Movies

Where Were They Then? – Dr. Henry Jones, Jr.

I have evidently been living under a rock. Only this week did I discover the whole alt-world of “fandom.” Fandom, according to Wikipedia, “is a subculture composed of fans characterized by a feeling of empathy and camaraderie with others who share a common interest.” Members of social-network fandoms are different from ordinary fans in that they obsess over “minor details,” create “particular practices,”  and spend a “significant portion of their time and energy” on their shared interest. Sounds a lot like blogging.

Recently, I was strolling the internet for 1957 Time Capsule items when I stumbled across a timeline for the 1957 escapades of . . . Dr. Henry “Indiana” Jones, Jr.! The timeline was so replete with “minor details” that it took me a moment to remember that Professor Jones was not a real person!

INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL

In 1957, Indy was embroiled in the events portrayed in the movie, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Soviet agents, on the prowl for an ancient, telepathic crystal skull, kidnap Indy’s former lover, Marion Ravenwood, and old friend Harold Oxley. Indy finds a new, energetic partner in Marion’s son, Mutt Williams as both the KGB and the FBI join in the chase. A dangerous trip to Peru and Brazil results in the rescue of Marion and Harold and the restoration of the precious, spooky skull to the Temple of Akator. Interdimensional beings say, “Thank you!” and flood the temple valley on departure.

Quite a year for Indy! But not quite all quiet yet. On October 18th, Indy says “I do” with Marion and discovers along the way that something he “did” nineteen years earlier has had a lasting effect. Spoiler alert! Mutt is his son. And someday, just maybe, Mutt will inherit his father’s “mantle” – a dusty fedora.

Image Credit: Lucasfilm Ltd/Paramount Pictures

July 13, 1957 – Personal Premiere of Screenwriter/Director Cameron Crowe

Cameron CroweOn July 13, 1957, Oscar-winning screenwriter/director and wunderkind Cameron Crowe was born in Palm Springs, California.  The son of a real estate and phone service businessman dad, and teacher, activist and “all-around live wire” mother, Cameron went on to graduate from San Diego High School at age 15.  He became the youngest writer ever to contribute to Rolling Stone magazine, interviewing rock stars, bands and road crews while covering concert tours coast-to-coast.  Cameron went on to become a contributing editor and then associate editor of the magazine, before switching to writing and directing movies for Hollywood.

Crowe’s string of successful filmsSay Anything, Singles, Jerry Maguire, Almost Famous, Vanilla Sky, and Elizabethtown – followed his inital hit, Fast Times at Ridgemont High.  After posing as high school student at Clairemont High School in San Diego ( at age 22, and “recapturing his lost senior year”), Cameron wrote a book titled, Fast Times at Ridgemont High: A True Story.  The movie version premiered a year later and became a surprise hit, launching the careers of previously little-known actors Jennifer Jason Leigh, Eric Stoltz, Judge Reinhold, Phoebe Cates, Anthony Edwards, and Oscar winners Nicholas Cage (appearing under his given name of Nicholas Coppola), Forest Whitaker, and Sean Penn.

In celebration of Crowe’s birthday, let’s follow the lead of Ridgemont’s reigning stoner-surfer dude, Jeff Spicoli, and order a pizza.  We can “learn about Cuba, and have some food.”

Jeff Spicoli Pizza

“There’s nothing wrong with a little feast on our time.”

Image Credit: Tony Lowe/PR Photos; Universal Pictures

July 10, 1957 – Night at the Movies: “The Pride and the Passion”, or, “Loving You”?

On July 10, 1957, American filmgoers had two movie premiers to choose from: The Pride and the Passion, with Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra, and Sophia Loren; or Loving You, with Elvis Presley, Lizabeth Scott, and Wendell Corey.

The Pride and the PassionThe Pride and the Passion, produced and directed by Stanley Kramer, was an adaptation of The Gun, by C. S. Forester.  The setting is Spain during the war with Napoleon, and British Captain Anthony Trumbull (Cary Grant) is on a mission to transport an abandoned cannon to the British lines.  Spanish guerilla leader and hothead Miguel (Frank Sinatra) hates Trumbull but signs on to help, bringing along the sultry Sophia Loren, playing his mistress Juana.  Anthony and Miguel fight for Juana’s affections on screen. Off-screen, Grant was said to be participating in the film to avoid wife Betsy Drake and Sinatra only signed on to be near his wife, Ava Gardner, in Spain herself on the set of The Sun Also Rises.

Opening to mixed reviews, The Pride and the Passion grossed 8.75 million to become one of the twenty highest-grossing movies of 1957.  Two quotes from reviews: “The panoramic, long-range views of the marching and terribly burdened army, the painful fight to keep the gun mobile through ravine and over waterway – these are major pluses,” from Variety; and “overblown, empty, epic nonsense,” from Ephraim Katz of The Film Encyclopedia.

Loving You, which premiered in Memphis and was released nationwide on July 30th, was Elvis’ second movie.  He played truck driver and undiscovered singer Deke Rivers who is “found” and promoted by Glenda Markle (Lizabeth Scott) who becomes his agent (essentially a female version of Colonel Parker).   Glenda sees a financial opportunity in signing Deke to open for her ex-husband Walter “Tex” Warner’s (Wendell Corey) down-and-out country band.  Deke becomes a singing sensation, especially with female members of the audiences, and finds himself attracted both to manipulative Glenda and to Tex’s young and innocent lead singer, Susan Jessup (Delores Hart).

Production on Loving You began January 21, 1957 and finished in early March.  Elvis had his naturally light brown hair dyed black for the film (inspiration: Tony Curtis) and, except during his military service and one brief period in the early sixties, he continued to color his hair for the rest of his life.  Director and screenwriter Hal Kantor spent research time at Presley’s “Louisiana Hayride” concert prior to filming what was orginally titled Lonesome Cowboy, then changed to Running Wild, and finally named Loving You after the song written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller for Elvis to perform in the movie.  Cameo appearances by Elvis’ parents, Vernon and Gladys, as audience-members, and casting of several of Presley’s current band members added to the promotion value of equating fictional Deke and real-life Elvis.  Loving You eventually rose to #7 on the Variety National Box Office Survey.

Image Credits: Wikimedia Free Use; Paramount Pictures (imdb.com)

June 30, 1957 – The Everly Brothers Appear on The Ed Sullivan Show

On June 30, 1957, Ed Sullivan hosted Don and Phil Everly on his Sunday evening broadcast.  The Everly Brothers sang “Bye, Bye Love,” their first Cadence Records single which had been recorded in February.  An earlier recording, “Keep A’ Lovin’ Me” with Columbia Records in 1956, had been a flop.  Written by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, “Bye, Bye Love” had been rejected by numerous artists, reportedly including Elvis Presley, before taking the close-harmonizing, guitar-playing duo to #2 on the pop charts and #1 on the country and R&B charts.  The Everly-Bryant team generated many hits, of which “Wake Up Little Susie” and “All I Have to Do is Dream” are probably the best-known.  The Everlys toured extensively with Buddy Holly through 1957 and on into 1958.

Also on this episode of Sullivan’s show: footage from the premier of The Prince and the Showgirl at Radio City Music Hall.  Ed appeared in the clip with Bernard Baruch (financier, stock-market speculator, and economic advisor to Presidents Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt), Polly Bergen (actress and singer), William Randolph Hearst Jr.(editor-in-chief of Hearst Newspapers), Sugar Ray Robinson (welterweight and middleweight boxing champion), Ethel and Robert F. Kennedy (attorney, currently serving as Chief Counsel under Senator John L. McClellan on the US Senate Labor Rackets Committee), Marilyn Monroe (star of The Prince and the Showgirl), and Arthur Miller (famous playwright and Mr. Marilyn Monroe).  The audience was also treated to scenes from the newly-released movie.

For an extra treat, head on over to Getty Images to see news photos of Ed Sullivan adjusting Marilyn’s earring!

 

June 28, 1957 – “Date with the Angels”

Date with the Angels

One June 28, 1957, families home on this Friday night could tune in to ABC’s new comedy series, “Date with the Angels.” Bill Williams and Betty White starred as Gus and Vicki Angel, a somewhat clueless insurance salesman and his “wacky” wife (was one of the working titles for this series, “I Love Betty”?). Bill Williams was familiar to audiences from his role in “The Adventures of Kit Karson” and for his real-life role as the husband of Barbara Hale, soon to appear as the sultry-smart Della Street on “The Perry Mason Show.” Betty White’s successful career in radio and television had recently skyrocketed with “Life with Elizabeth.” In popular “Elizabeth,” a comedy sketch series, twenty-eight-year-old White had full control as both star and producer – the first television series ever to be produced by a woman.

“Date with the Angels” owed some of its premise to “Dream Girl,” a play by Elmer Rice. As originally envisioned by White, each episode would include extensive and hilarious daydreaming by Vicki Angel. Show sponsors were not amused. Pressured to remove the sequences, White felt that she was left with only “one more run-of-the-mill domestic comedy.” “I can honestly say,” she revealed, “that was the only time I have ever wanted to get out of a show.”

Not to worry. The future would hold only greater success for White, including award-winning roles on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” and “The Golden Girls.” Current-day reviewers of “Date with the Angels” credit White’s performance as “lovely,” “talented,” “delightful,” “dares you to tune out while she’s onscreen,” “never burlesque or over-the-top,” “always believable,” “gorgeous,” “smart,” and “a class act.” One reviewer points out that White had “a beautiful singing voice” and that Vicki’s songs were “one of the pleasant surprises in this fine series.”

Image Credit: IMDB

1957 Boomer Baby

Born in 1957 LimaLimaLtdWere you born in 1957?

If so, we are kindred spirits.

How did entering the world in 1957 affect your life? What are you grateful you experienced? What did you miss? What do you wish you’d missed?

Here’s my list:

I’m grateful I experienced –

  • Great TV shows like Leave it to Beaver, Gilligan’s Island, and Perry Mason
  • The freedom to wander on my own around my Portland neighborhood
  • Scholastic book orders in grade school, which delivered a fresh stack of books to read every month
  • The relief when it was clear that my friends would not go to Vietnam
  • Girls sports teams in high school, after Title 9 took effect
  • Star Wars on opening night in my local theater. Remember the knock-you-back-in-your-seat trumpet fanfare during the opening credits? The stomach-dropping sensation of rollercoastering over the dunes of Tatooine?

I missed –

  • The beginning of the Beatles and the hippie Summer of Love thing
  • Laugh-In, which my parents thought was obscene
  • Owning a Chevy Bel Air before they became an expensive classic

I wish I’d missed –

  • The disco generation! I’m still embarrassed . . . really embarrassed

 

How about you? Please leave me a comment and share.

One more question, Class of 1975: was this The Slow Dance at your senior prom, too?

 

Image Credit: LiraLira Ltd.

June 19, 1957 – Michael Was a Teenage Werewolf

Teenage Werewolf June 19On June 19, 1957, teenage girls across America thronged to the local movie theater for a triple treat – Sugar Babies, Grape Nehi, and 20-year-old heart-throb Michael Landon in the premier of director Gene Fowler, Jr.’s I Was a Teenage Werewolf.  Two years before “Little Joe” experienced the wild, wild west on the classic television series Bonanza, he got in touch with his own wild side as violent troublemaker Tony Rivers.  Enter an unscrupulous  psychiatrist armed with regression hypnotherapy and an experimental serum (antidepressant research was booming in the ’50s!) and Michael undergoes a transformation requiring up to two hours of facial prosthetic work.  Will a janitor from the Carpathian Mountains be able to save Tony and the other students at Rockdale High?  Who will be the next victim?

I Was a Teenage Werewolf grossed over two million dollars at the box office.  Michael Landon was paid $1000.  Coming soon from Gene Fowler, Jr. – I Married a Monster From Outer Space.

Image Credit: Herman Cohen/American International Pictures