Saturday, October 04, 2014

Monsters and Comedians Lead Such Interesting Lives

It was rainy and windy when I awoke this morning. The rain continued as I switched on today's American Top 40 re-run. I would have been about two years old in early October 1981, when this episode was new. I grew up with many of these songs. Hits that fall included "Urgent" by Foreigner, "Step By Step" by Eddie Rabbit, the title song from the James Bond movie For Your Eyes Only by Sheena Easton, "Queen of Hearts" by Juice Newton, "Who's Crying Now?" by Journey, "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" by Stevie Nicks with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, "Arthur's Theme (The Best That You Can Do)" by Christopher Cross (from the Dudley Moore comedy Arthur), "No Gettin' Over Me" by Ronnie Milsap, and a medley of songs by the Beach Boys.

That week's #1 hit was one of the year's biggest, and the biggest hit to date for Motown Records. Lionel Richie and Diana Ross' duet to the title song from the movie Endless Love was in its 8th of 9 consecutive weeks at the top.

I did one more Backyardigans episode while preparing to head to the Collingswood Farm Market. When Uniqua's favorite pink-spotted soccer ball goes missing, she and Tyrone become "Monster Detectives" in order to rescue it from soccer monster Pablo. If either of them play soccer with Pablo, they'll become monsters, too!

It was showering lightly when I headed to Collingswood. The rain picked up as I arrived and continued on and off the entire time I was there. Despite the weather, both the crowds and the booths were out in full. The fall harvest continues to debut. Cauliflower appeared for the first time this season. I bought apples, one last cucumber, a tomato, two ears of corn, green grapes, and colby cheese from the dairy booth.

It was still raining off and on as I rode home. I doubted there would be any yard sales today! I spent the day cleaning the apartment instead. Started with the bathroom, which needed it badly. It was really grungy - I put it off for too long.

Ran Kentucky while I cleaned. Loretta Young is Sally Goodwin, the heir to a Kentucky horse farm that's seen better days. Her family has a long-standing rivalry with the Dillons, who took their finest horse stock for the Union Army during the Civil War and who shot the family patriarch when he tried to stop them. The current patriarch (an Oscar-winning Walter Brennan) would be more than happy to continue the feud. When Sally's father dies without paying debts, the farm defaults to the Dillons. The son of the current Dillon, John (Richard Greene), is incensed and quits the bank. He goes to work for the Goodwins under an assumed name in order to get to know Sally. When the Goodwins cash in on a bet made by John's father and get to pick a new horse, John learns that the jig is up...and even as they avoid each other and prepare the horse for the Kentucky Derby, they learn that one can't keep grudges forever, even feuding southern families.

I suspect I might have gotten more out of this if I was into horses and horse racing. The Technicolor cinematography is breathtaking, especially at the races. Young and Greene were pretty to look at but otherwise slightly stiff as the star-crossed lovers. Brennan was a little better as the old-school southern gentleman who finally unbends enough to come up with a winner. As with most movies set in the south during this era, there's also the heavy racial stereotypes to contend with. Each and every one of the characters in the large African-American supporting cast is a rather annoying stereotype of one kind or another.

If you love Young, Brennan, or horse-racing (and can get around the heavy black stereotypes), this is well worth a look at the 20th Century Fox Cinema Archives for the photography alone. 

Switched movies while I did the kitchen. The East Side Kids did two movies based around horse racing (and the Bowery Boys would contribute a third). The first - in fact, the third movie in the series - was This Gang of Mine. Mugs (Leo Gorcey) wants badly to be a jockey. He and the others help a (once again stereotyped) black man and his horse get into a big race. In a surprising and fairly realistic turn, it would seem Mugs isn't a good enough jockey to make the horse a winner. He knows a jockey who can, but there's the matter of convincing the guy, and getting gangsters who want them to throw the race off their tails.

By 1 PM, the rain had finally ended. It was still cloudy and windy, but now dry enough for a walk. I went out to lunch to make up for not being able to do my usual yard sale run this morning. It's beautiful in the neighborhood now. The huge oak trees that shade Manor are just starting to show the first signs of their fall foliage. There's azaleas and mums and late roses in every yard. While some houses do have Halloween displays up, most settled for flowers and fall-themed banners. Kids were out and about, heading to soccer and football games and riding bikes. Their parents worked in the yards and chatted on porches.

I had lunch at Amato Bros, the hoagie shop and deli on the White Horse Pike. Enjoyed a tasty Classic Roast Beef Hoagie while watching college football games. Headed down a block to WaWa for a treat. I bought Pumpkin Spice Iced Chai. That was a mistake. Not only was it too sweet and tasted nothing like pumpkin, but it was waaaayyy too spicy! It felt like it was burning the roof of my mouth, despite being ice-cold and creamy! Won't be getting their chai again.

Spent the rest of the day at home. I vacuumed, then dusted the entire apartment. Ran Daffy Duck's Quackbusters as I worked. The last Looney Tunes compilation film revolves around horror-oriented shorts. Unlike the previous films, two new shorts (one about Daffy dealing with a possessed girl duck, the other featuring him singing in a lounge filled with horror icons) were woven in with a decent story about Daffy running a paranormal agency, with Porky, Bugs, and Sylvester as his legmen.

Did It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown as I put up my Halloween decorations. The Peanuts celebrate the fall season in their own unique ways. Charlie Brown can't figure out his ghost costume, then tries to kick that football away from Lucy. Sally joins Linus on Halloween night to wait for the elusive Great Pumpkin. Snoopy would rather be fighting World War I than celebrating.

Switched to Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein while having baked chicken tenders, macaroni and cheese (that came out too watery), and spinach with mushrooms for dinner. Comic team Lou Costello and Bud Abbott play Wilbur and Chick, a pair of none-too-bright delivery men who are charged with bringing the remains of two of Universal's most famous monsters, Dracula (Bela Lugosi) and Frankenstein's monster (Glenn Strange), to a wax museum. Trouble is, Dracula is alive...and a female mad scientist has every intention of making the monster living, too. She needs a docile brain to do so, and decides that Wilbur's is perfect. Meanwhile, a pretty insurance inspector thinks Wilbur and Chick know something about the vanishing monsters, and Lawrence Talbot (Lon Chaney Jr.) hopes they can help him stop the count, before he turns into the Wolf Man again!

Abbott and Costello's best and best-known movie is a hilarious spoof of every horror cliche Universal itself ever threw into its films. Although the duo actually weren't too happy with the script, it deftly manages to mix laughter with some genuine scares. It's also interesting to note that this is the only horror movie I've ever seen where the mad scientist is a woman. A must if you're a fan of Abbott and Costello or the classic Universal horror monsters.

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