Friday, February 01, 2008

Movie of the Week: The Marx Brothers in "Animal Crackers"

Posting this early in the day, because I'm already feeling very tired, and probably won't be up for posting tonight!

Anyway, I'm introducing yet another new regular feature here in the Random Acts of Geekery... the Movie of the Week! Once a week, I'll be selecting a movie to feature here, with YouTube or other videos, posters, stills, and whatever else I have in my Flickr files. The first bunch of them will be Marx Brothers movies, and we'll go from there!


First up is "Animal Crackers," in which Groucho plays Captain Spaulding! Here's Groucho, performing the classic number, "Hello, I Must Be Going":

"Animal Crackers" is one of my favorites of the Marx movies (OK, so there's not one I've seen that I don't consider a favorite)... I think it's hilarious! The basic plot of the movie is the usual boy meets girl kind of thing... well, the plot is really unimportant... what is important is the opportunities for comedy!



Filmed in 1930, "Animal Crackers" was the second Marx movie to be based on a stage show (in fact, the stage version of "Animal Crackers" was running as they were filming "The Coconuts," so the Marxes were filming in the daytime, then performing a different show at night!). Zeppo was still part of the team here, and of course Margaret Dumont (Groucho's perfect romantic foil) was in it, to!


There are so many quotable lines from the movie... most of them Groucho's... but I won't mention them here, because I think in print, they don't have the same humor as when Groucho spoke them!



If you haven't ever seen this movie, and you want to check it out online, the entire thing seems to be available on YouTube... here's part 1, and I'm sure smart people like you can figure out how to find the rest of the parts:


Internet Movie Database page for Animal Crackers

If you haven't got this movie in your DVD collection, I'd appreciate it if you'd buy it from one of the links below!


Give-A-Show Fridays: Woody Woodpecker & The Three Stooges!

Here's your weekly Give-A-Show double feature!



I have no idea why this is all in rhyme... but it is! Fortunately, the Stooges aren't so poetic!



Next week: Rocky and Bullwinkle, plus Lassie!


Thursday, January 31, 2008

Found on eBay: Extra-Large Edition!

To make up for no post last night, here's an extra-large helping of Found on eBay!


First up, one of those wonderful Power Records Book & Record Sets of the 1970s! Power Records was a division of Peter Pan Records, and they weren't the first to do records based on comic books... Golden Records had that honor in the 1960s (I think there had to be some connection between those companies, though).

I've never had one of these Space: 1999 Book & Record Sets, so I can't say for sure... but I could swear the cover art on this looks like it came from one of the Charlton comics! It wouldn't be too surprising, as Power Records did do some sets that were slightly-modified reprints of Marvel Comics (I remember the relettering was ridiculously obvious)... not just the super-heroes, but also some monster comics, too!

Power Records also did some albums that didn't have books with them to follow along with.


From Gerry Anderson we go to Sid & Marty Krofft! This Witchiepoo doll from H.R. Pufnstuf is, or so I've read, the most popular Pufnstuf collectible out there! I'm sure this one earned a pretty penny!


It's another jarring shift here... in the 1980s, when Archie Comics revived the Mighty Crusaders (under the Red Circle imprint), Remco decided to license the characters for action figures! These figures were a response not only to the Kenner Super Powers and Mattel Secret Wars action figure lines, but also to Mattel's own Masters of the Universe line! Limited posability? Absolutely... Weird proportions? Certainly (not quite as extreme as their Warlord line)... and more than a bit cartoony!

Oh, the one you see above? The Brain Emperor was the Crusaders' arch-foe in the revival. If I were ever to get Archie to let me revive the Crusaders, I'd want to come up with a new name for the Emperor!


The "Mighty Punch" action mentioned there? There was a knob on the figures' backs that, when you twisted it, caused the arms to rock back and forth, as if they were punching. (this would be the response to the Super Powers action features) The shields had a built-in whistle (as a response to the Secret Wars' lenticular shields).


Here's an interesting Remco item... the Movieland Drive-In Theater has been disparaged by other blogs, but I think it's pretty neat! It had an acutal working projector, but I don't know if this thing owed more to the Give-A-Show Projectors (i.e., slides) or to the Easy-Show Movie Projector (running a loop of film).

These seem to show up on eBay very often!


Remco was also the manufacturer of this Pufnstuf hand puppet!


The next manufacturer I'm looking at here (if only for one item) is Revell, who snapped up all the old Aurora licenses! I thought this Frankenstein "Monsters of the Movies" kit was based on one of the Aurora kits... but it doesn't seem to be poseable (like Aurora's Monsters of the Movies Frankenstein kit), nor is he standing on a grave with his arms thrust out (like the original Aurora kit).


I just posted this image the other day, as part of the "Heroes World" catalog entry, but in case you missed it then, here it is again! These are all AHI toys that get big bucks these days!


This is a very cool Mego-related item... this poster shows the box or card art for all of the Mego World's Greatest Super-Heroes action figures! I'd love to have this framed and on the wall of my home office!


Shazam! This could well be the oldest item I've ever included in one of these posts! Fawcett did a great job in the Golden Age of marketing the Marvel Family, and this was part of a line of paper products that also included puzzles that you could color yourself (I had one of those for a few years). I don't know if these were basically paper airplanes that you folded and flew, or if they were more like the much later Ideal Sky Heroes (that were sort of delta-wing gliders).


Here's a lobby card from what's recognized as being the greatest movie serial of all time, "The Adventures of Captain Marvel"! If you haven't seen this one, I feel sorry for you, because it is the standard by which to judge all other serials! I used to have this on two VHS tapes, but sadly sold them back when I was out of work. I should really get them again, but this time on DVD!


I wish I could have afforded to bid on this lot of Shazam stuff! That videotape on the lower left hand corner is probably episodes of the Filmation animated series, and if you look in the opposite corner, you'll see the View-Master set! Most of the rest seems to be Mead school supplies... but I can't remember what the item in the upper left corner is! All I can read on the photo is the words "Snap-On."


These items were also in the same lot as the previous photo... there's Super Friends items (at least that pencil sharpener at the upper left), stickers, Super-Hero Stamps, children's story book, even a Peter Pan (nee Power) record... all very neat stuff!

Here's some individal items from those lots...


Playing Cards...


...and the record!


And for the last Shazam!/Captain Marvel item, here's another poster from the serial!

It's amusing to me that for this Extra-Large Edition of Found on eBay, I'm including a few items from "The Incredible Shrinking Man"... to wit:


This poster/lobby card...


And this title card, with the neat comic-book style panels!

If you're not familiar with it, basically, it's about this married couple who are out in the ocean on their boat, and while the wife goes below decks, the husband's out on the deck, exposed, when this strange mist hits the boat, which starts him shrinking! Science can't stop it, and as he gets smaller, his wife can't handle what's happening... finally, he ends up in the basement of his own house, fighting it out with his own cat and a tarantula (no, I don't know why he had a tarantula in the basement of his house).

Some very clever effects work in this movie... I think I've written about this before, but there's one scene where the Shrinking Man's in the basement, and there's a leaky faucet or pipe sending drops down to the floor. In order to create real drops, the effects department filled condoms with water, and dropped them! The effect is uncanny.


As I'm sure you've realized, "Found on eBay" is all about products of the 1960s and 1970s... especially the 1970s, which is when all kinds of cool licensed toys were produced! Well, an icon of the 1970s was The Six Million Dollar Man, based on the novel "Cyborg" by Martin Caidin. Air Force Colonel Steve Austin is on a test flight when his plane is involved in a disastrous crash, as seen in the opening credits...


We'd hear Oscar Goldman, Steve's boss, say as the work was done... "Colonel Steve Austin, astronaut. A man barely alive. We can rebuild him. We have the technology. We can make him better, faster, stronger."


Oscar Goldman recruited Steve (kind of against his will, to be honest) to be a special agent for the OSI, the Office of Scientific Investigation. Steve used his bionic eye, right arm, and legs to battle the forces that threatened our nation... although he tended to do most of his bionic stuff in slow motion, something I never quite understood!


As the show progressed, Steve encountered very weird menaces... the Bionic Bigfoot above was actually a robot created by aliens! Bigfoot appeared on several episodes.


Of course, the most important person in Steve's life (next to his boss, Oscar Goldman, and Dr. Rudy Wells, inventor of the bionics technology) was pretty tennis professional Jaime Somers.


Jaime and Steve had been lovers long before Steve's astronaut, and later, the two reconnected, and their love bloomed again. The two planned marriage, but when they were out skydiving, tragedy struck again, and Jaime's chute didn't open. Steve talked Oscar into saving her life with bionics!

Jaime's bionics, like Steve, replaced both legs and her right arm... but instead of a bionic eye, she had a bionic ear!


At the end of the two-part episode that introduced Jaime, it was discovered that Jaime's body was rejecting her bionic parts, and she "died."


However, she didn't really die... it was deemed necessary for Steve to think she was dead, perhaps so that not only could Steve focus on his missions, but also so Jaime could go to work for the OSI, too... based out of Ojai, CA, under cover as a teacher for her own TV spin-off, "The Bionic Woman." When ABC cancelled the show, NBC picked it up for a few more years (this was pretty close to the same time ABC cancelled Wonder Woman, which was picked up by CBS).

As you probably noticed, Kenner Toys did most of the licensed products based on both shows!

Lots more Bionic goodies next time around!


Double Posts Tonight... make up for the lack of a post last night. Went to bed early because of being up in the middle of the night the night before (I'm sure those of you with kids would be able to relate... this kind of thing seems to happen about once a week these days!).


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Castle of Frankenstein #12, Pages 22-

If you're interested in monster magazines (and if you're readning this, I guess you are!), you should check out this site, which is an amazing resource for finding out more about them!

Now, back to Castle of Frankenstein #12!


We're up to page 23, with a two-page article called "Star Trek Star Spock Speaks," a short piece by Leonard Nimoy. The photos you see on the left-hand page feature a Keeper from "The Menagerie," a Carocol (that cat) from the Philadelphia Zoo that schoolchildren had named "Mr. Spock," and below the cat, another alien from "The Menagerie."

The most bizarre thing about the article is the last paragraph, in which Nimoy writes about "all that Vulcanian makeup," because as a longtime Trek fan, I didn't think of Spock as being Vulcanian, but Vulcan... but apparently, in the early days of Trek, Roddenberry referred to Spock as being Vulcanian...


Pages 24 and 25 feature an article about The Avengers - that is, the British tv show - with short bios on stars Diana Rigg (Mrs. Peel) and Patrick Macnee (Mr. Steed). Funny thing is, just as this issue was going to press, Diana Rigg was leaving the show, and they didn't know she was being replaced by Linda Thorson (as a matter of fact, Linda's character, Tara King, was introduced in the last Mrs. Peel episode).


Pages 26 and 27 feature the art of Frank Brunner, in this parody of Flash Gordon, called Smash Gordon! As you can see here, while Brunner's art was pretty accomplished at this point, he was still just short of being good enough to go pro!

Next time around, it's Christopher Lee!