Return to an era of big, glitzy family TV specials
Posted on Feb 05 2010 by Greg
There were two "Alice" specials in 1966: the hip Hanna-Barbera "What's a Nice Kid Like You Doing in a Place Like This?"
and the more traditional, Hollywood Palace-style "Alice Through the Looking Glass."
I'm hoping the release of the new "Alice" feature this year inspires the H-B special to be at last released to DVD, but this Tuesday, the "Looking Glass" special is finally going to be available (up until now it was a budget VHS).
This glitzy special, which was rebroadcast on Thanksgiving Day, 1972, after star Judi Rolin
appeared in the Macy's parade, features an all-star musical variety cast including Agnes Moorehead, Ricardo Montalbán, Nanette Fabray, Jack Palance, The Smothers Brothers, Jimmy Durante
, Broadway's Robert Coote
), London's Roy Castle
(Singin' in the Rain
) and great character actors like Iris Adrian
and Jackie Joseph
. Alice father is played by Richard Denning
, who played Lucille Ball's
spouse on radio's "My Favorite Husband" and lost Deborah Kerr
to Cary Grant
in the movie "Affair to Remember."
The score was released on RCA Records on vinyl. The Emmy-winning costumes were co-created by Bob Mackie
. Moose Charlap
, who wrote most of the music for the Broadway "Peter Pan," did the same for this. The score includes the "Backwards Alphabet," which was also recorded as a single by Soupy Sales
It's a little corny and cheesy by today's jaded, cynical standards, but a feast for the eyes and ears as well as a time capsule of legendary talents of the 20th century.
And what happened to 20-year-old Judi Rolin
, who played Alice? She did some other TV, including a soap opera, but is now apparently a realtor in Hilton Head, South Carolina.
GEE-WHIZ! IT'S G-FORCE. BUT BEWARE OF THE MONSTER COFFEE MACHINE!
Posted on Dec 23 2009 by Greg
When I was little I had a really scary nightmare about the washing machine and other home appliances coming to life and threatening the well being of my loved ones and me. Clearly I was watching too many weird Betty Boop
cartoons in which everything is alive and sometimes creepy.
Anyway, I bring this dark secret to light because in G-Force
, a coffee machine -- which normally is something I like and admire -- becomes a terrifying creature. Fortunately, the hamsters save the day. Whew!
We live in a wondrous age where computers can make it seem like cute hamsters can conquer evil and do it with some attitude. G-Force
is clearly a franchise in the making, aimed squarely at popcorn-munching kids. My ten-year-old thought it was just fine.
While Nicolas Cage
worked on his finances by providing the voice of a mole and other celebrities also voiced various critters, including Penelope Cruz, Jon Favreau, Sam Rockwell
and Steve Buscemi
, this was Tracy Morgan's
show all the way. And speaking of shows, hearing his performance put me very much in the mind of Saturday Morning TV shows of the 1970's. Morgan would be right at home doing voices for Hanna-Barbera, Filmation
or Sid & Marty Krofft
. When Hong Kong Phooe
y is inevitably made into a big-budget theatrical movie, look no further for the lead role.
Okay, I'm done being snarky. G-Force
is a solid kid's adventure that's perfect for weekend afternoons. And it's not slapped together thoughtlessly, either. There is an interesting audio commentary from director Hoyt H. Yeatman, Jr.
, a special effects veteran whose career includes Star Trek The Motion Picture, E.T.
and Close Encounters
. His comments can get pretty techie, too, when he mentions equipment by name and model number.
The Blu-Ray/DVD combo includes the commentary, deleted scenes, "bloopers," "Blaster's Boot Camp" and "G-Force Mastermind: The Inspiration Behind the Movie," there are three features that can only be accessed on the Blu-Ray, which is packaged with the DVD and a digital copy in the "Best Value" set
MY FAVORITE PART OF WONDERLAND: THE RABBIT HOLE
Posted on Dec 02 2009 by Greg
The rabbit hole sequence in Walt Disney's 1951 Alice in Wonderland
is perhaps the best depiction of the way Carroll describes it. It's more than a dirty, viney hole -- it's erratically furnished with impossible shelves and fixtures. Even the music, which is bascially sustained, swirling effects, is highly unique for its period.
I have seen many many Alice
versions and they usually shoot her through the rabbit hole in a few seconds. Walt and the artists understood that the rabbit hole was the very essence of Wonderland's fantasy: a long tunnel that goes down to a place where there are blue skies and spotted skies, thanks to Mary Blair
I'm looking forward to going down the 2010 rabbit hole in IMAX and 3-D, but to dismiss the Walt Disney
1951 version, as Mr. Burton has, artistically is to miss so very much of the point and focus only on the hype. The reason there are so many versions is that Lewis Carroll'
s books are the most unattainable by filmmakers. How do you realize a dream state in concrete terms? There are no end to the ways, and that's why there will always be many Wonderlands.
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