Saturday, September 10, 2016

Once there were Gods

On February 7th, 1978, the Dean Martin Celebrity Roast was broadcast to millions, and this time the man of the hour was none other than Dino's old pal and the venerable leader of the Rat Pack himself, Frank Sinatra.  Appearing unbilled and seemingly taking the house by surprise, Peter Falk steals the show (in full "Columbo" mode) and teaches this esteemed panel of legendary talent a thing or two about comedy and delivery.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The woeful wife-jitters of 1956

"The Creeper" (originally broadcast 6-17-1956, Alfred Hitchcock Presents)

By the mid-1950's, scaring the ever-loving bejesus out of bored housewives had become something of a tradition in this great land of ours, as is evident in this 1956 episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

New York City is in the grip of a sweltering heatwave, and what’s worse, a mysterious killer of housewives is on the loose, blazing across the headlines and generally making a big nuisance of himself. 

And as if things weren't bad enough, Ellen's (Constance Ford) husband Steve (Steve Brodie) thinks her cooking is lousy, crassly berating her abilities to scramble a couple of eggs.  He's on edge because of the heat, but also because his wife will not let up about "The Creeper", the phantom strangler who has a penchant for blonds with husbands who work nights.  And it just so happens Steve is about to head off to another hot night at the plant.

He offers up a bit of contrition on the way out, blaming the heat, then heads off to work with his wife still trembling in fear.  To exacerbate Ellen's plight, everyone else in this story seems to derive pleasure from her very obvious trepidation, egging her on to near-psychosis at every turn (and serving up red herring in droves).

There's her pushy, nosy neighbor, Martha (Reta Shaw), a seething, hostile bull-woman who claims the killer's victims were probably deserving ("decent women don't get themselves murdered") and even tease-threatens Ellen that she may be the killer herself.

And then there's the new janitor, George (Percy Helton), whose perpetual smile edges on sinister and gives the term "disreputable" a bad name.

On the way to work, Steve finds his wife's ex-beau, Ed (Harry Townes), at a local bar--because there's nothing like a good brew to steel your resolve before a long, hot night in the pits.  Steve notes Ed's twisted sense of humor and then routinely invites him to go keep his wife company, practically reveling in his abysmal judgement as he does so.

And then there's...ah yes, the leering, fiendish shoemaker (Alfred Linder), who asks her address so that he may personally deliver her husband's boots later in the evening.  

The list just goes on and on...or maybe that's it--I forget.  After all, this is only a 30 minute episode of an old TV show--there can't be that many suspects.  

Anyways, as much as the producers might relish torturing poor Ellen into the early morning, the show must eventually come to an end, creepers must creep, and the good housewives watching at home must get their beauty rest so they can wake up early and begin the whole cycle anew--perhaps no worse for wear.

And once again the maestro manages to squeeze in one last good knee-slapper to ease the tension.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

But words can be fun, too!

Some people just don't have time for words.  These are the natural, intuitive ones, born simply too fabulous and sophisticated to concern themselves with the painstaking, arduous task of collecting "words" and remembering their correlating "meanings".   

Or maybe this is just an elaborate put-on, some next-level subterranean feminista performance art masquerading as the world's most vacuous game show contestant (that's why I love the seventies--people were so with it!).  I mean, it could be, right?