Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Ernie and CeeCee


As a kid, I used to buy 16 MAGAZINE, mainly for its DARK SHADOWS coverage. One of the regular features was a running serial entitled CEECEE IN HOLLYWOOD, which detailed the not particularly adventurous adventures of a young teen with various hot celebs of the moment in La-La Land. I always skipped reading these.

Yesterday, I ran across a vintage 1970 edition  of 16 on the Internet Archive and noted that the CEECEE art was by comic book artist Ernie Col√≥n.



 

Sunday, July 10, 2022

Booksteve Reviews: The Jeffersons by Elva Diane Green

 

My dad stood about 5’4”. Born in 1910, he hated all black people because that’s the way he was raised. Well…all black people except the guy he worked with…or the guy he pitched horseshoes with…or the black woman who moved into an apartment next door…or…well, you get the idea. He hated black people because he had always been told he should. Once he actually got to know someone, the story changed. I think this probably threw him a bit over the years, although he never said a word to me about that. He did set an example for me, whether or not it was the one he meant to set, that I should judge people by their actions, not by the color of their skin. 

 

The reason I noted above that my dad was short is because he would, in later years, become a major fan of actor Sherman Hemsley, who, at 5’6” starred on my father’s favorite 1970s sitcom, The Jeffersons. 



 
Dad would have enjoyed reading the new book: The Jeffersons—A fresh look back featuring episodic insights, interviews, a peek behind-the-scenes, and photos by my longtime Facebook friend Elva Diane Green. After her first book brought HER father, pioneering black filmmaker, comedian, songwriter, and ham radio operator Eddie Green (of Duffy’s Tavern fame) back into the spotlight, Elva was asked to write this book as a follow-up and she has done an impressive job. Eddie Green was the first black man to appear on television, in an early experimental broadcast, in a way leading directly to The Jeffersons getting their own series several decades later.

For those unaware, Lionel Jefferson was originally a supporting character on Norman Lear’s All in the Family hit series right from its beginning. In time his mother, Louise, was introduced, and then, eventually, his father, George Jefferson.Lear could seemingly do no wrong at that stage in his career and the Jefferson family were handed their own series, complete with a bouncy new theme song written and sung by actress J’anet DuBois.  

 

For the series, in which George (Hemsley), Louise (the wonderful Isabel Sanford), and Lionel (originally Mike Evans) “move on up” in the world when George’s dry-cleaning business proves a huge success, new regulars were added including an inter-racial couple, a goofy British neighbor, and best of all, a sassy maid (Marla Gibbs, who wrote a brief Introduction to the new book).

 The author shares lots of behind-the-scenes details about all of these characters and the actors who played them while, at the same time, following along, season by season, with episode guides and a fairly successful attempt at placing each season in context with regard to the critics, the viewing public, and what was going on in the world at the time. 

Unlike a lot of books like this, Elva also adds her own opinions here and there, giving the book a unique feel lacking from those volumes dealing only in cold, hard facts. She sometimes goes off on tangents but it all adds to the book’s charm. 

One thing she makes perfectly clear—and on which I agree—is that the real star of the series was Marla Gibbs as Florence, the maid who joins the cast right at the start. Her relationship with the cocky, mouthy George is more like Rochester to Jack Benny than Hazel to Mr. B.

 


Hemsley and Sanford were 21 years apart in age and yet they made one of TV’s perfect couples! They appeared together as George and Weezie (or a reasonable facsimile thereof) for years during and afterwards on various TV shows and commercials.

The Jeffersons was one of Lear’s patented loud sitcoms, with lots of yelling but also lots of love and lots of humor. It lasted more than a decade and left a legacy that is only now beginning to be explored. If you were a fan, or if you want to learn more about black history and pop culture of the 1970s, Elva Diane Green’s The Jeffersons is a great place to start. Like I said, my Dad would have loved it!

Booksteve recommends.

For some reason it's not letting me link it but you can order your copy at Amazon or through Bear Manor Media's website.

Friday, July 01, 2022

The Booksteve Film Festival 2022--June


Another month where a lot of the movies I saw were for a project I was working on. More details to come. Finished it up the other day and immediately watched this first movie!

 

This is a modern day 1940s Bob Hope movie, with Hart as the hapless, cowardly hero mistaken for someone else and on the run from bad guys whilst mumbling throwaway one-liners. Woody Harrelson surely had a heck of a time maintaining his deadpan stoicism throughout. 


I don't even like Debra Winger but I liked this a lot. Not a big Nolte fan, either, but thought he was great here. Great locations, Leon Redbone songs, an interesting story and a fitting ending. Everybody wins!



Never was a Julia Roberts fan, either, but I must admit I loved this from start to finish! Casting is good, performances impressive, but it's the dialogue and the heart that carries it overall.


Skipped this back in the day but quite liked it. A Twilight-Zone-style critique of toxic misogyny with some artful touches and a horror movie feel. 


Billed as a comedy, the good cast is wasted when there are no actual laughs and not much of a story. Also, the poster literally gives away the ending.


This gimmicky detective story about a blind ex-cop and his wonder dog is an MGM B picture, which means it feels like an A picture from any other studio. Arnold plays the sightless character perfectly (and returned for a sequel) but the best scenes involve the interplay between the wonderful Mantan Moreland and the seeing eye dog. 




Another Twilight Zone or Black Mirror style picture. It's built around school shooting which makes it even tougher to watch now than it was when it came out. Well worth the effort, though. 


A long but fascinating tale of a young man'd coming of age in the tobacco country of New England. Some great performances by Claudette Colbert (her final film), Karl Malden, and young Connie Stevens. Sadly, not so much from star Troy Donahue.


A TV ripoff of Eastwood's MAGNUM FORCE, this one has Robert Forster as the good cop trying to catch the vigilante cop team created by his mentor, played by Melvyn Douglas.


One of the few Bob Hope films i had never seen. Some snappy wordplay and some fun scenes with the great Victor Moore! Vera Zorina is cute, too!


I waited for Disney+. Wow! Better than I expected--more violent, too! If you haven't been keeping up with the MCU in both movies and TV, you'll be thoroughly lost!


I love a good train movie, even if the train doesn't;'t go anywhere. This one has a fun cast with Kovacs chewing the scenery as Doris basically pulls a legal maneuver to take possession of his train.


Not the most historically accurate movie, but an important story wonderfully filmed by Spielberg and with standout performances from McConaughey and Hopkins!