutual Friend and played Frank Churchill in the mini-series Emma. He guest starred on the shows Television World Theatre, Saturday Playhouse, BBC Sunday-Night Play, Armchair Theatre, ITV Television Playhouse, and Knight Errant Limited.

It was in 1964 that David McCallum began playing Illya Kuryakin on The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Initially, Illya was meant to be a minor character, with the show centred firmly on Robert Vaughn as Napoleon Solo. Audience reaction to the character proved to be so positive that the producer eventually made David McCallum a co-star on the show, on equal footing with Robert Vaughn. The Man From U.N.C.L.E. proved to be something of a fad, achieving phenomenal ratings and producing a treasure trove of merchandise. David McCallum became a heartthrob among teenage girls and younger women, and he received more fan mail than any other actor in the history of MGM, even such well-known stars as Clark Gable and Judy Garland. Changes in time slot and a shift to camp in the show's third season resulted in a drop in ratings, and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. was cancelled midway in its fourth season.

In addition to his regular role on The Man From U.N.C.L.E., David McCallum also guest starred on the TV shows ITV Play of the Week, Sir Francis Drake, The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters, Perry Mason, The Great Adventure, The Outer Limits, Profiles in Courage, and Please Don't Eat the Daisies (as Illya Kuryakin). In the classic movie The Great Escape (1963), he played Lieutenant Commander Ashley-Pitt, who devised a means of getting ride of the dirt excavated from the escape tunnels. He also appeared in the movies The Long and the Short and the Tall (1961), Karolina Rijecka (1961), Billy Budd (1962), Freud (1962), The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965), Around the World Under the Sea (1966), Three Bites of the Apple (1967), Sol Madrid (1968), Mosquito Squadron (1969), and La cattura (1969).

In the Seventies David McCallum starred on the British TV show Colditz, the short-lived American series The Invisible Man, and the British cult sci-fi series Sapphire & Steel. He also appeared in the mini-series Kidnapped. David McCallum guest starred on the TV shows Night Gallery; The Man and the City; Marcus Welby, M.D.; Norman Corwin Presents; and Bert D'Angelo/Superstar. He appeared in the movies The Kingfisher Caper (1975), Dogs (1977), King Solomon's Treasure (1979), and The Watcher in the Woods (1980).

In the Eighties David McCallum continued to star as Steel on Sapphire & Steel. He appeared in the mini-series Mother Love and Lucky Chances. He reprised his role as Illya Kuryakin in the television reunion movie The Return of The Man From U.N.C.L.E.: The Fifteen Years Later Affair, and he was again reunited with Robert Vaughn on in a role very similar to Illa Kuryakin in the A-Team episode "The Say U.N.C.L.E. Affair." He also guest starred on the TV shows Strike Force; Hart to Hart; As the World Turns; The Master; Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense; Matlock; Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Monsters; Father Dowling Mysteries; Murder, She Wrote; and Boon. He appeared in the movies Terminal Choice (1985), Az aranyifjú (1987), and The Haunting of Morella (1990).

In the Nineties David McCallum starred in the TV shows Cluedo, Trainer, VR.5., and Team Knight Rider. He guest starred on the shows SeaQuest DSV, Babylon 5, Heartbeat, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Law & Order, The Outer Limits, Three, Sex and the City, and Deadline. He appeared in the movies Hear My Song (1991), Dirty Weekend (1993), Fatal Inheritance (1993), Healer (1994), and Cherry (1999).

In the Naughts David McCallum first played Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard in the two-part JAG episode "Ice Queen"/"Meltdown" that served as a backdoor pilot for NCIS. That autumn he began his long run of playing the character on NCIS. He ultimately played Ducky for twenty years, appearing in more episodes of NCIS than any other actor. He also starred on the show The Education of Max Bickford and voiced C.A.R. on the animated series The Replacements and Professor Paradox on the animated series Ben 10: Alien Force and Ben 10: Ultimate Alien. He guest starred on the TV show Jeremiah, and was a guest voice on the animated series Batman: The Brave and the Bold. He was the voice of Alfred Pennyworth in the animated movie Batman: Gotham Knight (2008) and the voice of Zeus in the animated movie Wonder Woman (2009).

In the Teens David McCallum continued to play Ducky on NCIS. He also appeared as Ducky on the spin-off NCIS: New Orleans. He continued to voice Professor Paradox in the animated shows Ben 10: Omiverse. He provided the voice of Alfred Pennyworth in the animated movies Son of Batman (2014) and Batman vs. Robin (2015). In the 2020s he continued to play Ducky on NCIS.

In addition to appear in film and screen, David McCallum also provided voices for such video games as Ben 10: Alien Force--Vilgax Attacks, Diablo III, and NCIS.

Trained as a musician, David McCallum would have something of a music career. In the Sixties he recorded four albums of instrumentals for Capitol Records: Music...A Part of Me, Music...A Bit More of Me, Music...It's Happening Now!, and McCallum. His composition "The Edge" would later be sampled by rap artists and would appear in the video game Grand Theft Auto IV and the movie Baby Driver (2017).

David McCallum also wrote a novel, a thriller titled Once a Crooked Man.

It seems very likely David McCallum will always be best remembered as Illya Kuryakin on The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Dr. Mallard on NCIS, and Ashley-Pitt in The Great Escape. And I don't think that is merely do to the continued popularity of The Man From U.N.C.L.E., NCIS, and The Great Escape. Quite simply, he was fantastic in all three roles. He was perfect as Illa Kuryakin, the mysterious, super-cool U.N.C.L.E. agent. The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences was obviously impressed with is performance as Illya, nominating him twice for the Emmy for Outstanding Individual Achievements in Entertainment - Actors and Performers and the Emmy for Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Dramatic Series. He was also impressive as Ducky on NCIS, the jocular, but intellectual medical examiner. He stood out in an ensemble cast in The Great Escape as Lieutenant Commander Ashley-Pitt.

Of course, David McCallum played many more roles than Illya Kuryakin, Dr. Mallard, and Lieutenant Commander Ashley-Pitt. Many will remember him as the stoic, irascible Steel on Sapphire & Steel, a show that can aptly be described as a cross between Doctor Who and The X-Files. On Colditz he played the fiercely independent Flight Lieutenant Simon Carter, who was always antagonistic towards his German captors. He played the radio operator of the RMS Titanic in the classic A Night to Remember. In Violent Playground he played a role as far removed from Illya, Ducky, and Steel as one could get: a violent juvenile delinquent and street gang leader named Johnnie Murphy. Even in his guest appearances on various shows David McCallum could be impressive. In the Perry Mason episode "The Case of the Fifty Millionth Frenchman," he played Phillipe Bertain, a Frenchman who has no luck with women (ironically, only a few months later Mr McCallum would play the heartthrob of millions, Illya Kuryakin). In the Outer Limits episode "The Sixth Finger," he played a Welsh miner who agrees to an experiment to accelerate evolution, with disastrous results. David McCallum was an incredible actor who played  a wide variety of roles. What is more, he played all of them well.

Monday, September 25, 2023

Thank You For a Successful 10th Annual Rule, Britannia Blogathon

I want to thank everyone who participated in the 10th Annual Rule, Britannia Blogathon for making it a success. It is hard to believe that there have been 10 editions of the blogathon, and that wouldn't have happened if not for my fellow bloggers stepping up to take part in it. In 1993 when it first started, the blogathon was called "the British Invaders Blogathon" and took place in August. It was in 2018 (the fifth year of the blogathon) that I changed its name to "the Rule, Britannia Blogathon." Given some of the regular participants in the blogathon are British, it made no sense to call it "the British Invaders Blogathon!" In 2020 I moved the Rule, Britannia Blogathon to the next to the last weekend of September. That year it slipped my mind to announce the blogathon in June as I usually do, and so I moved it to September to give participants more time to get ready for it. I have kept it in September ever since, as it makes my two blogathons (the other being the Favourite TV Show Episode Blogathon in March) around six months apart.

I think this year's blogathon has been one of the best. We had entries on movies from the 1930s to 1980s. The posts also encompassed a wide array of genres, from comedies to romance movies to science fiction movies. Some of the most respected British directors were also represented, including Terence Fisher, Alfred Hitchcock, Alan Parker, and Michael Powell. Anyway, I can guarantee the Rule, Britannia Blogathon will be back next year for an eleventh edition!

Saturday, September 23, 2023

Local Hero (1983)

(This post is a part of the 10th Annual Rule, Britannia Blogathon Hosted by A Shroud of Thoughts)

This past February 17th marked 40 years since the release of a remarkable film, Local Hero (1983) directed by Bill Forsyth.  Bill Forsyth had already received attention for his movies That Sinking Feeling (1979) and Gregory's Girl (1981). While I would not see That Sinking Feeling until later, I had already seen Gregory's Girl when Local Hero came out. When I finally got to see Local Hero on VHS, I was not disappointed. It remains one of my all-time favourite movies to this day.

Local Hero centres on "Mac" MacIntyre (Peter Riegert), a young executive at Knox Oil and Gas in Houston, Texas. Because his name sounds "Scottish," Mac finds himself set to the Highlands of Scotland by the head of Knox Oil and Gas, the eccentric Felix Happer (Burt Lancaster), to acquire the tiny village of Furness to open a refinery there. Once there, Mac learns that the plan is to entirely replace Furness with the refinery. While Mac grows to love Furness and have doubts about the clearing the village to make way for a refinery, the villagers are more than eager to sell out to Knox Oil and Gas. As it turns out, there is one holdout: elderly beachcomber Ben Knox (Fulton MacKay). Ben owns the entirety of the beach by way of  a grant from the Lord of the Isles to one of his ancestors. Without the beach, there can be no refinery, and Ben absolutely refuses to sell.

Local Hero emerged from producer David Puttnam and director Bill Forsyth. The two men had met in London in the late Seventies. At the time Bill Forsyth gave David Putnam the script to Gregory's Girl in hopes that he would produce it, but Mr. Puttnam turned it down, thinking it was too similar to That Sinking Feeling. After seeing Gregory's Girl, David Puttnam admitted to regretting not accepting the movie. The two would meet again, quite by chance, in a tobacconist shop in Soho. At the time Bill Forsyth was busy editing Gregory's Girl, while David Puttnam was finishing up Chariots of Fire (1981). It was only a matter of days before David Puttnam asked Bill Forsyth to attend a screening of the classic Whisky Galore! (1949). The Ealing Studios movie is set on the tiny, fictional Scottish island of Todday in the Outer Hebries where the supply of whisky runs out during World War II.

David Puttnam had good reason for wanting Bill Forsyth to see Whisky Galore!. The producer had been researching the Scottish oil industry, in particular the oil boom in Shetland in the early Seventies. What struck David Puttnam is that the Shetlanders actually welcomed the oil companies, in hopes that the large amount of money generated by oil would in turn help them. David Puttnam then talked Bill Forsyth into developing the idea for what would become Local Hero.

In the book Local Hero: The Making of the Film by Allan Hunter and Mark Astaire, Bill Forsyth said of Local Hero, "I saw it along the lines of a Scottish Beverly Hillbillies--what would happen to a small community when it suddenly became immensely rich--that was the germ of the idea and the story built itself from there. It seemed to contain a similar theme to Brigadoon (1954), which also involved some Americans coming over to Scotland, becoming part of a small community, being changed by the experience and affecting the place in their own way. I feel close in spirit to the Powell and Pressburger feeling the idea of trying to present a cosmic viewpoint to people, but through the most ordinary things. And because this film and I Know Where I Am Going (1945) are set in Scotland, I've felt from the beginning that we're walking the same...treading the same water."

Initially Local Hero centred on the character of the local hotel owner, who would tackle the American oil company and its representative (Mac in the movie). Over time the story began to focus more on Mac, the American oil company representative who initially finds himself out of place in Furness. Although today, it might seem difficult for fans of Local Hero to see anyone as Mac but Peter Reigert. Bill Forsyth had also considered Michael Douglas and Henry Winkler. From the beginning Burt Lancaster was considered for the role of eccentric billionaire Felix Happer, although casting him presented some problems. Burt Lancaster wanted a $2 million salary. That would have been a third of the movie's entire budget. Fortunately, Warner Bros. made producer David Puttnam an American distribution deal once they knew Burt Lancaster was to be in the movie and as a result provided the money to pay for the Hollywood legend.

As might be expected, aside from Peter Riegert and Burt Lancaster, the majority of the cast of Local Hero was comprised of British actors. Fulton MacKay, who played beachcomber Ben Knox, had a career on stage and on screen going back to the late Forties. Many might remember him best for his appearances on such classic television shows as The Saint and The Avengers. Denis Lawson, who played hotel owner and accountant Gordon Urquhart, played Wedge Antilles in both Star Wars (1977) and The Empire Strikes Back (1980). On television he'd appeared in episodes of Dr. Finlay's Casebook and Bergerac. For Peter Capaldi, who played local Knox Oil and Gas representative Danny Oldsen (and hence Mac's guide to Furness), Local Hero was only his second film. Of course, he has since become known as Malcolm Tucker on The Thick of It and the Twelfth Doctor on Doctor Who.

Of course, among the stars of Local Hero must be counted the Scottish landscape. The movie required a small Scottish village with an extensive beach. As a result, production designer Roger Murray-Leach scouted the Scottish coast for just such a village. Ultimately a small fishing village called Pennan, located in Aberdeenshire, was chosen. Unfortunately, while Pennan's only street did overlook the sea, it was not particularly close to the beach. For the beach in Local Hero, Camusdarach Beach, just south of the estuary of River Morar and between the village of Arisaig, in Lochaber, Inverness-shire and the village of Morar, Inverness-shire, was used.

Unfortunately, once completed Local Hero would run afoul of test screenings, as many a movie has. While the test screenings were positive, they were not overwhelmingly so. It as after the last test screening that Warner Bros. executives sat down with Bill Forsyth and even offered to pay the bill to shoot a new ending in which Mac doesn't leave Scotland. This did not sit well with Bill Forsyth, who hardly wanted to go back to Scotland simply to shoot a new scene. In the end, Warner Bros. would not get the ending they wanted, although it is hard to argue Local Hero does not have a happy ending.

Local Hero premiered on February 17 1983 in New York City. It opened in the Untied States on February 18 1983, which also happened to be Presidents Day weekend that year. That weekend it made $23,567 that weekend, which was actually quite respectable given it was competing against movies like Gandhi and Tootsie. For the most part Local Hero got good reviews. Janet Maslin in The New York Tiems wrote, "Genuine fairy tales are rare; so is film-making that is thoroughly original in an unobtrusive way. Bill Forsyth's quirky disarming Local Hero is both." Roger Ebert loved the film, writing, "Here is a small film to treasure, a loving, funny, understated portrait of a small Scottish town and its encounter with a giant oil company." In The Village Voice Andrew Sarris described the movie as "...a joyously grown-up, warm-hearted, and clear-head meditation on the vagaries of contemporary existence."

Local Hero did respectably well at the box office. It earned $5.895, 761 in the United States and £487,437 in the United Kingdom. While that might not sound like a lot, given its budget was only around $3 million, it did make a small profit. Of course, it would also be shown on premium cable channels and it would be released on VHS and still later on DVD. Like Gregory's Girl before it, it would become a cult film.

Indeed, Local Hero has left behind a legacy few movies do. There is a minor planet, 7345 Happer, named for Felix Happer from the film, who was absolutely  obsessed with astronomy. I have always suspected that the hit American television series Northern Exposure, in which a New York City doctor must adjust to life in a small Alaskan town, and possibly the cult series Everwood, in which a big city brain surgeon moves to the small town of Everwood, both drew inspiration from Local Hero. The movie also inspired a 2019 musical, Local Hero, which premiered at the Royal Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh.

As I said earlier, Local Hero remains one of my favourite movies of all time. Indeed, I think it says a lot about how many people do not realize how good they really have it. The villagers of Furness, tired of their hard lives, are anxious to simply sell the village to Knox Oil and Gas. It is an outsider. Mac, who realizes just how special and how magical Furness really is. What is more, Local Hero moves at a deliberate pace. We are given time to get to know the characters. And while it does move quite leisurely, Local Hero is never slow. It really doesn't have a plot, so much as things simply happen as they would in real life. Indeed, there are a number of coincidences in the movie that appear to have been created with intent. There are also some unanswered questions. Is Marina (Jenny Seagrove), the Knox Oil and Gas oceanographer who is so much at home in the sea, actually a selkie? Who is the child always wheeled around Furness by a group of men?

If I have only one criticism of Local Hero it is that the movie is largely dominated by men. Of the major characters, only two of them are women, and it seems likely that Marina is not even human (yes, I honestly think she is a selkie). Jennifer Black, as Stella Urquhart is the only woman in the village with an important role in the film.

Regardless, I do love Local Hero. In many respects, I think Janet Maslin in her New York Times review is very much correct--Local Hero is indeed a fairy tale. It does not surprise me that I am not alone in my love for Local Hero. It is very much a cult film that remains popular to this day.

Friday, September 22, 2023

The 10th Annual Rule, Britannia Blogathon is Here

The 10th Annual Rule, Britannia Blogathon is here! The Rule, Britannia Blogathon is meant to celebrate classic, British films. While many think of Hollywood when they think of movies, the fact is that many classic films originated in the United Kingdom. From the Gainsborough melodramas to the Ealing comedies to the Hammer Horrors, the United Kingdom has made many contributions to classic film. The Rule, Britannia Blogathon will run from Friday, September 22 2023 through Sunday, September 24 2023.

Without further ado, here are this year's entries:

By Rich Watson: "The Macabre Fairy Tale Behind the Movie The Red Shoes"

Realweedgiemidget Reviews "FILMS...Melody/SWALK (1971)"

Paula's Cinema Club: "Rule, Britannia: My Favorite Midsummer Murders' Film Actors"

Films From Beyond the Time Barrier: "Science Has Its Risks: Island of Terror" 

The Stop Button: A Matter of Life and Death (Michael Powell and Emeric Perssburger)

Liberal England: "Tunes of Glory (1960): What happens when a victorious regiment comes home?" 

Shadows and Satin: "Grab Your Umbrella: It Always Rains on Sunday (1947): The Rule, Britannia Blogathon"  

Make Mine Film Noir: "The Third Man" 

Moon in Gemini: "The Day of the Triffids" (1962) 

Whimsically Classic: "The Rule, Britannia Blogathon--Brief Encounter (1945)  

The Midnight Drive-In:
"League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" 

A Shroud of Thoughts: "Local Hero (1983)" 

Silver Screenings: "The Fine Art of Gaslighting" 

Taking Up Room: "Where's Miss Froy?" 

The Wonderful World of Cinema: "Groovy Michael Caine Travels to Turin: The Italian Job (Peter Collinson, 1968)"  

"Sports Analogies Hidden In Classic Movies – Volume 145: 2001: A Space Odyssey"  

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Estelita Rodriguez: "The Cuban Fireball"

Today Estelita Rodriguez may be best remembered her for supporting roles in Republic Pictures B-Westerns with Gene Autry and Roy Rogers, as well as her appearance in the classic Western Rio Bravo (1959). Even so, there was a time that Estelita Rodriguez appeared to be poised for stardom. While at Republic Pictures she starred in short series of musical comedies in which Republic attempted to duplicate the success of Mexican superstar Lupe Vélez. Indeed, many of Estelita's film comedies, starting with  Cuban Fireball (1951), were co-written by Charles E. Roberts, the screenwriter behind the Mexican Spitfire films, starring Lupe Vélez, at RKO.

Estelita Rodriguez was born on July 2 1928 in Guanajay, Cuba. She began singing and dancing when she was still very young, around nine years old. By 1940 she was performing with Tito Puente and the Anselmo Sacasas orchestra at the Chicago Colony Club. She was only 14 years old when she performed at the Copacabana in New York City. The young singer and dancer proved successful enough to be signed to a contract with MGM when she was only 15. She attended school at MGM in anticipation of making movies, but ultimately she did not make even one film at the studio. MGM abruptly dropped her and Estelita Rodriguez returned to New York City.

At some point, Estelita Rodriguez married Mexican singer Chu-Chu Martinez. Their daughter Nina was born in 1946. Even while married to Chu-Chu Rodriguez, she returned to acting. She signed with Republic Pictures and made her film debut in the Roy Rogers movie Along the Navajo Trail in 1945. For the next few years Estelita appeared in B Westerns at Republic Pictures. She was a regular in Roy Rogers movies, and also appeared in the Wild Bill Elliott film Old Los Angeles. During this period she still performed at night clubs, performing at the Havana-Mardid in New York City in March 1949.

Estelita Rodriguez received her first starring role with the comedy Belle of Old Mexico in 1950. The plot involved a World War II veteran who had promised one of his dying comrades during the war to go to Mexico and adopt his daughter. Believing the daughter to be a little girl, he finds out that she is a grown woman and a beautiful one at that. Of course, no one believes their relationship is platonic. Only twenty when she made Belle of Old Mexico, Estelita complained, "Everyone treats me like a kid. I am a mother."

Belle of Old Mexico
proved to be a hit at the box office, convincing Republic executives that Estelita Rodriguez could be turned into a star. Gossip columnist Erskine John wrote in his column in 1950 that "Estelita Rodriguez will get the Lupe Vélez treatment at Republic." He also noted that she was balking at doing an outright imitation of Miss Vélez. Republic Pictures' follow-up to Belle of Old Mexico showed how much Republic wanted to replicate the success of Lupe Vélez's films. As mentioned above, it was co-written by Charles E. Roberts, who had written all of the Mexican Spitfire films. The first film he co-wrote, Cuban Fireball (1951), could have easily been written for Lupe Vélez years earlier. Estelita Rodriguez played an employee at a cigar factory (named simply "Estelita") in Havana who discovers a long lost relative has left her $200,000. She then travels to Los Angles to collect her inheritance.

Cuban Fireball was followed by Havana Rose (1951), in which Estelita played Estelita DeMarco, the troublesome daughter of the ambassador from Lower Salamia. The Fabulous Senorita (1952) saw Estelita Rodriguez playing a character named, well, Estelita Rodriguez. In the film she plays the daughter of a Cuban businessman who tries helping her sister Manuela marry the man she wants. The film is notable for being one of the earliest starring roles for Rita Moreno, who played Estelita's sister. The final of the Republic Pictures comedies in which Estelita starred was Tropical Heat Wave (1952). Once more Estelita Rodriguez plays a character named Estelita, this time a nightclub singer who falls in love with a college professor studying criminal psychology. Republic apparently had so much faith in Estelita Rodriguez that eventually they started billing her simply by her first name, Estelita.

All the while Estelita Rodriguez was starring in musical comedies at Republic Pictures, she continued to appear in B-Westerns at the studio. She appeared in Twilight of the Sierras (1950), Sunset in the West (1950), In Old Amarillo (1951), and Pals of the Golden West (1951) with Roy Rogers, Twilight in the Sierras (1950) with Gene Autry, California Passage (1950) with Forrest Tucker, and South Pacific Trail (1952) with Rex Allen. She also appeared in the crime drama Federal Agent at Large (1950).

Following Tropical Heat Wave, Estelita parted ways with Republic Pictures to become a freelancer. She appeared in the movie Tropic Zone (1953) for Paramount Pictures. She returned to Republic Pictures for Sweethearts on Parade (1953). Estelita would not appear in films for many years following Sweethearts on Parade. She returned to performing at clubs. In September 1953 she performed at the Wolhurst Country Club in Colorado in September 1953. Later that month she performed at the Coconut Grove in Miami, Florida. In December 1953 she performed at the Empire Room of the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City.

According to the book West Side Story: The Jets, The Sharks, and the Making of a Classic, Estelita Rodriguez was considered for the part of Anita in the film version of West Side Story. She was ultimately judged as being "Fine, but too old." She would finally return to the big screen after six years in the classic Rio Bravo (1959). In the film she played Consuela Robante, the temperamental wife of hotel owner Carlos Robante (Pedro Gonzalez Gonzalez). The part was small, but one could not help but notice Estelita. Over the next few years Estelita would make guest appearances on television. The same year Rio Bravo was released, she guest starred in the One Step Beyond episode "The Inheritance." In 1960 she guest starred on the Father Knows Best episode "Cupid Knows Best," playing the object of the Anderson family gardener's affections. In the next few years she guest stared on Coronado 9, Laredo, and I Spy.

Estelita's final appearance in a feature film was in the B horror movie/Western Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter (1966), in which she had a somewhat sizeable role. The film was released posthumously, in April 1966. According to the book Lupe Vélez: The Life and Career of Hollywood's "Mexican Spitfire" by Michelle Vogel, in early March 1966 Estelita Rodriguez was cast as Lupe Vélez in a biopic about the legendary star and Estelita was enthusiastically preparing for the role. Unfortunately, on March 12 1966, Estelita Rodriguez was found dead at the age of 37 on the kitchen floor of her home near Hollywood and Van Nuys, California.  An autopsy was not performed and the cause of death remains unknown to this day.

Even though Estelita Rodriguez starred in her own feature films, today she is not particularly well-known and very little has been written about her. With regards to her career, Estelita had two things going against her. First, her career largely unfolded in B-movies, from the Westerns she made with Roy Rogers to the musical comedies in which she starred. For that reason, Estelita's movies would not receive the sort of promotion and distribution that a bigger studio than Republic Pictures, such as MGM or Warner Brothers, could provide. Even today many of her films are unavailable. While many of the Westerns she made at Republic Pictures are available on streaming, many of her musical comedies are not even available on DVD.

Second, from the start of her career Estelita Rodriguez was typecast in the stereotypical role of the hot-tempered, highly sexualized Latina. Indeed, this can even be seen in the title of her film Cuban Fireball. In the B-Westerns she made, Estelita generally played fiery Mexican women. An example of this can be found in In Old Amarillo (1951), in which she played Pepita, a fiery cantina singer and the extremely jealous girlfriend of one of the characters. The characters she played in her musical comedies differed primarily from those she played in Westerns only insofar as they were Cuban rather than Mexican. In most of them she played a recent immigrant from Cuba who was a singer or some other sort of entertainer, and who was  always highly sexualized and hot tempered. Cuban Fireball is a prime example of this. The stereotypical roles often required of Estelita may have been made all the worse by the fact that they were already becoming anachronistic. The late Forties and early Fifties saw Hollywood gradually moving towards more realistic portrayals of Latinos, with such movies as Border Incident (1949) and The Ring (1952). The stereotype of the fiery, sexualized Latina persists to some degree to this day, but by the Fifties it was already becoming dated.

While Estelita Rodriguez was stuck playing stereotypes for most of her career, there can be no doubt that she had real talent and could have been a huge star had she been born in a later era. Estelita was pretty, petite, and blessed with a wonderful singing voice. On screen she was vivacious and charismatic, and she also had a gift for comedy. That Estelita could have played much more than the hot tempered Latinas she was forced to play at Republic can be seen in some of her guest appearances on television, where she was allowed to play other sorts of roles. It is impossible to say what might have become of Estelita and her career had she lived, but I can't help but wonder if over time she wouldn't have gotten better roles and achieved more fame than she already had.

Sadly, Estelita's story is similar to that of many other Latina actresses during the Golden Age of Hollywood. Most of them were forced to play stereotypical roles and often their careers tended to be short. Some, like Lupe Vélez and Maria Montez, died young much as Estelita Rodriguez had. Hollywood during the Golden Age tended to be hard on actresses, and tended to be even harder on actresses who were also Latinas. With her looks and talent, I have to suspect Estelita would have been a bigger star if only had she born in a later, more progressive era.

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

The 50th Anniversary of Jim Croce's Death

Tonight is will have been fifty years since singer/songwriter Jim Croce died in a plane crash. On the night of Thursday, September 20 1973, the plane on which Jim Croce was a passenger crashed into a tree upon take-off from  Natchitoches Regional Airport in Natchitoches, Louisiana. The crash also killed pilot Robert N. Elliott, Mr. Croce's manager and booking agent Kenneth D. Cortese, pianist, guitarist, and Mr. Croce's accompanist Maury Muehleisen, his road manager Dennis Rast, and comedian George Stevens. Jim Croce left behind a legacy of songs that remain popular to this day.

Jim Croce was born in Pennsylvania and grew up in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, a small town near Philadelphia. He wouldn't develop a serious interest in music until he was attending Villanova University, where he was a member of the college singing group, The Villanova Singers. The group performed at various venues around Philadelphia, and even toured Africa, the Middle East, and Yugoslavia.

Jim Croce's debut album, Facets, was released in 1966. The album was self-financed, using $500 Jim and Ingrid Croce had received as a wedding gift from Jim Croce's parents on the condition that the music be used to finance an album. Jim Croce's parents had hoped the album would fail, so that he would give up on music and pursue a more stable career. As it turned out, all 500 copies of Facets sold out.

It was from the mid-Sixties to the early Seventies that Jim and Ingrid Croce performed as a duo. It was during this period that Jim Croce began writing his own songs. They proved successful enough to record an album for Capitol Records, Jim & Ingrid Croce. The album contained an early version of the song "Age," which Jim Croce would later re-record for his album I've Got a Name. It was not long afterwards that Jim and Ingrid Croce gave up on the music business. Jim Croce would work a number of jobs, from construction work to truck driving, as well as giving guitar lessons, to pay their bills.

Fortunately, after working various jobs, Jim Croce decided to return to music as a career. It was in 1970 that Jim Croce met  Maury Muehleisen. The two began performing together, with Jim Croce accompanying  Maury Muehleisen. Over time Maury Muehleisen began backing Jim Croce, as Mr. Croce took the lead. It was after they learned that Ingrid Croce was pregnant that Jim Croce sent a tape of their music to a producer he knew in New York City. It was then in 1972 that Jim Croce signed a contract for three albums with ABC Records.

Jim Croce's first album, You Don't Mess Around with Jim, was released in April 1972. It produced two hit singles in 1972, "You Don't Mess Around with Jim" and "Operator (That's Not the Way It Feels)." A song from the album, "Time in a Bottle," would later prove to be one of Jim Croce's biggest hits. You Don't Mess Around with Jim was followed by Jim Croce's second album with ABC Records, Life and Times. If anything, Life and Times proved even more successful than You Don't Mess Around with Jim. It went to no. 7 on the Billboard album chart. It produced the hit single, "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown," which became Mr. Croce's first no. 1 single.

Sadly, Jim Croce's death while on tour occurred the day before the release of his single, "I Got a Name." The single proved to be a hit, reaching the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100. The album I Got a Name was released in December 1973, and went to no. 2 on the Billboard album chart. In addition to the title song, it also produced the hits "I'll Have to Say I Love You in a Song" and "Workin' at the Car Wash Blues."

As well as "I Got a Name," "I'll Have to Say I Love You in a Song," and "Workin' at the Car Wash Blues" performed on the charts, it would be an older song that would prove to be his biggest hit following his death and possibly his best remembered song. As mentioned above, "Time in a Bottle" appeared on his 1972 album You Don't Mess Around with Jim. Even though it had not been released as a single, "Time in a Bottle" received airplay from the beginning. The song was used in the closing credits of the television movie She Lives!, which aired on ABC on September 12 1973. This only increased demand for the song even more. Jim Croce's death gave "Time in a Bottle" even more poignancy than it had before, and as a result it was played even more frequently after he had died. It was then in November 1973 that "Time in a Bottle" was released as a single. The song reached no. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in January 1973.

Since Jim Croce's death, several compilation albums have been released, including material that had not been released before. Three live albums have also been released posthumously. A collection of Jim Croce's live appearances was released on DVD in 2003, Have You Heard: Jim Croce Live.

If Jim Croce remains popular fifty years after his death, it is because of his sheer talent as a singer and a songwriter. Jim Croce was essentially a storyteller, who told his stories through song. This is certainly true of many of his biggest hits. "You Don't Mess Around with Jim" centred around a pool hustler, Big Jim Walker, who gets his comeuppance from a rival pool player, Willie "Slim" McCoy. "Operator (That's Not the Way It Feels)" was a conversation with a telephone operator, of which we only hear the side of the caller, who is a man seeking the phone number of a lost love. "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" focuses on the character of the title, a tough guy from the East Side of Chicago who makes the mistake of messing with the wife of a jealous husband. Jim Croce was able to tell stories, sometimes humorous, sometimes poignant, in the format of a three to format song that would stick with people for a long time.

Of course, another thing that made Jim Croce's songs great, whether they told stories or not, is that he understood the human condition perfectly and could translate that into song. This can particularly be seen in his love songs, such as "I'll Have to Say I Love You in a Song" and "Time in a Bottle." Jim Croce's songs were made even more touching by the fact that he had a powerful voice, capable of emoting whatever feeling the song called for.

Like many, I have to say that Jim Croce has had an enormous impact on my life. I was not very old when he died, but I remember the day well. I had heard his songs on the radio, and I have to say that I was a fan even then. "Time in a Bottle" remains one of my all time favourite songs, even though since 2018 I cannot listen to it without breaking down crying. I am certainly not alone. Jim Croce still maintains a legion of fans, some of who weren't even born when he died. There can be no doubt that Jim Croce will still have a legion of fans fifty years from now.

Monday, September 18, 2023

The Patty Duke Show Turns 60

Patty Duke as Patty and Cathy Lane
If ever there was a Golden Age for sitcoms with strange premises, it was the 1960s. Among those sitcoms with strange premises was The Patty Duke Show. The Patty Duke Show starred Patty Duke as teenage, identical cousins (yes, you read that right). Patty Lane was a typical, American teenager, exuberant and talkative, who lived in Brooklyn Heights in New York City. Her identical cousin, Cathy Lane came from Scotland to live with the Lanes. As opposed to Patty, Cathy was intelligent, cultured, and reserved. Their identical appearance were explained by the fact that Patty's father Martin (William Schallert) and Cathy's father Kenneth (also played by William Schallert) were identical twins.

Patty Duke had begun her acting career when she was still very young. When she was only eight years old she was signed to talent managers John and Ethel Ross, who had managed her brother. While the Rosses would turn Patty Duke into a star, her time with them was not entirely pleasant. Ultimately, they were both exploitative and abusive. They dictated her whole career. Born Anna Marie Duke, John and Ethel Ross changed her name to "Patty Duke." They plied her with both alcohol and prescription drugs. They even pocketed $1 million of her earnings for themselves. Patty Duke would only see her mother when she came to do the Rosses' laundry.

While John and Ethel Ross's management left much to be desired, Patty Duke had real talent even when she was very young. After appearances in movies and on television, Patty Duke was cast as Helen Keller in the Broadway play The Miracle Worker. She won a Theatre World Award for her role in the play in 1960. The Miracle Worker would be adapted as the 1962 movie The Miracle Worker, for which Patty Duke won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. 

It was even before Patty Duke had won the Oscar that she was signed to Peter Lawford's production company Chrislaw Productions with the intent of starring her in her own series. A deal was made with the American Broadcasting Company (ABC), who bought The Patty Duke Show on the basis of Patty Duke's name alone. ABC even scheduled the show on Wednesday night at 8:00 PM Eastern without having a premise for the show in place. To create the show, ABC turned to Sidney Sheldon, who had written or co-written the screenplays for such films as The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (1947), Easter Parade (1948), and Annie Get Your Gun (1950).

When Sidney Sheldon's agent Sam Weisbord contacted him about The Patty Duke Show, his initial response was turn the show down because he did not work in television. Sam Weisbord then asked Sidney Sheldon to have lunch with Patty Duke simply out of courtesy, to which Mr. Sheldon consented. During their lunch Sidney Sheldon and Patty Duke hit it off, and he asked her if she would like to have dinner with him, his wife Jorja, and his daughter that night. That night Sidney Sheldon's wife Jorja was as taken with Patty Duke as he was, and the three of them had a pleasant evening. It was while Sidney Sheldon and his wife were having a conversation that they realized Patty Duke had left the table. They found her in their kitchen doing dishes. It was then that Sidney Sheldon decided he would develop The Patty Duke Show. In her autobiography Call Me Anna: The Autobiography of Patty Duke, Patty Duke (who would later be diagnosed with bipolar disorder), theorized that Sidney Sheldon "...felt I was schizoid and that's how he came up with the concept. There was the perky me and the corporate executive me and rarely the twain shall meet." What Patty Duke might not have known at the time is that Sidney Sheldon had also struggled with bipolar disorder for years.

The pilot for The Patty Duke Show was filmed on January 1 1963 at MGM Studios in Culver City. The pilot would differ somewhat from the television series. Rather than being set in Brooklyn Heights, it was set in San Francisco. Mark Miller played Martin Lane. Mark Miller objected to the plan to eventually move filming of The Patty Duke Show from New York City to California, so for the series he was replaced by William Schallert, who had earlier played Mr. Pomfritt on Dobie Gillis. Patty's younger brother Ross was played by Charles Herbert in the pilot. In the series he was replaced by Paul O'Keefe.

The rest of the cast from the pilot would remain on the television series. Jean Byron played Patty's mother Natalie Lane. Like William Schallert, she was a veteran of Dobie Gillis, having played Mrs. Adams and later Dr. Burkhart on that show. Eddie Applegate played Patty's boyfriend Richard Harrison. In addition to the regular cast, throughout its run The Patty Duke Show featured a number of recurring characters. In the first two seasons Kitty Sullivan played Patty's friend and occasional rival Sue Ellen Turner. In the first season John McGiver played Martin's boss at the newspaper. Donald Doyle appeared as Patty's boyfriend Richard's father, Jonathan Harrison, in the show's first two seasons.

Of course, as Patty Duke played both Patty and Cathy, it took visual effects to show the two cousins together. This was accomplished using a split-screen effect, and less often a travelling matte effect. Those times when one of the cousins was not facing the camera, a double for Miss Duke would be used. In the third season an uncredited young actress Rita McLaughlin served as Patty Duke's double. Rita McLaughlin had earlier appeared on Watch Mr. Wizard and was later a regular on the soap operas The Secret Storm and As the World Turns.

Throughout its run The Patty Duke Show featured some well-known guest stars. Some famous stars played themselves in episodes. Peter Lawford, whose company Chrislaw Productions was among those responsible for the  show, played himself in one episode. Both Frankie Avalon and Sammy Davis Jr. played themselves in episodes. Troy Donahue, Margaret Hamilton, and Frank Sinatra Jr. all guest starred on the show. Pop duo Chad & Jeremy guest starred as an undiscovered pop act, Nigel & Patrick.

The Patty Duke Show debuted on September 18 1963. For the most part reviews for the show were modest. Associated Press television and radio writer Cynthia Lowry wrote, "The new Patty Duke Show, also on ABC, may not win that able young actress any new performing awards, but as a comedy about a modern teenager, it may amuse teenagers--and maybe even teenagers' parents." Columnist Harriet Van Horne thought, "The Patty Duke Show is a charming half hour for teenagers (ABC)...," but added, "Trouble with the show is that little Miss Duke plays a dual role. And her alter ego, a visiting cousin from Graustark, should be put on the next boat home." Rick Du Brow, writing for United Press International, was even less impressed with the show. He wrote that Patty Duke " a beautiful young lady, but she will have to be a miracle worker to do anything with this stupid concept and overall inane offering."

While The Patty Duke Show may not have impressed many critics, it did prove to be a success with viewers. In its first season it ranked no. 18 for the year in the Nielsen ratings. This was particularly impressive given its competition on Wednesday night was the hit Western The Virginian on NBC, which ranked no. 17 for the year in the ratings. The Patty Duke Show continued to do well in its second season, ranking no.28 for the year.

The Patty Duke Show was filmed at Chelsea Studios in New York City for its first two seasons. For one thing, Patty Duke already lived in New York City. For another, Patty Duke was only 16 when the show began, which meant she would have fallen under California's Coogan Act which restricts how many hours child actors can work. Patty Duke turned 18 a little less than halfway through the show's second season. While Patty Duke initially opposed the idea, ABC wanted to move filming of the show to Los Angeles for its third season. This meant a change in the show's sets. And even though The Patty Duke Show was still set in Brooklyn Heights, it also meant new exterior shots. The Lane's house now looked as if it was in a Los Angeles suburb instead of a house in Brooklyn Heights.

It was also following her 18th birthday that Patty Duke fired John and Ethel Ross as her managers. John Ross would remain as an associate producer on the show until it ended its run in 1966. Patty Duke has said that none of the other cast and crew were ever aware that the Rosses had abused her.

Ratings for The Patty Duke Show dropped again in its third season, so that it no longer ranked in the top thirty of the Nielsen ratings for the year. The Patty Duke Show still did well enough that it could have been renewed. Unfortunately, a disagreement emerged between ABC and United Artists Television. For the 1966-1967 season ABC wanted every one of its television shows to be shot in colour. United Artists Television, perhaps because of the special effects it took to show Patty and Cathy together, insisted it would be too expensive to shoot the show in colour. The Patty Duke Show then ended its original run.

The Patty Duke Show would go onto success as a syndicated rerun, airing on local stations throughout the Seventies and into the Eighties. It later aired for several years on Nick at Nite. Still later it would air on such outlets as TV Land, This TV, Antenna TV, MeTV, and Circle. Shout! Factory released the entire run of the show on DVD.  It is currently available on streaming on both Pluto and YouTube.

Like many shows in the 1990s, there would be a reunion television movie for The Patty Duke Show. In The Patty Duke Show: Still Rockin' In Brooklyn Heights, Patty and Richard married, had a son, and then divorced after 27 years of marriage. Patty currently worked as a drama teacher at Brooklyn Heights High School. Cathy had returned to Scotland, where she married and was later widowed. She had a son as well. Martin had retired, and he and Natalie had moved to Florida. The plot centred around a Lane family reunion and the Lanes trying to save the high school from being demolished to make way for a shopping centre. The Patty Duke Show: Still Rockin' In Brooklyn Heights aired on April 27 1999 on CBS. Meant as a pilot for a new series, the new show never emerged.

In 2009 Patty Duke appeared as Patty and Cathy Lane in a public service announcement for the Social Security Administration. In the announcement, Patty sought help from Cathy about accessing her Social Security benefits and son. The oldest Baby Boomers were approaching retirement age at the time, and so it made sense for the Social Security Administration to appeal to them through a show from their youth. In 2010 another PSA for the Social Security Administration was produced. In that PSA, not only did Patty Duke reprise her role as Patty and Cathy, but William Schallert appeared as Martin, Paul O'Keefe appeared as Ross, and Eddie Applegate appeared as Richard. In the PSA, Patty and Richard appeared to be married.

For most of its run The Patty Duke Show was a somewhat predictable sitcom, even given its unusual premise. What made it remarkable was its cast. Patty Duke did very well playing both Patty and Cathy, and it was not difficult telling the identical cousins apart through their speech patterns and body language alone. William Schallert and Jean Byron were impressive as Patty's parents Martin and Natalie. Indeed, William Schallert not only played Martin, but Martins' twin brother Kenneth, and Martin and Kenneth's Uncle Jed as well. While the average episode of The Patty Duke Show may not have held any surprises for viewers, over all the show was quite funny. Today The Patty Duke Show still holds up very well, so that audiences will still be watching it for years to come.

Sunday, September 17, 2023

The 60th Anniversary of The Fugitive

It was sixty years ago that the running began. On September 17 1963 the classic show The Fugitive debuted on ABC. The show starred David Janssen as Dr. Richard Kimble, who had been wrongfully convicted of his wife's murder. While he was being shipped to death row, the train carrying him derailed and he managed to escape. Dr. Kimble then went on the run, all the while searching for the one-armed man who had really killed his wife. Pursuing him was Stafford Police Lt. Phillip Gerard, an officer dedicated to the enforcement of the law.

The Fugitive was created by Roy Huggins, who had earlier created such classic shows as Cheyenne, Maverick, and 77 Sunset Strip while at Warner Bros. In 1960 he left Warner Bros. to become vice president in charge of television production at 20th Century Fox. It was while he was still at Warner Bros. that he began thinking about how to adapt a Western such as Cheyenne and Maverick to modern times. Both of those show dealt with heroes (Cheyenne Bodie and various members of the Maverick family) who wandered the Old West. According to Roy Huggins in an interview with The Los Angeles Times, "I wanted to have a hero who behaved like a Western hero--who was totally free, had no permanent residence or commitments, no responsibilities." It was then that he came up with the idea of a hero who is wrongfully convicted of a crime and must then go on the run, wandering the United States much like Cheyenne and the Mavericks.

Much of the inspiration for The Fugitive came from Victor Hugo's novel Les Misérables, in which the novel's hero Jean Valjean must go on the run. Like Jean Valjean before him, Dr. David Kimble also assumed numerous aliases and help people he met along the way. Producer Quinn Martin would bring The Fugitive even closer to Les Misérables. Roy Huggins had merely wanted to create a show in which, in his words from the aforementioned interview with The Los Angeles Times, the hero "...was in trouble the moment he got up from bed every day." It was Quinn Martin who turned The Fugitive into a show on which a good part of it was centred on a chase, as Lt. Gerard pursued Dr. Kimble. Just as Lt. Gerard pursued Richard Kimble on The Fugitive, so too did police inspector Javert pursue Jean Valjean in Les Misérables.

Over the years it it has often been thought that The Fugitive was based in part on the real-life case of Dr. Sam Sheppard. Dr. Sheppard had been convicted of bludgeoning his wife to death in 1954. Dr. Sheppard not only denied the crime, but claimed that he had chased a "bushy haired man" from the house. Two witnesses also said that had seen a bushy haired man near the Sheppards' house that day. Initially found guilty of the crime, Dr. Sheppard was found not guilty by a jury in a retrial in 1966. A 1997 DNA test as part of a lawsuit brought by his son in an effort to absolve his father of the murder. The DNA test proved Dr. Sheppard had not murdered his wife. While the similarities between the Sam Sheppard case and The Fugitive seem considerable. Roy Huggins also denied that it played in any role in the inspiration for The Fugitive.

While Roy Huggins thought the had a great idea in The Fugitive, he initially had trouble interesting anyone in the concept. He showed it to fellow writer Howard Browne, with whom he had worked on such shows as Cheyenne and Maverick. Much to Roy Huggins's surprise, Howard Browne thought it was a terrible idea for a show. Undeterred, Roy Huggins showed it to his agent. He showed it to his agent, who had nearly the same reaction that Howard Browne had.  After he had taken the position at 20th Century Fox, Peter Levathes, then in charge of 20th CEntury Fox's television division, asked Roy Huggins for any ideas he had for television shows. He told him his idea for The Fugitive. In the biography Roy Huggins: Maverick, 77 Sunset Strip, and and The Rockford Files by Paul Green, Roy Huggins said, "When I finished he sat in stricken silence, staring at me as if I had just turned rancid before his very eyes."

It was while Roy Huggins was still at 20th Century Fox that he received a call from Burt Nodella, who was the executive in charge of development at the American Broadcasting Company (ABC). The two had become friends when Roy Huggins was still at Warner Bros., whose shows were aired by the network. Burt Nodella asked Roy Huggins to pitch some idea for TV shows for ABC. He then found himself in a Beverly Hills Hotel suite pitching the idea for The Fugitive to eight ABC executives. The ABC executive sat in silence after Roy Huggins finished his presentation, then let him know that they thought it was a bad idea. Fortunately, Leonard Goldensen, the head of ABC, was also present at the meeting. The various executives turned to him to see what he had to say. Mr. Goldensen loved the idea, stating "You know, Roy, that is the best f***ing idea I have hard for a television series in my life. When do you want to go to work."

At the time Roy Huggins could not produce The Fugitive as he was in graduate school, but he was willing to license the show to ABC and have someone else produce it. ABC had a contract with Quinn Martin, who had produced the network's hit series The Untouchables. As to Roy Huggins, he would receive credit as the show's creator and as a result royalties, and a percentage of the profits, and he would retain the book rights, stage rights, and film rights.

Cast in the role of Dr. Richard Kimble was David Janssen, who had earlier starred on the show Richard Diamond, Private Detective. Barry Morse was cast as Lt. Gerard. He had previously appeared in various film roles and made guest appearance on television, as well as starring on the CBC show Presenting Barry Morse. The One-Armed Man, later identified as Fred Johnson in the show's series finale, was played by Bill Raisch. The One-Armed Man was actually seen very rarely on the show and ultimately only appeared in ten episodes. William Conrad served as the show's narrator, explaining at the start of each episode how Richard Kimble was wrongfully convicted and how he escaped from a derailed train taking him to death row.

Beyond Dr. Kimble, Lt. Gerard and the One-Armed Man, there were only a few recurring characters. Jacqueline Scott appeared as Richard Kimble's sister, Donna Taft, in four episodes. Her husband, Leonard Taft, appeared in three episodes, played by a different actor each time. Lt. Gerard's superior at the Stafford, Indiana Police Department Captain Carpenter (Paul Birch), appeared in 13 episodes. Richard Kimble's late wife, Helen, appeared in flashbacks in three episodes, played by Diane Brewster in all but the episode "Ballad for a Ghost," where she was played by Janis Paige. Lt Gerard's wife, Marie, also appeared in three episodes, played by a different actress each time.

With Richard Kimble never staying put and travelling place to place, The Fugitive quite naturally featured several big name guest stars. In the episode ""Never Stop Running," Claude Akins played kidnapper Ralph Simmons. In "The One That Got Away," Charles Bronson played a police officer. In that same episode, Anne Francis appeared as Felice Greer, the wife of a man who had stolen $250,000 years ago. In "Death is the Door Prize,' Ossie Davis played Johnny Gaines, a retired police officer accused of murder. In "The Homecoming," Gloria Grahame and Shirley Knight played a stepmother and stepdaughter who are fighting. Several actors made multiple appearances on The Fugitive, playing different characters each time. Among them were Richard Anderson, Ed Asner, Ed Begley, Harold Gould, Dabbs Greer, Pat Hingle, Ted Knight, Suzanne Pleshette, Barbara Rush, and yet others.

Despite the many naysayers Roy Huggins encountered in trying to get The Fugitive on the air, it proved to be a hit. In its first season it ranked no. 28 in the Nielsen ratings for the year, extremely high for then struggling ABC. In its second season it did even better, ranking no. 5 for the year. It still ranked a respectable no. 34 for its third season. Ratings for The Fugitive dropped in its fourth season, although no. 50 for the year was still quite good for a show in the 1966-1967 season. The Fugitive also received positive reviews. It won the Emmy Award for Best Dramatic Series in 1966. It as also nominated for five other Emmy Awards.

By the fourth season of The Fugitive, David Jansen had grown weary of the show's demanding shooting schedule and also wanted a movie career. It was then that ABC announced in the winter of 1967 that the fourth season would the last season of The Fugitive. While The Fugitive remains famous for its series finale, the time as series finale was not a foregone conclusion. Many of the executives at ABC thought viewers had no interest in seeing Richard Kimble's story come to an end. Leonard Goldberg, then vice president of programming at ABC, argues that the show's fans were indeed emotionally invested in Richard Kimble's plight. They would want to know how his situation was resolved. Of major concern was how a definitive conclusion to the show might affect its chances in syndication.

Ultimately, producer Quinn Martin agreed with Leonard Goldberg that the show deserved a proper series finale. It was then that the two part episode, "The Judgement" was written by George Eckstein and Michael Zagor. To maximize it ratings, ABC aired "The Judgement" during the last two weeks of August. It was in "The Judgement" that the One-Armed Man is finally apprehended and Lt. Gerard at last realizes that Richard Kimble was innocent all along. While "The Judgement: Part I" did well in the rating, "The Judgement: Part II" did phenomenally well in the Neilsens. It was viewed by 72% of the television viewing audience, an estimated audience of 78 million people. It even broke the record previously held by the first appearance of The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Shows. Here it must stressed that The Fugitive was not the first American show to have a series finale. The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp had a series finale that took place over the course of several episodes. Both Route 66 and Leave It to Beaver had series finales before The Fugitive.

Concerns that the series finale would have an adverse effect on the show in syndication proved to unwarranted. It had a successful run as a syndicated rerun on local television stations. Later it aired on A&E, TV Land, and Decades. The 1993 movie The Fugitive, starring Harrison Ford, drew inspiration from the show. In 2000 a remake of the show, also titled The Fugitive, had a short run on CBS. In 2020 there was another new show titled The Fugitive, although when an entirely new character on the run. It ran on the short-lived streaming platform Quibi.

Sixty years after its debut, The Fugitive remains one of the most famous and most successful shows of all time. Much of it had to has to be due to the basic premise of the show, one in which a wrongly convicted man must go on the run to prove his innocent. It is a premise that is automatically filled with suspense. In many ways The Fugitive  was also a very sophisticated show. On any other show Lt. Gerard may have been presented as a base villain. On The Fugitive he was presented as a good man whose duty was simply to enforce the laws. Throughout its various episodes The Fugitive featured complex characters among the many people Richard Kimble helped. The Fugitive was not simply an action-adventure show, nor was it simply a drama. It truly transcended genres. It is perhaps because of this that The Fugitive remains popular to this day.

Friday, September 15, 2023

The Short, But Spectacular Career of Freddie Prinze

Freddie Prinze remains best remembered for the classic sitcom Chico and the Man. It seems likely that he would be remembered much more had his life been longer. He was extraordinarily talented, and one can only guess at what he may have achieved beyond his hit show.

Freddie Prinze was born Frederick Karl Pruetzel on June 22 1954 in New York City. His father was a German immigrant who had migrated to the United States in 1934. His mother was Puerto Rican. As a child he had difficulty gaining and retaining weight, so his mother enrolled him in ballet classes. He attended  the High School of Performing Arts where he continued to study ballet and take drama classes. It was while he was attending the High School of Performing Arts that he discovered his talent for stand-up comedy. He dropped out of school in his senior year to become a stand-up comedian.

Freddie Prinze worked at various comedy clubs around New York City, among them Catch a Rising Star and The Improv. It was during this period that he adopted "Freddie Prinze" as his stage name. It was in December 1973 that his star really began to rise, with appearances on The Tonight Starring Johnny Carson, Jack Paar Tonite, and The Merv Griffin Show. In June 1974 he appeared on The Midnight Special.

It was in 1974 that he was cast as Chico Rodriguez on the situation comedy Chico and the Man. The show starred Freddie Prinze as Chico, a young Mexican who went to work for elderly garage owner Ed Brown (Jack Albertson), referred to by Chico as "the Man." Ed Brown's garage was located in a Chicano neighbourhood in East Los Angeles, making it the very first show in the United States to set in a Mexican American community. Following the top-rated Sanford and Son on Friday night, Chico and the Man proved to be a hit, ranking no. 3 in the Nielsen ratings during its first season. The show continued to do well in its second and third seasons as well.

While Freddie Prinze was appearing on Chico and the Man, he continued to appear on variety shows on talk shows as well. He appeared on such shows and television specials as Tonight Starring Johnny Carson, The Mike Douglas Show, The Dean Martin Comedy World, The Flip Wilson Special, The Smothers Brothers Show, Cher, American Bandstand, Sammy and Company, The Rich Little Show, Dinah!, Tony Orlando and Dawn, Van Dyke and Company, and various Dean Martin Roasts. He also appeared on the game shows The $25,000 Pyramid and The Hollywood Squares. In 1976 he appeared in the TV movie The Million Dollar Rip-Off, playing an electronics expert named Muff Kovak who masterminds a transit heist. It was also at this time that his comedy album, Looking Good, was released.

Sadly, Freddie Prinze had coped with depression his entire life. His depression would intensify after his wife filed for divorce. On January 29 1977 he talked on the phone with his wife. His manager, Marvin "Dusty" Snyder, visited him later and it was during that visit that Mr. Prinze pointed a gun to his own head and shot himself. At the time Freddie Prinze's death was ruled a suicide, although in a lawsuit against the Crown Life Insurance Company by his mother, wife, and son, his death was ruled as being accidental and medication induced. There was later  $1 million settlement out of court against his psychiatrist and doctor to end a malpractice suit alleging that they allowed Freddie Prinze to buy a gun and overprescribed him the sedative Quaalude.

Freddie Prinze was in many ways a pioneer in American television. While today we might debate a Puerto Rican playing a Mexican on a sitcom, at the time Chico and the Man was the only regularly scheduled show on which Latinos appeared and possibly the first since the cancellation of the classic Western The High Chaparral in 1971. What is more, he was great as the character. NBC appreciated him enough that they signed him to a five year contract at $6 million. Had Freddie Prinze not died so young, it seems fairly certain that his career may have well reached even greater heights.

Thursday, September 14, 2023

"Back to Black" by Amy Winehouse

Today Amy Winehouse would have turned 40. Sadly, she died on July 23 2011 at the age of 27. She was an extremely talented singer and songwriter whose music drew from the girl groups of the Sixties, rhythm and blues, soul, and jazz. Her biggest hit in the United States was "Rehab," but my favourite Amy Winehouse song has always been "Back to Black," from the album of the same name. While it remains one of Amy Winehouse's best known tracks, it did not even reach the Billboard Hot 100.

The lyrics drew upon Amy Wineehouse's failed relationship with Blake Fielder-Civil. He had left her for an ex-girlfriend. Musically, "Back to Black" drew upon the sound of the girl groups of the Sixties, particularly The Shangri-Las." As far as I am concerned, it remains one of her most powerful songs.

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

NBC Follies: A Long Forgotten Variety Show

The Seventies were not a good time for variety shows. While several aired during the decade, hits were few and far between. Many aired only for a matter of months, and, in some cases, weeks. One of the variety shows in the Seventies that did not last long was NBC Follies, which debuted fifty years ago today.

NBC Follies originated with John Hamlin, then NBC's vice president of nighttime programming. Although often described as drawing inspiration from vaudeville, it would be more accurate to say that it was inspired by such Broadway revues as George White's Scandals, Earl Carroll's Vanities, and, the most famous of them all, the Ziegfeld Follies. The show even included a bevy of showgirls who would perform throughout the show. Indeed, it was from Ziegfeld Follies that NBC Follies took its name. Sammy Davis Jr. is also often described as the show's regular host and Mickey Rooney as a part-time host, but it would be more accurate to describe them as the stars of Ziegfeld Follies. Neither of them introduced acts or sketches, but they did sing and perform in sketches.

NBC Follies first aired as a television special on February 8 1973. In addition to Sammy Davis Jr. and Mickey Rooney, that special also featured John Davidson, Andy Griffith, and Connie Stevens. That special proved successful enough that NBC added NBC Follies to its fall schedule. Like the initial special,  the regular run of  NBC Follies  would feature some fairly big name guests. In addition to Sammy Davis Jr. and Mickey Rooney, the first episode featured Diahann Carroll, Jerry Lewis, and the Smothers Brothers. Further episodes featured such stars as Michael Landon, Milton Berle, Jack Cassidy, Don Addams, Richard Crenna, Ernest Borgnine, and Peter Lawford. The announcer on the show was Johnny Olson, the long-time announcer of such shows as To Tell the Truth, What's My Line?, Match Game, and The Price is Right.

Not only were the guests on the show at the top of their professions, but so too were the writers. Howard Albrecht had written for The Jonathan Winters Show and The Bobby Darin Show. George Foster had written for The Perry Como Show, The Bing Crosby Show, and The Garry Moore Show. Among Jack Raymond's credits were Mister Peepers, Petticoat Junction, and The Andy Griffith Show. Sol Weinstein wrote for The Jerry Lester Show and The Bobby Darin Show. The show's musical director and composer of its theme, "It's Follies Time," was also of note. Harper MacKay had composed the scores for such movies as Alice Through the Looking Glass (1966) and Cry Uncle (1971). On television he had serves as the music director or music supervisor on such TV specials as The Julie Andrews Show and Portrait of Petula.

The initial reviews for NBC Follies were positive enough. Variety appreciated that the show had a good pace and praised Sammy Davis Jr. and Mickey Rooney, although the publication expressed doubts that the show could succeed on a weekly basis. The New York Times referred to NBC Follies as "pleasantly and attractively entertaining." That having been said, The New York Times had changed its tune by November 18 1973. In the article "A TV Season That Died," the paper referred to NBC Follies as "...the worst variety program to ever have aborted in prime time."

With largely positive reviews in the beginning, it must have seemed to NBC that NBC Follies was poised for success. After all, each week featured big name stars and it aired on Thursday night at 10:00, following Ironside. It was the time slot formerly occupied by the hit Dean Martin Show, which had moved to Friday night. Unfortunately, the time slot would prove to be less than ideal. It aired opposite The CBS Thursday Night Movie on CBS. In the 1973-1974 season The CBS Thursday Night Movie regularly aired recent hit movies, including Bonnie and Clyde (1967), The Wild Bunch (1969), Bullitt (1968), and The Graduate (1967). The competition on ABC was also stiff. Then in its second season, the crime drama The Streets of San Francisco would rank no. 22 in the Nielsen ratings for the 1973-1974 season.

Between The CBS Thursday Night Movie on CBS and Streets of San Francisco on ABC, NBC Follies found itself trounced in the ratings. In November NBC tried to give the show a boost by changing its title to Sammy Davis Jr. Starring in NBC Follies, to no avail. NBC Follies continued to do badly in the ratings and NBC ultimately cancelled the show. The last episode aired on December 27 1973. NBC Follies didn't even survive into 1974.

Today NBC Follies is largely forgotten except by television historians and fans of Sammy Davis Jr. and Mickey Rooney. The initial special is available on YouTube, but only in black and white, and the debut episode is available on YouTube as well, but other than that it is not available on streaming. Given it only lasted 13 episodes, it is doubtful it ever will appear on any streaming platforms. Regardless, NBC Follies is worth remembering, if only as one of the many novelties to air on network television in the Seventies and the only real attempt to bring a revue similar to Ziegfeld Follies to television.