Thursday, November 30, 2017

RIP: JIM NABORS

Jim Nabors, who gave popular culture its most enduring image of a wide-eyed, good-natured if none too bright hayseed in a character whose very name – Gomer Pyle – would become synonymous with lovable rube, died Thursday in Hawaii. He was 87.

Nabors’ husband, Stan Cadwallader, confirmed the death to the Associated Press, noting that the actor had been in failing health for a year, with his immune system diminished by a liver transplant 20 years ago. Cadwallader was at his side, at their home in Hawaii, when Nabors died.

With catchphrases “Shazam!” and “Gollllly!” (the latter drawn out to four or five lilting syllables), Nabors debuted his downhome, gas station attendant character in 1962 on The Andy Griffith Show, where the slow-going, dim-witted Gomer was a constant irritation to Don Knotts’ officious, high-strung Deputy Barney Fife.

The Gomer character, and Nabors’ odd-couple chemistry with Knotts, proved so popular with audiences that he was given his own spin-off series in 1964. Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C, co-starring Frank Sutton as his ever-yelling drill sergeant Vince Carter (“I can’t heeearrrr youuu!”) ran until 1969 on CBS. (The Gomer character was replaced on Andy Griffith with cousin Goober Pyle, played by George Lindsey in a Jughead-style cap).


Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C.was an instant smash when it debuted in September 1964. The series finished No. 3 among all primetime shows that season with a 30.7 rating –- ahead of Andy Griffith – and was No. 2 behind Bonanza for the following 1965-66 season. The series slipped in the ratings after its move from Fridays to Wednesdays for the 1966-67 season, but CBS returned Gomer Pyle to Fridays the following season and it ranked No. 3 and No. 2 in primetime during the next two seasons.

Nabors got his start as a cabaret act at Santa Monica’s The Horn, appearing in a musical comedy routine that included his performance as a Gomer-like character. He was noticed by Andy Griffith and hired for a one-episode appearance as Mayberry’s gas station attendant.

Nabors’ comic persona, with his natural Alabama accent stretched to a near-cartoon drawl, evaporated when switched gears to sing, utilizing a baritone that sounded both formal and trained, a dichotomy used to great effect as far back as the Griffith show.


His 1966 LP Jim Nabors Sings with All Your Heart, made the Billboard Top 25 and went gold. He charted a dozen albums through 1972 and though he never matched that initial chart success two more were half-million-sellers. One of those was Jim Nabors’ Christmas Album, which topped the holiday albums chart in 1967 and again two years later.

His singing made him a frequent guest of variety shows in the 1960s and ’70s, including The Johnny Cash Show, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, The Dean Martin Show, The Flip Wilson and, most notably, The Carol Burnett Show, where his appearance on each season premiere became an annual tradition. He hosted his own variety show, The Jim Nabors Hour, from 1969-71.


Nabors even became a Indianapolis 500 tradition with his rendition of Back Home Again in Indiana performed during the race’s opening ceremonies since 1972. He would do this every year until 2014.

On the big screen, Nabors made appearances in a string of moving starring friend Burt Reynolds, including The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Stroker Ace and Cannonball Run II...


Saturday, November 25, 2017

BAD CINEMA: POULTRYGEIST: NIGHT OF THE CHICKEN DEAD

My friend is a guru of bad B-movies, and he has instilled in me a love of this genre of films so bad they are good. A couple of weeks ago, we went to a midnight viewing of the film Poultrygeist: Night Of The Chicken Dead. Yes, that is the name of movie - it was everything I thought the movie was and more!

The film is a 2006 black comedy musical-horror film from Troma Entertainment, directed by Lloyd Kaufman and co-directed by former long-time Troma editor Gabriel Friedman from a screenplay by Friedman and Daniel Bova. Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead was released in 2006 in theaters and in 2008 on DVD. Poultrygeist follows a group of consumers and ordinary citizens who are trapped inside a New Jersey fried chicken fast food restaurant – the American Chicken Bunker – which is being attacked by a chicken-possessed zombie demonic alien spirit because the building is erected on top of a sacred Native American burial ground. The protagonist is Arbie (Jason Yachanin), an ACB employee trying to win back the heart of his ex-girlfriend Wendy (Kate Graham), an activist protesting against the restaurant, who has left Arbie for another woman.

Poultrygeist first began as a spec script of the same title submitted to Troma Entertainment by Daniel Bova around 2002. After a number of re-writes at the hands of several Troma employees, the script reached a final draft in 2004, completed by long-time Troma editor Gabriel Friedman. Then given the title Poultrygeist: Attack of the Chicken Zombies, Troma heavily promoted the film in the mid-2000s in an attempt to gain funding, though ultimately failed to secure adequate financing.

The budget for Poultrygeist was roughly around $500,000, a typical budget for a Troma film. A large part of the film's financing came out-of-pocket from Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz, while Kaufman and his wife, Patricia Swinney Kaufman, dipped into their personal retirement savings to help fund the film.


Much of Poultrygeist's crew was made up entirely of volunteers who had answered advertisements posted by Troma on such websites as Craigslist and horror-based message boards looking for available crew members. According to Fangoria, hundreds of people applied, and volunteers traveled from as far as Sweden, Germany, Australia and numerous parts of the United States to work on the film, serving in various crew positions or as production assistants. Duggie Banas, who composed the movie's musical numbers, became attached to the film after answering an online ad looking for composers who'd be willing to work on a film for free. Many of the props and masks featured in the film were donations from special effects studios from around the world.

Shot on 35 mm film by long-time Troma cinematographer Brendan C. Flynt, principal photography for Poultrygeist took place during the summer of 2005 at an abandoned McDonald's in the Bailey-Kensington neighborhood of Buffalo, New York. Over 80 crew members and 300 unpaid extras worked on the film. A nearby abandoned church was rented out by Troma, where over 70 cast and crew members resided for the duration of the shoot, despite only housing one working bathroom.


As chronicled in Poultrygeist's making-of documentary Poultry in Motion: Truth Is Stranger Than Chicken, the production was plagued with numerous problems, including malfunctioning special effects, delayed and over-scheduled filming, pay disputes with the actors and even the restaurant set being prematurely deconstructed on the last day of shooting. Despite the production hardships, Poultrygeist managed to successfully complete its principal photography by August 2005.

The film is no Citizen Kane, and I was worried I could stay awake seeing this film at midnight, but the film kept me captivated. The musical numbers were great, and even though the acting was cheesy - I laughed a lot and just simply enjoyed this crazy movie...

MY BAD RATING: 10 OUT OF 10


Thursday, November 16, 2017

COOKING WITH THE STARS: MARILYN MONROE

Who knew that the great sex bombshell Marliyn Monroe could cook. With Thanksgiving and the holiday season here, I found a recipe for Monroe's stuffing. It sounds good...


FOR THE STUFFING:
-No garlic
-Sourdough French bread – soak in cold water, wring out, then shred
-For chicken giblets – boil in water 5-10 mins
-Liver – heart then chop
-1 whole or ½ onion, chop & parsley / four stalk celery, chop together following spices – put in rosemary
-Thyme, bay leaf, oregano, poultry seasoning, salt, pepper,
-Grated Parmesan cheese, 1 handful
-1/2lb – 1/4lb ground round – put in frying pan – brown (no oil) then mix raisin 1 ½ cups or more
-1 cup chop nuts (walnuts, chestnuts, peanuts)
-1 or 2 hard boiled eggs – chopped mix together


TO PREP THE BIRD:
-Salt & pepper inside chicken or turkey – outside same and butter
-Sew up clamp birds put chicken or turkey in 350 oven
-Roasting chicken – 3 or 4lbs or larger
-Cooks 30 min to 1lbs
-Brown chicken or pheasant (vinegar, oil, onion, spices) – let cook in own juice
-Add little water as you go
-½ glass vinegar – put in when half done
-Cooks 2 hours

Thursday, November 9, 2017

A TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE: WEB EPISODE 1

Welcome to my first episode of my You Tube show - titled as you guessed it A Trip Down Memory Lane. From time to time I will do a little 30 minute episode highlighting some of the great stars of our times. For this first episode I will count down my five favorite male singers. I hope you enjoy it, and I encourage comments and suggestions...


Wednesday, November 8, 2017

GUEST REVIEWER: GOOD NEWS

For a long time when I was first watching classic movies, the 1947 film Good News was my favorite musical. It's not my favorite any longer but it's still a pretty good film. Our guest reviewer Bruce Kogan makes his return to our pages reviewing this musical...

Good News was the best musical from the Roaring Twenties from the premier songwriting team of DeSylva, Brown & Henderson. It ran on Broadway for 557 performances in the 1927-29 season and gave the team a number of song hits identified with them like the title song, Just Imagine, Lucky In Love, and The Best Things In Life Are Free. All of those songs made it as well as one of the great dance numbers of the Roaring Twenties, The Varsity Drag.

The musicals of that era had the lightweight nonsensical plots which also was taken from the Broadway show. Big man on campus, Peter Lawford, has to get a passing grade in French to stay eligible for the football squad. He gets mousy student librarian June Allyson assigned as a tutor and the inevitable happens as it does in these films. After that Lawford has to choose between mercenary coed Patricia Marshall and Allyson. It's a struggle, but you guess who he winds up with.


This film is strictly about the music and dance numbers and it offers a rare opportunity to see Joan McCracken singing and dancing which she mostly did on the Broadway stage. She introduces a song especially written for the film Pass That Peace Pipe which was a big hit in 1947 and won for Good News its only Academy Award nomination. Pass That Peace Pipe lost to Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah for Best Song. But the number is one of the best dance numbers ever to come from an Arthur Freed produced MGM musical. Joan McCracken died way too young as oddly enough her dancing partner Ray McDonald.

Good News presents an idealized version of the Roaring Twenties and is the quintessential college musical which flooded Hollywood mostly in the years before World War II. It holds up well as entertainment and the songs are still fabulous...


BRUCE'S RATING: 7 OUT OF 10
MY RATING:9 OUT OF 10