Monday, July 27, 2009

Another William Castle Film - 1959

This is an introduction to the film, The Tingler, with Vincent Price, released in 1959. It was the heydey of films of this type, and this clip shows Mr. William Castle himself with his typical hype for his now classic productions.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Let's Kill Uncle - William Castle

I saw this 1966 William Castle film years ago, but I can't find it at the video rental stores. It's another great addition to a long history of William Castle productions. If you ever get a chance to watch it, I highly recommend it.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Bad Seed

If you've never before seen this 1956 film, it's a must see. Patty McCormick is excellent as Rhoda, the title character. Wonderful acting, great script, and perfect ending. This is the original trailer. Enjoy.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


I know each and every one of you is just dying to know about this wonderful product. But we're going to have to hop into the Wayback Machine and take a little trip. So fasten your seatbelts and hang on because we're going a long way.

It all began back in 1937 when Hormel developed the first canned meat product that didn’t require refrigeration. Made from chopped pork shoulder meat and ham, it was developed by Jay C. Hormel. Originally it was marketed as “Hormel Spiced Ham.” That wasn’t a very inspiring name for a product destined to save lives, win wars, and provide balanced diets for people all over the world.

After other meatpackers noticed how popular the new product was, they began marketing their own canned luncheon meats, and Hormel began losing some of its share of the market. In an effort to increase their declining market share, Hormel came up with an ingenious plan. They needed to give their product a distinctive name. So they held a contest and offered a $100 prize to the person who provided the winning name. The winner’s name was Ken. (Sorry, that’s all they told me.) And, naturally, the winning product name was SPAM! And a legend was born. (SPAM, not Ken. He was never heard from again as far as we know.)

SPAM was referred to as the “Miracle Meat” when Hormel launched their massive ad campaign in 1937. And in 1940 SPAM was featured in what may have been the very first singing commercial. Sales boomed. And, since SPAM required no refrigeration, it was the perfect product to send to our boys in uniform who were fighting the war overseas. Hormel began sending SPAM to the soldiers in 1941.

And, at the same time, back in the states, sales continued to go through the roof. Since SPAM wasn’t rationed, as beef was, it quickly became a staple in American meals. And it wasn't only in America that SPAM was gaining popularity and providing nutrition. Nikita Kruschev credits SPAM with the survival of the Russian Army during WWII.

In the early 1950s, the Hormel Girls advertised SPAM as they performed throughout the country. They distributed SPAM door-to-door, and even had a national weekly radio show. Ads proclaimed, ''Cold or hot, SPAM hits the spot!'' And, although not as popular as it once was, you can still find that familiar metal can on the grocery shelves today.

If you want to see a fabulous website, visit It’s one of my favorites.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Great scenes from the Long Long Trailer

Here's another great video clip from The Long Long Trailer with Lucy and Ricky.
Classic comedy at its best.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Deleted Scene - South Pacific

This is a scene from the 1958 release of South Pacific. It features Juanita Hall as Bloody Mary, singing the song in her own voice. Although she sang the song in the Broadway production, her voice was later dubbed over by Muriel Smith.

Notice also the use of filters or effects that changed the color during the scene.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Home Ownership... on wheels...

The video below is the opening of the great Lucy and Desi movie, The Long Long Trailer. If you've never seen it, it's a must if you love great old films.


Thursday, July 9, 2009

Summer Delight...

I'm disgusted! Totally. First it was the fact that I can't find peaches with any juice in them any more, and now it's the watermelons.

I bought a watermelon at Price Chopper last weekend. It looked good. It had that hollow sound when I thumped it. But when I cut it open, it was not the deep red it should have been, and it didn't have a sweet flavor like it should have. I stuffed it back into the plastic bag and returned to the store to exchange it for another one.

When I returned home with that one, with high hopes and anticipation of savoring that sweet summer flavor, I was again disappointed. This one must have been the other's sibling because they looked the same and tasted identical.

So I gave up on Price Chopper and, instead, the following day, decided to give HyVee an opportunity. Fortunately, they were the same price. Unfortunately, they were the same product. The final victim was even lighter pink inside than its two predecessors. I returned that one as well and decided to hold off for a few day and give them some additional ripening time at the store.

When I was a kid, I remember the watermelons we used to get were not long and striped. They were round and a solid, deep, dark green on the outside. I think my dad called them Black Diamonds. I don't see that variety very often these days. There was nothing better than a warm summer evening when my dad took that melon out of the fridge and sliced it open to reveal that dark red center. Of course it had seeds, all melons did in those day. But it was ripe and it was sweet and juicy.

I'm going to have to try to find me one of those very soon.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Wanna Dance?

Here’s a subject we haven’t really concentrated on so far. Dancing. Now, don’t even try to tell me that you didn’t dance. Everyone did. Some of us guys only liked to slow dance because, well, we didn’t want to look foolish, and we wanted to get a little closer to all you cute girls. And slow dancing allowed that a lot easier than that crazy fast dancing that was so popular. So, let’s take a look at what we had to pick from.

During the 50s, there were several dances that were popular at the prom, the high school homecoming dance, or the many sock hops the schools had in those days. Maybe they still do, but I’m way out of the loop at this point. Here’s a list. See how many you remember. And if the mood strikes you, crank up that phonograph and find those old 45s and dance the night away the way we used to. But make certain you've waited at least an hour after you've eaten your SPAM.

The Bop. Not a slow dance. You usually dance separately from your partner. It's a little like jive or swing with a lot of toe tapping involved. And you don't hold hands. You just tap the heel and toe of either foot alternately as you dance. The Bop is still popular in many dance clubs and events. It’s still very popular in many areas of England.

The Stroll. Again, this is not a slow dance. This dance was often done only by the girls, but that isn't a necessarily a hard and fast rule. Just ask John Travolta. This dance involves two lines of dancers with a large space between the lines. Lead dancers are on one side, and their partners are on the other. Dancers do a step pattern to advance the line, and leaders do a solo routine though the line, joining it at the end. The Stroll was one of the most popular dances of the 50s, and many nostalgic 50s movies feature a scene featuring the Stroll.

Swing. This is not a slow dance either. But you did get a little closer to your partner and you were allowed to hold hands. Swing was a holdover from the 40s jitterbug and swing, though still popular during the 50s. It’s one of the few dances of the fifties that is still practiced today, especially among the younger crowds who like the older dances.

The Hand Jive. If you danced during the 50s, chances are you still remember the Hand Jive. This is one dance you can even do sitting down. Just ask John Travolta again. It’s basically nothing more than a series of hand and arm movements done in a pattern. The song "Willy and the Hand Jive" came out in 1958 and stayed at the top of the charts for 16 weeks, so if you were anybody in 1958, then baby, you can hand jive.

The Madison. The Madison first started in the late 1950s and gained popularity in the 1960s. This dance was a little more complicated, and it was done in a group, rather than by a couple. There were several dance sequences with specific steps, and some of the sequences referred to some very popular television shows of the time, like Jackie Gleason. I have no memory of this dance whatsoever, although I do remember Jackie Gleason.

The Make It Up as You Go. (I’m talking to the guys now, if any of you are still reading.) This was what a lot of us did, if we ever got up the nerve to ask that adorable little gal on the other side of the gymnasium to dance. We always had that fear that we would walk all the way over there and ask her, only to be greeted with a smile, a shake of the head, and a no thank you. Rats! But if ever were lucky enough to get a yes, we really had no idea what we were doing when we got out on the floor. So we just looked around and watched everyone else and tried to mimic their moves. Eventually we developed our own style that we felt comfortable with. Even if it looked stupid, we didn't realize it at the time.
By the way, I've picked a great Jackie Wilson video for you today. Lonely Teardrops. A big hit in the fifties and one that I'm sure will bring back some memories of those dancing days. Enjoy.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

I Have a Rocket

Being Independence Day, it reminded me of a little poem that my childhood friend, Tommy Rader, used to recite every fourth of July. It went like this...

I have a rocket
In my pocket.
I cannot stop to play
Away she goes.
It burns my toes.
It's Indepedence Day!

My father was a plumber, working for Local 8 in Kansas City, Missouri. We didn't have a lot of money, so we didn't' spend much on the fourth of July holiday. We usually had hamburgers that my dad cooked on the grill, and hot dogs. And there was either an ice cold watermelon, or he got out the hand-crank ice cream freezer and we made homemade ice cream. What a summer delight that was, and is.

We didn't usually (actually we never did) spend a lot of money on fireworks. But we did make our annual trip to one of the local stands and purchase a few favorite items. These included a package of 100 Black Cat firecrackers, a box of sparklers, a dozen bottle rockets, five or six of the little cone-shaped fountains that kind of spewed sparks out in a somewhat wimpy manner, and, my favorite, the Snakes.

If you've never seen Snakes, they're an amazing little piece of work. They're a cylindrical, black shape, about a half inch in diameter and a half inch tall. You sit them on the concrete and hold your punk to them until they light. When they do, the snake starts crawling out of the concrete, or so it appears. I could get mesmerized just watching them as that long, gray ash climbed up from the cylinder.

I should go buy some of those, just for old time's sake.

Have a safe holiday.

Friday, July 3, 2009


Okay. Back to the fun stuff.

Faster than a speeding bullet. (Close up of revolver and the sound of firing) More powerful than a locomotive. (Medium range shot of a steam locomotive with accompanying sound) Able to leap tall buildings at a single bound. (Long shot of skyscrapers fades to crowd looking up) “Look, up in the sky.” (Woman in crowd) “It’s a bird.” (Man in crowd) “It’s a plane.” (Man in crowd) It’s Superman. (Shot of Superman flying) Yes, Superman. Strange visitor who came to earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. Superman . . . who can change the course of mighty rivers, bend steel in his bare hands, and who, disguised as Clark Kent, mild mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper, fights a never-ending battle for truth, justice, and the American way. (Intro closes with Superman in his traditional, hands-on-hips stance with his cape and an American flag waving in the breeze)

I hope I got the narrative correct up there. If I didn’t, someone click on the COMMENT button and straighten me out. But I watched that program and listened to Bill Kennedy’s narrative was burned so many times that it's burned into my brain.

The series ran from 1952 until 1958. There were a lot of great episodes, but I want to tell you today about one of my all-time favorites. It was episode #40 entitled “Jungle Devil,” which aired December 19, 1953. During this episode Jimmy, Lois, and Clark travel to a jungle in search of a lost scientist, and encounter a dangerous jungle creature. I don’t remember much about the jungle creature except I think he was the guy who stole the diamond eye out of the idol the natives worshipped.

The climax of the show was when Clark pointed out that the diamond may have fallen into the conveniently placed quicksand pool. Cleverly, he concealed a chunk of coal in his hand before punching his fist into the quicksand. With his hand concealed, we watched him squeeze the coal as the narrator explains how diamonds are formed from carbon that’s been subjected to a gazillion tons of pressure for a bazillion years.

When Clark removes his hand from the quicksand, he opens it to reveal a 5,000 karat diamond that’s perfectly with with the typical 58 facets and gleaming like a jewel. This episode guest starred James Seay as Bill Hurd, Al Kikume as the Native Chief, Henry Escalante as a Native Man, Leon Lontoc as the Witch Doctor, Doris Singleton as Gloria Harper, Damian O'Flynn as Dr. Ralph Harper, Nacho Galindo as Alberto, Bernie Gozier as another Native Man. The director was Thomas Carr. Screenplay by Peter Dixon.

This episode was filmed when they were still using black and white film. It wasn’t until the following year (1954) that the color episodes began. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a color television so it didn’t really make much difference. I still prefer to watch them in black and white today.

Now, the final part of this post will give you an idea of how brilliant I am. Shortly after watching that episode (which I think I must have watched as a re-run because I would only have been about 4 years old when it originally aired) anyway, shortly after watching it I decided to try it myself and create my own huge diamond. I went downstairs to my dad’s workshop and found a bag of Kingsford charcoal briquettes. I took one of them and placed it on the workbench and balanced a couple of bricks on top of it. I knew it probably wasn’t enough weight, but I could be patient. I checked my charcoal briquette every day for a week, but I couldn’t see much change taking place.

My diamond manufacturing plant was dismantled when my dad asked me what the bricks were doing there. I told him I was making a diamond. He gave me a rather strange look before replying, “Well, let me know when it’s done because I need to use the workbench.”

If you were a fan of Superman, let us know. Click the COMMENT button at the bottom and tell us your favorite episode. Here’s a couple of good websites with a lot of great info about Superman.