Wednesday, June 28, 2017
Paul Henning's greatest contribution to television (indeed, world pop culture) history was The Beverly Hillbillies. The premise was extremely simple: a hillbilly family becomes rich due to an oil strike and they move to Beverly Hills, where the city must adjust to them as much as they adjust to the city. The show struck a chord with the viewing public, and quickly became a ratings bonanza. The show's lasting popularity was due to a number of factors. The cast was perfect, the writing was sharp, and the show exuded charm. Rather than poke fun at country folk, the show more often than not showed the Clampetts to be the sharpest ones on the scene, grounded by the simple wisdom of patriarch Jed Clampett. Feisty Granny Clampett was always eager to return to the hills, but Jed felt his daughter Elly May stood a better chance of finding a good fella amid the educated young men of the West Coast. This was largely Mr. Drysdale's argument, for he feared the Clampetts would remove their billions from his bank. Drysdale lived next door to the Clampett's mansion, a condition Mrs. Drysdale was eager to change. Drysdale's secretary Miss Hathaway did what she could to smooth out misunderstandings, while also pining for Jed's nephew, hunky lunkhead Jethro. While Max Baer Jr. came to feel typecast as Jethro, and Donna Douglas wasn't too keen on her status as a sex symbol in the innocently inviting Elly May, the cast came together and filled their parts expertly. Irene Ryan was a firecracker and a knee-slapper as the elderly dynamo Granny. The true linchpin to the whole thing was Buddy Ebsen as Jed Clampett, though. He brought to the role such warmth and heart that Jed never came off as a cartoon character (much differently from the rest of his clan). Ultimately, though the laughs were plenteous, audiences loved the Clampetts because they were just good people. Henning maintained a personal hand in The Beverly Hillbillies rather than hand it off to a staff. The show was such a hit that the network eventually got two more shows from Henning which tied directly to The Beverly Hillbillies. Petticoat Junction told of misadventures in the rural community of Hooterville, just down the road from where the Clampetts lived. Green Acres, meanwhile, told of some city folk who moved to Hooterville to become farmers. All three were popular, as this era saw a real rural craze. Sadly, the network sought a more youthful image in the early 70's and purged everything clean and homespun from it's line-up. This Rural Purge signaled the end of the first golden era of television. The Clampetts would return in the TV movie THE RETURN OF THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES sometime in the 80's. The 90's saw a hugely popular big screen adaptation of the property hit theater screens, which kicked off a wave of movies based on old TV shows.
Saturday, June 24, 2017
Wednesday, June 21, 2017
Monday, June 19, 2017
MOON PILOT was one of those delightful live-action 60's Disney movies which could easily have been spun off into a sitcom (and in fact sort of predicts I Dream Of Jeannie). In the film, Tom Tryon is selected for a manned space flight, despite the fact that the astro-chimp sent previously has returned to Earth in a state of insanity. When adorable Dany Saval enters the picture, she claims to be a space-lady with a formula which can coat the nose of the next rocket and prevent the cosmic rays from scrambling Tom's brain. Naturally, Tom thinks she's a spy (or just crazy). And even after she convinces Tom of her sincerity, the brass still has her marked as a spy. So you end up with Tom and Dany desperately trying to speak to each other while the government and military are doing everything they can to prevent to two from getting close. The star-studded cast includes such familiar faces as Brian Keith, Edmond O'Brien, and guest-star Tommy Kirk. Miss Saval is one of the cutest things you'll ever see. Nearly forgotten comedy has a lot going for it, and is worth tracking down if you like a fun Space Age rib-tickler.
Here's one of my most unexpected viewing experiences, gritty exploitation cop picture A SCREAM IN THE STREETS. Imagine a mixture of Adam-12, DIRTY HARRY, and an X-rated domestic drama, and you'd be in the ballpark. Homicidal killer dresses like a woman in order to violently stab women to death, but the real story involves a pair of plainclothes officers newly assigned as riding partners. One is married and tries to go By The Book. The other is a bit of a lose cannon. Together, they ride the streets and get involved in various hold-ups and shoot-outs and grow to trust each other. Meanwhile, there's a sex scene every other reel or so -remove this material and picture would only be about an hour long. Despite the more base material woven through-out, A SCREAM IN THE STREETS is a surprisingly good picture. The writing is solid, the acting good, and the characterization is unusually strong. The porn elements aside, this is probably one of the better pictures I've seen in a good while!
Saturday, June 17, 2017
Thursday, June 15, 2017
Tuesday, June 13, 2017
Without warning, Another Slice of Cheesecake suddenly sported a content warning to readers. I'm through. It's too much trouble anymore, and I have other things to do. I may close both blogs to prevent the content warning from infecting my other blogs. Either way, the A Slice of Cheesecake Facebook page will remain in operation, God willing. https://www.facebook.com/A-Slice-of-Cheesecake-1325990544135856/
Saturday, June 10, 2017
Was stunned to hear of the passing of Adam West (that's he in eclipse behind Joe DeRita). West was a fine actor, but always the first one to poke fun at himself. It struck me today that West is essentially America's Roger Moore. Adam was always a bright spot whenever he turned up, and was one of those stars who oozed average Joe likability. Rest In Peace, Mr. West, and thanks for all the good times. Upon thinking of Adam, my mind went first to THE OUTLAWS IS COMING, a wild, cartoony horse opera spoof starring The Three Stooges. The last starring feature for the Stooges, in fact. West plays a crusading reporter desperate to save the buffalo from being exterminated (that happening due to a plot to turn the Indians against the white man and jumpstart a war). Moe, Larry, and Curly Joe are his assistants, and do what they can to acclimate tenderfoot Adam to the wild and woolly Western territories. When West gets into a gun duel, sharp-shooter Nancy Kovack saves his life and gives the town the impression that he's the best shot in the territory. To counter this, the bad guys call in every notorious gunman (and future television star) they can find, including the likes of Bat Masterson, Johnny Ringo, Belle Starr, Jesse James, Billy the Kid, Wyatt Earp, and so forth. Lot's a gags in this one, which is practically a Tex Avery cartoon! The self-referencing showbiz gags are truly my kind of humor, and this one has them in spades.