Monday, April 20, 2020

What's My Matches?

Began a cloudy morning with breakfast and Split Second. As Monty pointed out, it was a genuinely exciting game. The man and one of the women kept pulling ahead of one another. Everyone was matched in the speed round; when the man finally got all his questions, he flat-out won the car without needing to look behind billboards. Blockbusters pit a woman who had once been a real-life member of the All-American Women's Baseball League against a mother-daughter team. The mother-daughter team won the first game, but the lady got the second.

Switched to one of the Roku old-movie apps after Blockbusters. I think I saw the 1950 King Solomon's Mines once, maybe twice on TCM back in college. Victorian beauty Elizabeth Curtis (Deborah Kerr) hires big game hunter Allan Quartermain (Stewart Granger) to help her find her missing husband, who went in search of the fabled gold mines in Africa. He hires native Umbopa (Siriaque) to lead them to the Mines, but his men aren't happy with having either her or the native along for the trip. She's a burden at first, constantly complaining about flies and frightened, but he starts to look at her in a different way as she calms down and enjoys the trip. Umbopa, however, is not what he seems, and the situation among the native tribes at the Mines are close to outright rebellion. Allan and Elizabeth, with the help of Umbopa, his people, and Elizabeth's brother John Goode (Richard Carlson) have to avoid the warring tribes in order to find the fabled mines and discover what became of the lost explorer Curtis.

Like all versions of King Solomon's Mines, this one adds a female character and an unnecessary romance to the mix. Both Umbopa and the trip to the mines are downplayed here; it's really more about Elizabeth, Allan, their relationship, and the gorgeous scenery they pass through on their way to the mines. This was filmed in Africa, with real natives playing Umbopa and the other African characters, and the glowing backdrops add a note of authenticity that the by-the-book screenplay lacks. Too slow and old-fashioned for modern action junkies, but lovers of Indiana Jones-style adventures may want to give this one a look.

Started packing while I worked. Cleared all but three collectible toys off the top of the wardrobes. I really need to dust under there. I'm glad I kept the boxes for my porcelain dolls Cindy Lou, Candy, and Brandi. I only had one Effanbee box, which originally held Cinderella; D'Artangan the Musketeer joined her. Sonia the Russian doll and cowgirl Oklahoma Sal went in the box with Cindy Lou. Got the Star Wars books, small stuffed toys, and Funco Pops toys into the larger Utz's box. Managed to squeeze all the regular music cassettes and Old Time Radio cassettes and CDs into a smaller box.

Switched to Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood while making the bed and eating out of the fridge for lunch. "Jodie Goes to School For the First Time" introduces us to Dan's new buddy, a cute little platypus girl. She's nervous about how different the school is from her old one, until he helps her find things that remind her of home. He's the one who's away from home when "Daniel Plays at Jodie's House." He's not used to her family's traditions, like wearing slippers inside. It's Jodie's turn to help Daniel find things that remind him of home.

Spent the next few hours writing. Gene calls Richard and Charles inside. They need to make plans for the ball. With them are Gary Scarlet and Sarah Riding Hood, along with Orson, still in his demon form. They all agree to help out as best they can.

Finished the night with the next Match Game marathon. Arlene Francis is best-known today for her long-running stint on various versions of What's My Line?, but she also appeared fairly often on Match Game in its early years. In fact, she was one of the panelists on the very first pilot episode, sitting in what would eventually become Brett's upper center seat. (Richard Dawson and Betty White also made their first appearances here.) Not more than five minutes in, Betty incited the first riot of the series when her answer wasn't accepted by judge Ira Skutch and everyone started yelling and throwing papers.

By 1975, Francis was more commonly seen in the first seat on the bottom row, next to Richard. She joined Brett in flirting eagerly with young male contestants, and even grabbed Gene for a huge kiss at one point. She was present the week in '75 where Carol Bartos became the Match Game all-time winner at that point with over 20,000 dollars. Her final appearance on the regular show was in 1978, on a fun week with Dick Martin. (Her final appearance in the series all together was in The Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour; alas, Buzzr has yet to run that week.)

Here's the entire marathon, so you can match wits with the queen of What's My Line and find out if blank is bigger than a bread box! Tomorrow's next semi-regular in the spotlight is Francis' old co-host from the original late 50's The Price Is Right, "The Dean of Game Show Hosts" himself Bill Cullen. Look for this one at 4 PM!

The Best of Arlene Francis on Match Game 1973 - 1978

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