Thursday, 22 July 2010

Randall & Hopkirk

Sorry i've been away for such a long time but life, work, hobbies and me other Blogs have kept me away from you.
Anyway, been thinking what should i feature this time round and decided to go with something that made a HUGE impact on me back when i were a nipper.
Like so many things on telly back around the turn of the 60's into the 70's, they were just THERE for me. We never had a newspaper nor the Radio Times, so it was a case of chanel hopping (easy when there was only three) until you found something.
And seem to remember this was on a lot. Now, my Mum loved the ITC output - but only as long as it was a spy series. Anything with a wiff of fantasy she's turn off. So i must owe it to my big sisters having it on while my Mum was work.
As i say, like so many TV programmes, they were just there, with no idea of the background to the show, nor who made it, nor often what the heck was going on.
So i'd just watch it and let it wash over me. But this show affected me more than any other of that time or since and the thing i remember most of all about it is such a strong sense of sadness.
And i watch it now and its just the same. The plot might be serious, action packed, funny or just plain silly, things might be going right for Jeff(for once) or Marty's happy with Jeanie's life, it still doesn't detract from the fact the guy's desperately in love with his wife and just wants her to know he's there. But never can.
I found that incredibly moving even as a 9-year old and, now married with children, i feel it even more.
Of course, full credit goes to Kenneth Cope, who created a wonderfully funny, quirky character who, even when larking about, could give off an air of pathos without having to resort to clumsy dramatics.
The genius idea of the white suit helps immeasurably - but not as much as the opening titles. Forget Twin Peaks, or any other pretenders to the throne, these are still THE most haunting credits ever.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Happy Birthday Tony Curtis.

85 today.
Right after Captain Scarlet, he was who i wanted to be when i grew up. So much that it hurt. Especially if i had a dueling scar too.
Can't remember what order i saw his films in - it could've been "The Vikings", could have been "Spartacus". But i'm thinking it might've been "The Great Race" - a hugely over-looked gem of a film with Tony sending up the hero role something rotten. Can see that now but, like the Batman TV series of the same time, to a child its dead serious and thrilling and excitement and, boy, i SO wanted his all white suit.
Only as an adult can i appreciate what he was doing there.
Or that he took on the sidekick role in "Spartacus" 'cause he was mates with Kirk Douglas.
Or his brilliant Cary Grant take in "Some Like It Hot"
Or how he tore up the rule book by insisting his co-star in "The Defiant One's" by non-white.
Or his hint at greatness in "The Boston Strangler"
He's one of the very few Hollywood stars from back when they were true stars and, while i'm delighted he's still going, i fear the mark he made won't be recognised until he's gone. Tarantino - revitilize him quick.
I'm putting up a clip of "The Great Race" but the thing i now always think of when i think of him is being asked if he's worried that being married to a woman so many, many years younger than him would be bad for the heart, replied: "hey, if she dies, she dies".
Tony, you're a true giant.

Friday, 28 May 2010


One of many examples of "grown-ups" letting us kids back then be trusted with toys that wouldn't even get beyond the drawing board today.
Now, folk'd be up in arms that two VERY solid plastic bolas could be put to all sorts of mischief but can't rememeber a single instance of anyone i knew being hurt by them - and they were EVERYWHERE for a while.

Was Benny Hill the cameraman?

Gordon Bennett, i know its the 60's and sexism was still rampant, but couldn't someone up in the Gallery tell the cameraman to point his lens (so to speak) elswhere?

Monday, 17 May 2010

A Pictorial History Of Science Fiction

Guessing if you're a SF fan from childhood and were born in the early-mid 60's, you'd have been buying up the same books as me.
This is one i've kept on various bookshelves since getting it back in '76.
It's, oddly, not one of the endless tomes that were released on the back of Star Wars, as the most up to date thing in it is Space: 1999.
So its dated badly.
But still view it fondly. And that's because, as you most probably will recall, back in those pre videio, pre Star Wars days, SF was pretty hard to come by.
So to have a book with all these fabulous images in was pretty darn special.
I've included here my favourites that i can remember from back then: Garth and Jeff Hawk on one page, an excellent, clear shot of the Enterprise alog with some brilliant paperback covers, still the best shot of a Zygon i've ever come across - and stunningly atmospheric b/w images from Jules Verne.
How i poured over all of them.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Action Transfers

One of those things that seems kinda simple and dull now - you put the figures on the scene and then, er, what? - but they were GREAT. How you'd pine for the whole set, and how many times would you get the same scene over and over, especially, for me, this here one 'cause it has sharks in.
Fantastic site here, devoted to the whole range:

Saturday, 8 May 2010

The Titans

Gawd knows how much pocket money i was getting - each week i had enough for all the better war comics, a quarter of sweets on the way to school each day, and every Marvel UK that was released.
Top of them was this one.
The innovative landscape made it very distinctive and the reason for it all the better - two full pages of reprint per page.
Okay, it didn't do the art any good whatsover, and the tiny print might've contributed to me wearing glasses now, but that was a LOT of classic Lee/Kirby tales for a few pennies.
You also got the bizarro notion of free posters which were just clumsy botches of different character shots, splodged together with no thought to complimentary artists or suitable folk: hence Frankenstiens Monster or Dracula mingling with the FF.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Take a stroll though a 70's shop

Love this pic for setting off trips down memory lane

Top 5 TV Openings - #5

SO many great TV shows from this period that its hard to pin it down to just five, but i'll give it a go.
First up, this show. GREAT music, great editing, great hero shots (how i wanted to walk like Bodie here) and just how exciting is that car through the window start?
(By the way, The Six Million Dollar Man should be in here - but embedding is banned for it on Youtube)

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Gary Numan

Left school and started college in '78, a geeky, loner with a head full of science fiction.
Perfect timing then that Mr Numan released this album, which became the soundtrack to my college years.
Played to death, i still haven't tired of it and "Are" is still his masterwork.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

We're off

Right, off now for a week in Norfolk. Will update upon return. Byeeeee

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Wacky Races - for real

Back in the 70's i'd watch any cartoon, no matter what the subject or the studio.
Now as an adult i can say i'm a Warner's fan, who tolerates Fimation but LOATHES Hanna Barberra.
Tom & Jerry, of course, were great. Up till the 'scope years of the mid-sixties when Chuck Jones stepped in and, bizarely, ruined it.
The rest of it - forget it.
Apart, just about, Wacky Races. And that was only because of (A) Dick Destardly and (B) that they were riffing on one of my favourite films from that era - The Great Race.
Its just about ok now watching it on DVD. Thought i'd show the Sprogs some episodes they hadn't seen on Youtube and stumbled upon this.
Folk have actually gone to the trouble of making full size, working versions of the cars and then dress up in the outfits?

Saturday, 6 March 2010

The New Adventures Of Superman.

Just got all of these on DVD and... its strange.
I remember the series fondly from my childhood but Filmation's reputation hasn't exactly bloomed over the years, what with their dire Apes, Tarzan, etc efforts not standing the test of time at all.
But, put this on, the grownup in me is sneering at the crude animation, the awful plots, the terrible voices and the insane decisions ("down" cries Supes as he goes to fly down) - and i still love it.
There's just something about these credits and the way they've gone for a 60's midlle-age look for the guy. Christopher Reeve will always be the best actor to play the Kryptonian but, to me, this is the comic version brought to life.

Friday, 19 February 2010

RIP Lionel Jeffries

And so another link to my childhood goes :(
I loved the guy way back then and i watch his work now with awe - such a brilliant, eccentic, wonderful character actor that infused any film he was in, be it Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Railway Children, Murder Ahoy and a standout turn in a Norman Wisdom film where, in the space of only a couple of minutes, he eclipsed the star.
I remember him best though for, at least with me, his defining role in First Men In The Moon.
A film which had a great impact on me, not only for the excellent Ray Harryhausen effects, but for Lionel's work.
Even at the age of 10, i could see i was watching someone special - not only his eccentricity played to the hilt here, but also the terrific acting when he's talking to the Grand Lunar as he realises the burden of responsability of his task.
And most of all the real sense of pathos at the end where he elects to stay behind on the moon.
It affected me deeply then and still brings a lump to my throat now.
Goodbye Mr Jeffries, you've left behind a great legacy - and i wish you'd been my dad.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Top 5 TV Openings - 4

Already touched on here, the good Captain lands at Number 4. Brilliant, spooky opening credits which gives you everything you need to know about what you're about to get.That shot of Captain Black was eerie back then - and still is now.
Top stuff - and the end credits are just as good.

Planet Of The Apes

Its odd - though i have fond memories of the concept, and the first two films are rightly regarded as classics, i only ever saw "Escape" at the cinema.
No idea when or where i saw the others and my strongest memories are of the TV show (and all the features in Look-In), the bubblegum cards, and really rather dodgy cartoon and, most of all, the British weekly comic.
And strongest memory there is the bizarro concept of taking the US Marvel hero Killraven - who battles baddies and Martians on Mars in a sequel to The War Of The Worlds - and drawing the bad guys as Apes.
I mean, c'mon, who thought that up? And why? Were they THAT desperate for suitable back-up strips.
As i say, bizarre.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Scaring the crap out of a Sprog - part 4

Seems quite innocent now, but Oddbod and Oddbod Jr really did scare the crap out of me. That and Jon Pertwee grwoing Jr from a severed finger.
Its still a great film, second best in the Carry On's for me, and holds up really well.
Fennella Fielding is, depite all sense and logic, really rather sexy and my hero Kenneth Williams gets to sprout my favourite ever line from him: "They're talking to Dan. Dan Dan The Gardening Man". Sure, doesn't look like much in print but its the way he comes out with it, sprouting forth from the most implausable fake beard ever and after the minciest, campest stalking walk ever seen. A true classic.

Flares and Collar Tips

Its inevitable that any site on the sixties and seventies will get round to fashion. Been postponing it here as i didn't want to put you off.
But the time has come.
Expect soon waffles and examples of a time when you were cooler the more your trousers covered your shoes or the futher your collar tips went out past your shoulders.
To ease you into it gently, here's a fabbo ad that gets the point across in just a few lines.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Original Star Trek on Blu Ray

Got this just recently- and its been a revelation.
Not only because they've remastered the show by going back to the negatives, cleaning them up and doing a fautless transfer (although the frequent change of film stock and switching to soft focus is VERY obvious here and rather jarring).
Not only because they've replaced the somewhat ropey effects (seen now) with CGI equivilants - although you can thankfully choose between original or revamped versions of each episode.
But mainly its because, what with the endless movies and even more endless TV derivitives, i'd forgotten what a GREAT show it was.
Its been at least 20 years since i've watched any of Series 1 and its a real blast to re-discover them.
Best so far has been "What Are Little Girls Made of?", with the brilliant bad guy in Ruk, played by Lurtch off the Adams family, but also that indelible image of Kirk and a lump of clay on the ever rapidly spinning turntable, in order to make an android duplicate.
But next up is "The Corbomite Maneuver", my favourite ever episode.
Can't wait.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Laurel & Hardy

All my adult life i've been a MASSIVE fan of the Boys, collecting tons of books, videos and DVD's.
And it all stems from their shorts being shown on weekends and at Christmas throughout my childhood.
They also installed a deep love and fascination of pre 40's Hollywood that's never left me, the juxtoposition of the squalor and misery of the skid row of prohabition times with the glamour of the movies.
But back to the boys - and they were sheer genius and i loved, and love, them dearly. The shorts and the features bear up to many, many repeat viewings. But to ilustrate the point, which Youtube clip to go for?
There's so many, and they're all great. Was going to go for anyhthing from "The Music Box", or the shaving scene from "Busy Bodies", or the head-behind-the-mast bit from "Towed In A Hole".
But in the end went for the most obvious. Its a true classic and a reminder of how, bizzarely, it made Number One in the charts and therefore an indelible reminder again of life in the seventies:

Monday, 18 January 2010

Army & Navy sweets

I've got aabout a 50/50 mix of teeth and fillings. Many contributing factors to that sad state of affairs, but high up there must be the habit of me and my fellow school friends of getting a quarter of sweeties from the local shop before embarking on the trek each morning.
By far the favourite of mine were these, a rock solid anniseed affair that turned your tongue black and made your mouth so acidict that you couldn't taste anything else for hours afterwards

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Batman 186

Seems i learnt to read before i went to school, and that was partly via DC Comics. Our local shop had the classic round comic rack and my big sisters were always buying me them. Strangely, they were never Marvel, only DC and the titles i'd invariably gor for would be World's Finest for the brilliant Curt Swan team-ups of Supes and Bats, and Batman.
We're talking 1966 to 1970 here, ground zero for the campy version of the character. But, when you're 4 to 8 you're not aware of anything like that.
What you are aware of are brilliant thrills and spills, tons of action and bizarre characters - usually drawn by the excellent Carmine Infantino.
No more so than here in my favourite issue of the comic, one that perfectly illustrates when i'm waffling on about.
To read it now its VERY duff - the Joker hires a midget to play pranks on the Batman. And that's it.
But the 4-year-old me loved it, the cover especially. Can remember just studying this image endlessly. It was so much better than the (not Infantino) art inside and i was fascinated by the look on the lil' guy and his fake nose.
By the way, the other thing about this title that struck a cord back then and still resonates to this day, is this eras logo. I loved it dearly and was so impressed by the clever way his shoulder and cape is at that angle.
Just looking at it now really gets an emotional response from me. Odd eh?

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Top 5 TV Openings

Here we go with my personal favourites and Number Five is there not only for the brilliant score, but the madness of the breakneck speed and editing of it. Shame most of the episodes didn't compete with what came over this drum roll.

Bubblegum Cards

Already touched on these in my post on the Batman one's by ABC. But there were tons more that i - and i guess everyone my age - was buying. I loved them dearly, not only as a way to collect pretty much the only memorabilia on a fave at the time, but for the bubblegum itself.
Didn't matter that it felt like having a sheet of metal in your mouth when you first bunged it in, or that there was a serious risk of tooth damage when you eventually got it to snap into pieces, or that it took a good half hour of salivating and chewing to get it to anything like a chewy state, or that it didn't really taste that nice.
It was the smell of the stuff. The lovely, artifically sweet, plasticy honk of it. Gawd knows what what they put it in and i guess you could never get away with it now, but i loved it. And the fact the smell lingered on the cards was an added bonus.
Anyway, here's five of the sets i was collecting back then - favourite being the comedy horror one's.