1/12/18

IN MEMORY OF GRETA THYSSEN



To honor the memory of the late Greta Thyssen, I've posted above one of the Three Stooges shorts that she appeared in, 'Quiz Whizz'. (Click here for Greta's Hollywood Reporter obit). Unfortunately for Greta (and for us) it's one of the Joe Besser shorts, the last gasp of the Columbia short-subject Stooges and certainly the worst. Still, I prefer Besser--who comes across like Moe and Larry's gay cousin that they're sheltering--to Curly Joe De Rita and even these flimsy, low-quality late Stooges have interestingly strange things to offer: Moe's slicked-back hair, the singing 'Hello, Hello, Hello' opening, the presence of Greta Thyssen...and Moe's slicked back hair I guess. 'Quiz Whizz' is a loose remake of a far superior Curly short, 'Healthy Wealthy and Dumb'. I won't post that since it would demean the presence of the very beautiful Greta Thyssen, who apparently didn't really have much of an ambition to be an actress/model type but somehow got talked into it (thanks to her natural attributes one supposes) and which in turn allowed her to take a cream pie in the face at the end of a Three Stooges movie, thus insuring her show-biz immortality.

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1/11/18

DUH: I'M NOT, LIKE, REALLY SMART AND A STABLE GENIUS SOMETIMES

Yesterday I posted a reel of commercials from the 1960s (scroll down, sucker) and I urged interested viewers (both of you) to skip ahead to 3 minutes and 25 seconds and watch a very funny, completely inexplicable/bordering on surreal commercial for Pizza Rolls. The premise is that several very weird people invade a very sixties cocktail party and annoy the hell out of the hostess, who dispenses with them after they rudely ask out of place questions (i.e.: 'do you have bad breath?' 'Your husband doesn't like your coffee...' etc.) The ad made no sense to me until my friend, journalist extraordinaire Marc Myers cracked the code for me and helpfully pointed out that the commercial was satirizing other commercials of the era, bringing the characters and pitch lines into the party in inappropriate places. Below are the original references, also courtesy of Marc. It's astonishing and embarrassing for me to have not realized this nice, simple pop-culture joke. All I can say is 'duh'...






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1/10/18

BACK TO THE SIXTIES (VIA MORE TV COMMERCIALS, OF COURSE...)



Every one of the above ten minutes of 1960s-ish commercials is a delight, but I'd urge you to begin by skipping forward to 3min, 25 seconds (approximately) and watch one of the strangest ads I've ever seen. It's for some sort of Pizza Roll appetizer and I know (but can't think of the name) of the actress featured--does anybody out there know? It's not exactly funny the first time through as it's simply way too strange. But on second and third viewings...you'll get the idea...

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1/9/18

WELCOME TO 1973 VIA TV COMMERCIALS




Welcome to 1973, as seen through the prism of the American commercial TV advertising industry. In the above 12 minute collection, you'll see Joey Heatherton (then famous, now forgotten), Marsha Mason (not yet famous, once famous, now forgotten), a promo for a desperately unfunny looking soon-to-be-cancelled TV comedy series called 'Temperature's Rising' starring James Whitmore (sort of famous, sort of remembered, great as Harry S. Truman in a one-man show called 'Give 'Em Hell Harry'), a trailer for the TV movie 'Duel', directed by Steven Spielberg (not yet known, now a billionaire) and many other wonderful products, actors, songs, hairstyles, pants and shirts and don't forget 'Shake And Bake'. June Lockhart shills for the Fried Chicken product and makes me wonder if it's still being made...and if so nationally? Or only in certain sections of Trump's America?

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1/8/18

BACK TO THE 80'S IN THE TRI-STATE AREA (VIA TV COMMERCIALS, OF COURSE)



Click on the above (or perhaps you'd be better off clicking here for mysterious reasons) and you will be treated (I guess that's the correct word) to a whole pile of New York/New Jersey regional television commercials from the early to mid 1980s. Why do these things mesmerize me? Partly I'm astonished at how well I remember a lot of them--I was able to call the cutting continuity on the 'Lullaby Of Broadway' Milford Plaza commercial literally frame by frame. And there's a certain wistful nature to how things that were once worth trumpeting with expensive advertisements ultimately fade away into literally nothing. Here you will find commercials for 'Crazy Eddie', the 'Ritz Thrift Shop', the Broadway play 'Gemini' (can you imagine paying for a commercial for a non-musical play these days? The authors parents must have had money...), Bertrand Island Park, Action Park in New Jersey, the original 'Evita' commercial...there's even a 'Million Dollar Movie' bumper, back when a million dollar movie wasn't an indie too cheap to rate distribution. And weirdly enough, all of it still remains in my brain, albeit in shards and shreds. Somehow the lack of website addresses and the carefully announced phone numbers (one of the ads still actually uses 'Circle' instead of the opening numerals--now that's pretty frigging old) make me yearn for the unconnectedness of the period...the inaccesibility of things if you didn't scratch down the information on a little piece of paper...the local nature of certain hometown businesses (which were ads you'd see on channels 5 or 11 in the pre-Fox Broadcasting years) as opposed to national ones you'd see during your dutiful prime-time TV watching of the ONLY THREE STATIONS THAT OFFERED NEW, ORIGINAL WEEKLY PROGRAMMING. And, most important of all, the very act of watching commercials because they were interrupting a program that you were watching (and presumably enjoying--or at least zoning out on) in real time, on one of the 13 channels that were available...the non-existant phrase "binge-watching"...I could go on and on and on.

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