Saturday, December 30, 2017

Guest Who: Call for "The Doctors"

We catch all sorts of heat at work for daring to watch vintage television during our sole 20-minute break. Flipping between The Doctors (a daytime drama that aired from 1963-1982), Ray Combs installments of Family Feud, The Big Valley and The Ed Sullivan Show, we have to endure endless comments from passersby such as, "What the hell are you watching??" or "Is this some old show or what..." There are joys though, too, such as when I am watching The Doctors and spy something interesting or unusual.

Take, for example, this episode. Thanks to a complicated (it is a soap opera after all!) story line that I won't bore you with, one of the primary doctors and his doctor wife find themselves in need of a psychologist for their young daughter. They fretfully consult with a young doctor on staff at the hospital over how to best proceed with the situation.
The doctor turns out to be none other than a young Ted Danson! This is an uncredited appearance that cannot be found at It aired in February, 1975 and is very likely his first time acting on national television in a speaking role. He was twenty-eight.

Later that year, he won a regular role on another soap opera, Somerset, and stayed for close to two years. Then in 1977, he returned to The Doctors as an entirely different, regular character.

We love having the ability to unearth these early bits of work by people who later became famous for something else (in Danson's case, a long run on Cheers and a variety of movies such as Three Men and a Baby among a multitude of other projects continuing up to the present.)

Of course, we also enjoy The Doctors because it gives us a chance to watch the early work of one Gil Gerard, best known for playing Buck Rogers in the 25th Century from 1979 to 1981. He wasn't a guest, but played a regular character for about two years. He's seen here during a marriage ceremony.

After the ceremony, the lovebirds head off on their honeymoon and ol' Gil starts to strip down (as far as 1975 daytime TV would allow.)
He and his newlywed bride enjoy some champagne and a few soulful kisses until the hit song "The First Time Ever (I Saw Your Face)" comes on and they embark on their primary honeymoon task (which, for them, truly was "the first time!")

This wasn't Gerard's acting debut. He'd been in countless TV commercials and had a couple of small film roles before this. His run on the show was getting close to an end, though it wasn't long before he was cast in Airport '77, the place we first experienced him. He was thirty-two at the time. If our keen eyes spot anyone else of note, you'll be the first to hear about it!

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Leftover Christmas Turkey

Well, most of you seemed to like it when I served up some Thanksgiving Turkey, courtesy of the Douglas McClelland compilation book "Hollywood Talks Turkey: The Screen's Greatest Flops" so I've come back to offer you one more helping. Hope you enjoy the quotes and the accompanying pictures!

CARROLL BAKER: "With John Michael Hayes at times handing in pages of script only three or four days in advance of filming, we somehow managed not only to get Harlow (1965) onto celluloid but also to bring the movie in well within that skimpy, squeezed, impossible shooting schedule producer Joseph E. Levine had dictated in his race with the Electronovision version [of the same story, starring Carol Lynley.]...A team of editors stood by to cut the film the second it was hot out of the developing room. Electronovision beat us into the movie houses, but only just. We had bee very close behind, just close enough to add to the public's confusion and to damage our own potential. Levine had been the first to call our movie a bomb, and he had blamed the rival version. However, it soon became and has since remained Carroll Baker's Harlow."
ROBERT REDFORD: "How do I feel about putting so much work into a picture that fails? [1974's The Great Gatsby] It's like robbing a bank and then discovering you carried the wrong bag out, and all you've got for your trouble is a sackful of old rags. But most things fall short of the mark, and that's the chance you take. The mistake, it seems to me, is to linger over it. I think the hype on Gatsby was damaging. It was offensive to a lot of people."
AL PACINO: "Revolution (1985)--I wish it hadn't turned out that way [a $19,000,000 fiasco, out of theaters in three weeks.] How could I not care? But I never felt my career was over. I always go back to work. What else can I do?"
LAUREN BACALL: "Confidential Agent (1945) was a horror. The critics had said that I was the sun the moon and the stars when To Have and Have Not came out. When Confidential Agent was released they all said they had been wrong, and I should be sent back to where I came from. They put me up on the top rung of the ladder, and then pulled me down, and I spent the next 20 years trying to get back up."
RUTH WARRICK: "Initially, there was great interest in Arch of Triumph (1948.) It was from an internationally popular Erich Maria Remarque novel...Well, the picture was a complete disaster, a victim of terrible miscasting. Ingrid Bergman was the first one cast-that should have warned people off the bat. Like everyone else then, I admired her as an actress but here she was supposed to be playing this frail, poor little Parisian drifter. This big, blonde, healthy Swedish girl! And in the most glamorous Edith Head gowns! In the opening scene, when she's on the bridge contemplating suicide, and Charles Boyer comes up to her-well, he comes up to about her nose! Then there was a scene in the script where they go to her apartment and was was supposed to carry her up the stairs. At least they realized this would have been totally ridiculous, so it was not filmed...Most of my scenes were with Boyer...Now in Hollywood during those years not that many actors were adept at using props to call attention to themselves. But Boyer was a theater man, too. I remember one scene we had together in the cafe. We rehearsed it; our director Lewis Milestone said, 'Fine, let's shoot it.' When the cameras began to roll, Boyer suddenly pulled out this huge silver cigarette case that had been nowhere in sight during rehearsal. He lit his cigarette, puffed and puffed and blew the smoke all around my face! I laughed! I just laughed! Then I said, 'Now I know what they were talking about.' That calmed him down...There was about a 45-minute episode involving me in the hospital where I was dying with cancer. Arch was shot in 1946 when cancer was like AIDS-no one discussed it. So they felt my whole hospital segment would be a good one to discard (from the then nearly four-hour cut of the film.)"
VINCENT PRICE: "We knew during the filming that The Story of Mankind (1957) was heading downwards; the script was bad to begin with and it worsened with daily changes. I remember one puzzled visitor asking Ronnie Coleman, 'Is this picture based on a book?,' and he replied in that beautiful, soft diction of his, 'Yes. But they are using only the notes on the dust jacket.'"

ELIZABETH TAYLOR: "God, when I think of some of the movies, like Beau Brummel (1954.) I never saw that film until after Richard [Burton] and I were married. It was on television and Richard turned it on. I had to change stations after about five minutes-I mean, I was so embarrassing in it."
DANA ANDREWS: "My worst picture? Probably Enchanted Island (1958) with Jane Powell. Director John Huston originally had the rights to it, but when he sold the story, the new producer's wife [Dolores Moran] completely rewrote it, took out everything of quality in it and we were given the worst dialogue you could ever imagine to try to say. I don't think anyone ever made any sense of it. Disgraceful!"
JEANNE CRAIN: "I may have been in it, but wild horses couldn't drag me to see a movie called Hot Rods to Hell (1967.) As it turned out, most people felt the same way."

BEVERLY GARLAND: "Stark Fear (1962)? Oh, Christ! That was the worst picture I ever made in my life! We made that in Oklahoma. The head of the drama department of a college there wanted to do a movie. So he and his wife wrote this script, and they directed it, and it was a disaster. I went to see it in Westwood, and when I asked someone how long it was going to run he said, 'It's been here two days and there've been three people to see it. It'll never run again.' I was just abominable."
JACK LEMMON: "We were sitting together at a screening of Alex and the Gypsy (1976.) After it was over, Walter [Matthau] said something I'd never heard anyone say to a someone about a movie. I'd heard the remark made to an actor in a bad play. He turned to me and said, ' Get out of it.'"

LIV ULLMANN: "I did Lost Horizon (1973) and they gave me a fantastic [Hollywood] house to live in, but you couldn't even see the toilets because they were discreetly disguised as chairs. As soon as the film was over, I went back to Sweden to make another film for [Ingmar] Bergman on a deserted island with no drinking water, where you had to walk almost a mile to an outside toilet. It was more fulfilling than doing Lost Horizon."
HARRISON FORD: "Hanover Street (1979)? Look, at that stage in my career I'd made American Graffiti, Star Wars, Heroes and Force 10 from Navarone and I'd yet to kiss a girl or be involved romantically. Then along came this love story and I agreed to do it, expecting that the script, which I didn't have total faith in, would be changed as we went along. Well, it wasn't. And making the film was not a happy experience for me. I haven't seen it so I don't like talking about it. I keep saying that if 50 people tell me they like it, then I may change my mind and see it. But so far I'm just up to 18 so there's no immediate danger of that happening."
BETTE DAVIS: "It had been decided that my work as a tragedian should be temporarily halted for a change of pace. Jimmy Cagney, who had made the gangster artistic-Jimmy, who was one of the fine actors on mine or any lot-Jimmy, with whom I'd always wanted to work in something fine, spent most of this time in the picture removing cactus quills from my behind. This was supposedly hilarious. We romped about the desert and I kept falling into cactus. We both reached bottom with that one. It was called The Bride Came C.O.D. (1941.)"
JOAN CRAWFORD: "Reunion in France (1942)-oh, god. If there is an afterlife, and I am to be punished for my sins, this is the one they'll make me see over and over again. John Wayne and I both went down for the count, not just because of a silly script, but because we were so mismatched. Get John out of the saddle and you've got trouble."
Christmas Bonus:
Joan looks particularly fretful here. Not sure if it's due to the Nazis or the fact that her career at MGM is in serious jeopardy with yet another career-killer like this turkey.
The Duke and the Queen were indeed reunited once more in 1970 when John Wayne presented Joan Crawford with that year's Cecil B. DeMille Award at the annual Golden Globes ceremony. They would both be deceased before the 1980s dawned, but perhaps were reunited still another time in the afterlife?

Saturday, December 23, 2017

The Best & The Worst: Winter Kills

This is a potential new feature here at Poseidon's Underworld, a stab a short posts that point out what we find to be the best and worst aspects of a particular project without going into a full-on review. As we are sure to be receiving a very heavy amount of work in 2018, there may be more brief postings versus the intensive ones you may have come to expect. Anyway... in this first one, we'll cover the worst first!
The Worst:  For reasons known only to director William Richert, 1979's Winter Kills, a politically-oriented black comedy, features an extended scene of a craggy and out-of-shape, seventy-three year-old John Huston in a skimpy pair of red briefs and little else. He wakes up his son Jeff Bridges to rail against his enemies.
It's difficult to focus on the content of his outraged monologue to costar Jeff Bridges as we are confronted by his pale, mashed-potato-lumpy physique which is in no way made more palatable by a cream-colored robe. (This comes after we've already watched a rather sultry young woman fondle his debauched character through his slacks while sitting in a golf cart!)
The Best: Thankfully on hand to salve our scorched corneas is a youthful and attractive Jeff Bridges, who has another scene of his in bed, clearly without benefit of pajamas.

Bridges eventually sits up and shows off the fact that he's been sleeping au naturel. Just on the cusp of thirty, he was in good shape at this time.
During this sequence of the movie, Bridges has a love scene with Belinda Bauer and after he gets up to walk around, the frame zooms in optically - becoming grainy and blurred - and in essence crops out what I am certain was at one point a frontal or partially frontal nude scene. The movie has never been particularly easy to find and has been cut in various different versions, so I don't know if anyone ever got to see him in the altogether before someone took it upon himself to edit it out. But if you're in the right frame of mind, the film has some interest and contains a fairly fascinating supporting cast. 

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Sorry, Wrong Movie...

Woe to the poor young movie buff in the late-20th century, scanning the local TV guide in the hopes of stumbling across one of the classic films he'd been hankering to see for a long time. In those early-VCR/pre-TCM days, one had to become actively involved if he wished to actually see a particular movie. You had to be in front of the set at the given time and pray for no pre-emptions, power failures or static on-screen. So imagine the horror that awaited young Irvin or Marty, settling in with the 27" in his grandma's basement to catch the great 1948 classic Sorry, Wrong Number with Miss Barbara Stanwyck only to discover....
The 1989 TV-movie Sorry, Wrong Number starring Loni Anderson!
This is most likely the only time one would find Anderson and (a slumming) Hal Holbrook in the same airspace, unless perhaps it was at her then-husband Burt Reynolds' house for a dinner party! The on-screen husband in this movie, Carl Weintraub, has a considerable number of credits considering I've never heard of him before in my life! Turns out he also appeared in another one of Anderson's re-dos, Coins in the Fountain in 1990! Anderson had also done A Letter to Three Wives in 1985. The only reason I didn't put those two in this post was because I've already noted them here.
Or how about the nail-biting classic Night of the Hunter with Robert Mitchum, redone in 1991 with Richard Chamberlain as the sadistic phony preacher in search of some stolen loot?
This redux lacks the atmospheric direction of the great Charles Laughton, has Diana Scarwid in Shelley Winters' old role and doesn't even bother trying to cast an actress of any notoriety in Lillian Gish's part...
Now, granted, the 1965 William Castle shocker was no sterling screen classic, but it did offer the ferocious charms of Joan Crawford to help offset some of the teenage inanity on display. This 1988 remake, I Saw What You Did, offers no such recompense.
Instead the movie enlists two Carradines, Robert and David, for "star power" and hopes in vain that the two young stars (and an even younger Candace Cameron as the sibling of Shawnee Smith) can carry the rest of the dramatic load.
While we have you on the line, let's take a peek at Dial M for Murder, not the 1954 Hitchcock thriller with Ray Milland a Grace Kelly, but a 1981 remake with Christopher Plummer and Angie Dickinson.
Stepping into the roles once essayed by Bob Cummings and John Williams are Michael Parks and Anthony Quayle. (This venerable tale was done once more as a feature film with Michael Douglas and Gwyneth Paltrow in 1998 and called A Perfect Murder that time.)
Another Hitchcock movie, the revered 1954 suspense drama Rear Window, was given a redux in 1998. Now we aren't about to pick on the severely injured Christopher Reeve and actually applaud the fact that he, in his disabled state, was able to continue working as an actor and director...
However, like so many remakes of good movies, the end product just didn't quite do it. And the less said about a dressed-down Darryl Hannah in a rendition of Grace Kelly's role the better.
On paper this one looked fascinating. A remake of the 1962 Bette Davis-Joan Crawford thriller What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? with real-life sisters, Lynn and Vanessa Redgrave.
In execution it was a dour, dreary, wrong-headed mess, completely lacking the delicious tension and high-pitched emotional flourish of the original.
One nearly always thinks of Doris Day and Mary Crosby in the same vein, right? WRONG. Somehow the slinky babe whose character was responsible for seducing and shooting J.R. Ewing on Dallas wound up as the frantic target in Midnight Lace, a redo of Day's 1960 melodrama.
Stepping into Rex Harrison's (!) shoes was Gary Frank of the TV series Family.
This glitzy 1988 pairing, of Robert Wagner and Lesley-Anne Down, was brought about for the TV remake of 1958's Indiscreet.
The original got by on it's star power (no less than Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman), not on it's thin story of forbidden romance. So this pale imitation really didn't stand much of a chance from the get-go.
If Wagner and Down in any way fell short of Grant and Bergman, imagine John Shea and Jenny Robertson stepping into the pair's shoes for a 1992 remake of one of their more enduring works, 1946's Notorious!
This time, once again, someone was doing over a Hitchcock film that had been a tremendous hit. WHO was even asking for these pale remakes?!
At least this one, 1984's Sentimental Journey, was a remake of a film that wasn't exactly a blockbuster the first time around (in 1946, with Maureen O'Hara and John Payne.) Here, Jaclyn Smith and David Dukes played a married couple faced with the oncoming death of the wife.
Smith insists upon adopting a young boy (a girl in the original) so that Dukes will have someone on-hand to love after she's gone (this was pre-Tinder and possibly even pre-Great Expectations dating service?) Smith later did a lacking remake of 1950's Three Secrets in 1999.
This one was rough. 1985's The Bad Seed was a remake of the 1956 camp classic that had netted Oscar nominations for several of its participants. This pallid, pastel update starred Blair Brown and an utterly resistible Carrie Wells as the title figure.
In Henry Jones' old role of the skeptical and cantankerous handyman, David Carradine took over. Lynn Redgrave also appeared as the smothering landlady (only in this instance, bedecked in horrible '80s clothing, including some gaudy aerobic gear!)
Now the 1939 film Jamaica Inn (yet another Hitchcock redo) was not exactly an indelible classic (in fact, it's the one sound film of Hitch's that I've never been able to get all the way through), so perhaps this 1983 one isn't all bad.
One thing going for it is the fact that Jane Seymour (in Maureen O'Hara's old role) was often highly watchable during this part of her career. Also, apart from Patrick McGoohan in Charles Laughton's part, the movie boasted some great character actors like Peter Vaughan and Billie Whitelaw, so this one might be worth a look.
Jane was back at it the following year, this time in a double dose, for Dark Mirror (the TV title eliminated the "The" no matter what this artwork says), a remake of the 1946 Olivia de Havilland thriller The Dark Mirror.
In the 1980s, pre-Dr. Quinn, Seymour was an EXCEPTIONAL bad girl in a slew of projects, the highlight of which was East of Eden (a remake done as a miniseries.) This movie was a camp hoot but, since it costars Stephen Collins, it isn't likely to be popping up a lot on the tube.
Still going "dark" for a moment, I give you 1976's Dark Victory, starring Elizabeth Montgomery and Anthony Hopkins! Note the way the advertising imposes a smiling, long-haired Montgomery over the short-haired photo of her after enduring a brain tumor removal. What the hell were they thinking? "Samantha Stevens Does Cancer?"
This was one of several serious telefilms that Montgomery made in the wake of Bewitched to reinvent her screen persona and avoid being typecast as a sitcom spellbinder. Note Michele Lee in the inset as her best friend. It may have been an okay film (I don't recall seeing it), though I doubt it made anyone forget Bette Davis' famous 1939 tearjerker!
Christmas is nearly upon us, so I may as well begin to wrap things up in that vein. You say you don't recall 1977's It Happened One Christmas ever being a feature film beforehand? Well, you'd be right if you were going strictly by the title...
The story, however, was a re-envisioning of 1946's immortal It's a Wonderful Life, which starred James Stewart and Donna Reed. Here, we have Marlo Thomas as their grown daughter, about to commit suicide off the side of a bridge until an angel (Cloris Leachman) comes to save her. So it's both a distaff remake and a continuation all in one!  (Or to some, a rip-off!)
I end for good with one more television remake, this time of the musical Kismet (filmed sans music in 1944 with Ronald Coleman and Marlene Dietrich and then in its musicalized form in 1955 with Howard Keel, Ann Blyth and Dolores Gray.)  Here, the headliner is Jose Ferrer.
You see, I promised I Dream of Jeannie's Barbara Eden that she could have equal time with Bewitched's Elizabeth Montgomery. Here she is in yet another belly-baring, Arabian-flavored role! (And don't miss her shirtless pal in the background.)
In fact, that's a great place to end this post. It's getting warm in here! This might be one occasion in which the remake is (in at least one way) more "entertaining" than the original. We know there are more of these (Tuesday Weld's 1981 take on Madame X comes to mind), so share any recollections you might have if you wish!