Saturday, December 31, 2011

Jason Bateman in It's Your Move (1984)

This sitcom is from the creators of Married... With Children and has the same cynical quality as that hit show. Matthew Burton (Bateman) is the conniving son of a single mother (Caren Kaye). His schemes are either designed to net him quick cash or to manipulate the people around him to do things his way. When unemployed writer, Norman Lamb (David Garrison) moves into the apartment next door and takes a shine to his mom, Matt tries every trick he can think of to get rid of him. Unfortunately for Matt, Norman is no fool and sees through Matt's schemes. The two have a contentious sparring relationship behind the back of Matt's mom throughout the entire series.

This sleeper hit never got the opportunity to succeed largely because of it's time slot opposite Dynasty. Look for an infamous two part episode about a rock band that Matt makes up out of thin air called The Dregs of Humanity. There has yet to be a commercial release DVD of this, however, much of the series is available on YouTube. Above is part one of the pilot, which has been uploaded by uwec95.

Obscurity factor: 7 (not on DVD, available on YouTube, has small, but devoted base of cult fans)

Friday, December 30, 2011

Jack Lemmon & Virna Lisi in How to Murder Your Wife (1965)

This film owes a lot to Hugh Hefner, who's brand of bachelorhood was much envied and widely copied in the swinging sixties. Stanley Ford (Lemmon) is one of those blissful bachelors. He's a comic strip creator and wealthy New Yorker. His life is extremely ordered, thanks to his man servent, Charles (Terry Thomas). And his comic strip character, Bash lives life in much the same way his creator does. Ford attends the bachelor party for one of his friends and drinks a bit too much, only to awake the next morning, married to the blond bombshell who emerged from the cake at the party. Mrs. Ford (Virna Lisi) is shapely, beautiful, sensuous and doesn't speak a word of english! Suddenly Stanley's world is turned upside down - Charles leaves him, his home is redecorated and his social calendar is rearranged, his in-laws descend upon him and he finds himself unable to sustain the marriage of his character Bash. When plans to do away with Bash's wife are confused for plans to do away with his real life wife, she disappears, leaving him to defend himself in a criminal trial. Will she turn up before he ends up in jail?
Though rather silly at times, and decidedly misogynistic, this film is a fun time capsule of 60's attitudes about marriage and the battle of the sexes. Look for Claire Trevor, Mary Wicks and Jack Albertson in the cast as well.

This film is available on DVD, and can also be watched instantly on Amazon. Above is the opening sequence with Terry Thomas giving you a tour of Ford's gracious lifestyle. It was uploaded to YouTube by ttfellowship.

Obscurity factor: 4 (known to Lemmon fans, on DVD and streaming, not widely known)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Dan Dailey in The Governor & JJ (1969)

Venerable song and dance man Dan Dailey starred in this sitcom about the conservative governor of a midwestern state and his free-thinking daughter Jennifer Jo, aka J.J. (Julie Sommers). Plots usually centered around the disagreements father and daughter had about the issues of the day. Guest stars included Jack Cassidy, Carroll O'Connor and Bud Cort.

This series lasted for two seasons, but was ultimately replaced by All in the Family. It's not available in a commercial release DVD, but unofficial copies can be found. Above is a clip from the show, uploaded to YouTube by Hardtofindvideos2.

Obscurity factor: 9 (not on DVD, can be difficult to locate, not well remembered)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

William Shatner & Yvette Mimieux in Disaster on the Coastliner (1979)

The glut of disaster movies in the 70's included a second tier of television films. In this one, a deranged computer programmer (Paul L. Smith) distraught at the loss of his wife and child, reprograms a rail system's computer to put two trains on a collision course, endangering the lives of the passengers. Will they be able to circumvent disaster? Along for the ride is charming grifter, Stuart Peters (Shatner) and an unhappy Paula Harvey (Mimieux). At home base, trying to solve the problem are Al Mitchell (Lloyd Bridges), Estes Hill (Raymond Burr) and Roy Snyder (E. G. Marshall). Though a fromage fest, this film has a lot of entertainment to offer. If you're a fan of bloated, second tier star spectacles, give it a try.

Though not available on DVD, you can find this film in full on YouTube. It's above in full, uploaded by TheGialloGrindhouse.

Obscurity factor: 8 (not on DVD, available on YouTube, largely forgotten except for a small cadre of fans)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

John Cusack & Daphne Zuniga in The Sure Thing (1985)

College freshman, Walter Gibson (a very young Cusack) is having trouble finding girls at his new, eastern, Ivy League school. His attempts at seduction all fall flat. Meanwhile, Alison Bradbury (Zuniga) is having difficulty assimilating into college life. She's got the studying part down pat, but she hasn't been able to let go and live. When the two come together it's like oil and water. So when Walter's friend Lance (Thomas Edwards) invites him out to LA to meet a Sure Thing (Nicolette Sheridan) he jumps at the chance. He's less than pleased, however, when he finds that his ride-share includes Alison. On their journey across the country they're stranded, endure poverty and discover more about themselves - and each other. This, of course leads to love.
Rob Reiner has created something of a hybrid with this film. It has some elements of animal comedies like Animal House (1978), but they've been integrated into a very sweet traditional romantic comedy. The narrative is beautifully framed with scenes featuring Viveca Lindfors as Walter and Alison's English teacher. Look for a young Tim Robbins as an annoying member of the ride share.

You can find this film on DVD and on YouTube. It scores low on the Obscurity Factory scale, though still has overtones of obscurity probably because of it's quirky nature and unusual tone. It's not as prominent as films with similar subject matter from the era like the Porky's franchise. Above is part one, uploaded to YouTube by ilgizar93nur.

Obscurity factor: 2 (remembered, but rarely discussed and only occasionally screened, on DVD and YouTube)

Monday, December 26, 2011

Carol Burnett, Charles Grodin & Teri Garr in Fresno (1986)

The runaway success of series like Dallas and Dynasty inspired this miniseries spoof in the mid 80's. Starring Carol Burnett as Charlotte Kensington, the matriarch of a rasin dynasty in the city of the same name, the show follows the lives of the Kensingtons and their arch rival, Tyler Cane (Dabney Coleman) as they struggle for ascendency in the business of rasins. The intrigue and drama involve Charlotte's mercenary son Cane Kensington (Grodin) and his bitter wife Talon (Garr) as well as a perpetually shirtless ranch hand named Torch (Gregory Harrison). Will the failing Kensington empire survive or will Tyler Cane succeed in trouncing them?

This miniseries walked a very fine line between parody and sincerity, and consequently was misunderstood by certain segments of the viewing public less attuned to irony. It was met with mixed reactions that lead network executives to present the encore airing with a rather unfortunate laugh track. The shows have never been released on DVD commercially, but can be found in unofficial versions. Above are a few clips from the series, including the opening credits, uploaded to YouTube by AztecaTheater.

Obscurity factor: 5 (has cult status among a small group of fans, forgotten by most, not on DVD, hard to find)

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Alistair Sim & Michael Redgrave in A Christmas Carol (1971)

This animated version of the Dickens classic, executive produced by Chuck Jones, has a lot going for it. Though short (it's only about 25 minutes), it's considered by some to be the most faithful telling of the story on film. The animation is extremely lush and imaginatively conceived, with startling imagery and compelling transitions. Lastly, it features a reprise of Sim's portrayal of the miser, Scrooge, as well as Michael Hordern's performance as Marley's ghost from the 1951 live action version of the story. I highly recommend this dark and sometimes ponderous version of the tale. Listen for Michael Redgrave's narration as well.

It's somewhat curious that this production has yet to make it to DVD. It has a very interesting history. It was so well received that it was given a theatrical release shortly after it aired on television, for which it was produced. This release made it eligible for Oscar nomination, which it won in the category of best animated short film. This so rankled members of the Academy that it caused rules to be changed about productions appearing on television. Though not on DVD, it is available on VHS. The price is dear, however, hovering around $75. It can be seen in full on Google Videos, and on YouTube, where the resolution is better, but it's broken up into three parts. Part one is above, uploaded by TheThiefArchive.

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

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Norman Luboff Choir in The Night Before Christmas (1968)

This dramatization of the writing of the famous poem by Clement Clark Moore tells the story of the Moore family and the oldest daughter who asks Papa for a storybook about Santa Claus. While he's out of town on business she gets very sick with pneumonia. He's unable to find a book about St. Nick, so he writes the story to help his daughter get well. The poem is set to music and sung by the Norman Luboff Choir

This is another one of those specials that has become somewhat forgotten over time. It's rarely, if ever aired now, and there has never been a commercial DVD released of it. It can be found on and seen on YouTube, however. Part one is above, uploaded by cb82fan.

Obscurity factor

Friday, December 23, 2011

Jim Backus in Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus (1974)

This holiday special is based on the true story of a girl who wrote to the editor of The New York Sun asking if there was really a Santa Claus. The response has become iconic "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus." Directed by Bill Melendez, the force behind the Peanuts specials, this half hour special has the same quality and also features the voices of real children. Though the story takes place in 1897, it's full of 1970's multicultural imagery. Listen for the voice of Jim Backus as the narrator and Santa Claus and for little Jimmy Osmond singing the closing theme.

Unlike Melendez's Peanuts specials, this one has fallen into obscurity. It can be seen in full on YouTube, but there has been only a VHS release - no DVD yet. Part one is above, uploaded by pressmin.

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

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Michael Learned & John Housman A Christmas Without Snow (1980)

This movie about second chances and starting over tells the story of Zoe Jensen (Learned), a recent divorcee who moves to San Francisco to begin again. She looks for work and tries to settle in. To make new friends she joins a choir. As they prepare for their Christmas concert the choirmaster, Ephraim Adams (Housman) drives them mercilessly. Will they find common ground or will the emotional toll drive the choir apart? Also look for James Cromwell and Valerie Curtin.

This TV film has been released on DVD and can be seen in full on YouTube. the entire film is above, uploaded by LuckyStrike502.

Obscurity factor: 8 (not well remembered, on DVD and YouTube)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Harrison Ford & Bea Arthur in The Star Wars Holiday Special (1978)

Long, long ago, in a galaxie far, far away, stars of the 1970's gathered together to make this legendary holiday special. It was aired once and then shut away in the vaults forever. Only bootlegs of it exist, because of George Lucas disappointment with the final result. It tells the story of the Wookie holiday, Life Day and Chewbacca's journy home with Han Solo to spend it with his family. Making appearances on the show are Bea Arthur, Harvy Korman (in several roles), Art Carney and Dihanne Carroll, as well as Star Wars veterans, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher.

This has never been released on commercial DVD, though you can find unofficial copies of it around. It's also on YouTube in full. Above is part one, uploaded by Hazelwood1styear. Watch it soon! Lucas is notorious for wanting to destroy every copy of this show that he can lay his hands on.

Obscurity factor: 3 (legendary cult status, though rarely seen, not on DVD, available on YouTube)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Bob Hope & Raquel Welch in The Bob Hope Christmas Special (1967)

This time capsule collection of footage from Bob Hope's 1967 USO tours features performances by Raquel Welch, Barbara McNair, Les Brown and his Band of Renown and a bevy of beautiful starlets. It's interesting to note that these shows are what the 1991 Bette Midler film, For The Boys were based on. Watching Hope's monologues gives you a window into the unpopular pro-war point of view of the time and seeing the boys is both heart warming and heart breaking at the same time.

This film is apparently in public domain, but is still available on DVD and can be seen in full on YouTube. The entire production is above, uploaded by thefilmarchive.

Obscurity factor: 8 (available on YouTube and DVD, well remembered in theory but not practice)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Sid Davis's Santa and the Fairy Snow Queen (1951)

This short film from 1951 kicks off our week of holiday posts. Produced and directed by Sid Davis, it's from the "so bad it's good" school of filmmaking and has a school pageant quality to it. The story follows the Fairy Snow Queen who brings Santa's toys to life when he stands her up for a sugar cookie. The amateurish production values and performances are endearing and the quirky quality of the performers give a "Land of the Misfit Toys" feel to the proceedings. I expect it was produced for school assemblies similar to The Winter of the Witch featured earlier on the blog, but without the star power.

This public domain film is available on YouTube thanks to an upload by my friend Michael at XmasFLIX. I don't believe it's even been released on DVD.

Obscurity factor: 10 (Complete oddity, almost totally forgotten, not on DVD)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

James Garner & Bruce Willis in Sunset (1988)

This Blake Edwards film has some interesting aspects to it. It's an action/adventure mystery film featuring a dramatization of two figures that actually existed - cowboy film star Tom Mix (Willis) and lawman Wyatt Earp (Garner). The premise finds Earp coming to Hollywood to consult on a film about his life that's to star Mix. The night he arrives the two of them go to a house of ill repute called the Candy Store, run by a woman named Candy. When Candy turns up dead they take it upon themselves to figure out who did it. Along the way they meet mobsters and find themselves coming up against the Hollywood power elite. Will they solve the crime or will it be the end of the both of them?
This film marks the second time James Garner played Earp. The first time was in the 1967 film Hour of the Gun. Also featured in the cast are Marial Hemmingway, Malcolm McDowell, Kathleen Quinlan and Dermot Mulroney.

You can find this film on DVD, and it's available to rent on YouTube. Click here for the rental page. Above is the television trailer for it, uploaded to YouTube by seanmc31076.

Obscurity factor: 7 (not well remembered, but available on DVD and online)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Sammy Davis Jr., Zsa Zsa Gabor & Hedda Hopper in Alice in Wonderland (1966)

This Hanna Barbera production of Alice in Wonderland (subtitled What's a Nice Girl Like You Doing in a Place Like This?) is updated to contemporary suburban America. The familiar tale is changed to reflect the times beginning with Alice's (Janet Waldo) journey, which isn't down a rabbit hole, but through a television screen. She meets the requisite assortment of characters including the White Rabbit, Cheshire Cat (Davis Jr.), the Queen of Hearts (Gabor) and the Mad Hatter (Harvey Korman) who, in this version has a wife played by Hedda Hopper. Also featured are Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble (Alan Reed and Mel Blanc) as the Talking Caterpillar.

As far as I can tell, this production of the classic story isn't available on DVD. It can be seen in full on YouTube, however. Above is part one, uploaded by OneDareLand.

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

Friday, December 16, 2011

Burt Reynolds in Dan August (1970)

Yesterday I featured the TV movie, The House on Greenapple Road (1970), which served as the pilot for this series. Playing the lead, Dan August was Christopher George. When the series was cast, they replaced him with up-and-coming tough guy, Burt Reynolds. Each week August would solve a crime in his home town of Santa Luisa, California, frequently encountering people he knew growing up. Also in the cast was Normal Fell. Guest stars included Anne Francis, Ricardo Montalban and Donna Mills.

This series has never made it to DVD, and can be hard to find. The only online video of it I could locate was the opening credits, which are above, uploaded to YouTube by PIMannix.

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

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Janet Leigh & Julie Harris in The House on Greenapple Road (1970)

Lt. Dan August (Christopher George) is a conscientious detective in his home town of Santa Luisa, California. When Marion Ord (Leigh) disappears, leaving a bloody crime scene behind her, he must find out what happened. His obstacles include an over zealous and publicity hungry county sheriff (Ed Asner) and a less-than-ethical mayor (Walter Pidgeon), hungry for an arrest at any cost. As the case unravels he discovers Ord's checkered past in the small community - it seems that she had affairs with most of the men she knew. The affairs are told in flashback, giving the impression of a lost woman trying to find herself in men. Harris plays Marion's sister-in-law. Look for Christopher George's soon to be wife, Linda Day and yes, that's Jan Brady (Eve Plumb) as little Margaret Ord.

This made for TV film hasn't been released on DVD, though you can find it in full on YouTube. Part one is above, uploaded by TVTERRORLAND.

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

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Robert Forster & Joan Blondell in Banyon (1972)

Set in the 1930's, this detective series that takes its cue from film noir features Robert Forster as Miles Banyon, an LA gumshoe with a nose for trouble. He's a loner - never letting himself get tied down to one dame. His girl friday is just that - they never stick around long enough to become a trap. He gets 'em from the secretarial school down the hall, run by Peggy Revere (Blondell). He'll take your case for a couple of sawbucks a day ($20) and expenses. He has a skirt who wants to clip his wings. Her name is Abby and she's a night club singer, but he's not about to let that happen. When the flatfoots come lookin' for him, they usually send Lieutenant McNiel (Richard Jaeckel). Each week Banyon has to wear out shoe leather looking into a matter for someone. Guest stars included Jose Ferrar, Hermione Gingold, Pat O'Brien and Teri Garr.

This series lasted only 16 episodes, and has never made it to commercial DVD. It's also hard to find online. Above are the opening credits uploaded to YouTube by bretmaverick2004.

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

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Jack Palance in Bronk (1975)

Lieutenant Alex Bronkov (Palance), affectionately called "Bronk" is hired by the mayor of Ocean City, CA to clean up the town. He's that curious 1970's mix of tough and tender, a man who gets the job done, but feels the effects of doing it very deeply. He has a handicapped daughter who was injured in an automobile accident that killed his wife, a fondness for cats and smokes a pipe. The sensitive seventies man was a bit of a stretch for Palance, who usually played the heavy, but it's interesting to see him play against type. The show was created by All In The Family star Carroll O'Connor, who also wrote and directed several episodes.

This series lasted 25 episodes and has never been released on DVD. There's very little online video of it available. Above is the opening credits, uploaded to YouTube by bretmaverick2004.

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

Monday, December 12, 2011

Steve Martin, Buck Henry & Teri Garr in The Absent Minded Waiter (1980)

This wacky short was used in Steve Martin's live comedy act. Watch as a couple receives the worst service ever, with the best payoff.

This short was nominated for an Academy Award and was included in a VHS release of Steve Martin's work, but has yet to make it to DVD in any form. It's available on YouTube, uploaded by thewilfs1.

Obscurity factor: 8 (known to Martin fans, but not generally well known otherwise, on YouTube)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Dom DeLuise & Suzanne Pleshette in Hot Stuff (1979)

Not to be confused with the Donna Summer song of the same name (released the same year), this wacky comedy from director Dom DeLuise has all the earmarks of a Burt Reynolds/Sally Field comedy - just without Reynolds and Field. Frustrated Miami cops Ernie (DeLuise) Louise (Pleshette) and Doug (Jerry Reed) can't seem to nab the bag guys, so they open up a pawn shop and let it be known that the shop will fence stolen goods. As the crooks pour in to sell their loot, the cops nab them. All does not go as planned, however, and when our heroes are targeted by the mob all bets are off.
This comedy is all about the gags, which are strung together on a somewhat slim plot line, however, the laughs make up for the implausibility. Also look for Ossie Davis as the Chief.

This film has been released on DVD as part of the Warner Archive collection and was previously released on VHS. It can also be seen in full on YouTube. Part one is above, uploaded by pointbreak2k.

Obscurity factor: 7 (largely forgotten, on DVD & VHS, also on YouTube)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Alan Reed, Mel Blanc & Harvey Korman in The Man Called Flintstone (1966)

The curious similarity between secret agent Rock Slag and Fred Flintstone is uncanny. It's this similarity that lands Fred the job of filling in for Slag when he's injured in Bedrock. His assignment is to stop the terrible Green Goose from destroying the world and that quest takes him to Paris and Rome.
This full length feature is the first one starring the popular characters and, though silly, has a flashy sixties style to it. Listen for the voice of Harvey Korman as Chief Mountmore. Also featured are voice artists Janet Waldo and Paul Frees.

This is marginally well known to the general public and very well known to fans of The Flintstones and fans of cartoons in general. It's available on DVD and can be watched on Veoh. Above are the opening credits, uploaded to YouTube by alexmystyleno3.

Obscurity factor: 2 (somewhat known to the general public, on DVD and Veoh)

Friday, December 9, 2011

Yvette Mimieux in Three in the Attic (1968)

Yesterdays post featured a film about a young lothario keeping a trio of women in a cellar. It is rumored to have been based on this film about a trio of women keeping a young lothario in an attic. Paxton Quigley (Christopher Jones) has deceived his girlfriends - all three of them. When they discover this they take him captive and alternately please and punish him for his transgressions, while he protests by fasting.
"Can you be Jewish and psychedelic at the same time?"Jan (Maggie Thret) asks Paxton during their chance meeting in the woods. The dialog in the film pokes fun at the cultural trends of the times and the circumstances landed the film am "Adults Only" status. The clip below was uploaded to YouTube by modcinema.

Though it's never been given a commercial release, you can find DVDs of it online. It's difficult to find online video of it, however. The only one I could find is above.

Obscurity factor: 9 (hard to find, no commercial DVD, barely remembered)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Joan Collins & Larry Hagman in Up In the Cellar (1970)

70's era sexual politics and student unrest are the subjects of this trivial farce. Colin Slade loses his scholarship due to a computer error. When the powers that be, namely the University president Maurice Camber (Hagman) refuse to address the matter, Slade decides to sleep with his wife, daughter and mistress. This complicates Camber's run for the senate and hilarity ensues.
Though very much of its time, this film has some charming elements to it. Joan Collins has fun with her American accent, Larry Hagman seems to relish playing the villain long before his successful run on Dallas (1978) and though marginally successful, the film led to an appearance for Wes Stern on The Mary Tyler Moor Show, playing a similarly lecherous character in an episode titled "He's All Yours" the same year.

The film is difficult to find. it's not on DVD, but can be found on They uploaded the clip above to YouTube.

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

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

James Coburn in The President's Analyst (1967)

Sidney Schafer (Coburn) is a successful analyst living and working in New York. When one of his patients (comedian, Godfrey Cambridge) recruits him for a prestigious assignment he's honored. Who wouldn't be when asked to work for the president of the United States? This plush assignment soon becomes a nightmare when he realizes that his knowledge has put him in danger from foreign powers, corporations, the FBR, CEA and the most insidious agency of all, The Phone Company. He's even beginning to suspect his girlfriend is spying on him, but that's crazy, right?
This swinging sixties comedy examines some serious issues, including rights of privacy and the protection or dissemination of classified information. It wasn't a box office success, but did fairly well with the critics and has since become a cult classic. Also look for Will Geer, William Daniels and Arte Johnson in the cast.

Above is the trailer for the film, uploaded toYouTube by videowebcaster.

And here is part one of the whole film, uploaded by cinemaeclectica. It's also available on DVD with some restored audio tracks that were left out of the television broadcasts.

Obscurity factor: 4 (occasionally seen on television, on DVD & YouTube, somewhat under the general public's radar)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Lauren Bacall & Ruth Gordon in Perfect Gentlemen (1978)

This TV movie brought together the disperate talents of Bacall (in her first TV movie), Gordon, Sandy Dennis and Lisa Pelikan as 4 down on their luck ladies who decide to pull a heist. Will they succeed or get caught and join their husbands in prison? Also in the cast are Dick O'Neill and Robert Alda.

Though it's never been released on DVD commercially, you can find unauthorized copies floating around. Above is a promo for the film, uploaded to YouTube by robatsea2009.

Obscurity factor: 10 (hard to find, not on DVD, not well remembered by most)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Judy Holliday in Full of Life (1956)

In this, Judy Holliday's second to last film, she plays Emily Rocco, wife of Nick, a struggling, first generation Italian American author. Nick has had his first bit of success and has bought a small home in Southern California and now that they're settled Emily has gotten pregnant. When the kitchen floor collapses on them, they find themselves in a bind. Unable to pay for the repairs, they must travel to Sacramento to enlist the help of Nick's immigrant father Salvatore, a stone mason. The stormy relationship between father and son is difficult for Emily to understand and she tries to help them come to terms as they bring Salvatore back with them to help with the floor. Along the way Nick and Emily begin to understand how a bit of the old ways of family and community can make life more meaningful.
This charming, if sentimental film allows Holliday to exhibit a much more naturalistic style of acting than is usually seen in her performances. It's extremely hard to find. There hasn't been a DVD release of it to date, though a VHS was released in 1998 and can still be found on Amazon - though the price can be dear. There is no online video of it anywhere that I can find. I first saw it on Antenna TV. It's been in rotation there for a few weeks and may air again.

Obscurity factor: 10 (very hard to find, not on DVD or YouTube, on VHS)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Maureen O'Sullivan & Warren William in Skyscraper Souls (1932)

This pre-code film tells the story of the people who live and work in the world's tallest building - The Seacoast National Bank Building in Manhattan. Taller even than the Empire State Building, it's ruled over by David Dwight (William), the bank president. The building houses businesses of all sorts, from gem merchants to dress companies and has such amenities as a swimming pool in the basement and a palatial penthouse apartment for Mr. Dwight. Dwight is assisted by his loyal secretary, Sarah Dennis (Verree Teasdale) who also happens to be his mistress. His wife (Hedda Hopper, soon to be Hollywood columnist, par excellence) and he live separate lives and she's perfectly content to soak him for dough between trips to Europe. Sarah has employed a new secretary, herself - impressionable Lynn Harding (O'Sullivan), who has caught the eye of bank clerk Tom Shepherd (Norman Foster). Mr. Dwight is not happy with the status quo, however, and he schemes to get full control over the building by creating a bubble in the stock of his bank, and decides to throw off Sarah after he gets a glimpse of Lynn. Will his selfish desires be realized or will he be lose everything?
Pre-code films are interesting to watch because the looser moral standards, coupled with the early mise-en-scene create a tension we're not used to if we're at all familiar with the classic cinema of the code era. This film doesn't disappoint on that score, featuring near nudity and foul language, not to mention explicit sexual circumstances. It's also interesting to note the elements of the story that touch on the still raw nerve of the crash of 1929, and how those circumstances relate to the financial condition of the country right now. Also featured in the film are Gregory Ratoff, Anita Page and Jean Hersholt.

This film has yet to be released on DVD. It was released on VHS in the late 90's and can still be found on Amazon. It's rather expensive though. It's occasionally screened on TCM and can be watched in full on YouTube. The entire film is above, uploaded by kalifani.

Obscurity factor: 8 (On VHS, hard to find, known to fans of pre-code cinema, not well known otherwise, on YouTube)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Daws Butler & Janet Waldo in The Space Kiddets (1966)

This Hanna Barbera series set in space features a gang of kids who were constantly beset upon by space pirate Captain Skyhook and his evil henchman Static (both Butler). The kids were less distinct, though they did have cute names, including one named, oddly enough, Snoopy. Their dog was called Pupstar. The shows were originally produced as 15 minute stories meant to be interspersed with other content in a half hour time slot.

The clip above is the opening sequence, uploaded by cartoonboy180. One of the more memorable conceits of the show revolved around a treasure map that the Captain wanted from the kids, but was unwilling to do them harm to get. Static on the other hand was more than willing to go that extra mile and was constantly being kept in check by the Captain, as can be seen in the clip below, uploaded by WarnerBrosOnline. The animation style was clever and sophisticated with something of a Chuck Jones quality to it, as evidenced by the quivering spaceship in this clip.

This series has made it to DVD, along with the show that replaced it - Young Samson. It's part of the Warner Archive collection.

Obscurity factor: 9 (on DVD, barely remembered)

Friday, December 2, 2011

Number 96 (1972 & 1980)

One of the most controversial television shows in Australian history was this night time soap opera. It was about the lives of the residents of 96 Lindsay street in Sidney. It was a hot-bed of scandalous activity and inappropriate behavior, with more than enough trysts and intrigue for the sexy seventies. The show ran quite a long time - from 1972 to 1977 - and was something of a national obsession during its run. It has the distinction of including in its story lines the first stable and accepted gay couple on television.

Above are the opening credits for the show, uploaded to YouTube by SilentNumber96. Below, also uploaded by SilentNumber96, is one of the scenes with a gay story line. Remember, this is the mid 1970's.

As with many successful shows from Europe and Australia, this show spawned an American remake. Unlike All in the Family (1971) (based on British series 'Til Death Do Us Part [1965]) and Sanford and Son (1972) (Based on British series Steptoe and Son [1962]), this series didn't fare well. Only 6 episodes were produced and aired from October 1980 to January 1981.

Above is the credit sequence for the American series, embedded in a collection of show openings from 1980 by bobtwcatlanta. Note the similar graphic conceit with the numbers 9 and 6. The original Australian series is available on DVD, but not for region 1 players. The American series has never been released.

Obscurity factor: 5 (well known in Australia, almost completely unknown in America)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Michael J. Fox in Palmerstown USA (1980)

Racial relations in pre-civil rights era America was the inspiration for this series. It focused on two young boys who were the best of friends. One was black, the other was white. Their relationship was fine as long as they were young, but as they aged, the racial divide in America began to drive them apart. Only 11 episodes were produced, so the arc of the story line was never fully realized. The show never found its audience, though people still remember it fondly.

It was produced by Norman Lear. Below is a clip, uploaded by TVLEGENDS, of him discussing the show and speculating on why it wasn't a success.

There's very little available from this show. It was never released on DVD and online video of it is practically non-existant. The top clip is the opening credits, featured in a compilation of credit sequences from 1980 uploaded by bobtwcatlanta.

Obscurity factor: 10 (not well remembered, hard to find)