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Alright! Confession Time! What's YOUR "Guilty Pleasure?"

Discussion in 'The Moving Picture' started by Worf, May 16, 2017.

  1. No doubt this will be a mark against my pinko cred, but I really enjoy "Dragnet." Not the modern reboots or ironic satires, but the real Jack Webb deal. Webb was a unique figure in 1940s-70s media, a pretty hep character who created for himself the squarest image that could possibly be conceived, and he made it absolutely believable, even the later episodes where he seemed to be positioning himself against the "camp" sensibility while, simultaneously, exploiting that sensibility for all it was worth. "Now you listen here, flower-boy, and you listen good..."

    Webb's finest work is the original radio "Dragnet." It's hard to explain how utterly revolutionary this show was without the full context of overheated, formulaic late-forties radio crime drama to stack it up against. In the way the program was written, and especially in the way it was acted, the radio "Dragnet" flew in the face of every accepted convention of radio drama, and it paved the way for all the other "adult dramas" that popped up during the early 1950s as radio gasped its last breaths. That the TV "Dragnet" managed to preserve the essence of what made the radio show so good is testimony to Webb's integrity as a producer and a performer. He's one of the few people to come out of 1940s-50s broadcast entertainment who never, ever sold out.
     
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  2. BlueTrain

    BlueTrain One Too Many

    I rather enjoyed Dragnet, too, and I've heard a few of the radio episodes as well. One of the interesting things about seeing TV shows like that and others that had a long run, like Perry Mason, long after they went off the air is seeing some actor before they became famous for other productions. Lee Marvin appeared in a Dragnet episode and Leonard Nimoy was in an episode of Perry Mason. Dragnet also usually opened the episode with something humorous, typically something to do with his partner.
     
  3. "Tarzan & His Mate" 1934
    Great underwater photography.
    (Maureen O
    Sullivan)
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2017
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  4. I believe it was a body double in that scene - which was not needed at all though.

    Also, love how strong a character Jane is in this one. At the end, she's fighting by herself to survive - shooting the rifle, using it as a club when she's out of bullets, playing dead to "fool" the lion even starting a fire as a last ditch effort to survive. She's no "save me I'm just a delicate girl" Jane - this one can hold her own and more with the men. Pre-code movies rock!
     
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  5. One of the things I like about Webb is that he had a small stock company of actors to whom he was very, very loyal. They turned up over and over and over again in different roles -- if you hear a woman's voice in the radio show, dollars to doughnuts it's Peggy Webber -- and in some shows this might have gotten tedious. But Webb had a reason for this -- he knew that these actors understood his technique requiring them to underplay. Most radio actors, following the Orson Welles school of dramatic thought, did just the opposite, but Webb insisted that nearly every line end on a downbeat. This was, in its way, as much a stylization as Wellesish thespianism, but it was so different from what listeners were used to hearing that it came thru as ultra-realistic. If you ever listen to the radio "Gunsmoke," you'll note that Norman Macdonnell helped himself to this technique for his actors there, which makes a huge difference in the mood and tone of the show.
     
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  6. BlueTrain

    BlueTrain One Too Many

    Are there still "stock company of actors?" That is, actors who frequently show up in the same movies with certain other actors? I don't go to the movies so much these days, so I can't say for myself. One such actor was Bruce Cabot, who appeared in a few John Wayne movies, although I don't know if it was often enough to be a member of a stock company of actors.
     
  7. ⇧ It seems alive in TV land as Ashton Kutcher's show "The Ranch" has several actors from both his "That 70's Show" and "Two and a Half Men" shows as regulars or in guest roles. The common link seems to be Kutcher and, considering his TV power, my guess is he pulled his "team" with him.
     
  8. The best "stock companies" in the Era were the second-line Warner Brothers actors who seemed to show up everywhere -- Frank McHugh, Joan Blondell, Guy Kibbee, Glenda Farrell, Hugh Herbert, etc. -- and the Preston Sturges company, including the likes of Jimmy Conlin, Edgar Kennedy, Rudy Vallee, William Demarest, Chester Conklin, Georgia Caine, Arthur Hoyt, and Al Bridge. Every good Warner movie of the thirties, and every Sturges feature included some combination of these specific actors, always playing the same type of part, and gave the pictures a certain sense of "the gang's all here" camaraderie that made them even more enjoyable.
     
  9. BlueTrain

    BlueTrain One Too Many

    Two actors I think of as showing up everywhere were Ward Bond and Thomas Mitchell. Of course there were a hundred actors who somehow managed to appear in a remarkable number of movies, sometimes more than two hundred. So I guess there were really a lot who "showed up everywhere," even though they may have not received screen credit and you may have not noticed them except when the bad guys showed up and you recognized every face, if none of the names.
     
  10. Not sure that any actor in the era could ever evoke a similar reaction in anyone, but there was a kid actor in the 60's/ 70's that seemed to be on every canned laughter family TV sitcom at one time. It got to the point where anytime I'd see her on the screen I'd be looking for a shoe to hurl at the picture tube. It was overkill taken to the extreme: she was ALWAYS on the damn TV.

    Turns out that her name is Pamelyn Ferdin and she did well in life as an adult: became a registered nurse and an animal rights activist. Good for her, say I.

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