Saturday, July 31, 2010

Saturday TV - You Want Me To Put What In My Car?

With the BP oil spill and GM in the news so much recently, I thought it might be fun to take a look back at some of these old gas and engine additive commercials. Some of them are really quite amusing and they provide kind of an interesting look back to a time when a service station was more than just a gas pump outside a market.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Attack of the Giant Leeches (1959) - Auuuugghh! Swamp Suckers!!

A drunken poacher is out in his rowboat in the swamp when he spots... something. Taking a shot at it, he misses, and the whatever it is disappears into the murk, but not before he notices that it seems to have tentacles. Instead of pursuing his prey, however, he decides instead to just have another swig of moonshine and let the creature go for another day. Too bad, though, because it's not long after this first sighting that the dead bodies begin to pile up - dead bodies which seem oddly mangled and have been drained of their bodily fluids.

Part Peyton Place (July 1959 Playboy centerfold Yvette Vickers plays the requisite "Legs McGillicuddy" role) in the muck and mire and part Swamp Thing, (replete with one of the most preposterously bad "that's not a guy in a rubber suit with fake tentacles, it's obviously a giant radioactively-mutated leech thing" monsters ever), Attack of the Giant Leeches (also known variously as Attack of the Blood Leeches, Demons of the Swamp, She Demons of the Swamp, and The Giant Leeches) comes to us courtesy of the King of the B's himself, Roger Corman.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sunday Serial - Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe - Chapter Three

Running a bit late with the post today, so just a quick note before we jump in to this week's chapter: you may have noticed that the title cards, instead of saying simply "Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe" actually read "Flash Gordon - Space Soldiers Conquer the Universe". This change was actually made in the 1950's when King Features Syndicate bought the TV rights to all three of the Flash Gordon serials from Universal Pictures. Since there was also at the time an ongoing Flash Gordon TV show, King made the change in order to distinguish their product. In TV listings, these shows would simply be listed as "Space Soldiers Conquer the Universe". These title cards were then subsequently used for many of the early home video releases from which these embedded episodes were taken.

Ok, let's hurry along and see how Flash and company are going to survive that avalanche...

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sunday Serial - Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe Chapter Two

So in the intro to our new serial last week, we noted some changes had taken place between the first two serials and this one. Probably the most striking and startling of these changes is the replacement of Jean Rogers in the role of Dale Arden with newcomer Carol Hughes. Not much is known about the reason for the change, except that according to Richard Lamparski's 1982 edition of Whatever Became of...?, Rogers had tired of the role during the making of the first serial (Perhaps she desired more interesting lines than either repeatedly shouting or crying the name "Flash!"?), and had only reluctantly agreed to appear in the second one. When it came time for ...Conquers the Universe she asked to be removed, and Hughes was quickly found to take her place.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Amazing Adventure (1936) - Ernest Bliss? Really?

Dateline: London - Millionaire playboy Ernest Bliss was diagnosed today as having come down with a bad case of being too rich and indolent. Offended by his doctor's diagnosis, or perhaps only confused about the meaning of the word indolent, Mr. Bliss immediately bet the doctor that he could spend a year living solely on his wits instead of his fortune. Taking only his suitcase and a five pound note, Bliss set off to actually find a job and a new place to live. If he can make it through the entire year without resorting to using his fortune for his own gain, then Mr Bliss will win an apology and a handshake from the doctor. If, on the other hand, he does not make it, then he will have to pay the doctor 50,000 pounds.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Horror Express (1973) - ATrain Full Of Weird

Ok, so you start with Hammer Horror stars Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing and throw 'em onto a Trans-Siberian express train with about 60 other people including a Russian Count and Countess, a mad monk who proves as willing to be a zealot for Satan as he is for Christ and a police inspector who is investigating an apparent murder that occurred at the depot just before the train departed. Then, once everyone is safely ensconced on the train which is barreling down the tracks, you unleash an alien entity which can not only jump from body to body, but can kill with a glance while at the same time absorbing the knowledge and memories of its victims. Oh, and for good measure, about two-thirds of the way through, let's let the train stop just long enough for Telly Savalas (yes, really) to march on board as the whip-wielding commander of a group of cossack soldiers with a penchant for simple "if it comes through that door shoot it" type solutions. Mix all of that, along with plenty of deep-red-blood dripping eyeballs, an early-established "anyone can die" atmosphere shoot it in Madrid and then overdub everyone later, and what do you get? Today's film, 1973's Horror Express.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sunday Serial - Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe - Chapter One

Ah, "The more things change..."

So today we begin our look at the third and last of the Flash Gordon serials starring Buster Crabbe as the titular hero, and this installment begins with both changes from and similarities to what has gone before.

Once again, the story begins with the Earth falling prey to a mysterious attack, only this time instead of meteors, it's a plague which falls from the sky. Once again, the hand behind the attack is that of Ming the Merciless, the ruler of the planet Mongo, but this time we are shown a Ming who is less Yellow Peril and more European dictator. And once again it is Plash Gordon, Dr. Zarkoff, and the beauteous Dale Arden off to confront Ming and save the planet, but something seems a bit different about Dale this time out, too.

Like the serial itself, I'm not going to spend a lot of time on a long winded introduction - we'll have plenty of opportunity to discuss the serial in depth as we go along. Instead, I'm gonna throw you right into the action with chapter one. Enjoy, and until next time, Happy Treasure Hunting!

-Professor Damian

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Saturday TV - Stamp Day For Superman (1954)

Something special for ya today, Kiddies - in 1954, the producers of the Adventures of Superman television show created this special short for the US Treasury Department to promote the sales of US Savings Bonds and Stamps. The short features the regular cast of the television show including George Reeves as Superman, Noel Neill as Lois Lane, and Jack Larson and John Hamilton as Jimmy Olson and Perry White respectively, and does a good job of showcasing the charm, personality, and chemistry of these actors.

The short was never shown in theaters or on television, but was instead designed to be shown in classrooms to educate children about the Treasury Stamp program. Since it was created for and donated to the government, it has become the only "episode" of the show to fall into the public domain.

I've embedded the entire 18 minute short below. Enjoy!

Until next time, Happy Treasure Hunting,
-Professor Damian

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Perils of Pauline (1947) - Any Resemblance To Personas Living Or Dead...

So Tuesday we took a look at the 1914 serial The Perils of Pauline which was one of the first cliffhanging serials and starred Pearl White as the eponymous Pauline, and I figured today it might be fun to take a peek at a film that could be considered sort of a follow-up.

By 1947, the popularity of the serial film was beginning to fade, as television began to move into peoples' homes, and attendance at the Saturday matinees, at which these shorts had become a staple, had seen a sharp decline. As a matter of fact, just a year before, Universal had shut down its serials department (along with it's B-pictures unit) to concentrate solely on feature films. This was the beginning of a change not only in the way films would be produced, but in the way that the public saw the movie-going experience and what they expected when they went to their local theaters.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Perils of Pauline (1914) - Silently Hanging From a Cliff

Y'know, there are certain cliches that one thinks of when they think of the old movie serials: the fair damsel tied to the railroad tracks by the dastardly villain only to be rescued at the seeming last instant, the hero trapped inside a burning house, the runaway car speeding too quickly along a twisting mountain road, and, of course, the giant boulder rolling faster and faster down a hill as our poor protagonist tries to find a way to avoid being crushed. (What, you thought that was an Indiana Jones original? Sorry, nope.) Well, like they say, all cliches start somewhere, and this serial, starring Pearl White as Pauline, is where a good many of them had their beginning.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Serial Sunday Contest - And The Winners Are...

Well, Kiddies, it looks like the winner by an overwhelming majority of the Serial Sunday poll was Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe, so we'll start our look at that one next Sunday.

And the winner of the free DVD contest is oldlawmom who wins a DVD copy of her choice, The Phantom Empire. Congrats, oldlawmom, and I'll be in touch with the details!

Thanks to all who played, and be sure to come back tomorrow when we'll take a look at one of the first cliffhanger serials, The Perils of Pauline, and then Thursday when we'll follow up with the 1947 comedy film of the same name which stars Betty Hutton as Pearl White, the star of the original serial.

Until next time, Happy Treasure Hunting,
-Professor Damian

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Red Skelton's Pledge of Allegiance (1969) - A Fourth of July Special

Just a short clip today, and it's pretty well self explanatory. This was a routine Skelton recorded many times in his career. This particular version appears to be from the 1969 season of his TV show. Enjoy, and, for my American readers, Happy 4th! I'll be back on Monday with the poll and contest results.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Horrors of Spider Island (1960) - She's Got Legs!

Gary Webster: "Hmm.. Legs?"
Meg: "Pardon me?"
Georgia: "Mr. Webster would like to look at your legs."
Meg: "Oh, sure."
[Meg pulls up her skirt]
[Mr. Webster crosses his own legs at the ankles.]
Georgia: "Thank you, you're hired."

Poor Gary! Shipwrecked after a plane crash on a deserted island with a bevy of beautiful dancers who, despite having just barely survived for days and days on a small life raft and then, upon finally finding land, coming upon a cabin with a dead body hung in a spider web, are really mostly interested in seeing how quickly they can strip down to their undies and either go skinny dipping or start cat-fighting (though there is no actual nudity in the film, just lots of underwear and bikinis). Yeah, Gary's got it rough.
Unless otherwise noted, all movies discussed on this blog and all associated materials are believed to be in the Public Domain. If you are a copyright holder for any of these materials, please email me. Unless otherwise noted, all material created for this blog by Professor Damian is licensed under a Creative Commons license as described below. Creative Commons License
Professor Damian's Public Domain Treasure Chest by Professor Damian is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
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