Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Joan Rivers in That Show (1968)

My friend Michael turned me on to this show, which has just been added to Hulu. It's Joan River's 1968 syndicated talk show. Each half hour episode featured a different subject ranging from men's shirts to boating safety and included a monologue on the subject, an expert and a celebrity guest. Guests included June Havoc, Shecky Green, Joel Gray, Donald Pleasence and in the episode below, Lily Tomlin.
This episode covers the subject of stand-up comedy and how new talent is nurtured in the business. Lily Tomlin was then playing in night clubs in the village and had yet to break out on Laugh In. There are lots of episodes to choose from over at Hulu, I recommend the show for it's curious, sixties TV quality and the opportunity to see Joan Rivers and her celebrity guests back then.

Obscurity factor: 9 (largely forgotten, not on DVD, available on Hulu)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Richard Crenna & Lee J. Cobb in Double Indemnity (1973)

This television remake of the iconic film noir might, on the surface seem like a mistake. It is, of course, not the original, however it holds its own, and there's a lot to like about it. The story is the familiar one told so beautifully back in 1944 by Billy Wilder, but it's updated to then present day LA. Walter Neff (Crenna) is an insurance agent who gets caught in a complicated web of intrigue by Phyllis Dietrickson (Samantha Eggar) when she enlists him to help her do away with her husband. Barton Keyes (Cobb) is the pensive investigator who just misses putting it all together until the last reel. This production was adapted for television by a young Steven Bochco from the original film and novel by James M. Cain. Much like in the neo noir film The Long Goodbye by Altman, also released in 1973, it's fun and incongruous to see the hard boiled dialog and world weary noir characters among the trappings of early 70's Los Angeles.

You can find this version of the story among the extras of the DVD release of the original 1944 film. It can also be seen on StageVu, uploaded by Horror Vision. It's otherwise difficult to find.

Obscurity factor: 8 (available as an extra on the original film's DVD, also on StageVu, largely forgotten)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Joan Crawford in Because I Love Him (1953)

The last in our series of Joan Crawford anthology series appearances finds Joan playing a wife who learns her husband has only a year to live. The episode, which appeared on Revlon Mirror Theater is a very melodramatic melodrama full of noble sacrifice and beautiful suffering. The plot is a bit far out with very strange medical ethics and outrageous circumstances, but Joan pulls it off.

The series this episode was a part of is somewhat obscure itself. It ran for only two seasons and gets lost amid other more prominent anthology series like GE Theater and The Loretta Young Show. It's never been available on DVD, though individual episodes can be found on YouTube. Segment one is above, uploaded to YouTube by shanecincy.

Obscurity factor: 9 (Not on DVD, largely forgotten, available on YouTube)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Joan Crawford in The Road to Edinburgh (1954)

The third in our series of Joan Crawford anthology series appearances finds her in Great Britain. Mary Andrews is a successful reporter on her way to cover the Edinburgh festival. While driving she gets a flat tire and is aided by a mysterious man to whom she gives a ride. She's later sorry that she brought him along when he admits to being just released from prison and a report is heard on the radio about a prisoner who has just escaped. Will she make it to Edinburgh in one piece?

This was an earlier appearance of Joan's on GE Theater (And One was Loyal, posted on Friday, was filmed 5 years later). Part one is above, uploaded to YouTube by shanecincy.

Obscurity factor: 9 (not on DVD, little known, available on YouTube)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The New Shmoo by Hanna-Barbera

In 1948 Al Capp introduced the Shmoo to readers of his comic strip L'il Abner. An amiable, white pear shaped creature with no arms, the Shmoo represented the bounty of the Earth and it's availability to all of humanity. Shmoon (plural for Shmoo) became a national craze and touched off political debates, angering people on both sides of the political spectrum. By 1979, the Shmoo craze had abated to the point where it was a dim memory, but not so dim that it didn't rate one last revival. This series by Hanna-Barbera was similar to the studio's mega-hit Scooby Doo - a group of crime fighting kids get into curious adventures with their non-human mascot. In this case, that mascot was the Shmoo. It differed from Capp's original creature in that it could transmogrify into the shape of anything it wanted at will. The series wasn't particularly successful. It only ran for 16 episodes, but it left an indelible impression on my young mind because the Shmoo was always kind and loving, even to the crooks.
The episode above is the first of the series - The Amazing Captain Mentor. It's remarkably complex for a cartoon, with some good lessons about not taking everyone at face value and the dangers of letting people take the law into their own hands. It was uploaded to Filby by IceCold.

Obscurity factor: 9 (largely forgotten, available on Filby, not on DVD)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Joan Crawford in And One Was Loyal (1959)

Continuing the series of Joan Crawford anthology show appearances, this one is from General Electric Theater. Joan plays Ann Howard, a painter and the abused wife of a plantation boss in Singapore. Her life drastically changes when George Manson (Tom Helmore) visits the plantation unexpectedly.

This series has never had a commercial DVD release, though copies can be found on certain sites. This particular episode has some great melodramatic moments and a nice surprise ending. It was uploaded to YouTube by shanecincy.

Obscurity factor: 9 (little known, not on DVD, available on YouTube)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Joan Crawford in One Must Die (1961)

Like many film stars of the time, Joan Crawford did quite a bit of television in the 50's and 60's. Many people are familiar with her appearances on The Virginian and Here's Lucy, as well as her failed pilot, Royal Bay, which became the feature Della but before that she starred in one-off episodes of quite a few anthology series. In this one - Zane Gray Theater - she plays twins in a twisted story of family relationships gona awry.

This series has yet to be available on DVD, though you can get unofficial collections on various sites. This episode has been uploaded to YouTube by shanecincy. Part one is above.

Obscurity factor: 10 (hard to find, almost completely forgotten.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Jerry Lewis & Madeline Kahn in Slapstick of Another Kind (1982)

I have to credit blog reader Leighton in making me aware of this adaptation of the Kurt Vonnegut novel, called the worst film ever made by many reviewers. It features Jerry Lewis and Madeline Kahn playing a pair seemingly mentally deficient twins as well as their "beautiful people" parents. It's discovered that the twins aren't actually retarded, but are geniuses with the capacity to solve all the earth's problems. Themes of rejection, prejudice and short sighted lack of compassion for humanity run through the film, disguised by comedic gags and wacky goings-on.
MoviePosterShop.com
This film fails on many levels, though there are flashes of brilliance in some of the performances. The  impressive cast also including Marty Feldman, Jim Backus, Merv Griffin, Pat Morita, Virginia Graham and the voice of Orson Welles (uncredited).

Above are two trailers for the film, uploaded to YouTube by akiragp. It's available on VHS and there was a European release on DVD, but it's a region two, so won't play on some American players.

Obscurity factor: 9 (on DVD in Europe, limited distribution at time of release, not well remembered)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Michael J. Fox in Midnight Madness (1980)

This wacky, college comedy has the distinction of being Michael J. Fox's first theatrical release film. Leon (Alan Soloman) is a maniacal gamester who challenges five groups of kids to an overnight game. They must follow a series of clues that lead them on a merry chase around Los Angeles. The first group to reach the final destination wins. The groups are rather broadly drawn with stereotyped jocks, nerds, sorority sisters, good guys and villains. Michael J. Fox plays Scott, the baby brother of the leader of the good guys team.
MoviePosterShop.com
This film was one of Disney's first attempts to compete with films like Animal House for an older demographic. Below is a scene set in a pinball arcade that pits the green team (jocks) against the red (sorority sisters). Yes, that's Paul Rubins as the cowboy. It was uploaded to YouTube by drcaroldc.

This film is available on DVD. It's largely forgotten, however, though if mentioned to people of a certain age it elicits an "Oh yeah!" response.

Obscurity factor: 7 (dimly remembered, on DVD, scenes available on YouTube)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Burt Reynolds & Dom DeLuise in The End

In this dark comedy, Sonny Lawson (Reynolds) is diagnosed with a terminal blood desease and after consulting with an adolescent priest (Robby Benson), speaking with his lawyer (David Steinberg) and spending some time with the people in his life - his mistress (Sally Field), ex wife (Joanne Woodward) and daughter (Kristy McNichol) - decides to commit suicide. He wakes up in an asylum after an unsuccessful attempt, only to be confronted by Myron Borunki (DeLuise), a paranoid schizophrenic who, upon hearing Sonny's sad story, cheerfully, repeatedly and homicidally offers him help to achieve his goal.
MoviePosterShop.com
This is, arguably, the film I've written up so far that least deserves its status as obscure. It's full of pithy insight into human nature, outrageous comedy and even a few honestly sincere moments of sentiment. DeLuise gives a really hilarious, laugh-out-loud performance and Reynolds, who also directs is as charming as ever. It's wonderful to see the cameos by star after star, including Myrna Loy, Pat O'Brien, Norman Fell and Carl Reiner. Top that off with a Paul Williams theme sung by Glen Campbell that I'm rapidly becoming obsessed with and you have a terrific package.

This film is available on DVD and can be watched instantly on Netflix. The trailer above was uploaded to YouTube by MovieTrailerMonkey.

Obscurity factor: 5 (has small legion of fans, though largely unknown to general public, on DVD, available on Netflix Instant)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Cary Grant in Walk Don't Run (1966)

In this mod remake of the 1943 classic The More the Merrier with Jean Arthur, Joel McCrea and Charles Coburn we meet Sir William Rutland (Grant), a business man in Tokyo at the time of the summer olympics. He's arrived two days early and is confronted with the housing shortage and no place to stay. On the board at the British embassy he sees a notice for an apartment to share which brings him to the small home of Christine Easton (Samantha Eggar) who, preferring a female roommate, reluctantly agrees to let him the room. He, in turn, lets half of his half to Steve Davis (Jim Hutton) who is there to compete in the olympics. This, of course, is less than acceptable to Christine, however she has spent Rutland's rent money, so is in no position to put them out.
MoviePosterShop.com
This film is notable as Grant's last. He was going through something of a career crisis, feeling uncomfortable playing romantic leads to much younger women. This film gave him the chance to step out of that role. It wasn't a remarkably successful film and Grant never made another one, choosing to rely on his real estate investments instead.

This film is available on DVD and can be watched online at Netflix It has very little presence in online video other than that, however. All I could find, aside from a scene dubbed in Spanish with ear-searingly high volume, was this delightful piece from the Quincy Jones soundtrack, uploaded by mod13jazz.

Obscurity factor: 7 (on DVD & Netflix, known as Grant's last film, not well known otherwise)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Mel Blanc in To Itch His Own (1959)

Angelo is tired. He's been working too hard as the primary attraction at Sam's circus, so he decides to take a nice vacation on some dog in the country. Hilarity ensues when the dog next door tries to bully Angelo's vacation rental.

This is one of those one-off shorts from Warner Bros. directed by Chuck Jones. It's short on dialog but long on comedy. It was uploaded to YouTube by nano316.

Obscurity factor: 7 (has small legion of die hard fans, otherwise forgotten, not on DVD that I can find, on YouTube)

Friday, August 19, 2011

Vincent Price & Coral Browne in Time Express (1979)

A second chance at some defining moment in life - that's what the Time Express offered its passengers. Jason and Margaret Winters (real life husband and wife team Price and Browne) led their charges back in time to re-live some important circumstance on a ghost train manned by victims of a horrible wreck in 1898. Each episode featured two stories of people given another opportunity to make things right.

This series only ran for four episodes in the spring of 1979. Above is the opening credits to the series, uploaded to YouTube by skaryguy71.

Obscurity factor: 9 (known mostly only to Price fans, not on DVD, only credits on YouTube)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Michael Parks in Then Came Bronson (1969)

Jim Bronson is a free wheeling symbol of America's discontent. He rides around the country, searching for meaning and helping to make things right with the people he encounters. This series, which lasted a year on NBC started life as a TV movie in which Bronson, a newspaper reporter loses his best friend (Martin Sheen) to suicide. This prompts a reevaluation of his priorities and sets him off on a new course as a wanderer.
Wikipedia
The original film was released as a feature in Europe. Look for Sheree North in a small role.

This pilot film has been released on DVD, but the series has yet to be so honored. Above is the entire film, uploaded to YouTube by Meckipsychman.

Obscurity factor: 4 (remembered by fans, otherwise largely forgotten, partially on DVD and YouTube)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Paula Wilcox in Miss Jones and Son (1977)

This late 70's brit-com was first broadcast on ITV. It featured Paula Wilcox as Elizabeth Jones who, against the wishes of her family, decided to have a baby out of wedlock. The consequences of that - a change in lifestyle, awkward social situations, reallocation of finances - were the fodder for comedy in the series. Emotional support for Elizabeth came from her neighbor Geoffrey (Christopher Beeny)

Above is a sample of the show, uploaded to YouTube by NetworkDVD. Like yesterdays post (Two's Company) it spawned a 6 episode American version - Miss Winslow and Son (1979) starring Darlene Carr and featuring Roscoe Lee Brown as the neighbor.
SitcomsOnline.com - Stuck In The '70's
The British version is available on DVD, though only for region 2 players. The American version would rate higher on the Obscurity Factor scale, at a good 10. It is extremely obscure and hard to find. There is currently no video of it available online that I can find.

Obscurity factor: 7 (entirely unknown in America, better remembered in UK, on DVD)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Elaine Stritch & Donald Sinden in Two's Company (1975)

In this popular British television series we meet Dorothy McNab (Stritch), an American author living in London. She hires proper British butler Robert Hiller (Sinden) to run her home and thus begins an epic sparring partnership that lasts for 4 years - a long run for British television. McNab is brassy, outspoken and very American, Hiller is a traditionalist, who doesn't like Americans. They're both very competitive and are constantly trying to get the upper hand.

This series was very successful in Britain, and even had a good run on American television on the PBS stations in the 80's. It's since been somewhat forgotten, though can be found on DVD now. Above is part one of the pilot episode, uploaded to YouTube by cooperweekend.

As with many British sitcoms, this one inspired an American version. Set in New York, the situation was similar with an American author (Mimi Kennedy) hiring a British butler (Peter Cook).

Though The Two of Us (1981) wasn't as much of a success (it only lasted one season), it did have some fun moments. Above is the opening credits, uploaded to YouTube by matnally. The American series scores higher on the Obscurity Factor scale at about a 9

Obscurity factor: 2 (Known well in Britain, on DVD, available in part on YouTube)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Tony Randall in The Tony Randall Show (1975)

Walter Franklin (Randall) is a Philadelphia judge and widower with two children, an acerbic housekeeper (Rachel Roberts) and an uptight secretary (Allyn Ann McLerie) in this sparkling sitcom produced by MTM Productions. It started life on ABC, but moved to CBS for its second season. There's just something delightful about the show. The humor is bright and smart and the acting is charming and natural. Randall makes the transition from the duo Odd Couple to carrying this show alone beautifully. It's also fun to see Rachel Roberts in a recurring light comedy role and Allyn Ann McLerie is fun as the stern girl friday.

This show hasn't seen much air play since it first aired. It's never been released on DVD, though the pilot episode is above, uploaded to YouTube by bensonshow.

Obscurity factor: 10 (mostly forgotten, not on DVD, on YouTube)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Mary Tyler Moore in Mary (1985)

Not to be confused with the 1978 variety show of the same name (plus an exclamation point) this sitcom marked MTM's return to series television. The premise found Mary Brenner (Moore) looking for work after the magazine she wrote for was closed down. She lands at a seedy Chicago rag as a consumer advocate, where she must deal with a pandering managing editor (James Farentino), a lecherous theater critic (John Astin) and a chain smoking columnist (Katey Sagal).  Her home life isn't much better with her love starved neighbor who is dating a shady underworld character (James Tolkan). There's some clever dialog and funny circumstances to be had, but the overall feeling of the show is somewhat bleak. I remember the theories at the time about why the show failed - Mary Tyler Moore was really America's sweetheart in a way, and we didn't want to see her down on her heels, we wanted to see her make good. They pointed to to Valerie Harper's sitcom at the time, Valerie (before the conflicts which sullied it and led to her character being killed off), which was much more of a hit because the character was in better circumstances than Rhoda was.

The clip above is part one of the pilot, uploaded to YouTube by bensonshow. This series has never made it to DVD, though several episodes are on YouTube.

Obscurity factor: 9 (vaguely remembered, not on DVD, on YouTube)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Mel Blanc in Wild Wild World (1960)

This Warner Brother's cartoon with a pre-historical setting came out the same year as The Flintstones, though predates the debut date of the latter show. Unlike that series, which took its cue from The Honeymooners, this show found inspiration in another television show of the time - Wide Wide World hosted by Dave Garroway. It has a fond place in my heart. I remember watching this one on Saturday mornings. The premise is that a pre-historical film has been found depicting life in the Cro-Magnan era. We see the happy Cro-Magnans running around, interacting with dinosaurs and building cities much like our modern ones today. The social commentary is thick and heavy with a light touch.

This one-off short is rarely seen today, though it's available as an extra on the Looney Toons Golden Collection: Volume 6, and on YouTube, thanks to an upload by Sanek1994.

Obscurity factor: 8 (vaguely remembered, on DVD and YouTube)

Friday, August 12, 2011

Mary Tyler Moore in The Mary Tyler Moore Hour (1979)

Obscurity factor: 10

This hour long variety series was a hybrid of variety show and sitcom, with Mary playing Mary McKinnon. McKinnon was the host of her own show at CBS and episodes revolved around her production staff and her home life. Each episode featured a star who was to be a guest on the show within a show and a situation to be dealt with, such as in the episode below, the southern California fires threatening Mary's home. Look for turns by Dodie Goodman, Joyce Van Patten and Michael Keaton, and this episode's special guest, Dick Van Dyke.

This series, nor the one preceding it (Mary! 1978/79) have made it to DVD, but you can find clips on YouTube. Above is part one of the episode featuring Dick Van Dyke.

Obscurity factor: 10 (barely remembered, not on DVD, available in part on YouTube)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Wayland Flowers & Madame in Madame's Place (1982)

Obscurity factor: 7

Yesterday's post (The Beatrice Arthur Special [1979]) featured Madame, and it reminded me of this series, which ran for one season in syndication. It centered around Madame and her life at home and at work as a talk show host. She was always dealing with cost-cutting producers, inept booking agents, ditzy relations and nosy neighbors with her frank, witty retorts. There was a rushed quality to these episodes, perhaps because they were producing for the voracious animal of daily syndication - the show was on 5 days a week.

Above is the pilot episode, cut down to about 14 minutes and uploaded to YouTube by SailorsDreamHouse. The show has yet to be released on DVD, but unofficial copies can be found on sites like iOffer.com. You can also watch quite a few more minisodes like the one above on YouTube.

Obscurity factor: 7 (Remembered by fans, not on DVD, available on YouTube)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Bea Arthur, Rock Hudson & Madame in The Beatrice Arthur Special (1979)

In what amounted to arguably, perhaps the most over the top hour ever on television Bea Arthur starred in this musical review featuring Rock Hudson, Melba Moore and the risque Madame. They performed numbers, like the one below, did some wacky comedy and changed clothes a lot. There are quite a few clips available on YouTube, though the show is obscure enough to have been overlooked by IMDB.

Here, the entire ensemble shares the gospel with an appreciative crowd. This show has never made it to commercial DVD, though you can get unofficial versions on sites like iOffer.com.

Obscurity factor: 10 (not on DVD, available in parts on YouTube, not even on IMDB)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

David Janssen in Harry O. (1974)

Obscurity factor: 5

The early seventies saw a revival of the hard boiled detective with such hits as Mannix and The Rockford Files on the small screen and Chinatown on the big one. This series was another such show with sensitive story lines, dark characters and unsettling endings. Harry Orwell is a care-worn detective who used to be on the police force, until a bullet lodged near his spine ended his career. He lives on the beach in Santa Monica and gets around by bus. His cases get him involved with all strata of society, but the seedy side seems to be most prevalent.

This series was cancelled when the network changed gears - out were the hard boiled detectives and gritty realism and in was "jiggle TV" with Charlie's Angels taking Harry O.'s slot in the following year. It was broadcast on American Life TV several years ago, but is no longer on any network. It's not available on DVD with the exception of one of the pilot films produced for it - Smile Jenny You're Dead (1974), which also stars a young Jodie Foster. Above are the opening credits for the show uploaded to YouTube by bretmaverick2004.

Obscurity factor: 5 (fondly remembered by some, not on DVD, hard to find)

Monday, August 8, 2011

Peter Haskell, Joan Bennet & Adam West in The Eyes of Charles Sand (1972)

Charles Sand (Peter Haskell) is a successful business man living in California. One night he has an horrific nightmare that his uncle has died. He sits up in the casket and looks at him with eyes devoid of pupils. He's awakened from the dream by the phone. His aunt (Joan Bennet) is calling to tell him his uncle has died and he must come at once. Upon arriving, she tells him that he has inherited the sight from his uncle, it's the legacy of the Sand family and can belong to only one living Sand male at a time. From that point forward he begins to have visions and is eventually led to the Parkhurst home, where all is not well.

This made-for-TV movie was the pilot for a series that wasn't picked up. It has a decidedly creepy quality to it, thanks in part to Henry Mancini's terrifying score for Wait Until Dark (1967), which was used because of a musician's strike at the time of production. The score is used to great effect here as well, though the performances are a bit overwrought. That can be seen as a good thing though, if you like a little camp with your chills. It's fun to see Adam West looking dashing with a dry look hairstyle as Charles' best friend and Barbara Rush is delightful as the sister of a disturbed girl. She eventually gets to chew some scenery. This is, of course, not on DVD, but it can be seen in full on YouTube. Part one is above, uploaded by psssyche.

Obscurity factor: 9 (hardly remembered, not on DVD, available on YouTube)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Dick Van Dyke & Hope Lange in The New Dick Van Dyke Show (1971)

Everyone remembers the iconic series that launched the television careers of Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore. The Dick Van Dyke Show has a place in the American culture for numerous reasons. Most people, however don't remember Van Dyke's sophomore series television effort, The New Dick Van Dyke Show. Dick Preston (Van Dyke) is a local television host in Phoenix, AZ with a wife (Lange), daughter, and an egomaniacal boss (David Doyle). The situations revolved around both his home and work life. In the third season they revamped the show because of flagging ratings, moving production from Arizona to Hollywood and giving Dick Preston a role in a soap opera.

The episode above is The Harry Award. Dick is given an award, but must decide whether to accept it at a banquet held in a restricted country club. It was uploaded to YouTube by liarsclub75.

Obscurity factor: 7 (successful in its first run, rarely seen since, not on DVD, available on YouTube)

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Mel Blanc in I Was A Teenage Thumb (1963)

Obscurity factor: 8

This 1963 one-off cartoon from Warner Brothers has the Chuck Jones stamp all over it. George and his wife Prunhilda want a child in the worst way. Prunhilda knits booties until the home is inundated with them. One day, a passing wizard - Ralph K. Merlin Jr. - overhears their plight and answers Prunhilda's wish for a child, even one only as large as her thumb. The happy, if nonplussed couple is presented with Tom. Through a series of remarkable circumstances he becomes a knight in King Arthur's court.
Like many one-offs, this short can be found on Warner Brothers compliation DVDs, but it can be hard to pinpoint which ones. The full short above was uploaded by dimitarlull to VBox7.com - a Bulgarian YouTube. It takes a while to load, so while you're waiting, have a look at the clip below, which was cut from the broadcast version, presumably because they didn't want irate parents calling the network and yelling at them about their children running around saying "ass".

The clip above was uploaded to YouTube by Itclassics.

Obscurity factor: 8 (occasionally screened, hard to find, marginally remembered)

Friday, August 5, 2011

Morgan Fairchild & Mark Harmon in Flamingo Road (1980)

Obscurity factor: 7

Yesterdays post about the 1949 film Flamingo Road with Joan Crawford got me thinking about this series which was on for two seasons starting in 1980. It was NBC's answer to Dynasty and Knott's Landing. The pilot movie covers a lot of the ground covered in the feature film, but expands on it and draws conclusions that make it possible to draw the story out into a series. Some of the characters names are changed and some additional characters have been added. It's also brought up to contemporary times. Look for Stella Stevens as Lute May, owner of the town's honky tonk.

Above is part one of the 2 hour pilot film, uploaded to YouTube by DynastieFR2. The series has yet to be released on DVD.

Obscurity factor: 7 (vaguely remembered, not on DVD, available on YouTube)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Joan Crawford in Flamingo Road (1949)

Lane Bellamy (Crawford) is a carnival dancer, a girl from the wrong side of the tracks. When she falls in love with the hand picked political pawn (Zachary Scott) of the powerful sheriff (Sidney Greenstreet) of Bolden City, she makes an enemy of that sheriff who will dog her to the death. She thought she had escaped his grasp when she married a political boss more powerful than he, but will his burning hatred be shielded by power and influence? Don't count on it.
MoviePosterShop.com
I've always been aware of this film, but had never seen it until tonight when I hosted it for Chelsea Classics here in New York. It's one of those Crawford films from that era that all seem to blend into each other - The Damned Don't Cry... Sudden Fear... Flamingo Road... It's a damned good picture though, with great suspense and pot-boiling drama. Sidney Greenstreet is just hateful as the sheriff, with a mean streak so wide you could drive a truck down it. The story, which originated in novel form, was turned into a television series in the 1980's starring Morgan Fairchild Stella Stevens.

This film is available on DVD. The trailer for it is above, uploaded to YouTube by captbijou.

Obscurity factor: 4 (known to diehard Crawford fans, still in the public consciousness, available on DVD)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Robert Urich & Jodie Foster in Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1973)

Like the film, Bob (Urich) and Carol (Anne Archer) are a free wheeling, easy going couple, while Ted (David Spielberg) and Alice (Anita Gillette)  are more straight laced and conservative. Still, they're friends and spend a lot of time together. Unlike the film they aren't looking for a four-way. This series is spun off from the Paul Mazursky film of the same name, but bears little resemblance to it, due to the nature of television at the time. The intention is there, with episodes dealing with adult themes, but they seem pretty tame by todays standards, and even the standards of 1973, for that matter. Jodie Foster plays Ted and Alice's daughter Elizabeth, and is as charming as ever.

In the episode above, Ted is worried that his secretary is falling in love with him, and doesn't know what to do about it. It was uploaded to YouTube by wreckage3001.

Obscurity factor: 10 (largely unknown, not on DVD, only on the air for 2 months)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Betty White in The Betty White Show (1977)

After Mary Tyler Moore left the air in 1977 the spin-offs that hadn't already been exploited started popping up. This was one of them. Joyce Whitman (White) is an actress who plays the lead in Undercover Woman, a cop show along the lines of Police Woman. It's directed by her ex husband John (John Hillerman) and features a sexy Caren Kaye as her side kick. At home, Joyce lives with her friend Mitzi (Georgia Engle). The plots revolve around both work and home issues and find Joyce balancing her temper with her desire to get along with everyone.

This series was on for only 14 episodes, and didn't fare well in the ratings. Aside from the fact that it was scheduled against Monday Night Football it also had the problem of overcoming the acidic Sue Ann Nivens character White had played on MTM. It's difficult to make a character like that palatable as the central focus of a show, but you don't want to deviate too much from what the public knows and likes to see the actress do, so it was a fine line to walk. The episode above was the second to air in the series and features guest star Janis Page. It was uploaded to YouTube by kentgraovac.

Obscurity factor: 7 (not on DVD, known primarily for it's revival on TV Land in the 90's)

Monday, August 1, 2011

Annie Pots & Georgia Engle in Goodtime Girls (1980)

Obscurity factor: 8

This sitcom about women holding down the fort during WWII Washington D.C. was produced by Gary Marshall and starred Annie Pots as the informal head of a group of friends sharing a small attic apartment due to the wartime housing shortage. The series walked the line between comedy and heartfelt sentiment, sharing the bittersweet circumstances of servicemen about to ship out to uncertain futures as well as the wacky situations the girls found themselves in. Also in the cast was Adrian Zmed and Peter Scolari, before his break out role in Bosom Buddies.

Above is the episode Too Many Fiances in which Betty (Lorna Patterson), who can't say no to to boys who ask her to marry them the night before they ship out, has to deal with several of the many service men she's become engaged to on one night. It was uploaded to YouTube by kentgrauvac.

Obscurity factor: 8 (largely unknown, not on DVD, several episodes available on YouTube)