Let’s Have a Break

Life’s been busy and I need some some fun,

Some feel-good music to whistle along.

Dave Brubeck, get your quartet, this is your cue:

Floyd Cramer, you’re up next to boost my mood.

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Singing Along II

As promised, here’s part II of my musical post. On this beautiful, sun-kissed weekend what else matters but some fresh air, a good smoothie and some swell tunes?! So here we go, lean back. This is Radio Talking Classics for you with a selection of classic songs from Hollywood, Broadway and beyond.

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The Love Boat

TV classics

USA 1977-87, nine seasons, four specials, 249 episodes, approximately 50 minutes each, ABC, color. Produced by Aaron Selling, Douglas S. Cramer. Cast: Gavin MacLeod, Bernie Kopell, Fred Grandy, Ted Lange, Lauren Tewes, Jill Whelan, Ted McGinley, Pat Klous. Guest stars: June Allyson, The Andrew Sisters, Eve Arden, Gene Barry, Polly Bergen, Amanda Blake, Tom Bosley, Raymond Burr, Sid Caesar, Leslie Caron, Cyd Charisse, Olivia de Havilland, Patty Duke, Joan Fontaine, Greer Garson,  Andy Griffith, Katherine Helmond, Celeste Holm, Gene Kelly, Werner Klemperer, Jack Klugman, Dorothy Lamour, Janet Leigh, Allen Ludden, Rue McClanahan, Leslie Nielsen, Lilli Palmer, Donna Reed, Della Reese, Debbie Reynolds, Marion Ross, Eva Marie Saint, Jaclyn Smith, Jean Stapleton, Gale Storm, Sada Thompson, Lana Turner, Gloria Vanderbilt, Betty White, William Windom, Shelly Winters, Jane Wyatt, Jane Wyman and many others

Plot summary: On the Pacific Princess, love and laughter are all-inclusive.

Love Boat crewReview: In 1976, three TV movies launched the career of a special ship, the Pacific Princess. Based on a non-fiction book by cruise director Jeraldine Saunders, the so-called Love Boat traveled the world with Captain Stubing and his crew. Each week, they were accompanied by a wide array of guests stars ranging from Hollywood legends to contemporary starlets. Split into three different stories, every episode focused on love, comedy and drama. Written by three sets of writers, the weekly plots rarely crossed over but instead made The Love Boat crew the pivotal element that held them all together.

The Captain (Gavin MacLeod), Doc (Bernie Kopell) and bartender Isaac Washington (Ted Lange) were the longest serving members of an ensemble that appeared to be tight on camera and off. They were supported by Gopher (Fred Grandy) and Julie McCoy, played by Lauren Tewes, a young actress who successfully earned her stripes on TV in the first seven seasons. Eventually, they were joined by Jill Whelan as Vicki Stubing, the Captain’s daughter, and Pat Klous as Jody McCoy, Julie’s sister and replacement for the last two seasons. In 1979, Charlie’s Angels checked in on the Pacific Princess to solve a case and simultaneously introduce Shelley Hack as the latest angelic addition. Collaborations like that were rare but boosted ratings for Aaron Spelling’s other projects, Fantasy Island following suit in 1980.

Popular around the world during its ten year run, The Love Boat offered an escape from the grim realities of politically callous times. At the height of the Cold War, the program was bubbly, glamorous and diverting. A perfect vehicle for old stars and new ones alike and thus an evening favorite for boomers and their parents. Shown in reruns for many years, the first two seasons were finally made available on DVD in 2008. A great treat for anyone who has fond memories of flares, weekly cameos and the famous theme song performed by Jack Jones (as well as by Dionne Warwick in 1987).

What’s My Line?

TV classics: What’s My Line?

USA 1950-67, 17 seasons,  876 episodes, 25 minutes each, CBS, black & white. Presented by John Charles Daly. Panelists: Arlene Francis, Dorothy Kilgallen, Bennett Cerf, Louis Untermeyer, Hal Block, Steve Allen, Fred Allen, Mystery celebrity guests: Julie Andrews, Eve Arden, Desi Arnaz, Fred Astaire, Lauren Bacall, Lucille Ball, Candice Bergen, Polly Bergen, Carol Burnett, James Cagney, Claudette Colbert, Sean Connery, Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Doris Day, Kirk Douglas, Errol Flynn, Joan Fontaine, Ava Gardner, Judy Garland, James Garner, Bob Hope, Grace Kelley, Gene Kelly, Deborah Kerr, Hedy Lamarr, Angela Lansbury, Jack Lemmon, Sophia Loren, Myrna Loy, Allen Ludden, Paul Newman, Debbie Reynolds, Ginger Rogers, Mickey Rooney, Jane Russell, Jean Simmons, Frank Sinatra, Ann Sothern, Jimmy Stewart, Barbra Streisand, Elizabeth Taylor, Gene Tierney, Lana Turner, Robert Wagner, Betty White, Joanne Woodward, Jane Wyman, Robert Young et al.

Game summary: Four panelists are trying to guess the occupation of their guests and the identity of the mystery celebrity of the week.

Review: What’s My Line? was one of the longest running and most popular game shows on American TV. Launched as early as in 1950, the show was broadcast weekly on CBS for seventeen successful seasons until it was continued on a daily basis in syndication. Transferred to radio as well as to audiences worldwide, the format was a big success and didn’t go off the air until 1975. In its history, What’s My Line? featured a lot of famous mystery celebrity guests such as Lucille Ball, Bette Davis, Myrna Loy, Elizabeth Taylor or Robert Young, some of whom appeared more than once.

With its easy format, the game show was an entertaining half hour of guessing what the weekly guests were doing for a living, for the panelists as much as for the TV audience. Broadcast live in the beginning, What’s My Line? lived of the chemistry between its regular panelists and their host John Charles Daly. Arlene Francis, Dorothy Kilgallen and Bennett Cerf stayed with the show the longest while the fourth spot on the panel was usually given to a famous incoming guest. The thrill of the show lay in the variety of professions the panelists had to guess by asking funny as well as witty “yes-and-no only” questions. The mystery celebrity guest was always the cherry on top of each episode when the blindfolded panel of four queried its way to revealing who was sitting next to their host.

Like so many of the classic game shows, What’s My Line? is a lot of fun to watch these days. The panelists, guests and celebrities are entertaining and hilarious at times. The program is innocent for today’s standards, classy and polite. The game is harmless and relaxing, a perfect show to watch at the end of a hectic day.

Selected clips available on youtube (see links above).

Inherit the Wind

Talkie of the Week: Inherit the Wind

USA 1960,  128 minutes, black & white, United Artists. Director: Stanley Kramer, Screenplay by: Nedrick Young (originally as Nathan E. Douglas) and Harold Jacob Smith, Based on actual events (the so-called Scopes “Monkey Trial” in Tennessee, 1925) and the play by Jerome Lawrence & Robert Edwin Lee, written in 1955. Cast: Spencer Tracey, Fredric March, Gene Kelly, Dick York, Harry Morgan, Donna Anderson, Claude Akins, Noah Beery Jr., Florence Eldridge, Jimmy Boyd

Plot summary: In America’s small town South, a young teacher is being prosecuted for teaching Darwin’s evolution theories instead of creationism to his students. His trial turns into a spectacle of arrogance and extremist views from both sides of the law. In the end, the question remains which conviction will prevail. It’s up to the audience to draw their own conclusions.

Review: Inherit the Wind is an intense film for an audience who isn’t looking for simple answers. Picking up on the 1950s drama of McCarthyism, the film illustrates the power of conviction and words in a public arena. It points out how easily masses of people can be swayed to believe one theory without listening to an opposing argument. The weight of familiar and established contents over unknown theories. The danger of half-truths and half-knowledge in a democratic society. The intimidating qualities of both, religion and science, if looked at exclusively.

What the film offers is an often surprising look at the ideals and origins of its protagonist characters, the counsel for the defense, Henry Drummond (Spencer Tracey), and the counsel for the prosecution, Matthew Brady (Fredric March), a look back into their interwoven past, their own evolution and motivation. Spencer Tracey is a perfect sparring partner for Fredric March. Their courtroom scenes are both painful and delightful to watch, they are both so brilliantly bouncing off each other.

The supporting cast is equally worth mentioning: Gene Kelly is a convincingly slick reporter whose own ideals and beliefs are constantly in limbo. Florence Eldridge gives a beautiful performance as Matthew Brady’s loyal wife who admires her husband’s faith, his creed. It is heartbreaking to watch her observing her husband’s decline in credibility. Dick York delivers a persuading performance as the young defendant whose own motives and faith get tested during his trial. He comes across as a teacher who didn’t mean to start such a public fight. He seems genuine in his portrayal of an average citizen whose own little act of courage was blown a little out of proportion.

And this is what Inherit the Wind is all about. The setting may be the Tennessee “Monkey Trial”, but in essence, this film raises many more questions than only one. It is a tale about the human condition that’s still as current today as it was in 1925 when the actual trial took place, or in 1955 when the original play was written and first produced or in 1960 when this film won a statue at the Berlin Film Festival.

Available on VHS and DVD. Movie trailer here.