Saturday, June 1, 2024

Turner Classic Movies Observes the 80th Anniversary of D-Day

The Longest Day
On June 6 2024 Turner Classic Movies will observe the 80th anniversary of D-Day with twelve movies related to the day. It was on June 6 1944 that Allied forces landed on the beaches of Normandy, France as part of a coordinated attack against Nazi Germany. What was the largest invasion by sea of all time would ultimately result in the defeat of Nazi Germany on May 8 1945 (known as Victory in Europe or VE Day).

The movies TCM is showing for the 80th anniversary of D-Day range from the documentaries George Stevens: A Filmmaker’s Journey (1984) and George Stevens: D-Day to Berlin (1994) to the epic The Longest Day (1962). There are fairly straight-forward war movies, such as Saving Private Ryan (1998), the dark comedy The Americanization of Emily (1964) and thrillers such as I See a Dark Stranger (1946). Over the years movies related to D-Day have been made in several different genres.

Below is the schedule of the movies TCM is showing for the 80th anniversary of D-Day. All times are Central.

Thursday, June 6 2024:

5:15 AM Code Name: Emerrald (1985)
7:00 AM The Americanization of Emily (1964)
9:00 AM George Stevens: A Filmmaker's Journey (1984)
11:00 AM 36 Hours (1964)
1:00 PM Red Ball Express (1952)
2:30 PM D-Day the Sixth of June (1956)
4:30 PM George Stevens: D-Day to Berlin (1994)
5:30 PM Overlord (1975)
7:00 PM Saving Private Ryan (1998)
10:00 PM The Longest Day (1962)

Friday, June 7 2024:

1:15 AM Eye of the Needle (1981)
3:15 AM I See a Dark Stranger (1946)

Friday, May 31, 2024

Why Streaming Services Should Group Movies By Decades

Nearly every streaming service groups TV shows and movies by genre. Paramount+ even has what they call Collections, which group movies and TV shows belonging to a specific franchise (for example, Star Trek) or which share a common theme (for example, "Leading Ladies"). Unfortunately, I can't think of a single streaming service that sorts TV shows and moves by decades, not even the Watch TCM app. Nearly all of them have "Classics" among their genres, but "Classics" often include everything from silent movies from the Twenties to comedies from the Naughts. At any rate, I think streaming services should sort TV shows and movies by decade.

The reason this is important to me is that there are times when I don't know what I want to watch outside of that I want to watch something from a particularly decade. Indeed, it is no secret that I love comedies from the Sixties and more often than not I will look for them on streaming services. The problem is that they are sometimes hard to find. A perfect example of this is Tubi. I have watched a ton of Sixties comedies on Tubi, and yet Sixties comedies are almost never recommended to me. I often find myself having to trudge through "Comedies" or "Classics" to find them. If Tubi sorted TV shows or movies by decade, it would make things much easier. I could simply click on "1960s" and I would be ready to go.

I have to think that I am not the only person who would like to be able to browse TV shows and movies on streaming services by decade. I know my classic movie friends would certainly like to. There are those who prefer Pre-Code movies. There are those who prefer movies made in the Forties. It would be easier for them if they could simply view movies from these decades all together. I doubt any streaming services will implement anything like this soon, but it would make me very happy if they did.

Thursday, May 30, 2024

Elizabeth MacRae Passes On

Elizabeth MacRae, perhaps best known for playing Gomer Pyle's girlfriend Lou-Ann Povie on Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., died on May 27 2024 at the age of 88. She also made frequent guest appearances on television in the Sixties and Seventies.

Elizabeth MacRae was born on February 22 1936 in Columbia, South Carolina. She grew up in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Growing up she was fascinated by movies and movie stars such as Rita Hayworth and Elizabeth Taylor. She attended the college-prep school Holton-Arms in Washington, DC. After graduating from the school, she went to Atlanta, Georgia to audition for the title role in Saint Joan (1957). She did not get the part, but she received encouragement from director Otto Preminger. Miss MacRae then moved to New York City where she studied under  Uta Hagen at the Herbert Berghof Studio. During this time she appeared in off-Broadway and summer stock productions. She also studied drawing and painting at the Art Students League in Manhattan.

Elizabeth MacRae made her television debut in an episode of TV show The Verdict is Yours.In the late Fifties she guest starred on the shows Rendezvous and Naked City. In 1961 ahe made her film debut in Love in a Goldfish Bowl. During the Sixties she appeared in the films Everything's Ducky (1961), The Wild Westerners (1961), Wild is My Love (1963), and For Love or Money (1963). She was the voice of Ladyfish in the movie The Incredible Mr. Limpet (1963). On television she appeared in four episodes of Gunsmoke as April Clomley, the girlfriend of Deputy Festus Hagen. Later in the Sixties she had the recurring role of Gomer's girlfriend Lou-Ann on Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. Still later she appeared in the role of Meg Bentley on the soap opera General Hospital. She guest starred on the shows Harrigan and Son, Maverick, The Asphalt Jungle, Surfside 6, 77 Sunset Strip, Dr. Kildare, Hawaiian Eye, The Untouchables, Sam Benedict, Stoney Burke, Death Valley Days, Burke's Law, Route 66, Rawhide, The Fugitive, The Virginian, I Dream of Jeannie, The Andy Griffith Show, Bonanza, and Judd for the Defense.

In the Seventies Miss MacRae appeared as Phyllis Anderson on the day time soap opera Days of Our Lives and as Gertrude Beaudine on the daytime soap opera Another World. She guest starred on the shows Mannix, Petrocelli, Kojak, Barnaby Jones, and Rhoda. She appeared in the movies The Conversation (1974) and The House of the Dead (1978). In the Eighties she had recurring roles on the soap operas The Guiding Light, Search for Tomorrow, and Another World. She made her last on-screen appearance in the movie Eddie and the Cruisers II: Eddie Lives! (1989).

Following her acting career, Elizabeth MacRae was a  a drug and alcohol counsellor with the Freedom Institute in New York. She later returned to North Carolina.

Chances are good that Elizabeth MacRae will always be best remembered as Lou-Ann  on Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. and, to a lesser degree, April on Gunsmoke. While Elizabeth MacRae excelled at playing sweet, but somewhat naive girls, she could play many more roles. Indeed, in The Conversation she played a role about as far from Lou-Ann or April as one can get. Meredith was a somewhat duplicitous seductress In the Fugitive episode "Dark Corner" she played Clara Braydon, whose blind sister Mattie (Tuesday Weld) is somewhat mentally disturbed (to put it mildly). In the Kojak episode "Secret Snow, Deadly Poison," she played Robin, a woman who has cheated on her husband and due to plastic surgery looks much younger than she really is. Elizabeth MacRae was great at playing sweet, good-natured women, but as an actor she had such depth that she could play some very complicated, sometimes none too nice characters. Quite simply, she was a great talent.

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

The Late Great Richard M. Sherman

Robert & Richard M. Sherman
Richard M. Sherman, who with his older brother Robert Sherman, wrote songs for movies ranging from Mary Poppins (1964) to The Tigger Movie (2000), died on May 25 2024 at the age of 95. The Sherman Brothers wrote more songs for musicals than any other composers in history.

Richard M. Sherman was born on June 12 1928 in New York City. His brother Robert Sherman was 30 months older. His father was songwriter Al Sherman. His mother was Rosa Dancis, who appeared in silent films.  It was while the Sherman Brothers were very young that the family moved to Southern California. He attended Beverly Hills High School and then Bard College with his brother Robert in New York, where he majored in music. After graduating from college, Robert and Richard Sherman shared an apartment in Los Angeles. The two took up songwriting after their father bet them that they could not team up and write a song that a kid would buy. The two brothers then teamed up to write a song. That song, "Gold Can Buy Anything (but Love)" was recorded by Gene Autry in 1951.

It was in 1953 that Richard M. Sherman was drafted in the United States Army. During his service he was assigned to the United States Army Band. He was honourably discharged in 1955. In 1958 the Sherman Brothers had their first real hit, "Tall Paul" by Annette Funicello, which reached no. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100. This brought them to the attention of Walt Disney, who then began giving the brothers various assignments. They wrote additional music for the Disney TV series Zorro. They wrote "Anniversary Song" for the Texas John Slaughter mini-series aired on Walt Disney Presents.

In the Sixties they wrote songs for musicals and non-musicals alike, including the movies The Parent Trap (1961), Big Red (1962), In Search of the Castaways (1962), Mooncussers (1962), Summer Magic (1963), The Sword in the Stone (1963), The Misadventures of Merlin Jones (1964), Marry Poppins (1964), The Monkey's Uncle (1965), "Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree" (1966), Follow Me Boys! (1966), Monkeys, Go Home! (1967), The Adventures of Bullwhip Griffin (1967), The Jungle Book (1967), The Happiest Millionaire (1967), The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band (1968), Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968), "Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day" (1968), and The AristoCats (1970), The Sherman Brothers wrote the theme to Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Colour. They also wrote songs for various episodes of Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Colour and the animated TV special Goldilocks. In the Sixties they also wrote the song "It's a Small World" for the "it's a small world"  Old Mill boat ride at Disneyworld and still later other Disney theme parks.

In the Seventies the Sherman Brothers composed songs for the movies Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971), Snoopy, Come Home (1972), Charlotte's Web (1973), Tom Sawyer (1973), Huckleberry Finn (1974), "Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too" (1974),  The Slipper and the Rose (1976), The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977), and The Magic of Lassie (1978). They also composed for the stage, including the productions Victory Canteen and Over Here!.

The Sherman Brothers later composed songs for the TV shows The Timberland Tales, as well as such movies as Little Nemo (1989), The Mighty Kong (1998), and The Tigger Movie (2000). They also wrote songs for the stage musicals Dawgs and Busker Alley. Much of the music provided for the Disney theme parks was written by the Sherman Brothers.

The Sherman Brothers also wrote the treatment for Mary Poppins, as well as the screenplays for A Symposium of Popular Songs (1962), Tom Sawyer (1973), Huckleberry Finn (1974), The Slipper and the Rose (1976), and The Magic of Lassie (1978).

Richard Sherman wrote the song "Make Way for Tomorrow Today" for the fictional Stark Expo in the movie Iron Man 2 (2010). He wrote three new songs for the movie Christopher Robin (2018). He acted as a musical consultant for the movie Mary Poppins (2018). He later  wrote a song with composer Fabrizio Mancinelli for Andreas Deja’s 2023 animated short, "Mushka."

Beyond "Tall Paul," the Sherman Brothers also wrote other pop songs. Among these were "You're Sixteen," which was a hit for Johnny Burnette in 1960, peaking at  no. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Alongside his brother Robert, Richard M. Sherman had a talent for creating songs that would remain stuck in people's heads long after hearing them. There is a reason that such songs as "Let's Get Together," "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious," "The Bare Necessities," and yet others have remained popular for literally decades. I have to think the majority of individual born in North America or Europe born in the mid to late 20th Century  has not heard at least one Sherman Brothers song, probably many more. Other composers, such as Rogers and Hammerstein, may be better known, but I have to think the Sherman Brothers composed more famous songs for movies and even stage musicals than any other.