Friday, September 10, 2010

January 15, 1967 to January 28th 1967

Super Bowl Sunday. In fact, January 15th was the very first Super Bowl Sunday. The Super Bowl has become a national holiday as friends and family gather every year to see what will certainly be the most watched broadcast of the year. It has also become the second-largest day for food consumption in America, second only to Thanksgiving. 

The Green Bay Packers met the Kansas City Chiefs at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and defeated them by a score of 35 to 10. A 30-second commercial cost $42,000 and you could get a ticket for twelve bucks.

On that same Sunday, Lisa Velez was born. You may remember her as Lisa Lisa. Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam were a pretty good 80’s band. I certainly remember really liking this video back then. I’m sure there were a couple of reasons why.

That Super Bowl was the only one to be broadcast simultaneously by two networks; CBS and NBC. If you had been watching it on CBS, you could have seen The Rolling Stones perform on The Ed Sullivan Show just after the game. The single Ruby Tuesday/Let’s Spend the Night Together had just been released in the States the previous day, so those were the two songs they performed. However, Ed thought that “Let’s Spend the Night Together” was too suggestive, so he asked Mick to sing “Let’s Spend Some Time Together”. Mick went along with it, but every censored lyric met with a wicked eye-roll.

On Wednesday the 18th, Albert DeSalvo, the Boston Strangler, was sentenced to life in prison.

Thursday night, NBC aired Arena, the episode of Star Trek where Kirk fights the Gorn. Classic!

Friday the 20th saw the release of the new Rolling Stones album Between the Buttons featuring Miss Amanda Jones, Connection, and Complicated.

On Saturday the 21st, Ann Sheridan, the popular and lovely movie star and pin-up girl of the 30’s and 40’s, died of cancer at the age of 51. She did terrific work with greats like Bogart, Cagney, Raft, and Flynn.








On the 27th of January, a Friday, at 6:30 PM in Cape Canaveral, Florida, Lieutenant Colonel Gus Grissom, Lieutenant Colonel Edward White, and Lieutenant Commander Roger Chaffee died when a fire broke out and destroyed their command module. The Apollo 1 disaster was NASA’s first major tragedy. 

Gus Grissom was a very well respected astronaut. He had piloted Mercury-Redstone 4, making him the second American in space after Alan Shepard, and Gemini 3, which made him the first astronaut to make a second journey into space. Had Grissom lived, it is likely that he would have been the first man to step on the moon instead of Neil Armstrong. 

Edward White had previously flown on the Gemini 4 mission where he became the first American to walk in space. 

Roger Chaffee never made it to space. Apollo 1 would have been his first mission. However, it is rumored that he was the one who flew the U-2 spyplane over Cuba and took the famous photos of Soviet missiles that Pres. Kennedy showed on television during the Cuban Missile Crisis. America lost heroes on that day.

Comments and opinions are welcome and encouraged.

Thank you for your interest.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Top Ten Comic Book Covers – January 1967

10. Strange Tales #152 (Marvel)

Bill Everett drew this cover featuring Dr. Strange and the evil sorceress Umar.

9. Daredevil #24 (Marvel)

Gene Colan was the artist on this cover which features the jungle lord Ka-Zar getting ready to throw our hero Matt Murdock off the walls of a castle.

8. Falling In Love #88 (DC)

DC’s romance comic Falling In Love is responsible for some of the funniest covers around. Mr. Ken-head is workin’ that ascot.

7. Amazing Spider-Man #44 (Marvel)

A great action cover by John Romita featuring Spidey trying to web up The Lizard, one of the most interesting members of the Webhead’s rogues gallery.

6. X-Men #28 (Marvel)

This issue marked the debut of Sean Cassidy aka Banshee. 

He would appear in X-Men comics for years to come. Werner Roth drew a great cover for him.

5. Our Army At War #175 (DC)

Joe Kubert was one of the greatest cover artists ever, especially in the war comic genre. His work on Sgt. Rock was particularly acclaimed. Rock is pretty awesome on this cover.

4. Tales of Suspense #85 (Marvel)

The great superhero artist Gene Colan drew this tremendous cover where Mandarin shoots Tony Stark in the face.

3. Neutro #1 (Dell)

I love this cover. It was the one and only issue of Neutro. He was the most astounding super hero of all and he does not know the difference between right and wrong. His legs don’t appear to fit into his torso properly. He looks like he’s trying to grab those buildings for support. That’s great.

2. Our Fighting Forces #105 (DC)

Another fantastic Joe Kubert war cover. Holy crap! It looks like that dude is pushing a red hot grenade into the other dude’s face with his bare hand! That is badass!

1. Eerie #7 (Warren)

Warren’s classic horror comic Eerie had the best cover of January 1967 with this beautiful Frank Frazetta painting.

Comments and opinions are welcome and encouraged.

Thank you for your interest.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

On the 12th of June, 1967, the Soviet Union launched a probe toward Venus, a planet named for the Roman goddess of love. On that same day, The U.S. Supreme Court made a pro-love decision in the case of Loving v. Virginia. They declared that it was unconstitutional to prevent an interracial couple from getting married, thus overturning anti-miscegenation laws in sixteen states.
Exactly six months later, on December 12th, Columbia Pictures released a very timely love story. Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner was many things; a showcase for amazing performances, a love story that dealt with the racial issues of its time, the last Tracy/Hepburn film.

Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn made nine films together, from 1942’s Woman of the Year to this film made a quarter century later. Unfortunately, it would be Tracy’s last. He died of a heart attack seventeen days after filming was completed. While circumstances prevented them from marrying or even publicly admitting their love for one another, the affair was an open secret in Hollywood and has achieved an almost legendary status as one of Tinseltown’s great love stories.

While telling the story of Joanna Drayton, a young white girl from a liberal San Francisco family who falls in love with the too-perfect African-American Dr. John Prentice while vacationing in Hawaii, the film was able to focus on multiple aspects of the racial questions of the time, from the horrified reaction of Mrs. Drayton’s gallery manager to the alarm expressed by Tillie, the Drayton’s housekeeper, over seeing a member of her own race “getting above himself”. The doctor’s father was also shocked and suggested that this marriage would make a criminal of his son in certain states. However, the primary focus was on the reaction of Joanna’s parents.

Matt Drayton is the owner of a San Francisco newspaper and is well regarded as a fighter for liberal causes. His wife Christina runs an art gallery and also seems to be a strong individual dedicated to what she thinks is right. Joanna is certain that her parents will have no problem at all with her decision to marry John because they raised her to ignore a person’s color and judge people only on their character. Joanna is in for a surprise. Christina initially looks like she might faint once she sees John, but she comes around pretty quickly. Matt, however, cannot see past the problems the couple will have with the world at large and feels that he cannot approve.

The character of John Prentice is almost too perfect to be believable. This was intentional. How could any father object to his daughter marrying a world-renowned physician who has developed medical facilities throughout the third world, was an assistant professor at Yale Medical School, was an assistant director at the World Health Organization, and the guy doesn’t even bum long distance phone calls. The point being that the only possible reason the father could complain would be John’s race. Or maybe the fact that they only met ten days previous.

I want to point out one scene that I thought was quite interesting. While Tracy and Poitier’s characters are discussing the potential problems that the children of the proposed union would face, the doctor mentions that Joanna thinks their child will grow up to be President. He then quips that he would be satisfied with Secretary of State. The comments were delivered in a comical fashion as if such a thing were an unfathomable improbability. In 1967, when the film was released, Barack Obama, the first African American president (and racially mixed, as well), was six years old. Colin Powell, the first African American Secretary of State, was already 30 years old and a major in the US Army.

Like Bonnie & Clyde, the film had ten Oscar nominations (tied for the most noms of 1967) and two wins. The nominations were for Best Picture, Best Director for Stanley Kramer, Best Actor posthumously for Spencer Tracy, Best Supporting Actor for Cecil Kellaway, Best Supporting Actress for Beah Richards, Best Adapted Score, Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, and Best Editing. The two Oscars went to William Rose for Best Original Screenplay (It was his fourth nomination and only win) and Katharine Hepburn for Best Actress. It was her tenth nomination in the category and her second Oscar. She would go on to be nominated twice more and win both times. She holds the record for most acting wins at the Oscars, but her 12 nominations have since been surpassed by Meryl Streep.
As I said before, this movie was a true actor’s showcase. The performances were wonderful across the board. I’ll be considering the following group for my Oscars…
For Best Actress, Katharine Hepburn for playing Christina Drayton. This was a well-deserved Oscar for Ms. Hepburn. As of this moment, she’s my front runner. She brought some amazing elements to this character, but hey, it’s Hepburn. She wasn’t declared the greatest female movie star of all time by the AFI for nothing. I was particularly taken with the scene where she fires her gallery manager for being a great big racist. I loved the little grin that hit her face as she walked over and even danced a little to drag the woman out of the house and terminate her. This was not a lady to be messed around with. “Don’t speak Hilary, just go.” Sometimes I wish I could tell people off with that much style, wit and grace.  

For Best Actor, Spencer Tracy for playing Matt Drayton. Mr. Tracy was also represented on that AFI list. He was ranked the 9th greatest male movie star of all time. It was his 9th nomination for Best Actor. He won two little gold men in consecutive years, 1937 & 1938. I was always a big fan of Spencer Tracy. He carried an intensity and level of gravitas that few actors could match. My favorite things about this performance were his incredible facial expressions and the rising level of exasperation as his feelings contradicted his principles. Poor guy couldn’t even have his “Boosenberry” ice cream in peace. His last scene, the last one he ever filmed, contained a deeply moving monologue where he stated that the opinions of outsiders be damned; love must win out in the end. That scene alone might net him my Oscar.

For Best Actor, Sidney Poitier for playing Dr. John Prentice. Sidney Poitier also made that AFI list. They declared him to be number 22 amongst the greatest male movie stars. The role was perfect for him and he had a fantastic year also starring in To Sir, With Love and In The Heat of the Night. He was utterly charming throughout the film and had several remarkable scenes. I was rather impressed by the scene where he argued with his father. 

For Best Supporting Actor, Cecil Kellaway for playing Monsignor Ryan. The supporting categories are always much more competitive simply due to more people being in the pool. I’m not certain that Mr. Kellaway deserved the nomination considering the choices that 1967 provided us, but he did a fine job acting as the conscience of Tracy’s Matt Drayton, goading him to make the right decision.

For Best Supporting Actor, Roy E. Glenn for playing Mr. Prentice. Essentially, all he had to do was alternately appear shocked or angry. He did both quite well.

For Best Supporting Actress, Beah Richards for playing Mrs. Prentice. I find it interesting that she got the nomination when the other two supporting females turned in stronger performances; however she projected herself with great dignity and poise.

For Best Supporting Actress, Katharine Houghton for playing Joanna Drayton. Katharine Houghton was Katharine Hepburn’s actual niece and you could tell they were related. She was absolutely lovely and reminded me a great deal of Hepburn in her younger days. I was considerably taken with her performance. Her determination combined with her sunny attitude drew you in and made it easy to see how the good doctor fell in love so quickly.

For Best Supporting Actress, Isabel Sanford for playing Tillie Binks. Isabel Sanford was just straight up awesome in this role. I’m sure most of you remember her as Louise Jefferson and I do too. I grew up watching The Jeffersons and loved the show. It was great to see her in such a different role. I was very entertained by the scene where she went off on Poitier. 

Man, Weezie really let him have it.

All in all, a tremendous movie with an important message.

That’s the story of, that’s the glory of love…

Comments and opinions are welcome and encouraged.

Thank you for your interest.