Friday, September 30, 2011

Return to PEYTON PLACE, Part 2

Yesterday I explored the "roots" of PEYTON PLACE, the hit primetime serial which debuted on ABC in the fall of 1964. I recently began watching the show on DVD and am becoming slightly obsessed with it.
The show originally aired twice a week (Tuesdays and Thursdays at 9:30PM) for it's first season and and both half-hours ranked in the Top 20 and leading the expansion to three nights a week (Tuesday, Thursday and Friday) in June 1965.
The lovely Dorothy Malone assumed the role of Constance MacKenzie (following in the footsteps of Lana Turner and Eleanor Parker), the single mother who ran the local bookshop and raised sweet, naive Allison (played by 19-year-old newcomer Mia Farrow).
In the very first episode Dr. Michael Rossi (Ed Nelson) arrives from the big city to set up shop following the death of Doctor Donald Brooks. Turns out Rossi was present at Alison's birth and knows something about her absentee father. This freaks Constance out - and clues to the baby daddy's true identity are dropped.
Sweet innocent Allison is drawn to bad boy Rodney Harrington (Ryan O'Neal, wearing some very revealing trousers) and mama Connie is none to happy about this - mostly because Rodney already has a girlfriend.
Meanwhile, Rodney's father Leslie Harrington (Paul Langton) is about to enter into a torrid affair with his secretary Julie Anderson (Kasey Rogers), when Rodney walks in on them! We soon finf out that Julie's husband is an abusive salesman and she's much better off in her boss's arms.

Soon Julie's not-so-pure daughter Betty (played by future VALLEY OF THE DOLLS diva Barbara Parkins) is dumped by her boyfriend. Guess who? Rodney! Meanwhile Rodney's brother Norman (Christopher Connelly) is in love with Allison...
All these romantic entanglements and mysteries overlap and intertwine like the best of daytime soaps, though the show is not videtaped and scored with organ music, but filmed to look somewhat like a cross between a feature film and a sitcom.
The lush cinematic score and the gorgeous New England scenery elevate the show and give it a warmth and richness which I find very comforting.
The show ran for 5 seasons in total, and along the way it converted to color and featured great performers like Lee Grant, Ruth Warrick, Gena Rowlands, Ruby Dee, Barbara Rush, Mariette Hartley and even pre-AIRPLANE! Leslie Nielsen.

The show was canceled in 1969, but resurfaced on NBC in 1972 as the daytime series RETURN TO PEYTON PLACE. Several supporting actors returned in their original roles, but the major roles were recast. RETURN was axed in January 1974.
NBC aired MURDER IN PEYTON PLACE (1978) in primetime and it reunited many of the original cast members. Another NBC sequel, PEYTON PLACE: THE NEXT GENERATION aired in 1985 and was intended as a pilot for a new series, which never materialized. Maybe the CW has a revival up it's sleeves?
As a continue watching the first season, I look forward to future releases of PEYTON PLACE from Shout! Factory

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Return to PEYTON PLACE, Part 1

I've often been accused of being out of step with the mainstream. While millions thrill to AMERICAN IDOL week after week, I long for the days of THE GONG SHOW. While others drool over DANCING WITH THE STARS, I reminisce about DANCE FEVER and while the masses were tuning in to watch the final season of LOST, I found myself watching season one of PEYTON PLACE.

 That's right, PEYTON PLACE, the grandaddy of prime-time soaps, which ran on ABC from 1964 through 1969.
PEYTON PLACE started life as a scandalous best-selling 1956 novel by Grace Metalious. Set in a fictitious New England town that appeared all prim and proper on the surface, but was full of dark and dirty secrets!
The book was adapted into a hit film in 1957 starring Lana Turner as Constance MacKenzie.
 A semi-star (as opposed to all-star) supporting cast included Hope Lange, Russ Tamblyn and Lorne Greene.
In 1959 Metalious was back on the best seller list with a sequel, RETURN TO PEYTON PLACE.
The second book was then made into a film in 1961, with entirely different (and less expensive) actors assuming the roles.
Eleanor Parker, Carol Lynley and Tuesday Weld were among the new faces.
PEYTON PLACE came to television in September 1964. For more on PEYTON PLACE... (as they say in the world of soaps) tune in tomorrow...

Sunday, September 18, 2011

We're Gonna Turn You On...

Celebrating the start of a new television season, I've decided to look back at some of my favorite shows of the past. Yawn - how many times have I done this already? Okay instead let's look at the porn versions of them.... (This blog post may not be safe for work - depending where you work.
First up, we've got THIS AIN'T GOOD TIMES - what happens when you take one of the best Norman Lear sitcoms (and a MAUDE spin-off) of the 70s and add in a bunch of women with large butts and this is what you get! As fake JJ would say "Din-E-Mite!"
Next up, we visit the Stone Age with THE FLINTSTONES, a live-action "homage" to the classic Hanna-Barbera animated series. Looks like you'll have a (not )gay old time in Bedrock! Check it out here. Perfect casting on Mr,. Slate!
Back to the 70s with WKRP IN CINCINNATI - and just like the DVD release of the original show, this parody also has to navigate around music clearance issues. Check it out the trailer.
Even Saturday morning staple SCOOBY-DOO joins in on the fun. Jinkies! See the live-action trailer here! Zoinks!
Another Norman Lear classic sitcom, THE JEFFERSONS gets the porn treatment too. Wonder what Mother Jefferson would say? Or Mr. Bentley for that matter.
And finally, everybody's favorite 80s family, the Huxtables gets a good once-over as well. Grab a pudding pop! LOL.
Has any show from my childhood escape the XXX parody craze? Well, so far no ELECTRIC COMPANY triple X. Yet.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The International Cave of Batwomen

As a follow-up to my post on DC Comics' Batwomen, here's a fun look at all the other Batwomen who have appeared in campy cult films over the years.

1966's THE WILD WORLD OF BATWOMAN starring Katherine Victor. I've seen this (in 3-D) no less, and it's a giant bore.
From Mexico: 1968's LA MUJER MURCIELAGO aka THE BATWOMAN starring Maura Monti.

I believe this incarnation includes nudity, softcore sex and Mexican wrestlers.

The poster below is pretty awesome.

From The Philippines: 1972's BATWOMAN & ROBIN starring Robin Aristorenas.
This one also features Catwoman and key art that looks like it's directly take from a DC Comic.
And it even had a sequel (also from 1972): BATWOMAN & ROBIN MEET THE QUEEN OF THE VAMPIRES!

Love the oversized combined BATWOMAN AND ROBIN logo! I think I need to see these. Anybody out there have a bootleg copy to lend me?

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Today is Kristy McNichol's birthday. Here's a review of perhaps her greatest film performance.As a dog lover and supporter of animal rights, WHITE DOG (1982, directed by the great Sam Fuller) is a film that has always intrigued me. As a birthday tribute to Kristy McNichol, I decided it was time I saw the controversial classic film. The drama starts when actress Julie Sawyer (Kristy) accidentally hits a beautiful stray white German Shepherd with her car. She takes the dog to a local vet and rather than drop him off at the shelter, she decides to take him in until his rightful owners claim him.
The nameless dog seems sweet and protective at first. Julie's boyfriend (Jameson Parker) is glad she's not alone in her Hollywood Hills house any longer. That very night an intruder breaks in Julie's house and tries to rape her. The dog is watching a loud war movie in the other room (seriously) and doesn't hear the criminal. Luckily during a commercial break, the dog finally hears the commotion and leaps to Julie's protection, effectively kicking the shit out of the bad guy.
Days later, the dog–still nameless–wanders off after spotting a rabbit. Julie visits the local animal shelter and in a very powerful scene is disturbed by the conditions there and the use of killing ovens used to put dogs "to sleep". The dog eventually returns her, all bloody from attacking a truck driver. After cleaning him up, Julie takes her boy to work with her and ties him up in the soundstage where she is shooting a scene with an African American actress (Lynne Moody). From out of nowhere the dog brutally attacks her costar, hospitalizing her and sending Julie to a sanctuary for theatrical animals called Noah's Ark to seek help.
Once there she begs Mr. Carruthers (Burl Ives) to help deprogram her attack dog, but he insists it is not possible. Suddenly the dog mauls one of Carruther's workers, an African American man. At this point we learn that the animal is a "white dog" - who was trained from birth to attack people of color! Carruther's top trainer, Keys (the wonderful Paul Winfield) has faced these kinds of dogs before and believes he can break the dog out of it's racist training and takes it on as a personal challenge. Julie agrees to this because she loves the dog, even though she still hasn't given it a name!!!
"Dr. Jekyl" resists Key's training methods at first, and eventually manages to escape from the facility and lives on the streets. In a terrifying scene a small black child is seen playing on a sidewalk while the dog is sifting through garbage just around the corner, luckily the child's mother removes him from harm before the dog is even aware of his existence. An adult churchgoer isn't so lucky as the dog spots him and chases him into the church of St. Francis Assissi, where he rips the man to shreads.
Keys discovers the murdered man and resolves to cure the dog, even though Julie now thinks that "Mr. Hyde" cannot be saved. Keys commits to making headway with the dog, and finally does. (Apparently Mr. Winfield insisted on doing all his own stunts.) Suddenly the dog's original owner shows up a Julie's door, turns out he's an overweight middle-aged man from a trailer park with two freckle-faced little daughters, and he looks very much like Carruthers. In the best scene of the film, Julie lays into guy and calls him just about every name in the book except "racist motherfucker", which is what I would have called him.
When Julie arrives at the compound, she is stunned by the dog's improvement as he is kind with both Keys and another black man. Then there's a shock ending which can be interpreted two ways. SPOILER ALERT!!! After accepting Keys, the dog spots Mr. Carruthers and leaps towards him. Keys shoots the dog dead. So, are we to believe that the dog now hates white people OR does he think Carruthers is his original, abusive owner? I just think the dog is pissed off because he doesn't have a name.
This is a great film. While some of the dialogue is a bit cheesy and Kristy's wardrobe is dated and laughable, the story is as powerful and thought-provoking as it was when it was first made. 10 outta 10. See it.
Pictured: Director Sam Fuller and "White Dog".