Friday, December 25, 2020

Hollywood, Christmas Style

For those of you hoping I would continue with the annual tradition of featuring holiday glamour photos of Hollywood eye candy, you won't be disappointed. Randomly selected from the archive.... here you go!

June Haver caught kissing Santa Claus!
Leslie Brooks
Judy Garland
Olive Thomas
Diana Dors
Harry Langdon... okay, I thought it was funny.
Diana Lynn (I'd like to be that snowman.)
Jane Greer says, "Well, I can ask for it, can't I?"
Louise Brooks
Delores Del Rio

Friday, December 18, 2020

The Little Rascals Preservation & Restoration Project

Our Gang, also known as The Little Rascals, continue to air on television decades after they first premiered in theaters back during the silent era. Released commercially on VHS and DVD multiple times, fans of the comedies are fully aware of how the original nitrates have been decomposing. What continues to get re-released on DVD and screened on television are the same 1980s print transfers, slightly fuzzy and with occasional defects. Finally, almost 90 years later, the comedy shorts are being digitally restored and you have the option to help make that happen.

Created by studio executive Hal Roach, the same man responsible for those Thelma Todd, Charley Chase and Laurel and Hardy comedies, the shorts are today noted for showing children behaving in a relatively natural way. Those raw nuances apparent in children make the gems touching and comedic. They also broke ground by portraying white and black children interacting as equals -- even though on rare occasion someone crawls out of the woodwork to express otherwise.

Classic Flix, through a licensing agreement with Hallmark, who owns the rights to the comedy shorts, was hell bent on preserving and restoring the first 22 sound shorts. The budget, set at $70,000, could easily have been twice as much ($140,000) because of the truly horrible condition of the film elements. In most cases, the elements themselves are on nitrate film stock, almost 90 years old. The company has a track record for restoring films from original elements, with superior results. The sound would also be restored.

Regrettably, the crowdfunding platform was not a success and only 45 percent of the funds were raised. As a result, the restoration project was cut in half and only the first 11 shorts will be contained on volume one, featuring shorts from 1929 to 1930. 

Thankfully, a second volume may happen if the first volume sell enough copies. The company has a link where people can pre-order the first volume now to continue supporting the cause:

Friday, December 11, 2020


Beginning in 1955, Karel Zeman began work on what would become six significant motion-pictures combining animation and live-action for science-fiction classics, half of which were based on the works of Jules Verne. The first was Journey to the Beginning of Time, inspired by Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth, which tens of thousands of children remember watching in the 1950s on a Chicago regional children's television program. The film was screened in segments in serial format.

This was followed by Facing the Flag (1958), emulating the original illustrations for Verne's novels, also known as The Fabulous World of Jules Verne. This was followed by three Verne escapes that science-fiction fans are always seeking out to watch: The Fabulous Baron Munchausen (1962), The Stolen Airship (1967) and On the Comet (1970). Filmmakers Tim Burton and Terry Gilliam credit Zeman's work as a partial influence on their craft. 

Very little has been documented about Zeman and his work until the recent issue of Filmfax (issue #157) was released on newsstands this past month. Woodson Hughes put together a fabulous magazine article containing numerous behind-the-scenes photos and historical perception of the films he produced. His films were recently restored from archival elements and released on DVD. And in 2015 a documentary was released about Zeman. It seems his work was always appreciated and now brought to the attention of mass media for rediscovery. I recommend you subscribe to Filmfax magazine, and be sure to grab the recent issue with Woodson Hughes' article. 


Friday, December 4, 2020


The Lone Ranger radio program premiered in 1933, broadcast from radio station WXYZ in Detroit, Michigan. By 1934 the program extended coverage beyond Michigan, reaching as far west as Chicago and as far East as New York City and Connecticut. Beginning in February 1938, producer George W. Trendle commissioned every radio broadcast of The Lone Ranger be recorded on transcription disc for syndication. By April 1938 the radio program could be heard across the nation courtesy of these transactions, under local sponsorship. In Atlanta the program could be sponsored by a local bakery and in Houston the program could be sponsored by a furniture store. 

But regardless of what fans mistakenly insist, not every radio broadcast was transcribed. The Christmas Eve broadcast of 1939 was never recorded, as verified by a notation on the radio script, "Not for Transcription," to the consecutive sequential order on the disc labels. It is assumed that the reason for this radio broadcast not being transcribed is because local radio stations airing the programs via transcription discs might have difficulty airing a Christmas episode during a non-festive time period such as April or June. Thankfully, the radio script exists so reprinted below is the plot summary for the Christmas 1939 broadcast, filling in the gap that will never be fulfilled in recorded format. 

Broadcast December 24, 1939 
Plot: John Lambert is forced to take in his two grandsons, Bruce and Tim, when he learns that their mother is dying and needs someone to care for. In the day preceding Christmas, separated by their mother, the boys are unable to spend a joyous holiday. To Lambert, it was merely an inevitable nuisance. But to Martha Lambert, John’s wife, the approaching holiday ranked with those of her own son’s childhood. During a blizzard, the boys learn the truth and run away in the hopes of rejoining their dying mother, who lives three days’ travel south of the Lambert ranch. The two boys fought their way through the blizzard hand in hand. The snow blinded them… the fierce cold was agony. To keep Tim occupied, Bruce tells him the story of the Nativity. When the Lone Ranger discovers what has happened, he races to find the boys and rescue them. John, meanwhile, feels sorry for the scornful way he treated his son when he married Laura, then despised Laura when his son died. The Ranger finds the boys and brings them back to the Ranch, where they discover their grandpa doesn’t hate them. And their mother is also at the ranch, thanks to Tonto and his wonderful methods of healing the sick.