Saturday, February 28, 2009


Apparently I had my own comic book back in the day! Here's STEVIE # 5 starring ME!...or at least a vague facsimile of me after I doctored it just a tad. Here's the original version, also. (See what happens when one has TOO much free time! I need a #$@!! job!)

Signed Steranko Batman

I mentioned in an email to a reader recently (Hi, Jim!) how, over the years, I've come to put James Steranko in a category by himself. If someone asks my favorite comics artists, I often don't think to include him just because he sort of transcended the industry with his HISTORY OF COMICS, his movie work (RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, etc.), his paperback covers and his literary media mogul status with COMIX/MEDIASCENE/PREVUE. Still, he IS and has been a favorite since I first noticed that those Nick Fury stories were a tad bit more...psychedelic than anything else on the stands. That was in 1966. In 1980 I finally met the Jaunty One himself at a Columbus, Ohio con. He was much shorter than I had expected (in both height and temperament) but graciously signed this cool retro BATMAN image from a 1977 MEDIASCENE for me!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Update on BR & Me

Wow! Today is Brittany Rose's birthday and I got a present out of it! I just took 80 new pictures, many of which will be posted soon at Take a peek at this cutie and let us know what you think!

Random Panels of Comic Book Weirdness # 50

Gay jokes in 1940's DONALD DUCK stories?? By Carl Barks!!??

Thursday, February 26, 2009

You Can't Beat the Funnies For Action!

Okay, JOHN CARTER I know--Edgar Rice Burroughs' Mars-bound, Princess-loving soldier. MR. DISTRICT ATTORNEY is presumably from the radio show of the same name. But "REX," KING OF THE DEEP? Does Namor know about this guy? And what about SPEED MARTIN and SKY RANGER? Can you get more generic-sounding than that? Oh, and guys? Thanks for warning us that PHANTASMO appears ONLY in THE FUNNIES! That way, we don't have to worry about running across him anywhere else so it's safe to read your competition!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

R.I.P. Philip Jose Farmer

Word reaches us tonight here at the Library of the passing of science-fiction legend Philip Jose Farmer, of whom we wrote just a week ago. Equally at home with mainstream sci-fi, hardcore pornography, ghosting Vonnegut's fictional Kilgore Trout and Lester Dent's DOC SAVAGE or revisting Oz, one got the impression that Farmer would have been perfectly happy to write old-style pulp fiction 24 hours a day.

Seen here is GREATHEART SILVER, my own first exposure to Farmer from 1976's "new pulp" WEIRD HEROES, Vol 1. The art is by Tom Sutton.

Thank you for the thrills and chills, sir! Enjoy your riverboat cruise!

We Have a Winner!

Monstermike wins the special Fab Four No-Prize by guessing correctly that the young man in this photo is, in fact, Michael Lindsay-Hogg, director of several Beatles early promo films(including PAPERBACK WRITER and HEY JUDE) and, of course, director of LET IT BE!
The clue was the fact that Michael is the son of actress Geraldine Fitzgerald, seen in the picture. Ms. Fitzgerald had a career so long that she played Laurence Olivier's lover and later Rodney Dangerfield's mother! The second clue was what i thought was the conspicuous use of the phrase "let it be" in my original post. A third near-clue was left in the comments when I said I would "revisit" the situation. Michael Lindsay-Hogg also directed most of the episodes of the original BRIDESHEAD REVISITED mini-series.
As a director, Michael Lindsay-Hogg started on British TV's READY STEADY GO where he first directed the Rolling Stones. He would go on to helm the legendary ROCK AND ROLL CIRCUS as well as doing a number of videos for them including I KNOW IT'S ONLY ROCK AND ROLL (BUT I LIKE IT) and START ME UP.
Another Beatles tie-in was the 2000 TV movie TWO OF US, a fictional look at a 1976 reunion of John and Paul. Although noted also for his work with Paul Simon and the Who, as well as extensive television work, Michael became an award-winning Broadway director in more recent times.

Here's a link to a nice article about Michael Lindsay-Hogg with a more recent picture!

More Fake Album Covers!

I couldn't resist! It's becoming a mania!!!!

Time to Play "Stump the Beatles Fan"

Big Beatles fan are ya? Me, too. Somehow, though, I never expected to see this young lad in a WWII era LIFE magazine spread. Seems there was something special about him I never knew. He is NOT one of the Beatles but, in spite of an impressive list of accomplishments on his own, his name will be forever associated with the Beatles...and the Rolling Stones for that matter. Who is he? You tell me. The only clue you need--if you happen to know what I DIDN'T know--is in this very picture! What's that? You want more clues? Well...the caption (which will be replaced in a later post) indicates that the cute l'il fella wants to be either a gardener or a fireman when he grows up. Let's just say he apparently changed his mind along the way and let it be at that.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Album Cover Meme

Okay, someone's actually come up with one of these things that I actually like!

Not sure who started it but I got it via Adventures in Nerdliness ( and Lubert-Das (

Here's the simple instructions:
Go to "wikipedia." Hit “random” or click The first random wikipedia article you get is the name of your band.

Go to "Random quotations" or click last four or five words of the very last quote of the page is the title of your first album.

Go to flickr and click on “explore the last seven days” or click Third picture, no matter what it is, will be your album cover.

Use photoshop or similar to put it all together. Try it and link to your band's first album in the comments!

UPDATE: Okay, now this is addictive. I couldn't resist doing a second one. I hope I can stop there!

UPDATE# 2- Last one! I swear!

Black Bolt

The character of Black Bolt from the Inhumans is a quintessentially Kirby character from the costume squiggles to the whole stoic and silent thing. Rather iconic. Guess that's why Kirby, Neal Adams and dozens of others have done variations on THIS iconic pose over the years! Here are just a few of many!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Derek Tague Interviews Larry Storch and Edd Byrnes

Friend and Ace Researcher Derek Tague at Martin Grams' Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention from, I believe, 2007, interviewing Larry Storch (dressed in his F-TROOP finery) and Edd "Kookie" Byrnes. Look for more of Derek's cool celeb interviews now on YouTube and try to make Martin's convention if you can. I hear it's wonderful fun!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Tony Isabella/Jack Kirby

Here's a nifty little promo piece from the early nineties when former Marvel writer/editor Tony Isabella ( was working on Jack Kirby's SATAN'S SIX for the unfortunately unsuccessful Topps imprint, Kirby Comics. I've met Tony three times at Cons. The first was in 1975 in Cleveland when I was a mere lad of 16. The second was at a local Con in '93 when I, age 34, told him my wife was enjoying SATAN'S SIX and he signed this piece for her. The third was this past year in Columbus when I, at age 49, was able to introduce my wife to Tony, now a long-time 'Net pal! Time flies. Hi, Tony! Thanks for everything!


Just a reminder that my other blogs, BRITTANY ROSE AND ME and HOORAY FOR WALLY WOOD are being updated more-or-less daily while YOU'RE ONLY AS GOOD AS YOUR LAST PICTURE should continue to be updated a couple of times per month. If you haven't yet done so, please check 'em out if you like really cute girls, legendary comic book art and classic old movies! See the links at the top right of this page to go there. Let me know what you think!

1944 Toothbrush Ad

Ummmm...Okay. Don't know what to make of this 1944 LIFE ad. I realize it LOOKS like a MAD parody but I swear it's not! This has got to be one of those cases where a word has come to specifically mean something in particular in the ensuing years...and it ain't a toothbrush. "Where's my Prophylactic? I wanna brush my teeth!" Indeed.
UPDATE: As if to prove that you really CAN find anything online if you look, here's a link to a very detailed history of the advertising of the Pro-Brush company...which somehow misses the humor therein.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Random Panels of Comic Book Weirdness # 49

One of my favorite comics-related discoveries in recent years has been the wonderful, polished World War II era cartooning of the oddly named Boody Rogers. Here we have Boody's unique, non-costumed superhero Sparky Watts catching his elderly scientist friend and mentor with some pre-code San Quentin Quail!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Marvel Super Heroes # 1

I gotta tell ya, back around 1970 this 1966 one-shot was the Holy Grail for us collectors and at our school there was apparently only one single copy that got traded back and forth fairly regularly (with me eventually ending up with it!). If you wanted this guy's stash of coverless 1965 JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY THOR's, offer him MSH # 1 and you had a deal. Then if he wanted that rare issue of FLY-MAN that he'd never even seen before, he'd offer MSH # 1. This particular copy, as I say, got around.

It was a cool book! I had purchased it myself at Woolworth's in '66 but my copy got tossed in one of my mother's then-periodic purges of my collection. First up, it reprinted AVENGERS # 2, a pre-Cap issue with the Hulk still a member...for the most part. Then you had DAREDEVIL # 1, his origin and the first time most of us had ever seen both that dorky yellow costume and that lovely Bill Everett artwork! Finally, the whole thing was rounded out with a reprint from the oh-so-mysterious "Golden Age." A Different Human Torch vs. a seemingly different Sub-Mariner!

Note, though, on the inside cover seen here how someone (Stan?) tries to apologize for and distance themselves from the Torch and Subby bit, dismissing it as "camp," which even under the prevailing bat-definition of the day it was not.

The text reads: In an effort to really grab you with the most off-beat special ish of the year, we've included one of the rarest super-hero classics of all time...with all its corny,colorful, colossal nostalgia still intact! At last you can see what the Human Torch and Subbie (sic) were like in the fabulous forties...and why we've changed 'em since!

So that's why Marvel kept refusing to bow to the readers' wishes for more Golden Age material (until Roy Thomas finally talked Stan into it). They were ashamed of it!

Krigstein at the Precinct

Ask any knowledgeable EC fan what their favorite non-MAD EC story is and you'll likely get one of two answers: JUDGMENT DAY or MASTER RACE. (If you aren't a knowledgeable EC fan, look 'em up.) For me, I'd go with the latter. In spite of my avowed love for all things Wally Wood and my great appreciation of Davis, Craig, Severin and Williamson, I would choose Bernard Krigstein's MASTER RACE. One reason for this is that Krigstein refused to be boxed in to the standard EC format and legendarily cut up and repasted the panels giving the story an impact and a look it would otherwise not have had.

As a comic book artist, Krigstein's style was different to put it mildly. It took me awhile to warm up to it. Decades, in fact. (Same thing happened with me and Neil Young, actually. Warren Zevon, too.)

I had presumed that like many of the other comic book artists who seemingly disappeared over the years that he had moved on into advertising or some other field after EC folded. Recently, though, I came across a Dell 87TH PRECINCT comic (FOUR COLOR #1309 from 1962) that spotlighted Krigstein's unique comic book artistry.

The story is based on the then-popular TV series starring Robert Lansing. The series itself was based on the still popular novels of the late Ed McBain. The plot deals with a blind artist who is also a serial killer.
None of that matters though. What makes this comic cool is that Krigstein, even when toiling here on a licensed product, was still innovating with layouts and stylistic choices far beyond what the average reader of this comic book would have expected or cared about. Seen here are some choice examples!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Belated Birthday Wishes For My Father

Yesterday would've been my father's 99th birthday. Now there's a sobering thought. I got a lot of my pop culture love and knowledge from him. Born in 1910, he saw a lot of changes in his lifetime and I have no doubt that the changes we've seen just since his passing in 1991 would've both shocked and delighted him. When he died, we didn't have a computer, there were no cell phones, no DVDs. He was, in later years a TV junkie. He would not have believed how many channels we have today...with still little worth watching. He loved video games, particularly ASTEROIDS and SPACE INVADERS and an old ATARI game called CHICKEN. He loved B-Westerns and used to sit with me twice a week in the 1970's watching George O'Brien and Tim Holt outwit the bad guys on TV. He took me to see DEATH WISH, DIRTY HARRY and even SHAFT in the seventies, too! He liked superhero comics, particularly THE LEGION OF SUPERHEROES and, as he called them, THE FRENETIC FOUR. He really loved DICK TRACY, though, and would read and re-read Shel Dorf's various Blackthorne series of the great detective. On TV, he liked most westerns and good comedies. Particular favorites included BONANZA and THE MUNSTERS.
He was also an excellent cook, a horseshoe champion and a generous and supportive man who would dress up in a suit and tie to go down to the corner grocery.

He wasn't always there a lot as I was growing up. He worked odd hours at foundries, liquor stores, paper plants, and selling insurance. Anything to make ends meet. Finally, he settled into a comfortable and ridiculously high-paying job as a Post Office janitor from which he was able to retire with full government benefits after being struck by a car in 1978. He himself never drove again after that. After my mother died of cancer in late 1981, I decided against a planned move to my own apartment and he and I became like bachelor roommates throughout my twenties (even to the point where I once snuck a girl into my room after hours!). For the next nine years, I really got to know my dad and I liked him a lot. Then he had a stroke which completely incapacitated him for 16 months, turned my own life upside down just as I had fallen in love for the first real time and ate away all of the money he had been saving to pass on to me someday.

Go. Right now. Tell your parents you love them while it still matters. This morning my son told me...and it really made me miss my dad.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The 23rd Annual Old Time Radio and Nostalgia Convention

It's that time again (Vol. 3 available from Bear Manor Media. Blatant plug and in-joke). Time for the latest Cincinnati OTR Con. This flyer arrived in the mail today. World famous Jack Benny impersonator Eddie Carroll had previously been announced as this year's Guest of Honor so it was no surprise. Familiar regular Bob Hastings, for whom I believe this will make 17 or 18 out of 23 years, is set to return along with the delightful Rosemary Rice and Esther Geddes, also veteran guests.

Therein lies my anxiety. For those who have been there, you know that this Cincinnati Con has a vibe like no other. It's a genuine community vibe, a family vibe! A significant portion of those attending return year after year and everybody knows everybody. The whole hotel is often taken over by ad hoc gatherings and everybody does lunch with everybody...including the celebrity guests! In fact, the Dealers' Room was sparse last year and rarely crowded. Most of the Con had spilled out into surrounding areas!

When Will Hutchins came a few years back, he was welcomed and treated as one of us. He embraced that and was as wonderful and down-to-earth as one could ask for, being perfectly happy to both enjoy the adulation and yet be treated like "just folks."

I don't know. I know Eddie Carroll has an excellent reputation and--big Jack Benny fan that I am--I am very much looking forward to seeing him (and I have no doubt friend Karen has already passed out at least once just thinking about it). That said--and maybe it's just me--I find myself worrying that the dynamics of the weekend might be different this year. At the same time, Ican't wait to find out. April 24th and 25th! Mark your calendars!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Lou Costello at Last Picture

Just a reminder that YOU'RE ONLY AS GOOD AS YOUR LAST PICTURE has been updated yet again, this time offering a look at the last picture of comic actor Lou Costello. Although it has never been my intent, this little blog seems to be something of a well-kept secret as no one ever seems to go there even though its received nice plugs from several fellow bloggers. I ask you to check it out and, if you like it, consider plugging it on your blog if you have one (and who doesn't these days?). Let's see if we can change that secret status!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Beatles Movies

Quick fab Four fans! How many movies did the Beatles make? The casual fan would probably answer "four"-A HARD DAYS NIGHT, HELP, the animated YELLOW SUBMARINE and the documentary LET IT BE. But then there's also the TV film, MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR. And what about the fact that the Lads had little to do with YELLOW SUBMARINE? And do we count solo projects like HOW I WON THE WAR with John? Hmmm....No easy answer, really.
The best answer, however, is this book from 1984. Bizarrely titled THE BEATLES VOL.4, BEATLEMANIA, AN ILLUSTRATED FILMOGRAPHY, THE HISTORY OF THE BEATLES ON FILM by Bill Harry (Whew!), it is an obsessive chronicle of all of the film appearances of John, Paul, George and/or Ringo from television to the big screen and group efforts and well beyond! And I DO mean all!
Besides the four (five) features named above, all of the group's British TV specials like AROUND THE BEATLES and THE MUSIC OF LENNON AND McCARTNEY are discussed.
Then we move on to Ringo in LISZTOMANIA, SON OF DRACULA, BORN TO BOOGIE, THAT'LL BE THE DAY and CAVEMAN (amongst many others).
John is represented by such fare as his avant-garde films with Yoko, THE ONE TO ONE CONCERT and the notorious OH, CALCUTTA! Seriously, how many Beatles fans know that John WROTE the Lone Ranger masturbation sketch in that infamous all-nude stage play (and its subsequent movie version)? It's probably the funniest sketch in it, too!
Paul's inventive music videos are discussed along with many unrealized feature film projects, ROCKSHOW, WINGS OVER THE WORLD and the flop vanity feature, GIVE MY REGARDS TO BROAD STREET.
George ended up arguably the most successful in pictures as, along with THE CONCERT FOR BANGLADESH, he set up his Handmade Films to rescue LIFE OF BRIAN, THE LONG GOOD FRIDAY and others. He ended up producing and/or distributing many hit films such as TIME BANDITS and a few major flops including Madonna's SHANGHAI SURPRISE. He even appeared in the Rutles TV movie ALL YOU NEED IS CASH which gets its own chapter!

Along with every group TV appearance throughout the world, there are listings and/or discussions of Beatles-RELATED projects such as ALL THIS AND WORLD WAR II and the delightful I WANNA HOLD YOUR HAND with Nancy Allen and Eddie Deezen.
In the back there's a Who's Who in Beatles film history, a look at the TV cartoon series and an article about unrealized Beatle projects, all rounded off with two pages of the most insignificant (but interesting to us fans!) TV cameos on chat shows and news programs!
Long out of print and, in Paul's case especially, out of date, this is nonetheless the definitive history of the hundreds if not thousands of Beatle film appearances! Four? Yeah, right. What were YOU thinking? And you call yourself a Beatlemaniac!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Mad Goblin/Lord of the Trees

Author Philip Jose Farmer established a lasting legacy in the field of science-fiction with his Riverboat series but before that, he was known for several other things, one of them being the "biographer" of both Tarzan and Doc Savage. Farmer's book TARZAN ALIVE, with its speculative take on the jungle lord based on information from the original Edgar Rice Burroughs books, actually hit the bestseller lists. His later volume on Lester Dent's Man of Bronze (who was then at the peak of his paperback reprint popularity), DOC SAVAGE: HIS APOCALYPTIC LIFE, was an even more fanciful bio.
Even before that, however, Farmer had dealt with the characters, albeit in pastiche, in the X-rated novel A FEAST UNKNOWN and it's PG-rated double spin-off, LORD OF THE TREES and THE MAD GOBLIN.
Release in late 1970 as an Ace double--two generally unrelated genre titles that can be flipped--the two books were actually in a strange way only one. At the end of the previous book, both characters head off in search of a mysterious organization (you know the type). In THE MAD GOBLIN, we see Doc's take on what happened next. LORD OF THE TREES presents the Tarzan character's version. The two meet up at the end as the stage is set for the inevitable sequel...that never came. Both volumes, according to Farmer, are actually memoirs from the main characters, "Lord Grandrith" and "Doc Caliban."
Farmer 's eclectic career has embraced everything from high class speculative fiction to flat out unapologetic pornography (his book IMAGE OF THE BEAST was incredibly disturbing to my 15 year old brain!) but at his heart, he's a pulp writer and with these two books, he runs with it!
Farmer would later create the pulp-ish character Greatheart Silver for the WEIRD HEROES paperback series and ultimately was able to write a REAL Doc Savage novel when the long-running paperback series ran out of stories to reprint!
This Ace double is spotted from time to time at Cons and used bookstores and is usually a tad pricey but it's worth it if you're a Farmer fan, a pulp fan or especially a fan of Doc Savage or Tarzan.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Overstreet Ads # 2/ Marie Severin

Here's a 1980's Marvel ad done by Marie Severin for THE COMIC BOOK PRICE GUIDE very much in the style of her much-loved 1960's work on the title, NOT BRAND ECCH.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Pogo Fan Club Certificate

I'm sitting here admiring my Walt Kelly wallpaper (thanks, Jim!) and thought this a good time to trot out this fancy, impressively calligraphed, Kelly-esque scroll from the distant eighties. This was (and may still be for all I know) the certificate one received upon entry into the Official Pogo Fan Club. While it is notably lacking my name where it should be, you'll note thatsaid name does appear at the bottom anyway. I always feel compelled to explain that the Pogo Fan Club is run by a gentleman named Steve Thompson who is, contrary to the occasional confusion, NOT me. As previously pointed out, it used to drive the mailman nuts when I got the club newsletter and it looked as though it had been sent FROM me TO me!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Overstreet Ads # 1/C.C.Beck

I have always collected comic books for the enjoyment of the books themselves, not for any given issue or title's value as a collectible. Thus, I did not get early editions of Bob Overstreet's COMIC BOOK PRICE GUIDE that began in the early seventies. Eventually, though, it became obvious that I needed to keep up on what kind of prices to expect from dealers so, starting with the 1976 edition, I became a least until the early nineties. After that, I went back to not caring again as I couldn't afford the damn things anyway!

Recently, though, I was looking back through my Overstreet collection and noticed they had some truly great trade ads, often with rare artwork never reprinted anywhere else. Herewith, then, we proudly present the first in a series showcasing some of these ads. Please note that these ads are loooooong out of date so it would just be foolish of any of you to try to order anything in the ads.

Up first, CAPTAIN MARVEL's pappy, the irascible C. C. Beck (along with Jerry De Fuccio), congratulates Mr. Overstreet on his 10th anniversary Price Guide and uses Billy and a host of Fawcett characters to do so in a lovely two-page spread from 1980.

Dr Who Contest-1986

Here's the (slightly water damaged) original for the contest flyer I made up for my award-winning 1986 DR. WHO contest done for Waldenbooks. It may look crude but those were still pre-computer days. I'd like to see YOU try it without PaintShop, okay? The contest itself seems simple now that Who is all the rage again because all you have to do is put the various regenerations in the correct order. You'd be amazed how many wrong answers we got. Note also the photo of our tie-in wall display as taken from a company magazine early in the next year. The whole thing was done as a promotion for the Waldenbooks Otherworlds Club for sci-fi readers, one of several popular genre-specific clubs offered at the time. These were later incorporated into the Waldenbooks Preferred Reader card which itself was later phased into the current Borders Rewards Card.

Batman Does Ditko

Anybody besides me notice that last week's BATMAN-THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD featured the Caped Crusader and Dr. Fate traipsing around after the evil wizard Wotan in what was clearly Steve Ditko's version of the Dark Dimension of the dread Dormammu?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Random Panels of Comic Book Weirdness # 49

This striking image from Marvel's (make that Atlas's) MAD rip-off, WILD features a pulchritudinous pirate beauty and some bad puns and visual gags. What makes it a tad weird is that in spite of its obvious attempts at being sexy, it was drawn by the late Al Hartley, a longtime ARCHIE artist but also THE pioneer in Christian comic books where this scene would probably NOT be appropriate!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

The Charlton Watchmen 1986

This colorful Overstreet ad for DC's newly aquired Charlton heroes offers what might be our only glimpse of what WATCHMEN might have looked like had the original plans to use these heroes in that epochal series come to pass. To the best of my knowledge, with the exception of a few panels in the original CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS, this ad is the only time all of these characters appeared together in the DC Universe. CAPTAIN ATOM, BLUE BEETLE, NIGHTSHADE, PEACEMAKER and THE QUESTION. Even then, it's missing Peter Cannon who was analogous to Adrian Viedt and has JUDOMASTER and SARGE STEEL instead.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

RIP-Lux Interior

I wasn't going to write an obit for the just deceased Lux Interior whom I discovered--like many folks from what I read on blogs--in INCREDIBLY STRANGE MUSIC. He was a collector, a packrat and a pop culture historian of the first rank...and oh, yeah, he made some pretty good music over several decades, too! Seen here is the first CRAMPS record I bought. He called it psychobilly, I always referred to it as surf punk. Easier to explain when you try to tell folks about it. Anyway, I wasn't going to note his passing because frankly, everywhere I looked people on the 'Net were already doing so. I decided to write something because I just wanted to ask if anyone else felt that Lux would be absolutely astounded by just how much coverage his passing is getting? Goes back to what I was saying before--if you like an artist's work, find them on the Web and tell them about it while they're still with us!

Friday, February 06, 2009

Circus Boy/Popeye Ad

Here we have a drawing of young Mickey Braddock (aka Monkee Micky Dolenz!) in his 1950's persona as TV's CIRCUS BOY hawking an "all plastic and metal (as opposed to what? Wood?)" ice cream maker and above it you even get a POPEYE ad for a flashlight/keychain/bosun's whistle! "Flash that light! Blow that whistle!"

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Movies That Fell Through the Cracks # 47

You know there's something odd about a movie when you have big, old-time stars like Ava Gardner and Van Johnson in it and yet top billing goes to... William Shatner?!! 1980's R-rated THE KIDNAPPING OF THE PRESIDENT is not a bad film, though. Not a good one either. With no international disrepect intended, it's a Canadian film. Canadian Shatner is in the Charlton Heston type role in charge of trying to rescue the President of the United States who is kidnapped by local terrorists while visiting Toronto and locked in a truck full of explosives. TJ HOOKER with better hair perhaps?
In spite of the pre-911 extreme premise (and its ensuing blood), it comes off as somehow boring up until the end. The real attraction here is, in fact, the unusual cast that toplines the now legendary "Shat" in one of his few non-STAR TREK leads on the big screen...and he's NOT bad. Hal Holbrook is well-cast as the President with Van Johnson seeming a bit odd as his Vice-President. Johnson at this point was at a low point in his long career alternating between LOVE BOAT and Italian language potboilers. Ava Gardner, by contrast, was still getting good billing in at least one major production every year or so.
The rest of the cast is rounded out with familiar-looking character actors whose names you probably can't recall but you know they were on CSI or LAW AND ORDER more recently. This one seems to be out there on video but I've never run across it. Based on a fairly popular novel of the time it was adapted for the screen by veteran Richard Murphy.The director went on to do a lot of television right up to the present.