Thursday, February 4, 2016

Let's Tie One In!

This cover shot is of the secretary that resides in my living room. It's not perfect, but it's my pride and joy because I rescued it, filthy and dirt-ridden, from an antique market and cleaned it up/restored it to its warm mahogany finish. Inside is an array of vintage paperback books that have been carefully chosen because - me being me, after all - each one is connected in one way or another to a movie. I have scores more of these in boxes upstairs, but I didn't want to cram the thing full.
I'm not your usual "the book was so much better than the movie" sort of person. For one thing, I NEVER read fiction, EVER, unless it's a book I want to read because I've already seen the movie and want to explore the movie's subjects in greater depth and expand upon what I've already enjoyed. I'm a movie first, book later person, so movies are virtually never likely to disappoint me in their adaptation from the book. (I voraciously read non-fiction, however, with rarely less than two or three showbiz-related books going at once!)

All this is to say that today we're going to look at an array of books connected with a movie (or TV program), the tie-in paperback novel. These are in some cases books that were later transformed into movies or books that have stemmed from the movie's screenplay or at least were re-issued specifically to conjoin with a movie. In some cases, someone has been hired to read the screenplay and adapt the story into book form as a way of promoting the film. (Often, these would be released to bookstores prior to the films being released into theaters.)

These aren't necessarily favorites of mine, just covers I felt the need to share because of some degree of interest or another which I'll describe in the captions. Now let's turn the page to the books themselves!
I loved this artwork of Claudette Colbert from a movie I had never even heard of, Sleep, My Love (1948.) Seeing as it's directed by Douglas Sirk there's a strong chance I would love it!
This one was an existing novel adapted for the screen. I included the back cover because it contained a few more pictures from this obscure movie. (Note that all three renditions of Colbert - front & back - feature her favored left side!)
The lineage of this one is even more convoluted! Kathryn Forbes wrote a book called Mama's Bank Account that was turned into a stage play called I Remember Mama that was then made into a movie. So the book Mama's Bank Account was reissued to promote the movie I Remember Mama (1948.)
We like Myrna Loy (and a dimple-chinned Robert Mitchum is welcome, too) so we offer this promotional version of The Red Pony (1949.)
I liked the cover art chosen for this tie-in to The Unsuspected (1947.) Apart from the trio of startled stars in the foreground, note Audrey Totter's looming visage in the background.
One of the nice things about tie-in books such as this one is that it gave the owner a color portrait of the stars from a black & white movie. Thing is, I think this photo from Night and the City (1950) is flip-flopped! If you visit the film's imdb.com page, you see a source photo that is facing the other way and looks more like the stars in question.
Likewise, this book let readers enjoy a rare shot of Spencer Tracy and Elizabeth Taylor in color for Father of the Bride (1950), a black & white movie.
This tie-in has "other adventures" listed along with Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957) and doesn't even list an author on the cover! The film was done from a Leon Uris screenplay that had been "suggested by" an article someone wrote on the topic. It's always struck me as amusing that allegedly Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster couldn't make heads nor tails of their characters until they determined that the only way to play them was as two men in love with one another who didn't know how to express it!
Here we finally have an example of the outright tie-in novel, in which Owen Aherne was pressed to turn the screenplay from An Affair to Remember (which was already based on the prior screenplay for Love Affair, 1939) into book form.
Here's a shot of our Joan Collins, sans much make-up, in Sea Wife (1957) with a five o'clock-shadowed Richard Burton. This is the one in which she played a nun shipwrecked on an island with several men who don't readily know of her vocation. Censors wouldn't allow a kiss, so this romantic palm tree had to do.
This tie-in novel for The Tall T (1957), much like the one for Gunfight above, also has no author's name and (in smmmaaallll print) likewise says "and other western adventures." Burt kennedy had written the screenplay though it was actually based upon a story by Elmore Leonard, known for his crime stories.
I included this back cover because of its nice photo of rugged (by now leathery!) Randolph Scott and his female costar Maureen O'Sullivan who played Jane in several Tarzan movies and later gave the world Mia Farrow.
Fun portraiture of some of the stars of Guys and Dolls (1955), though chief female star Jean Simmons is barely visible, tucked behind some gamblers, and Vivian Blaine is yelling at Marlon Brando instead of at her perennial fiance Frank Sinatra!
This is another commissioned "novel" based on a screenplay that was written by Terence Rattigan. Even though The V.I.P.s (1963) was filmed after the infamous and tumultuous Cleopatra (1963), it was completed and released first, allowing it to capitalize on the world famous adulterous relationship of its stars Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.
A color photo adorns this reissue of Someret Maugham's story for the 1964 black & white movie Of Human Bondage. The earlier 1934 film with Leslie Howard and Bette Davis seems to remain the definitive screen adaptation.
Did everyone know that Hud (1963) was based upon a Larry McMurtry novel called Horseman, Pass By? I didn't.  I bet there were quite a few Paul Newman fans who were happy to have this photo of him even though he never intended for his character to be an object of adoration. He considered the character deplorable!
I would be interested to know if this tie-in novel for Harper (1966) has been augmented from the original novel the movie was based upon called The Moving Target. You see, that Ross McDonald book was one of a series about a character named Archer. Paul Newman wanted his character's name to start with an H. So did someone (in those pre-computer days) go through the whole novel and change it from Archer to Harper for this paperback tie-in??
I always enjoyed the 1967 movie Warning Shot, which was made-for-TV but released to theaters instead. Apart from a decent male cast, it manages to also include Stefanie Powers, Joan Collins, Eleanor Parker and Lillian Gish into its storyline!
I thought this was just about the most bizarre selection of a cover photo for Julie Christie's Petulia (1968) considering how great she looks throughout much of the rest of the movie. This portrait reveals nothing, nor is it in any way enticing.
More satisfying is this tie-in for Fahrenheit 451 (1966) in which Christie played dual roles, one being Oskar Werner's shallow wife and the other his deep-feeling, but forbidden lover.
The same man hired to write The V.I.P.s was enlisted to forge this tie-in paperback for Move Over, Darling (1963.) This one was complicated as well for the script of the movie was reworked from the unfinished Marilyn Monroe picture Something's Got to Give, which was already a reworking of the original movie My Favorite Wife (1940)!
This is an obscure one. Surprise Package (1960) has never come my way and I don't know if I'd ever even heard of it before! This book is actually the source novel A Gift from the Boys by humorist Art Buchwald, which is likely a bit different from the screenplay.
As much as I like Paul Newman, I've never been able to generate much interest in 1963's A New Kind of Love (even with its setting in the fashion industry!) I did think the cut-outs of him with wife Joanne Woodward were amusingly strange for this novel derived from the Melville Shavelson screenplay.
You know the sort of laugh you sometimes get in which you start gagging and falling over because it's just THAT funny that you - literally - lose it? Well the first memory I ever have of laughing that way occurred when I was a tyke watching a re-release of Lt. Robinson Crusoe, U.S.N. (1966.) I bet you now I could watch the entire thing in stone-faced silence, but back in the day I recall almost collapsing to the floor of the movie theater during the harried climax. Interestingly, the story for this movie was conceived by Retlaw Yensid. Consider his name in reverse if you will!
This is another instance of a "novel" being completely generated from an original screenplay (Big Jake, 1971) just to seem at first glance as if the movie were based on a book. Interesting that the cover photo practically shows the ending of the film!
Same basic deal, "See the film, READ THE NOVEL" though there never was a prior novel. This is a book derived from the screenplay of The Last of Sheila (1973.) It would be interesting to see how the book handles some of the visuals of the film, which lent the viewer clues to the mystery throughout.
I had to include this one because it is listed on the cover as a "smash hit movie" and yet I have never, ever heard of this film! I like to think I'm up on '70s cinema, but somehow the 1975 "blockbuster" Whiffs has escaped me till now...
This is the lesser-known sequel to Westworld (1973) called Futureworld (1976.) It was one of the scarce leading feature film roles for Blythe Danner. She and costar Peter Fonda were later reunited in a charming Hallmark Hall of Fame TV-movie called Back When We Were Grownups (2004.) This tie-in came with 16 pages of photos from the movie which, for me back then in pre-computer days, was a huge reason to purchase any book of this type.
Freaky Friday (1976) is one of those rather rare instances in which a book's author, in this case Mary Rodgers, was permitted to also write the movie's screenplay! So often, the original writer is prevented from doing so for one reason or another.

This is another one like that. Cameron Crowe, who'd gone undercover as a high school student as research, wrote a book about his observances and then was able to also pen the screenplay for Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982.)
As you can guess, I have all the various tie-in novels for 1970s disaster movies (and the novels that led to Airport, 1970, The Poseidon Adventure, 1972, The Towering Inferno, 1974, and so on.) The Cassandra Crossing (1976) is an extremely unique sort of approach to the genre with a wonderfully eclectic cast.
I couldn't resist sharing this Italian edition of the paperback, which (like so many non-U.S. posters as well) features a far more dramatic cover photo. It stands to reason that the Carlo Ponti-produced movie would feature Sophia Loren most prominently in the Italian market.
Turning to TV now, we find a novel inspired by the hit show I Spy (1965-1968) which features some fun artwork with the show's title formed by stone blocks.
One of Robert Wagner's successful shows was It Takes a Thief (1968-1970), loosely inspired by the 1955 Alfred Hitchcock film To Catch a Thief, which starred Cary Grant.
Here's a faceful of David Carradine as Caine, the lead character in the series Kung Fu (1972-1975.)
After seeing this tie-in paperback about The Brady Bunch (1969-1974), I'm starting to wonder if maybe Jan Brady (the omitted Eve Plumb) might have had some grounds for feeling like she was always being left out or otherwise overlooked!
Here we have a case of a truly popular TV show being advertised as such on a book cover, yet not too many people are familiar with the show. The reason? Bridget Loves Bernie (1972-1973) was about a Catholic girl married to a Jewish boy and despite it being #5 in the Nielsen ratings it was canceled after 24 episodes. Strident protests (even threats) from several Jewish organizations caused it to be removed from the air. It remains the highest-rated series ever cancelled after only one season. (Can't we all just get along?)
I never watched Welcome Back, Kotter (1975-1979), but I used to see so many kids with these paperback tie-in books back in the day! I also recall there was a time when one seemed to see the books Coma, The Legacy or Jaws clasped in every third person's hands.
Anyone remember when the prime-time soaps put out a series of paperbacks, fleshing out the storylines of the parent series? This one is from Knots Landing (1979-1993), but I also recall seeing ones from Dallas and Dynasty in print.
I close with what may have been the ULTIMATE sort of movie tie-in paperback, the Fotonovel. These books were ALL pictures, frames from the chosen movies, with little bits of dialogue printed on them so that one could relive the experience of the film in those (mostly) pre-cable and pre-VCR days. This one is from Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), but there were many others from movies such as Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), Grease (1978), Ice Castles (1978), Hair (1979) and many others. They made an awesome keepsake for fans of the given film.
Trekkers (then known as Trekkies) were also in heaven because all or practically all of the cult favorite TV series Star Trek's (1966-1969) episodes were transfigured into Fotonovels. This way, fans could relive virtually any frame of the show whenever he wanted to by simply cracking open a book.
This is an example of what Fotonovels looked like on the inside, though the ones based upon movies tended to vary the way the dialogue was printed from film to film. I hope you found this peek at paperback diverting. I'll be back soon with something else!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Oh Gawd! Book Three

You can't fool me... You thought that you were off the hook on this three-volume set of Bible study because of all the issues I've had with workload and time availability, didn't you? Well I dug in my heels and devoted time to this sizable post! We already covered Book One and Book Two, but regardless of how swamped I am, I couldn't forget Book Three of Greatest Heroes of the Bible (1979!) I thought maybe I'd saved the best for last, but in truth the most delectably campy installments were probably contained in the prior posts.


Certainly, the first story in this third and final volume has an amusing bit or two of casting anyway... “The Tower of Babel” features former bodybuilder and star of Ben Casey, M.D. (1961-1966) Vince Edwards, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea's (1964-1968) Richard Basehart and familiar, prolific character actors Dana Elcar and Cliff Emmich.

The most joyfully inane appearances, though, come courtesy of young lovers Ron Palillo (of Welcome Back, Kotter, 1975-1979) and Erin Moran (Happy Days, 1974-1984, and the short-lived Joanie Loves Chachi, 1982-1983.) It's like a Biblical “Joanie Loves Horshack!”


The tale kicks off with burly hunts- man Edwards using his dog and a huge net to fell a lion who's been threatening the sheep of a tribe descended from Noah. He handily captures the beast, witnessed by Elcar, Palillio and Moran, and offers up the pelt to Moran for a wedding coat.


They inform him that the village elders, apart from steadfast Basehart, have decided that what is needed more than anything in this world is a gargantuan tower whose steps will connect the earth with heaven and bridge the gap between God and man. Basehart considers the connection between the two spiritual, not physical, but he is outnumbered by the opposition.


Unfortunately, his own son Palillo is the architect of the edifice in question! He wants to honor God with his structure. Strapping, virile Edwards is chosen to head up the construction of the tower and it isn't long at all before the whole enterprise goes to his head. He even decides that the present design isn't tall enough and orders a new model of the tower made.



He then has Emmich order every citizen to “volunteer” one day a week on the project. Before long, this is extended to three days a week for everyone except children, who are permitted to slave away only two days per week! It's a real community effort, whether the people actually wish to partake or not!

Meanwhile, Elcar (Moran's father) and his cohort Emmich are making a ton of money out of the brick-making business, since the project requires scores of thousands of bricks. They can hardly keep up with the coin that this enterprise is generating. Moran, for her part, does begin to see that not everything seems particularly rosy about the building and its proponents, but Palillo manages to squash her objections... for a while.



At the groundbreaking ceremony, Palillo and Moran remain proud of and loyal to their oncoming project. Basehart, however, thanks to his vehement disapproval, doesn't attend and is eventually forced to go into hiding out in the caves away from the city. He is heartbroken that his son is being used for the nefarious scheme.



Things get more and more dictatorial, with Edwards getting haughtier and more dangerous, until finally the people are on the verge of a rebellion. Unfor- tunately, all their weapons have been confiscated in order to forge tools for the building of the tower! The whole story begins to resemble Hitler's rise to power or at least someone like that. (There's even one scene early on in which the people give "heil"-like arm gestures in support of him.)


In time, even the young lovers are held in contempt by Edwards and are forced to depart the city and live with Basehart in the hills. Here they are finally wed in a ceremony presided over by the wise old man. They begin to plan a revolt in which they'll sneak back into town and arm the put-upon workers who will then attempt to defeat the ever-present guards.


By now even God doesn't like the building – or at least the design of it – because in the end he begins to strike it with lightning and ultimately punishes everyone involved by causing them to speak in tongues different from one another, believing that the inability to communicate will be their punishment. (However, few people seemed able to communicate properly before this anyway!)



Hirsute Edwards is even hairier than usual thanks for a thick beard. Basehart, buried under a large, gray beard of his own, resembles Sir Laurence Olivier during his period of The Betsy (1978) and Clash of the Titans (1981.) Though he is certainly no Olivier, he does try to bring some gravity to the proceedings. 
Despite their committed dramatic performances, one half expects Moran and Palillo to suddenly toss out one of his or her patented catchphrases like, "Sit on it, Johtan!" or "Up your nose with a rubber hose, Amathar!" In any case, Moran's hair is better here than it ever was or has been in any adult performance of her life and Palillo really gives his all to a rare dramatic part.
There was at least a certain amount of production value to this one, too, with the title structure becoming more and more imposing with each brick. Perhaps this was nothing more than a facade with scaffolding behind it, but it nonetheless looks sturdy and reasonably authentic during the course of the story. 



I had des- perately awaited this next tale – “Sodom and Gomorrah” – because I figured it would be chock full of deliciously bad depictions of sex and debauchery. No such luck. It, in fact, is one of the driest episodes in the entire 15-part series! Singer-actor Ed Ames plays Lot, a man who takes his people to a riverbank just outside the twin sin cities in question in order to establish a new home. Gene Barry (of Bat Masterson, 1958-1961, and Burke's Law, 1963-1966) is Abraham, whose settlement had proven to not have "enough grass" to support two tribes. (Make of that what you wish!)



Peter Mark Richman (Blake's faithful attorney on Dynasty from 1981- 1984) plays the king of the sordid cities, with Rick Jason (of Combat!, 1962-1967) as his right hand man/henchman. On the outside looking in is ubiquitous character actor David Opatoshu as a rival invader who wants to claim Sodom and Gomorrah as his own and is just waiting for the first good opportunity to do so.



What promises to be a hooty casting coup is (suddenly brunette!) Dorothy Malone as Lot's wife, but nothing comes of it. Malone won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar as a sexually voracious man-eating bitch in Written on the Wind (1956) and headlined the very first prime-time soap Peyton Place (1964-1968), but is relegated in this to just a couple of negligible scenes with precious little flavor to them. More like a pinch of salt! LOL



The very least I expect when we're dealing with Sodomites is a shadowy depiction of oily- looking men wearing kohl eyeliner sort of languidly hanging on one another in the background. No such luck here as the narrator focuses more on the criminal element, slavery and overall murderous corruption of the cities. I guess I ought to be glad that there isn't a heap of gay defamation involved, but instead I was mostly bored.

There is at least some decent Arizona scenery every once in a while, just like most of the rest of the miniseries. 



King Richman (in a fun crown) wants to absorb wide-eyed Ames and his tribe into his circle in order to glean 10% of his harvest as well as increase his manpower against a certain, eventual attack from  Opatoshu. 

Scar-faced Jason helps to some degree yet also strikes out on his own, to Richman's frustration. When Ames proves to be too successful as a farmer and begins to make more money that Richman or anyone else, he enlists two henchmen to head off to Ames' camp and slaughter him! They fail, which leads Ames to want to break off his heretofore reasonable relationship with Richman.



There's also a mostly un- explored subplot concerning Ames' daughters falling in love with two men of the city, but all four actors involved in this make little-to-no impact at all and are handed nothing to work with in any case.



We do find that Ames' wife Malone has begun to take a fancy to city life and is unhappy when Ames informs her that he doesn't want her coming into the area to shop and experience all the place's wonders.

Things get messy when Opatoshu decides to eliminate Richman during an outing in the hills, with Ames assisting Richman. In the end, Ames is captured by Opatoshu and held hostage for a lengthy period while the escaped Richman proceeds to move all the Hebrews, including Malone and her daughters, into the walled cities, where most of Ames' followers become corrupted. Barry ultimately comes to Ames' rescue.

Later, Barry gets a visit from two of God's angels. (There used to be three if you saw “Abraham's Sacrifice” but the very cutest one is now gone for some reason!) who inform him that the evil place is destined to be destroyed. He pleads that not every inhabitant should be slain until the angels decide to visit the place themselves to see if they can find even ten or twenty men worth saving.

When Ames sees these two white-clad innocents walking along the crime-ridden streets of Sodom & Gommorah, he implores them to come and stay at his home (now within the city.) Jason, however, begins to pound on the door to capture them. 
They use their powers to blind Jason and his guards! Special effects, y'all! 
The angels then lead Ames and Co. out of the city so that they can use their powers (this time flaming swords) to decimate it, but – as the story goes – one of the rescued party cannot resist looking back (against orders) at the destruction of the place and soon regrets it. Opatoshu doggedly pursues Richman through the catacombs of the city in order to avenge the death of his son, killed earlier by the evil monarch.



Practically all of the destruction scenes are lifted from a 1960s Italian peplum epic with just an occasional moment with actors from this project dodging some dust and styrofoam debris as hte camera shakes. It winds up being a bunch of slapped-together hogwash that is poorly matched up together. At least the fairly decent set for the catacombs is unique to this production.



“Jacob's Challenge” is the third story on this disc. Stephen Elliott is tribal leader Isaac who is the father of twin sons. The eldest by a few moments is Peter Fox (as Esau), who as such is entitled to both Elliott's birthright and his blessing. He is his father's favorite though his mother (June Lockhart) leans more towards the other son Jacob. Bruce Fairbairn is a member of a neighboring tribe with whom Elliott enjoys an uneasy alliance. (Fairbairn is the little-known replacement for Michael Ontkean on the last two seasons of The Rookies, 1974-1976, after Ontkean departed the show after two years.)



The principle role of Jacob, in one more hooty instance of casting, is portrayed by The Brady Bunch's (1969- 1974) Barry Williams! Williams is the less-athletic and less-competitive brother, leading to a certain amount of chiding from his own tribesmen as well as the neighboring Hittites.



Another casting highlight, however, comes in the form of Fox's Hittite girlfriend played by Tanya Roberts! Roberts had not yet made her splashy debut on the final season of Charlie's Angels (1980-1981), but was instead getting noticed for sexy roles in movies like Forced Entry (1975), The Yum Yum Girls (1976) and bikini-clad TV-movies such as Zuma Beach (1978) and Pleasure Cove (1979.)



Fox (who had played a recurring role on The Waltons, 1977- 1978, and was then costarring in Delta House, 1979) enjoys the adoration of his father Elliott. (Note the hairy shoulders on Fox as he wrestles a challenger.) He is free to play games, hunt, gamble and carouse to his heart's content. He even weds the undesirable Roberts, much to his mother's annoyance.


Meanwhile, Williams, who is the more devout, devoted and level-headed son, is regarded as a mama's boy and a failure at various manly pursuits. Still, all is not lost for him as his mother is continually trying to come up with ways to make him emerge as the favored of her boys. (While Lockhart is far from a monster, this is probably one of the more driven and duplicitous sort of roles than the usually cheery actress played.)

Williams (who, it must be said, has beautiful eyes through- out the episode, though most of his acting is not much beyond his "Greg Brady") interrupts some of Fox's carefree shenan- igans to impress upon him that he, not Fox, ought to be the one chosen to lead the people. Fox doesn't even care much about it and sets out on a hunt for venison. The unsuccessful Fox straggles in to Williams tent the next morning and Williams manages to trade a freshly-made bowl of lamb stew to a very hungry and fatigued Fox in exchange for the birthright!

When two other brothers, Hittites, hear that Williams now has the birthright, they plot to spoil William's reputation by arranging for him to be caught in a clinch with their sister, Fox's sultry wife Roberts! (The brother shown here, played by William Dovey, actually has a bigger role than top-billed Fairbairn yet isn't even listed on imdb.com!)
While on a hunt with fox, they goad him into returning home early, knowing that their steamy sibling will by then have lured Williams into her tent for a serious talk about religion, even though she's decked out in various baubles and flimsy clothes. She keeps edging closer and losing bits of her outfit until Fox bursts in and "surprises" her with Williams.

Fox is ready to kill his brother over this, but ultimately comes to his senses. Besides, he knows that despite having willingly given up his birthright, he still has his father's all-important blessing.

But does he? When the time does come for the blessing, recently-blinded Elliott falls for a scheme of Lockhart's in which Williams wears one of his brother's gamy coats and applies fur to his arms and neck (!) in order to imitate his brother and receive his dying father's blessing.



When a furious Fox discovers what Williams has done from an apoplectic Elliott, he again wants to kill Williams! Lockhart sends her favorite boy into hiding while also feeling repentant for the deception she concocted. Williams successfully flees to the hills.

Fairbairn and his brother, now at Roberts' urging, next decide to kill Williams them- selves and make it all look like an animal attack so that she and Fox will inherit everything, but a local worker, loyal to Williams, finds out about it and intercedes. 

Williams, now unsure of how to proceed and feeling guilty about his deception in achieving the inheritance of his father, is visited in his sleep by The Almighty and shown the way. This is the legendary Jacob's Ladder, here represented by a large beam of light...



The final story on this disc (and, in fact, of this three-part “tribute!”) is “Joseph in Egypt.” Sam Bottoms (for whom??) plays the title figure, favored son of Jacob (Walter Brooke.)



Other principle roles are filled by Harvey Jason as one of Bottoms' brothers, Barry Nelson (of Airport, 1970) as Pharaoh, The Love Boat's Bernie Kopell (!) as the wealthy Potiphar and Carol Rossen (at the time Hal Holbrook's wife) as his love-starved spouse. Also on board is Albert Salmi as a one-eyed jailor.


Unbilled are two soon-to-be household names in television. Skinny John Larroquette plays another one of Bottoms' many brothers (who would later enact Dan Fielding on Night Court from 1984-1992 and win four Emmys for his trouble!) and Sorrell Booke is a slave trader (who would costar in The Dukes of Hazzard, 1979-1985, as Boss Hogg.)



Bottoms is given the famous “coat of many colors” by his father, causing most of his eleven brothers to seethe with jealousy. 
After he has related a dream to them in which they bow before him, they've really had their fill and decide to throw him down a dry well until the time comes when they can give him away to slave trader Booke. They take his fabled coat, covered in goat's blood, back to Brooke as “proof” that he's dead.


Bottoms has been part of Booke's assemblage, winning favor by working hard despite his enslavement, when Kopell and Rossen happen by on their chariot and the sultry, deceptive wife spots him, making up a reason for Kopell to buy him for her.


Kopell is proud of his new slave, who helps him greatly with finances and the running of the household, and trusts him. He ultimately promotes him to head servant, removing his slave collar and making him the number two man of the estate.

Unfortunately, he hasn't counted on his wife Rossen, resembling the love child of Cher and Roseanne Roseannadanna. She (in a wondrously delicious and loony performance) dolls herself up while Kopell is out hunting and sends for Bottoms, hoping to finally have him to herself in bed (her chief goal all along) at last.



Bottoms protests, of course, but she isn't quelled. Later, she has sexy garments made especially for him (which he refuses to don) and makes another play. Here, her chicken cutlets nearly fall out of their packaging as she clutches for him to join her in bed! When she's rebuffed yet again, she calls for a guard and cries attempted rape.

Upon his return, Kopell is enraged over the incident and sends him to a harsh prison. There, one-eyed warden Salmi has his turn at mistreating the young man for two years until a plague hits the place. 

Bottoms is able to help out both the prisoners and the guards and eventually wins the sick Salmi over, too. In the meantime, though, he has grown hilarious long hair and a thick beard!


Bottoms shares his gift for dream interpretation and prophecy with a fellow prisoner (Joshua Bryant) who had fallen out of favor with Pharaoh. He predicts that Bryant will one day be back at the palace and, sure enough, he soon is. 
Next, at Bryant's urging, Bottoms is summoned by Pharaoh Nelson in order to help with the ruler's fitful, dream-heavy sleep and resulting tormented days. He interprets the dream in such a way that a severe oncoming famine is avoided, making him once again the favorite of his owner. He is given a place of honor second only to Nelson.



Then Bottoms' brothers have come to the city in order to purchase much-needed grain. They haven't counted on a vengeful, yet unrecognizable, Bottoms, though, who intends to make them pay for their cruel treatment of him years before. He threatens to hold one of them, the cherished youngest one, as punishment, but eventually acquiesces when he sees that his brothers are filled with remorse over what they did to him long ago. It all leads to a happy ending, just as this post (which is close to as long as The Bible itself by now!) hopefully will.



I'm nearly done here, but I couldn't resist a little bonus material. First, the three-part DVD release of this project leaves out three stories. (Why??) Though I don't know if they'll ever see the light of day, the opening credits do at least give us a brief glimpse of some of the stars involved (who probably were quite grateful not to have their work in this unearthed!) Robert Vaughn (left) and David Birney (below) starred in "Daniel and the Lion's Den" (with forty year-old Birney as Daniel!) 
Then John Saxon, shown here, starred in "The Judgement of Solomon" with Tom Hallick as Solomon and Carol Lawrence (!) as Bathsheba. Kevin Dobson and Tyne Daly also appeared in that one. No one from the final unrepresented tale "Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar" was shown. That one starred Donnie Most (!) of Happy Days, Hans Conried, David Hedison and Vic Morrow.


Finally, in "The Tower of Babel," there is an actor who portrays one of the resistance fighters. He tries to substitute shoddy, unbaked bricks for the tower and cuts one of the support lines to a scaffold, anything to halt its progress. He's shown here. Anyone recognize him? You can be forgiven if you don't for the tan, manly performer (albeit sporting fluffy highlighted hair) is really best known (and that is in itself a stretch) for playing a key role while dressed as a woman!


This is John Hansen who, nine years prior, enacted the leading role in the notor- iously bad biopic The Christine Jorgensen Story (1970)! Christine Jorgensen was the first widely-known (i.e. - celebrity) transgender personality, having had her surgery in the early 1950s. I recall Leonard Maltin's movie guide saying something about how he looked more feminine as a man in the movie than after the transition!
Though quite daring for its time, especially for a mainstream film, it was pretty heavily derided and was not well-attended enough to become a hit. 
This is the real Christine Jorgensen later in lifer (She died of cancer in 1989 at age sixty-two.)
Hansen, who first role in a movie this was, suffered career trauma from the stigma of being a man as a woman kissing a man, not working again (except for an appearance on Hawaii 5-O) for seven years. When he did work again, it was a supporting role in a TV-movie and that's where he remained. His final stab at acting professionally came in 1983. Naturally, we have to close with the one lobby card that showed his chest! Ha! (The men in this scene were supposed to be "nude" in an army shower, but they didn't crop the photo correctly...)

Thus ends this testament to crazed casting! I hope you got a kick out of this and that you some day get to check out this miniseries (and, if you haven't, The Christine Jorgensen Story!) firsthand. Amen.

Editor's Note:  Are you ready for this? After having purchased these three separate DVDs a few months ago and painstakingly profiled them for your reading and viewing pleasure, I was JUST ABOUT to finish this post and submit it for your perusal when I was passing through a large member's only store and saw that, at last, the entire 15-episode miniseries is now available in one package, in its entirety, for under $20.00.... As Ava Garder said at the start of Earthquake (1974) "Goddammit!"