Golden Era Anathema

Discussion in 'The Golden Era' started by MisterCairo, Sep 3, 2020.

  1. MisterCairo

    MisterCairo I'll Lock Up

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    Is there something about or from the Golden era that is an anathema to you?

    Something, some one, a film, anything, you truly dislike from the era?

    Particularly if it is something generally beloved.

    I will lob the first grenade:


    The Three Stooges. They are not funny. They have never been funny.

    They are not as I have heard " a guy thing". I am a guy and I hate them.

    If I said my favourite thing of theirs is the one where Moe grabs Curly's nose (or whom ever's) and hits his hand away, and you say that happens in all of them, you prove my point.

    So, what is anathema to you?
     
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  2. dh66

    dh66

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    I pretty much feel that way about Lucy.
     
  3. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    Abbot and Costello. Yes, they're talented burlesque-style comics, and they have a couple of good bits, but the bulk of their work is hacky, repetitious, and especially in the "Abbot's Moustache" era, completely without any sense that they themselves enjoy their work. Their radio show makes me want to push an icepick thru one ear and out the other. When you have to bring in Joe Besser to stooge for you because you can't carry the show yourselves anymore, it's time to quit.

    Robert Taylor. A generic pretty-boy actor who thought he was far better at what he did than he ever actually was.

    Wayne King -- "The Waltz King" -- and his orchestra. Instead of rosin, Mr. King's fiddle section coats its bows with chicken fat.

    Second-rate dialect comics -- the Era was full of these. Parkyakarkus. The Mad Russian. Mr. Kitzel. Schlepperman. All basically doing the same hokey act, and never doing anything to vary the routine. I love good dialect comedy. These guys weren't it.

    Insincere show-biz flag-waving. Yes I know there's a war on. And I know "Good Bye Mama I'm Off To Yokohama" isn't going to win it.

    Harry Richman. If you take the most overbearing qualities of Al Jolson and Georgie Jessel, skim off the talent and the appeal, and pour the rest onto a stage floor, you get Harry Richman.

    "The New Look." Someone should have done the world a favor and garroted Christian Dior with the billowing sleeves of a frothy organdy blouse. And the male equivalent, "the Bold Look," is just as ridiculous. The postwar period was the nadir of fashion.

    Pretty much any American car made between 1954 and 1961. Lumbering chrome-splattered sauropods that epitomize everything wrong with the postwar era.

    "The Lone Ranger." It's a kids' show, written for a kids' mindset, and every one of its more than 2000 episodes is exactly like every other. And yet it's considered the epitome of "old time radio" by people who've never heard of Arch Oboler. (I also hate the phrase "old time radio.")

    And while I don't "hate" the music of Glenn Miller, it's certainly not my first choice. After all the Artie Shaw and Benny Goodman and Duke Ellington and Count Basie and Charlie Barnet and Coleman Hawkins and Larry Clinton and Fats Waller records have been listened to, maybe a side or two of Mr. Miller will be OK.
     
  4. Tiki Tom

    Tiki Tom Call Me a Cab

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    Don’t hold back, Lizzie. Tell us how you feel.
    Personally, I hate gangsters and everything to do with gangsters. They dress like pimps and talk like cartoon characters. I especially hate it when they are painted to be somehow American Robin Hoods. I would be completely fine if the golden era did not include gangsters or —-even worse—- shows about gangsters. My humble opinion.

    Regarding Lucy... I definitely do not hate her... My problem with Lucy is that, when I was a kid and TV was the great babysitter, The Lucy Show was re-running 24/7 it seemed. During those sad days, I saw every single cursed episode 5,942 times. And then some. I got sick of them. I’m still sick of them.
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2020
  5. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    I also never bought the Lucy hype. She's a "pioneer who proved women could do physical comedy" who swiped her entire routine from Thelma Todd, Zasu Pitts, and Patsy Kelly.
     
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  6. Doctor Strange

    Doctor Strange I'll Lock Up

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    However you may feel about her as a comedic talent, Lucy deserves some respect for having greenlit production of Star Trek when she ran Desilu.
     
  7. MisterCairo

    MisterCairo I'll Lock Up

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    And Desi's desire to film the show (ILL) vice using tape which was often re-used. Network said too expensive so you two pay for it. He said sure, but we own the rights to the show.

    Desilu.
     
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  8. MisterCairo

    MisterCairo I'll Lock Up

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    The Honeymooners character Ralph and his his "one of these days Alice, POW! Right in the kisser!"

    I do not care what year it was - holy f@#%!
     
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  9. ChiTownScion

    ChiTownScion Call Me a Cab

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    Never believed that she was "the queen of comedy." In my book that title goes to Tracy Ullman.

    If I had to be stranded on an island with one woman other than my wife, it'd have to be Tracy Ullman. (Fer cryin' out loud, if I'm stuck on a damned island I don't want starry eyed romance: I need to laugh until my sides ache!)
     
  10. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    The "Desi invented filmed TV" story has been embellished quite a bit over the years. For one thing, filmed sitcoms were already being made well before "I Love Lucy" -- CBS was filming "The Amos 'n' Andy Show" at Hal Roach Studios months before "Lucy" began production, but the big difference was that these shows were shot in the same way that two-reel movie comedies were shot: out of sequence, with a single camera. The finished film was then shown to a live audience, the laughs recorded, and dubbed in to make the finished show.

    What "Lucy" did different was to film with three cameras, like a live TV show, and to do the show in sequence, like a live show, before a live audience, recording response to the actual performance as it happened. That gave far more of the impression of watching a live show than shooting movie style, but it was more expensive and more difficult to manage, so most filmed sitcoms continued to be shot "movie style" well into the 1970s. It wasn't until Norman Lear began taping his shows with three cameras that the method really became common for situation comedies, and you started to hear the announcement "The Joe Blow Show was filmed/taped before a live audience!"

    The real reason Desi came up with the three-camera process is that Lucy didn't want to move to New York. There was no coast-to-coast television feed in 1951, so if they did the show live from Hollywood, that meant New York would get kinescopes -- films shot off a monitor screen as the performance was going out. The visual quality of these was poor, and Philip Morris, the sponsor for "I Love Lucy," didn't want New York getting a poor quality image, given that the vast majority of television sets in the US in 1951 were in the NY metropolitan area. Both Philip Morris and CBS wanted the show done from New York, but Lucy, who'd been in Hollywood for twenty years, didn't like New York and refused to move. Philip Morris refused to accept a "movie-stye" filmed show, so the three-camera method had to be invented as a compromise that would give everyone what they wanted.

    Desilu made a good bit of money with the "Lucy" reruns, but CBS wasn't totally out in the cold -- they handled distribution of the syndicated episodes, first thru CBS Films and later thru Viacom, and made even more money than Desi and Lucy did.

    Desilu, the studio, needed another show by the time Mr. Roddenberry came around with "Star Trek." Desite the success of the various "Lucy" productions, they had a hard time getting other successful projects, with their only other big hit being "The Untouchables." By the mid-sixties, Desilu was primarily a rental studio for independent producers -- many shows were filmed there, including the Andy Griffith family of shows, but Desilu the company didn't have any stake in them. They just rented studio and lot space to any production company that needed them, and Lucy knew the company couldn't go on for long like that without getting some marketable properites of its own. Roddenberry had pitched "Trek" first to MGM, where he had filmed an earlier series, but he had burned one bridge too many there and they threw him out on his ear. Desilu was the next stop on his list.
     
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  11. itsallgood

    itsallgood One of the Regulars

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    Going to the dentist. My Mom, who is 94, recalls having a tooth pulled while she was laying on the kitchen table.
     
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  12. Turnip

    Turnip One Too Many

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    Civil Protection Sirens.

    Having been switched off for some time and got deinstalled bit by bit, they got reinstalled again during last years and are tested every weekend with all clear signal.

    At least not with tank alarm...:eek:
     
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  13. Stanley Doble

    Stanley Doble Call Me a Cab

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    I can't stand Jimmy Stewart. I have a phobia about actors pretending to be stupid and his mumble mouthed rube routine rubs me the wrong way. Same reason I could not watch more than 5 minutes of Forest Gump, and all the modern movies belittling poor people.

    On the other hand I love I Love Lucy. It is the best thing she ever did. Most of her other movies and TV shows leave me cold. The only explanation I can think of, is the wonderful support she had from Desi, Bill Frawley, and Vivian Vance, and the great writing. Lucy and Desi were obviously in love at the time while Bill and Vivian obviously weren't - both situations have been a fruitful source of comedy for a thousand years. Then you had Lucy and Vivian, and Desi and Bill each relationship with its own dynamic. Nothing else she did ever came up to the first few years of I Love Lucy.

    A lot of comedy from the Golden Era falls flat today because times have changed. Ethnic humor was funny when America was a nation of immigrants. When immigration was curtailed after 1920, the funny Greek, Italian, Irishman etc weren't funny anymore because they weren't around. But today you can be a funny black, Mexican, or redneck comedian because they are.

    I love screwball comedies from the thirties and forties. I don't suppose you could make movies like that today if you tried. I've seen them make an effort in that direction and they make me cringe.

    You are right there was a lot of rubbish on the radio and in the movies but there was a lot of good music, programming and movies too. Human nature being what it is, the wonder is not that so much was bad or mediocre, but that anything excellent managed to get made.
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2020
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  14. Stanley Doble

    Stanley Doble Call Me a Cab

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    As far as Lucille Ball being a pioneer of female comedy or physical comedy - it happens I come from Cobourg Ontario, Marie Dressler's home town. She was a top comedienne on Broadway in the 1890s, starred in the first full length comedy feature with Charlie Chaplin in 1914 and won an Academy Award for Best Actress in 1930, when she was 62. In other words, a star when Lucille Ball was trying to break in. And, I am sure there were others before Marie Dressler.

    She refused to use props to get laughs, preferring to depend on timing and talent, but she designed her own clothes and costumes.
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2020
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  15. MisterCairo

    MisterCairo I'll Lock Up

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    I did not say they "invented" filmed television, only that the reason they majority owned the show and produced it was because of the film cost issue. Indeed, they also took a massive pay cut as well. This is well documented.

    It was indeed the first scripted TV show filmed with a live audience.

    Whatever the lack of long term success of their studio, they created a studio. Not too shabby for a Cuban band leader and comedienne.
     
  16. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    The "Desilu Method" built on certain techniques that were already well established. Gertrude Berg was the first producer to do a three-camera/live audience television sitcom with "The Goldbergs" at CBS in 1949 -- but she did the whole live, not film, for New York, with the rest of the country getting kinescopes. This is what CBS and Phillip Morris wanted Arnaz and Ball to do, because they'd seen how successful it was for Berg and General Foods, her sponsor. Desi and Lucy, however, had other ideas.

    Berg and her director Walter Hart developed, and had by this time been using for over two years, most of the blocking techniques for doing a sitcom with three cameras, basing them on stage techniques, adapting them for the specific demands of the television cameras of the day and using canvas-flat based sets that could be set up and struck quickly. Arnaz, on the other hand, brought in Karl Freund, a veteran Hollywood director-of-photography who understood that what worked for television cameras wasn't necessarily going to work for filmed television -- flimsy, easily-shifted flats shot on film would look cheap and flimsy. That meant permanent sets would have to be built and maintained, and the stage in general would need to be larger than that used by Hart and Berg. And while Freund used the same basic layout Hart and Berg had developed, he knew how to use the cameras better than any TV cameraman or director could.

    To see the difference this makes, look at the "classic 39" episodes of "The Honeymooners." These were shot with the "Electronicam" process, a three-camera/live audience setup that paired TV cameras and film cameras in single housings -- the show was shot like a live tv show, with a booth director calling the shots as it went on in real time, with a kinescope being shot of that feed. The film shot at the same time would then be edited to match the kinescope. They're visually nice to look at, but the shots all have that flat quality of stagebound live TV. Freund's work, by contrast, has a fluidity and a grace to it that's far more movielike. That was the real breakthru in what Desilu did -- and it's also why no other TV studio bothered to try to duplicate it. Freund was under contract to Desilu, and Gregg Toland, being dead, was unavailable to do TV.
     
  17. Neckties. I don't particularly care for suits, but I suppose I could learn how to be comfortable in a suit if I didn't have to wear the noose that goes with them.

    Also, another vote for Lucille Ball. I mean, it's not her fault that they ran that lousy I Love Lucy 47 times a day 12 days a week, but it made me sick to death of her anyway.
     
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  18. tonyb

    tonyb I'll Lock Up

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    Bob Hope.
     
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  19. I forgot about Bob Hope; I thought it was just me. Several years ago my best friend and I had a discussion about the Hope and Crosby movies, and when I casually said I didn't "get" them his reaction wouldn't have been much different if I had just killed his whole family in front of him. Because he enjoyed those movies so much, it was as if he somehow couldn't conceive of anyone not liking them so he set out to "convince" me they were funnier than I thought. Long story shorter than it could be, he failed and had to concede Bob Hope's "comedy" wasn't for everyone.
     
  20. Stanley Doble

    Stanley Doble Call Me a Cab

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    I like Bob Hope's earlier black and white movies but by the sixties he looked like he resented being forced to do a movie.
     

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