Friday, September 30, 2011

Mel Brooks & Anne Bancroft in To Be or Not To Be (1982)

In this faithful remake of Ernst Lubitsch's 1942 classic, Mel Brooks and his wife Anne Bancroft play the Bronskis - successful stage stars in Poland on the cusp of WWII. They're about to be dealt a blow when Hitler's troops come marching into Warsaw and take over their home and theater. But these Bronskis and their troop of actors are a plucky bunch, and hatch a plan to rescue friends, foil a double agent and escape Poland with a cadre of frightened Jews. Will they make it out safely?
This is not one of Brooks' best known films, but it's got a lot of charm and does a nice job of adding socially relevant content of the 1980's to the storyline. Look for James Haake as Anna Bronski's dresser and a gay victim of Nazi oppression.

This film is remembered by a small group of fans, but is somewhat forgotten by the general public. It is available on DVD and can be found in full on YouTube, but is rarely screened on TV. The trailer is above, uploaded to YouTube by alifeatthemovies.

Obscurity factor: 2 (somewhat remembered, though not iconic, available on DVD & YouTube)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Joan Crawford and Melvyn Douglas in They All Kissed the Bride (1942)

Obscurity factor: 9

Margaret J. Drew (Crawford) is a driven, determined business woman running her late fathers trucking company. Her style of management is autocratic and dictatorial and she's not one for a soft touch when it comes to employees or anyone else for that matter. The only obstacle to mounting profits is the pesky, pro-labor journalism of Michael Holms (Douglas). She sets about dealing with him as she does everything else, with a strong arm and offense. A chance encounter with him, however, leaves her weak in the knees, and is complicated by the fact that she's not aware who he is. She has him arrested on a trumped up charge, thinking he is an unwelcome rival for her sisters attentions and soon finds herself vulnerable to a potential lawsuit. In trying to negotiate a settlement, she allows herself to be wooed by Holms and the inevitable happens - they fall in love. Will the differences in class and intervening circumstances keep the two apart or will love conquer all?
Though not a brilliant example of the Screwball Comedy genre, this film has many bright spots and it's fun to see Crawford mix the hard bitten career woman of her WB years with the light-hearted comedy style of her MGM years. Look for Roland Young and Billie Burke (Topper and his wife) as Drew's attorney and mother.

This film has yet to be released on DVD and is harder to find online than hens teeth at the moment. It was given a VHS release and copies can still be found on Amazon.

Obscurity factor: 9 (not on DVD, available on VHS, not available online at all at the moment, occasionally screened on TV)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Lynda Carter & Monte Markham in Hotline (1982)

Brianne (pronounced Brian) O'Neill (Carter) is an artist working in a bar owned by former stunt man Kyle Durham (Markham). One night she meets Justin Price (Granville Van Dusen), a psychologist who runs a crisis hotline. Justin thinks she would be a perfect crisis councilor and convinces her to join his staff. While on duty, she starts getting strange calls from a man calling himself The Barber who claims to have committed heinous crimes against women. As Brianne begins to delve further into the history of the crimes she starts to worry that she may be next. Can she discover the identity of The Barber before he succeeds in killing her?

This made-for-TV thriller, though slow to start has some very suspenseful moments in it. Look for Steve Forrest in the role of a movie star and British actor Julian Fellowes in a small but quirky part as a store clerk. The entire film is available on YouTube, uploaded by Edster73. Part one is above. Though it's never been released on DVD, it can be found on VHS, though copies are rare and can be expensive.

Obscurity factor: 8 (available on YouTube & VHS, hard to find, largely forgotten)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Paul Lynde & Alice Ghostly in Temperatures Rising (1972)

Obscurity factor: 9

This embattled sitcom had many plot and cast changes in its short two season run. It began with James Whitmore as the chief of surgery in a Washington DC hospital. When that didn't work, they brought in Paul Lynde and Sudie Bond and the setting became a private clinic owned by Bond and run by Lynde. For the last few episodes, it became a public hospital again and featured Lynde and Alice Ghostly as his sister, a nurse at the hospital. The only cast member to last the whole series was Cleavon Little. Part of the problem the series had was scheduling - it was up against the ratings powerhouse Maude. Another problem was that it didn't really fit in with the trend in television at the time. Several seasons earlier it might have had more success, but in the age of social consciousness comedies like All in the Family and Maude, this show seemed a trifle tone deaf.

Above is part one of the episode "Healer Man" which was from the last incarnation of the series featuring Ghostly. It was uploaded to YouTube by jknuttel.

Obscurity factor: 9 (very hard to find, not on DVD, available on YouTube)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Lesley Ann Warren in Apology (1986)

Lily (Warren) is working on a new conceptual art piece. It has to do with the feeling of guilt and how it impacts people. To that end she has created a forum of sorts - a hotline where people can confess to acts they feel guilty for and apologize for them. This gets her into hot water when a serial killer starts calling in to absolve himself of guilt after committing murders. Enter Detective Hungate (Peter Weller), who only complicates things by beginning an affair with Lily. Will the detective find the killer before he claims Lily as another victim?
This film was made for HBO and aired frequently on the network in the mid eighties. It was also released as a feature in Europe. There's a gritty urban underbelly quality to it that belies the era it was made in. One particular scene takes place on West St. long before it was gentrified with Richard Mier glass towers. Look for Chris Noth in a small role.

Though it's never been available on DVD, it can be found on VHS. Above is the trailer for it, uploaded to YouTube by MrMovingImages.

Obscurity factor: 8 (not on DVD, available on VHS, largely forgotten)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Greer Garson & Walter Pidgeon in The Miniver Story (1950)

The rousing success of the wartime melodrama Mrs. Miniver (1942) led MGM to reprise the franchise with this story of how the family adjusts to post war life. We pick up the threads of their lives on VE Day as Clem (Pidgeon) and Judy (Cathy O'Donnell) return home from their duties overseas. As they settle into old routines we begin to suspect something is amiss with Kay (Garson). It turns out that she hasn't long to live, but she's decided to keep that a secret until the time is right. She goes about making the time right by helping the family find their happiness.
This drama is super soapy and not as rousing as its predecesor but it does have some very satisfying moments in it. If you know the original you may wonder what became of the Miniver's oldest son Vin. Well, the actor who played him (Richard Ney) married Greer Garson shortly after the film was completed, and by the time this film came out they had called it quits. So it seems the studio decided not to remind the movie going public of the affair and cut the character from the film. Look for a young James Fox in his first role playing Toby, the Miniver's youngest son, just back from America. You'll enjoy him later as Jimmy in Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967)
This film is not yet available on DVD, though it's occasionally aired on TCM. Above is the trailer from the TCM website.

Obscurity factor: 6 (dimly remembered, not on DVD, scenes available on YouTube and TCM website)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Howard Morris in Atom Ant (1965)

If you grew up in the 60's, then you're probably familiar with Atom Ant. His popularity waned in the 70's and remains relatively obscure today. Atom Ant was a super hero cartoon character who used his powers to fight crime. His diminutive size gave crooks a false sense of security until they found themselves hoisted in the air. In the clip below, Atom helps out an actor who plays his television hero, Super Guy at a personal appearance.

Though there's never been a dedicated DVD release of this Hanna-Barbera show, it can be found on several compilations. There's been talk of a live action version for film. Segments can be found on YouTube like the one above, uploaded by duckstalgia.

Obscurity factor: 2 (has something of a cult following, included in DVD compilations, available onYouTube)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Eleanor Parker in Bracken's World (1969)

The glamorous, cut-throat world of Hollywood gets a self referential look in this hour long drama. Studio boss Bracken is never seen - at least in the first season. His affairs are administered by his executive secretary, Sylvia Caldwell (Parker). Starlets and aspiring actors, temperamental directors and acting coaches make up the cast of characters in this soapy series that often featured cameos by film stars such as Debbie Reynolds, who had her own sitcom on the network that season, featured here on the blog yesterday. Parker was replaced in the second season by Bracken himself, played by Leslie Nielsen. Season two only lasted 15 episodes.
This series hasn't seen the light of day since it was first broadcast. It's never been released on DVD. There are a few clips on YouTube, including a series featuring Lois Nettleton. The credit sequences above were uploaded to YouTube by bearfedway.

Obscurity factor: 10 (largely forgotten, not on DVD, limited presence on YouTube)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Debbie Reynolds in The Debbie Reynolds Show (1969)

Debbie Thompson (Reynolds) is wife to Jim (Don Chastain), a successful sports reporter herself. Unsatisfied at home, she spends her time scheming to become a reporter, assisted by her sister Charlotte. Their schemes get them in all sort of trouble and exasperates Jim, who just wants his wife to stay home and keep house. Is this sounding familiar? Perhaps because the show was produced by one of the former writers on I Love Lucy - Jess Oppenheimer and featured the writing talents of Bob Carroll Jr. and Madelyn Davis, also Lucy veterans.

This series was only on for one season, which isn't surprising, considering how the somewhat tone deaf concept failed to take into account the changing times. Debbie is delightful in it, however, displaying her knack for physical comedy. Look for Tom Bosley as her brother-in-law. The series can be hard to find. It's never made it to DVD and the only presence it has on YouTube is the network promo for it. It's above, uploaded by MattTheSaiyn.

Obscurity factor: 9 (hard to find, not on DVD, largely forgotten)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Ingrid Bergman, Walter Matthau & Goldie Hawn in Cactus Flower (1969)

Dr. Julian Winston (Matthau) is having an extramarital affair with Toni Simmons (Hawn). This would be more shocking if he was actually married. In truth, he only tells girls he's married to avoid commitment. When he changes his mind and decides to ask Toni to marry him, she agrees on one condition - she can meet the first wife. Enter Stephanie Dickinson (Bergman), Dr. Winston's nurse. He convinces her to play the part of his wife for the purposes of the meeting. This is complicated by the fact that Stephanie is actually secretly in love with Julian.
This charming film was a big hit in 1969, winning Goldie Hawn a Best Supporting Actress Oscar and going on to be one of the biggest box office grossers of the year. It's since been somewhat forgotten, though there is still a fan base that remembers and appreciates it out there. Look for Jack Weston as a snyde patient of Dr. Winston's.

You can find this film on DVD and it's available to rent on YouTube. Above is the original trailer for it, uploaded to YouTube by ClassicMovieTrailers.

Obscurity factor: 3 (on DVD and YouTube, dimly remembered by the general public)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Herschel Bernardi in Arnie (1970)

When Arnie (Bernardi) is promoted from the loading dock to the boardroom, he must deal with a whole new set of social conventions. As he figures out how to deal with the ins and outs of being an executive his family have adjustments to make as well.

This series was on for two seasons and dealt with more than just interpersonal relations. The larger issues of ecology, woman's lib and the youth movement all made appearances. This series has never made it to DVD, though several episodes are available on YouTube. Part one of "Trouble in the Air" is above, uploaded to YouTube by dentelTV1.

Obscurity factor: 9 (not on DVD, largely forgotten, on YouTube in part)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Jean Simmons & Leonard Whiting in Say Hello to Yesterday (1971)

A woman (Simmons), dissatisfied with her life and marriage sits on a crowded train into London. As she muses about her circumstances, she's noticed by a man (Whiting) - a boy really. The boy becomes obsessed with forging a connection to this woman and in attempting to do so, chases her all over London. Eventually she relents and they begin to get to know each other, leading to an inevitable afternoon fling. But what will they learn from this experience?
Coming off the huge success of Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet, Whiting plays the bored, high spirited youth with aplomb, sweeping Simmons off her feet in an afternoon of pranks and hijinks with a few thoughtful moments that deepen the meaning. This film is lovingly shot on location in  London. Look for  a wonderfully worldly Evelyn Lane as Simmon's mother.

This film has been released on DVD. The trailer above was uploaded to YouTube by carmanmatt.

Obscurity factor: 8 (on DVD, not well known, rarely shown on TV)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Marlene Dietrich in The Monte Carlo Story (1957)

Obscurity factor: 8

The debonair Count Della Fiaba (Vittorio De Sica) is down on his heels. His gambling has been bankrolled by friends who work in the hotel but he hasn't had a significant a win in several years and they're starting to lose faith. They worry about his future and convince him to find a wealthy wife. Coincidently, the Marquese de Crevecoeur (Dietrich) has just checked in to the hotel and is rumored to have a large fortune left to her by her late husband. She's glamorous, beautiful and cultured - a perfect mate for the Count. They begin a whirlwind courtship and decide to marry, until in a moment of pre-connubial  candor, both admit to being broke. Around the same time, the Count's residence - a modest yacht in the harbor - is damaged by an American millionaire (Arthur O'Connell) sailing into Monte Carlo on his yacht. He becomes the target of the Marquese and his daughter (Natalie Trundy) becomes obsessed with the Count. Will they settle down with the wealthy Americans or will the pull of shared European experience, circumstance and love win out?
Though not a brilliant film by any standards, The Monte Carlo Story has a certain old world charm to it. The characters are likable and kind to each other and the scenery and production values are glamorous and beautiful, with gowns by Jean Louis. Look for Jane Rose as the millionaire's sister.

This film has yet to be released on DVD and can be hard to find. It's occasionally aired on TCM. The clip above features Marlene's interpretation of "My Indiana Home" and was uploaded to YouTube by bloodmakesnois.

Obscurity factor: 8 (not on DVD, clips available on YouTube, known to Marlene fans)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Daws Butler in Help! It's the Hair Bear Bunch! (1971)

This animated series follows the exploits of Hair Bear (Butler), a swinging, hip, kinda now, kinda bear, and his pals Square and Bubi, as they try and have fun. Their nemesis is Mr. Peevly, the zookeeper, who does his best to keep them in line. They live in a cave at the zoo that is customized with a full kitchen and bedroom furniture that recesses into the walls when anyone comes around. Square Bear also has an invisible motorcycle he rides around the zoo. In this particular zoo, the animals are charged with keeping the grounds clean and are frequently seen doing chores. The rest of the animal population of the zoo are friends of the bears and help them in their schemes.

This series ran for only on season on CBS and features some fun cultural stereotypes of the early 70's. The episode above is the first one shown and was uploaded to YouTube by HairBearBunchCartoon.

Obscurity factor: 7 (remembered by those who watched, not on DVD, available on YouTube and occasionally aired on TV)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Barbara Eden & Robert Vaughn in The Woman Hunter (1972)

Dina Hunter (Eden) is a wealthy socialite vacationing in Acapulco with her husband (Vaughn). She's still out-of-sorts after a traumatic automobile accident in which she killed a man and was put on trial and acquitted, but the couple hope that the change of scenery will do Dina some good. Shortly after her arrival she meets painter, Paul Carter (Stuart Whitman), who tries to seduce her with mixed results. She agrees to sit for him, but changes her mind when she finds and unfinished painting featuring her priceless emerald necklace and clippings about her and another woman who had been killed for her jewelry in his apartment one night. Is Paul the killer she thinks he is?

This made-for-TV movie is a bit stilted, but has some fun, campy moments in it. Eden is just gorgeous and changes clothes at the drop of a hat and the scenery is breathtaking. Look for a campy cameo from Larry Storch at the beginning and a wacky dance Eden does in the middle of the film that seems completely unmotivated. The Woman Hunter has been released on DVD, in a cheap dollar bin transfer and can be found on Amazon. It's also available in full on YouTube, uploaded by drelbcom.

Obscurity factor: 8 (available on DVD & YouTube, almost completely forgotten)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Gene Tierney & Thelma Ritter in The Mating Season (1951)

Val McNulty (John Lund) has just married beautiful Maggie (Tierney) and is eager to make good at his job. He's a first generation college grad who's widowed mother runs a hamburger stand in Jersey City. Maggie on the other hand is the daughter of an ambassador. When Val's mother, Ellen comes to pay the new bride her respects, due to a mix-up she thinks Ellen is the new cook and puts her to work. Ellen doesn't want to embarrass her new daughter-in-law and so she works for her, hoping to speak to her son when he comes home. As you can expect, things get out of hand, and the combination of the complicated circumstances, the inferiority complex of the McNultys and the arrival of Maggie's snobbish, disapproving mother-in-law (Miriam Hopkins), there just doesn't seem to be a good opportunity to set things right.
This charming film is a lovely character study of class conflicts in mid-century America, and a beautiful example of Hollywood's take on the nobility of the common man. Look for a fun turn by a young Billy Bird (one of the grandmothers in Sixteen Candles) as one of Ellen's buddies.

This title has yet to make it to DVD, which seems odd to me, because it's a film of some note and there's been interest of late in Gene Tierney's career. It is available in full on YouTube, however. Part one is above, uploaded by LillianPrune. It's also occasionally aired on TCM.

Obscurity factor: 6 (known in some circles, not on DVD, available on YouTube)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Patty Duke in Hail to the Chief (1985)

The 1984 presidential elections featured, for the first time, a female vice presidential candidate. This show, by the creators of the popular and long running Soap extrapolated on that circumstance. Julia Mansfield is the first female president of the United States after being elected to the office of vice president and having to take over for her predecessor. She has a philandering husband (Ted Bessel), three children (Quinn Cummings, Ricky Paull Goldin & Taliesen Jaffee) and friends and foes in the government and public life including Senator Sam Cotton (Murray Hamilton) and televangelist reverend Billy Joe Bickerstaff (Richard Paul). The plots were similar to those on Soap, with story lines carrying through from episode to episode and focused on both the affairs of state and family dynamics within the first family.

This especially intelligent and funny show ran for only 7 episodes. It's humor was particularly political and had an edge to it that was calculated to push buttons. Julia's secret service officer Randy (Joel Brooks) was gay and made no bones about it with lines like "I'm the most lethal pansy in the US of A, so watch it!" Her young son (Jaffee), in an attempt to get out of going to school claims to have an enlarged prostate. Look for very funny turns by Hershel Bernardi as her head of security and Dick Shawn as Soviet Premier Zolotov.

This series has never made it to DVD, though the pilot is on YouTube. Part one is above, uploaded by PattyDukeTheater.

Obscurity factor: 9 (not on DVD, available on YouTube in part, largely unknown)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

John Ritter in Three's a Crowd (1984)

After the phenomenal success of Three's Company, it was a foregone conclusion that there would be a spinoff. Enter Vicky Bradford (Mary Cadorette), flight attendant and Jack's love interest. The premise for Three's a Crowd was set up in the last three episodes of Three's Company - Jack meets and falls in love with Vicky, but she doesn't want to get married, due to a general distrust of the institution. They decide to live together instead, much to the consternation of Vicky's father (Robert Mandan) who becomes the landlord for their apartment and for Jack's new restaurant downstairs.

Three's a Crowd was not a big success - it only ran for one season. Also featured in the series was Jessica Walter as Vicky's mother. The show occasionally airs on the Antenna TV cable network, though it has never been released on DVD. The first half of an episode titled Family Affair is above, uploaded to YouTube by canw1, though the second half is not available.

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

Monday, September 12, 2011

Elaine Stritch & Hans Conried on Pantomime Quiz (1947)

Obscurity factor: 8

Charades swept the nation as a party game in post war America. Was television - the slave to all trends - to be far behind? Subsequently retitled Stump the Stars, this series brought together television and film personalities in two teams of four to play Charades with clues sent in by viewers, who won a gift package from the sponsor if their clue was chosen.

Above is part 2 of an early episode featuring Elaine Stritch and Hans Conried uploaded to YouTube by dentelTV1. I've set it to start at Elaine's spot. Though the series started in 1947, this dates to sometime in probably the early 50's. There are other episodes to see on YouTube and it can be found in classic game show complation DVDs.

Obscurity factor: 8 (dimly remembered, on DVD in compilations, available on YouTube)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Peter Frampton, The Bee Gees & George Burns in Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1978)

Bloated? Yes. Insipid? Decidedly. But if you have a soft spot for the seventies, then all of that can be overlooked when delving into this overproduced, hubristic spectacle of titanic proportions. The film features more of a manifesto than a plot. It deals with the grand issues of commercialism, selling out, good and evil in rock opera style featuring an endless array of the stars of the day including Aerosmith, Steve Martin, Alice Cooper and Earth Wind and Fire, among others. The story, told by the only speaking character, the mayor of Heartland, Mr. Kite (Burns) is about Sgt. Pepper's grandson, Billy Shears (Frampton) who re-forms his grandfathers band with the Henderson brothers (The Bee Gees). They become an instant success and set off for fame and fortune in La La land. Meanwhile, mean Mr. Mustard (Frankie Howerd) sets his sights on Heartland and the magical musical instruments left to it by Sgt. Pepper. Will the boys be able to resist the lure of fame and fortune long enough to save their town?
This film signaled the beginning of the end of the epic rock musical, with most of the subsequent examples of the form appearing as animated films. If you can set aside its silliness, there are some flashes of fun to be had, including Steve Martin's rendition of Maxwell's Silver Hammer, Aerosmith's cover of Come Together the inspired cover of Got to Get You Into My Life by Earth Wind and Fire and the beautiful cinematography of Owen Roizman. Also appearing in the film are Donald Pleasence and a panoply of stars singing the reprise of the title song at the end of the film, including Carol Channing, Peter Allen, Tina Turner, Connie Stevens and Dame Edna Everage.

You can find this film on DVD and it's available in full on YouTube. I suggest watching it in its best possible format, however, because one of its only redeeming qualities is it's physical beauty. Above is the trailer for it, uploaded to YouTube by throthelens.

Obscurity factor: 3 (somewhat notorious, available on DVD & YouTube)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Dom DeLuise in The Roman Holidays (1972)

When you have a winning formula, stick to it! That's the impetus that drove Hanna-Barbera to create this series in 1972. It's got all the elements of The Flintstones and The Jetsons with just a change of venue. Set in ancient Rome, this series follows the lives of the Holiday family, headed by hapless Gus (Dave Willock). Gus works in construction for the greedy Mr. Tycoonius (Hal Smith). The family lives with their pet lion Brutus (Daws Butler) in the Venus De Milo Arms apartment complex owned by their nemesis landlord, Mr. Evictus (DeLuise). Each week the family would get into typical sit-com situations. The show lasted for just one season, only 13 episodes were produced.

The series has yet to make it to DVD. It seems it was somewhat more popular in Brazil, where it was called Os Mussarelas (The Mozzarellas). You can find several episodes on YouTube and other sites dubbed into Portugese. Above are the opening credits in English, uploaded to YouTube by JediJuggernaut.

Obscurity factor: 10 (hard to find in English, not on DVD)

Friday, September 9, 2011

Anne Francis in Honey West (1965)

Times were changing for women in 1965. The pill had been introduced five years earlier, surreptitiously kicking off the liberation movement and women in life and in popular culture had started taking charge of their sexuality, as well as their destinies. Enter Honey West, whose debut in literature predated the pill by three years, but whose appearance on screen (first in a 1965 Burke's Law episode, then in her own eponymous television show later that year) was emblematic of the new, take charge, 60's woman. Honey is a PI, who does everything with style. She has Sam Bolt (John Ericson) - a hunk of a partner - a pet ocelot named Bruce, a jazzy sports car and an array of gadgets that would make a bond girl jealous. Each week she sets about solving a mystery for her tony clients and gets into clinches - both romantic and threatening - with the suave men she encounters.

This series has something of a cult following. It can be found on DVD and in part, on YouTube. The episode above was uploaded by thorlynn and is the first of the series.

Obscurity factor: 2 (somewhat well known to a small segment of the population, on DVD & YouTube)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Anne Francis & Dana Andrews in Brainstorm (1965)

This film is not to be confused with the 1983 film of the same name. This black and white thriller warns against pretending to be something you're not. Jim Grayam (Jeffrey Hunter) is a research scientist working for an aeronautics firm in California owned by Cort Benson. One night he rescues a lovely woman (Francis) from what turns out to be a dramatic suicide attempt, only to discover she's his boss's wife, Lorrie. This should have been his first clue to steer clear, but he eventually falls into the trap of an affair with her. They believe they've been discreet enough for the affair to go unnoticed, but when strange events begin to befall Jim, Lorrie realizes that Cort has found out. Cort's strategy is to ruin the men who become rivals for his wife's affections by exploiting the chinks in their armor - Jim's chink is a history of mental illness. Cort picked the wrong man to poke with a stick, however. Jim decides to play into Cort's hand and feign mental illness to use as a defense for murder - his murder!
This dark film noir has many of the elements of The Postman Always Rings Twice and other films of that style, but with an edgy, chaos infused, 60's point of view. Look for Viveca Lindfors as a sympathetic psychiatrist and Richard Kiel (Jaws from the Bond films) in a small role as an inmate.

This film is available on DVD and can occasionally be seen on TCM. It's largely forgotten, however. Above is a scene from the film, uploaded to YouTube by GR160289.

Obscurity factor: 8 (on DVD, occasionally screened on television, not well remembered)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Brenda Vaccaro in Dear Detective (1979)

This 1979 pilot film and subsequent series features Brenda Vaccaro as a single mother and police detective trying to hold it all together. She's dating a classics professor and trying to solve a series of murders. The production is based on a french film of the same name starring Anne Giradot.

There's very little video of the series available. The opening credits is featured in a compilation of show-opens from 1979.  It was uploaded to YouTube by bobtwcatlanta.

Obscurity factor: 10 (hard to find, not on DVD, largely forgotten)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Burl Ives & Brook Adams in O.K. Crackerby (1965)

In this short-lived (17 episode) series about the inequities of the American social strata, Burl Ives plays the riches man in the world - an oil tycoon who never had time for the social graces. He's raising three children (of which Brook Adams is one) without a mother and trying to give them the social graces he disdains. To that end he hires St. John Quincy (Hal Buckley) - a financially challenged member of society - to educate the kids. St. John is no pushover, however, and he stakes his claim to his dignity, which occasionally causes friction between him and O.K.

Part one of the first episode of the series is above and features the hiring of St. John by O.K. It was uploaded to YouTube by dentelTV1.

Obscurity factor: 9 (largely forgotten, not on DVD, available in part on YouTube)

Monday, September 5, 2011

Barbara Eden in How to Marry a Millionaire (1957)

After the success of the Lauren Bacall, Marilyn Monroe, Betty Grable film, this series was produced. The premise was the same - three single girls living in an expensive penthouse apartment trying to trap themselves millionaires. This series was one of Barbara Eden's first triumphs.

Part one of the episode 3 Pretenders is above. It features Morey Amsterdam in the role of a press agent the girls convince to help them meet rich men. It was uploaded to YouTube by dentelTV1.

Obscurity factor: 7 (known to Eden fans, largely forgotten otherwise, not on DVD, partially available on YouTube)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Phyllis Diller and Gypsy Rose Lee in The Pruitts of Southampton (1966)

Based on Patrick Dennis' novel House Party, this series ran for one season on ABC. The premise was that the Pruitts were broke, but because of their status and position, they were allowed by the IRS to keep their home and maintain the facade of wealth in order to protect the local economy. Behind closed doors, however, they had to maintain the house themselves, leading to many jokes having to do with Phyllis' less than stellar homemaking skills.

Above is the promo for the show, uploaded to YouTube by ohbutyes.

This is the opening credit sequence, uploaded to YouTube by TuneTV.

And here is one of the episodes - they were broadcast in color, but some syndicated copies are in black and white. This episode is from later in the run, after the name of the show was changed to The Phyllis Diller Show. It was uploaded to YouTube by dentelTV1.

Obscurity factor: 3 (somewhat notorious, known to Diller fans, not on DVD, partially available on YouTube)

Saturday, September 3, 2011

June Lockhart & Micky Dolenz in These Are the Days (1974)

This series about the lives of the Day family living at the turn of the last century in a small rural town could be considered a mashup of The Waltons and The Flintstones. The animated series had a more somber tone than the usual animated fare, with thought given to realistic circumstances and interpersonal interactions. It was produced by Hanna-Barbera and was one of the few dramatic series the studio tackled.

Above is the opening sequence of the show, which only aired for one season - 1974 - '75 before being canceled after only 16 episodes. The sequence was uploaded to YouTube by muttley16.

Obscurity factor: 9 (fondly remembered by some fans, hard to find, not available on DVD)

Friday, September 2, 2011

Connie Stevens and George Burns in Wendy and Me (1964)

After the death of Gracie Allen, George Burns dove back into series television with this fluffy little show. Wendy Conway (Stevens) lives, with her husband Jeff (Ron Harper) in an apartment building owned by George Burns (playing himself, as he did in his eponymous series). Much like Gracie Allen, she confuses things in wonderfully twisted ways and gets into outrageous scrapes. It's interesting to see the familiar format - wacky woman confusing things, George Burns breaking the fourth wall with his monologues - with a completely different cast and setting.

This show wasn't a success. It only lasted a season. It's never been released on DVD, though several episodes have been uploaded to YouTube. Above is part one of The $5000 Chair, uploaded to YouTube by dentelTV1.

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

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Harry Morgan & Cara Williams in Pete and Gladys (1960)

After I Love Lucy set the standard for domestic comedy a whole slew of variations on the theme started popping up. This show was one of them. It was a spin-off from the Spring Byington sitcom December Bride and featured Harry Morgan and Cara Williams as a level headed husband and wacky wife.

The episode above is called Garden Wedding, and premiered in 1962, smack dab in the middle of the second season of the show. Part one is above, uploaded to YouTube by dentelTV1. There is a DVD collection of the series available on Amazon, but it's outrageously expensive.

Obscurity factor: 8 (largely forgotten, available on YouTube, available on DVD for a price)