Category Archives: 1950s
April has been lousy with famous deaths, and today we lost another great one. I grew up with Annette Funicello, and no, I’m not that old. In the 1970s, there were reruns of the original “Mickey Mouse Club” on TV every weekday afternoon, and the 1960s Beach Party movies ran quite often on the UHF channels. I was very familiar with who she was, and even dug her when she would appear on talk shows and variety shows, and even Skippy peanut butter commercials, of the era at her current age.
Annette was a regular on “MMC” as well as appearing in their serials and several other Disney television series and movies. Later she moved on to the popular Beach Party films with Frankie Avalon, as well as having many top ten hits as a singer, one of them eventually becoming the theme to “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson. She made a comeback in 1987 starring with Avalon in Back to the Beach, a clever homage to the Beach Party movies.
Continuing to sing, act, and make appearances over the next decade, Annette was eventually diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, complications of which finally took her life earlier today in California. We have truly lost another legend today, of many media. Annette Funicello will be missed.
Duck and Cover ~ Everyone knows about the classic civil defense film from 1951, but how many of us have actually seen it? I admit that while I have seen huge chunks of this thirty-two minute documentary, I don’t think I had seen it in its entirety until recently.
At the beginning of the Cold War, our greatest fear was nuclear attack from the Russians. This was a short subject shown in theaters to teach folks what to do in case the unthinkable happened – they dropped The Atomic Bomb. Talk about hysteria! They’d never do anything like today, it might upset someone’s sensibilities. Thank goodness for political correctness. Sarcasm mode off.
It’s got some great animation with Bert the Turtle, a very cautious (and very hysterically paranoid) fellow very good at ducking and covering. Very good at it, because, well, he’s a turtle. The thrust is if you heard the air raid sirens, you should duck and cover. This film urged school kids to crawl under their desks and cover their heads in case of attack. We did know what atomic bombs were capable of, right? That’s not going to keep anyone from being vaporized.
This instructional film is definitely a product of its time, so filled with paranoia and hysteria that it probably was a self-fulfilling prophecy, causing as much paranoia and hysteria as it itself was filled with. Probably the scariest thing for me was how scared the kids in this film looked. Both an entertaining and frightening time capsule.
You’ve all probably heard the news this week, Monopoly, the popular property trading game from Hasbro (or currently from Hasbro, previously from Parker Brothers, or Waddington’s in the UK), is getting a new playing piece, and letting their fans decide which new piece will be replacing which old piece. It’s great marketing and promotion, of course.
Monopoly is an American tradition, king of the board games, and has been around since the turn of the last century. Initially a parlor game to explain taxes to those not smart enough to understand, it first saw widespread popularity as The Landlord’s Game in 1923, and finally as Monopoly in 1934. Like Scrabble, I think every household has at least one Monopoly game. At my house we didn’t have any board games, and even we had Monopoly. Today, many versions of the game, based on colleges, localities other than the traditional Atlantic City, even movies and other popular genres. Monopoly is a videogame, and a sticker game at McDonald’s. Currently in my household we have a Doctor Who version and a Justice League version.
I can remember back in the 1970s when the summers were so hot no one wanted to go outside, we would have marathon games of Monopoly that would last for hours, sometimes days. We’d bend the rules, and I’m not just talking about the dubious Free Parking rule – we’d use two banks, no limits on hotels or houses, we’d make deals outside of the game to keep someone in the game – “Let me use your bike and I’ll spot you $500 in the game.” Yeah, that kind of stuff. It’s a crazy, addictive, and sometimes cutthroat game. Good, good times.
In those days there were very specific playing pieces. You had the car, which everybody wanted. If you had first choice, you always had the car. If you had second choice, it was slightly different – if you were a girl, you took the dog, and if you were a boy, you took the battleship. After that, the top hat, iron, thimble, cannon, boot, man on a horse, and wheelbarrow were up for grabs. Notably, those were the pieces in the set we played with. Even then we knew there had been other pieces.
In the 1950s, the purse, rocking horse, and lantern had been replaced by the dog, wheelbarrow, and man on horse. So there’s nothing new under the sun. Similarly in later years, Monopoly has added (and apparently subtracted) a train and a money bag as tokens as well. Noatably, most of the different variations of the games have different tokens as well. My Justice League set has tiny busts of the first eight members.
The new deal, which is sure to equal sales in the old sets, as well as anticipation of the new ones, has the public voting for a new piece to replace an old one. Any of the existing (the cannon has apparently previously been jettisoned) are up for retirement. The new pieces you can vote for on the Monopoly Facebook Page include the robot, the helicopter, the cat, the diamond ring, or the guitar.
Personally I’m pulling for the robot or the helicopter. They both have the coolness factor of the car. I am wondering however, how popular would a full set of playing tokens be? I know I would buy that, all of the past and present pieces in one set would be cool for collectors and fans of the game as well. You could even throw in proposed pieces like the biplane and the piggy bank. Now, the real question is, why isn’t there a playing piece of the game’s mascot, Uncle Moneybags?
Attack the Block ~ Every once in a while a movie comes in under the radar and by pure word of mouth everyone is like, “You have to see this.” Attack the Block is one of those films. Not in theaters, couldn’t find it bootleg, and it took forever to get through Netflix, but I finally got a chance to see it.
Attack the Block has been billed as an alien invasion movie in the style of Shaun of the Dead, and it does in fact have Nick Frost in it and was written and directed by Frost/Simon Peggy/Edgar Wright collaborator Joe Cornish. The premise has aliens attacking South London and a teenage street gang defending their turf. In reality, it’s a theme that dates back to the American 1950s, but Cornish delivers it with flava. The flick begins when the boys kill an alien and descend into the teenage underworld looking for bragging rights and cash.
Once I got my head back in “Eastenders” mode (I’m out of practice, PBS stopped showing it in this area several years ago, and I’m never going to forgive you, channel 12) and was able to understand the thick accents that pass for English, I was all good with these kids, but it did take a while, some concentration, and subtitles. When it turns out it ain’t just one alien out there, the real fun begins. It’s really Shaun of the Dead meets The Warriors meets Red Dawn set in Walford Square under alien siege. Yeah, it’s that much fun.
I really kinda dug the almost Akira-like moped chases, and the aliens are truly frightening – big black furry masses with neon blue jaws of teeth. The colors of this flick are amazing. Intense, scary, brutal, and visually stunning, Attack the Block lives up to the hype, and is a must-see.
Giant from the Unknown ~ This 1958 ‘cult classic’ should be bait for “Mystery Science Theater 3000” if it already isn’t. Even the title is the stuff of bad filmmaking. It’s not a giant, and they know exactly where he came from.
Now that’s not to say that the flick isn’t entertaining, from both an unintentional and dated point of view. It’s got all the hallmarks of a 1950s horror flick. Sexism abundant and teenagers that aren’t listened to, as well as the well meaning scientist and the anti-youth police, it’s all here, along with a big old conquistador frozen in suspended animation. Bad writing and bad acting, yes, but good for an evening of Ed Woodiness in the best way possible.
The All Things Fun! New Comics Vidcast is shot live in a real comics and gaming store in West Berlin, NJ – All Things Fun! – co-hosts Ed (Checkered Shirt) Evans, Allison (Batgirl) Eckel and Glenn (Avengers) Walker discuss the new comics out this week in two fun video segments, now in high definition, and also available on YouTube. See it here!
The first segment includes discussion of the following topics: Ed’s back, Paul Levitz’ Huntress #1, Penguin Pain and Prejudice #1, number two DC 52 horror comics, Action Comics #2 and the not-so-secret identity, Green Arrow #2, some books that Glenn actually liked this week, the rest of the second issues this week for the New DC 52, and we promise we’ll let Ed talk in the next segment.
The discussion continues in segment two including: Seashell armor, Ed’s indies, the Slave One bank and the ruination of Star Wars, more indies including The Walking Dead, Zombie Night at All Things Fun!, Chew #21, Avengers 1959 #1, other Avengers-related Marvels, Marvel hardbacks for kids, and Ed’s trades.
And be back here every Wednesday morning at 11:30 AM EST to watch the new broadcast, and thereafter throughout the week!
Eddie Fisher passed away yesterday from complications of hip surgery. He was 82.
Fisher was a singer and actor on radio and television, but he was probably better known for what he did in his personal life. Fisher married five times. Among his wives were Elizabeth Taylor, Connie Stevens and Debbie Reynolds. Actress Carrie Fisher is his daughter from that last marriage.
His recording career was huge and he ruled the charts until some guy named Elvis Presley came along. He will be missed.
Starflight One ~ The synopsis for this 1983 gem reads, and I’m not joking, as follows: “By mistake the captain and passengers of the world’s first hypersonic airliner go past Australia, into space.” Also known as Starflight: The Plane That Couldn’t Land, it’s a disaster movie on a low budget telemovie scale starring the semi-warm cast of Lee Majors, Lauren Hutton, Ray Milland, Kirk Cameron, Robert Englund and Hal Linden. Just as bad as it sounds and would be fun if you make a drinking game out of it. This serious version of Airplane II is abysmal and yet sometimes unintentionally funny.
It’s Alive ~ This TV movie from 1968 is pretty cool, and riding on a smooth drive-in horror flick vibe, until you actually see the monster. Wow. This thing, a recycled prop costume from a previous film just as bad as this one, makes the monsters from the old “Doctor Who” TV series look professional. Hell, it makes Barney look like he walked out of Jurassic Park. This one’s okay excluding the monster. With the monster, it’s just terrible. An example of how one ‘special’ effect can ruin an entire flick.
Kitten with a Whip ~ This 1960s exploitation flick is indicative of the genre and one of the best with name stars. Sociopathic prison runaway Ann Margaret chills at aspiring senator John Forsythe’s home Desperate Hours style while the family is on vacation. This couldn’t have been better if William Castle or Roger Corman had directed it.
Yes Man ~ Jim Carrey plays a negative man who through a positive thinking guru forces himself to say yes to everything. Yeah, it’s kinda like Liar Liar only less funny. It’s not as bad as it could be as Zooey Deschanel saves all the scenes she’s in. As much as Zooey is a delight, Jim is equally a hyperactive and sullen brat. Not as bad as it could be, might be worth seeing if nothing else is on, and as long as you don’t pay for it.
Planet 51 ~ Other than the interesting twist of humans and aliens switching roles, which you can see in any of the previews, there’s really no surprises here. It’s fun animation for kids featuring pantless sea monkeys with Alien dogs in a retro 1950s world, along with The Rock being tiredly ironic for ninety minutes. The shine will wear off for adults pretty quickly.
Pineapple Express ~ You know those great action thrillers where some innocent bystanders witness a murder and then spend the rest of the flick being chased by the bad guys? Yeah, now imagine everyone in said flick is a stoner and/or a doper. Yep, you got it, that’s what Pineapple Express is. It’s funny, but it’s probably a lot funnier if you’re high.