Six million dollars says I won’t watch this movie again…

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I recently fulfilled a life-long dream (nightmare?) of mine and finally saw Paul McCartney’s infamous Give My Regards to Broad Street.

The plot (I use the term loosely here) goes something like this: A famous pop star named Paul McCartney (played by Paul McCartney) has completed his latest album, which is sure to be a smashing success, but the master tapes, entrusted in the hands of an employee named Harry with a seedy past, have disappeared! And if Macca can’t locate them by Midnight, he will lose his company. He will also turn into a pumpkin (not really, but I wouldn’t put it past him).

What ensues is a film that doesn’t really make too much sense, rich with wonderful musical performances and ridiculous dream sequences. It all begins with Paul driving this awesome car…

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PM 1. Get it?

With this awesome personal digital assistant before there were personal digital assistants or smart phones or anything…

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Wearing this awesome outfit…

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Sweatpants and sneakers sadly not pictured. Sorry, girls, he’s married!

The film really starts to take off with the entrance of the seasoned actor that is Ringo Starr (of Caveman fame), whose one liners make the film a lot of fun. He wears equally ridiculous outfits and says things like, “Can we get some heat in here or are we practicing to be Canadians?” We also see him meet a reporter who looks a lot like Barbara Bach…

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She wants to talk about the relative value of popular music as a therapeutic tool for social services or something and Ringo’s all…

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“I’m on drums.”

Yeah, it’s pretty awesome.

The film may be short (like really short) on plot and making sense, but it (sort of) makes up for it with all the musical performances. The repertoire is a mixture of Beatles classics (most of which were rarely, if ever, played live by the Beatles themselves), Wings standards, and some of Paul’s (the real Paul, not the character in the film) latest solo material, namely Tug of War tracks. As the movie poster advertises, “When the music stops, the mystery begins.” That is pretty much true. When the music stops, I actually have no idea what is happening in this movie. It goes from present day Paul at a radio station to a long dream sequence where Paul, Linda, Ringo, and Barbara, in full Victorian attire, head out a picnic, then Paul sees a vision of Linda on a horse with her hair crimped, and Paul ends up in a seedy alley witnessing his missing employee being beaten up by a big, bad guy. Like, what the heck just happened? I am just going to assume that this is one of those things that only makes sense to you if you are on drugs. (Let’s not forget this only a few years after the infamous Japanese pot bust…) This sequence does, however, give us a glimpse of what Ringo and Paul would look like as Dark Shadows characters.

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Count Petofi, is that you?

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Quentin?!!

George, where are you? How could you pass up the opportunity to appear in this film? George would totally make a perfect Barnabas. Oh well. I think I recall George saying he was a fan of the film, anyway.

Which, when it comes right down to it, I am, too. Yes, it’s not the best-written (the screenplay was penned by Paul himself) or the most sublimely-acted film. It doesn’t always make too much sense. (Similar to Magical Mystery Tour, where the plot is tenuously held together via the musical sequences.) It is, in fact, more than slightly ridiculous. But it is entertaining, moreso at some points than at others, and because I love Paul and co., I love it. Plus, there’s a huge twist at the end! But six million dollars still says I won’t watch this film again (in full, at least)…

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Sorry, Paul.

(Yes, that is the real Paul McCartney, pretending to be the character Paul McCartney, busking in Leicester Square. No, most people did not know it was the real Paul McCartney. Yes, some people gave him real money. No, he did not keep it. Yes, he is amazing.)

Awakenings (Penny Marshall, 1990)

Long time, no post! March was a strange, long month full of madness and other unbelievable things, such as I officially stopped watching Person of Interest without too many tears because you just can’t kill Carter, let Shaw live, and give Fusco scanty screen time to boot, UK gave us an unbelievable, heart-stopping-wrenching-breaking run to the title game, and I actually had to leave the house to discover that Rob Lowe wrote another book, so I have officially deemed the Internet useless. Meanwhile, I didn’t feel inspired to blog about anything — until last night, when I watched Awakenings (which was spurred by watching Bradley Cooper on Inside the Actors Studio cry about everything — aww! —  and flashback to him asking De Niro a question about the film).

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Awakenings, based on a true story, tells the story of the shy, slightly backward (the man has the periodic table framed in his living room and his refrigerator is full of plants) Dr. Malcolm Sayer (played by Robin Williams), who begins working in a chronic hospital, specifically focusing on a group of catatonic patients who survived an epidemic of a rare disease in the 1920s. Through his interaction with the patients and his relentless research, he proposes treating them with a new, experimental drug, L-Dopa, designed for Parkinson’s Disease patients. Leonard Lowe (played to heartbreaking perfection by Robert De Niro) is the first of Dr. Sayer’s patients to receive this somewhat controversial treatment. The result is nothing short of miraculous.

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“My name is Leonard Lowe. It has been explained to me that I have been away for quite some time. I’m back.” 

Leonard, previously immobile, mute, and completely dependent on others, is now able to talk, walk, and take the greatest pleasure in doing the simplest things, like brushing his teeth and shaving by himself. Leonard’s awakening is so full of awe and enthusiasm for life, he is afraid to go to sleep, fearing he will reawaken to find himself reverted to his catatonic state. He hears rock ‘n’ roll for the first time, sees an airplane takeoff, and even begins to fall in love. The success of Leonard’s treatment prompts Dr. Sayer to seek funds to similarly treat all of the catatonic patients, who subsequently experience “awakenings” just like Leonard’s.

One night, Leonard calls Dr. Sayer late to tell him about things that matter, things that have happened to him, things that he has come to understand.

“We’ve got to tell everybody. We’ve got to remind them. We’ve got to remind them how good it is,” he tells Dr. Sayer excitedly.

“How good what is, Leonard?”

“Look at this newspaper,” he says, handing him the paper. “What does it say? All bad. It’s all bad. People have forgotten what life is all about. They’ve forgotten what it is to be alive. They need to be reminded. They need to be reminded about what they have and what they can lose, and what I feel is the joy of life, the gift of life, the freedom of life, the wonderment of life!”

Leonard wants more freedom, a simple freedom, the freedom to go for a walk when he wants to by himself to look at things, talk to people, to do all the things that other people take for granted. When this request is denied and Leonard is confined to the psychotic floor of the hospital, he grows angry and begins to develop facial and body ticks, which gradually worsen to the point where they are uncontrollable.

“Don’t give up on me,” Leonard pleads with Dr. Sayer, who tells him he’s not sure if he can stop the ticks but is trying.

“I won’t,” Dr. Sayer promises.

Eventually, however, Dr. Sayer is pressured by the other doctors of the hospital and Leonard’s mother to cease his treatment. Leonard, too, realizes his medication is no longer working, as he cannot even keep his eyes focused in one spot long enough to read or keep his hands steady to brush his own teeth. He has lunch with Paula, the girl he has begun to develop feelings for, and tells her he cannot see her anymore. She tells him about what she has been doing.

“I worked, went dancing, had friends over, that’s about it. Not much,” she tells him

Leonard responds, “That’s great. I’ve never done any of those things.”

It’s devastating. And then, when he reaches to shake her hand to say goodbye, she doesn’t let go and begins to dance with him. And when she does finally leave, he rushes to the window to watch her catch her bus…and everybody else is just watching him. (By this point, I was really hoping the movie was over soon because I didn’t know how much more I could take.)

Leonard returns to his catatonic state, once again like “The Panther” in the poem he communicated to Dr. Sayer via the Ouija board while in his catatonic state earlier in the film:

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His gaze, from staring through the bars,
has grown so weary that it can take in nothing more.
For him, it is as though there were
a thousand bars; and behind the thousand bars, no world.

As he paces in cramped circles, over and over,
his powerful strides are like a ritual dance around a center
where a great will stands paralyzed.

At times, the curtains of the eye
lift, without a sound
and a shape enters,
slips through the tightened silence of the shoulders,
reaches the heart and dies.  

Dr. Sayer (like everyone else watching this film) is heartbroken by the failure of the treatment. He explains to the staff of the hospital:

“The summer was extraordinary. It was a season of rebirth and innocence, a miracle for 15 patients and for us, their caretakers. But now we have to adjust to the realities of miracles. We can hide behind the veil of science and say it was the drug that failed or that the illness itself had returned or that the patients were unable to cope with losing decades of their lives. But the reality is we don’t know what went wrong anymore than we know what went right. What we do know is that as the chemical window closed another awakening took place — that the human spirit is more powerful than any drug and that is what needs to be nourished with work, play, friendship, family. These are the things that matter. This is what we’d forgotten. The simplest things.”

Awakenings is, in a word (for the thousandth time), heartbreaking, reflected in the actors’ powerful performances and haunting soundtrack. But it is also a testament of the human spirit and an unforgettable reminder of what matters in life.

The Toppermost of the Poppermost

I have read a lot of books about The Beatles, so many that I began to lose faith in ever finding another one that would teach me something new or let me see them from a different perspective. I have become more and more picky about which books I will spend my time reading, especially when it comes to the Beatles — so much so that when I am in the midst of reading one and an author refers to John Lennon as the oldest Beatle, I stop reading. Because if you can’t get something that simple correct, what else are you mucking up? So, this past holiday season, when The Fest for Beatles fans touted not just one but three books as essential for every Beatles fan, I was skeptical. But oh, was I wrong! These three books are, you might say, the toppermost of the poppermost when it comes to Beatles reading…

1. All the Songs: The Story Behind Every Beatles Release by Jean-Michel Guesdon and Philippe Margotin 

I adore this book so much I’ve already read it twice, stuffing it with post-it notes along the way. As the title suggests, this book gives you the full story about every Beatles release. This first includes an overview of each studio album and EP, and then a delicious (yes, delicious) track-by-track dissection — we’re talking the genesis of each song (i.e. what inspired them to write the song or, if it’s a cover, when they started working the song into their impressive and extensive repertoire), discussion of each song’s production, technical details, who played what, who wrote what, recording and mixing dates, the technical team (bless ‘em), and the number of takes (this gets kind of crazy around oh, I don’t know…”Maxwell’s Silver Hammer.” Bang, bang!). Oh, and there’s also little yellow boxes exclaiming “FOR BEATLES FANATICS” (…who else?), and they are packed with the tiniest, coolest tidbits…like how there is no bass after the first minute of “Strawberry Fields Forever” or the mono version of “She’s Leaving Home” is slightly faster and higher than the stereo version (boo, mono forever). Here’s what a typical spread looks like:

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I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Paul definitely has the best butt in the Beatles.

Isn’t it beautiful? The spread design, I mean — not Paul’s butt (although it is pretty great, let’s be real, people).

All the Songs is a great (albeit hefty) reference book that I know I will return to again and again. William J. Dowlding’s Beatlesongs has been my go-to when it comes to specifics about the Beatles’ music for years, but All the Songs just may replace it. 

I love that this book’s main focus is on the Beatles as musicians, songwriters, and recording artists with minimal personal information or defamation. I thought I knew it all, but this book taught me so much more about their songwriting and recording processes, and I came away with an even greater appreciation of and love for their music and the Beatles as musicians — who would have thought that was even possible? Not I.

2. The Beatles: The BBC Archives: 1962-1970 by Kevin Howlett

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Again, the title gives it all away — this book digs into the BBC Archives and gives readers every available detail about the Beatles relationship with the indomitable BBC (who, eager housekeepers that they were, got rid of so many of their performances). The book comes with reproductions of some of the documents Howlett uncovered in his extensive research, including manager Brian Epstein’s application for the Beatles (which, at the time, still included Pete Best on drums) to audition for the BBC radio and the staff’s subsequent response to their audition: “An unusual group, not as ‘rocky’ as most, more C+W [Country and Western], with a tendency to play music.” The same staffer approved of Lennon as a singer but not McCartney (“Paul McCartney — NO.”).

The early years are fascinating because, like the recordings now available on Live at the BBC and On Air: Live at the BBC, Volume 2, they tell us so much about the Beatles as musicians and their personalities. First, the Beatles worked hard and often a relentless, frantic pace. Their first album (well, ten of its fourteen tracks) was recorded in about ten hours; this is seen as a remarkable achievement, but, as Howlett writes, their work rate at the BBC was even higher: “Apart from when they were performing in front of an audience for a broadcast, The Beatles had to complete five or six songs in a short session. They were not fazed by this requirement.” Furthermore, their radio performances were limited by the BBC’s equipment: they had to record on mono machines and any mistakes would have to either be edited out and replaced with a separate take or a lengthy overdubbing process. Thus, most of their BBC performances were recorded live, direct to tape, revealing their strength and talent as musicians and what exciting performers they were.

The other aspect of their BBC performances is that they offer insight into the Beatles’ as music fans — what they liked to listen to and what inspired them. During their radio program Pop Go the Beatles, 39 of the songs heard in the series were not available on the Beatles’ records by the series’ conclusion and 26 of those 39 would remain unreleased during the Beatles’ recording career. Of course, many of these are now available on the Live at the BBC series, and they tell us what the Beatles liked — lots of Chuck Berry, Elvis, Buddy Holly, Carl Perkins, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, and records and artists that remain rare and unheard to this day (“Devil in His Heart” by the Donays, anyone?). This large repertoire of songs that remained unreleased on record gives us an indication of what accomplished musicians they were and how much variety they were able to have in their set-lists in their early performing days. And not only did they cover these songs, they made them their own, they gave them the Beatles sound.

Then there were the interviews and on-air banter between the performers and presenters that tell us what naturally charming and witty people the Beatles were. Howlett’s book is full of transcripts of such banter, some available on the BBC recordings, some not (I would love to hear a recording of the 1964 interview with Paul by George, who, at the end of the interview, thanked Paul and told him he’d receive his “three shilling fee at a later date!”). They liked to call presenter Lee Peters Pee Litres (tee hee), and when presenter Rodney Burke introduced himself, “My name’s Rodney Burke, thank you very much!” John Lennon interjected, as only he could: “That’s your fault!”

Later, however, the Beatles simply had less time (and, likely, interest) to drop into the BBC and thus their final BBC session was in 1965. They still offered interviews and television appearances, and the details of these offer insight into how they were changing as a band and as people. For example, when interviewed for a program called The Lennon and McCartney Songbook, Howlett’s transcript indicates McCartney’s diplomatic nature, while Lennon is subdued, grumpy even, showing how he was becoming restless with being a Beatle (and likely very stressed and nervous about their upcoming tour of the US, who didn’t take kindly to his “more popular than Jesus” remark).

Interesting also is the interviews of 1969 and 1970, when relations between band members were very tense and strained at times. In 1970, George was asked about the split of the group and answered, in part: “It’s the end of The Beatles like maybe how people imagine The Beatles….I can see this year us all doing a separate album each and by that time people will probably think there’s no chance at all of there ever being Beatles again. And then suddenly, there’s Beatles again.” Only eleven days after this interview was broadcast, Paul McCartney announced he had quit the band (well, basically). Jerk!

The BBC Archives is a fascinating examination of the Beatles as recording artists and people, demonstrated by their recordings and interviews given to the BBC. I’d argue that the following statements made by Howlett are some of the most important to be written or uttered about this most-written and most-uttered-about band: “The brilliant innovations made by The Beatles in their latter years are, quite rightly, regarded as pioneering achievements that continue to influence musicians. But if you did not experience the group’s musical progression as it happened, listening to The Beatles without that chronological context can distort an historical view of their career. The picture on With the Beatles may not seem so now, but in 1963 it was extremely radical. So was the album’s music: energetic, visceral, and cutting edge. Indeed, the initial years of The Beatles’ success, 1963 and 1964, may well be their most revolutionary.” Yes, yes, yes!

This book, coupled with the Live at the BBC recordings, shows just how revolutionary and fun they were in those early years. In a BBC Audience Research Report, a solicitor, self-described as “definitely over-twenty,” wrote:  “How can anyone fail to like them? Their music is so gay and uninhibited, and they themselves are so full of joie-de-vivre.” Amen, brother.

3. The Beatles: All These Years, Volume 1: Tune In by Mark Lewisohn 

When Mark Lewisohn, renowned Beatles scholar and author, told the late Neil Aspinall that he was beginning a three volume biography about The Beatles, Aspinall responded, “Does the world really need another Beatles book?” Yes, Neil, it does, and this is it!

This first installment of Lewisohn’s trilogy takes us up to the end of 1962, just on the cusp of Beatlemania. In other biographies, this section of the Beatles’ story is glossed over — not here. The book is just over 1100 pages (and there is an extended version of the book but it’s currently only available in print in the UK, what gives? This is the 21st century, where is our global village?). Other biographers, too, make this period of the Beatles’ story somewhat dry — not here. I couldn’t put this book down. I even dreamed about it. That’s normal, right? And other biographers — still, here, now, in 2014 — repeat (or even create) myths and legends that simply are not true — not here. Lewisohn is a scholar. He has source upon source upon source. And as a result, his writing is scholarly but, at the same time, engaging.

Lewisohn gives the full facts and truth about so many parts of the Beatles story — how they finally got that coveted recording contract, where those haircuts come from, and yes, not only did Pete Best have zero drumming talent but zero personality. It’s so refreshing (…especially after the headache that was Larry Kane’s When They Were Boys).

Similarly refreshing is how Lewisohn portrays and discusses the Beatles’ individual faults without making them out to be horrible people. He does not excuse their faults (John and Paul’s early views on women, Paul’s jealousy, John’s strange fixation with cripples, etc.), but he does put them in perspective by putting them in context of their lives and times, allowing some understanding of why they were the way they were.

Reading this book, I came away with a greater appreciation of how hard the Beatles worked and similarly how hard the people around them worked — specifically Brian Epstein, bless that man — to make their career happen. I appreciate how certain people, whose lives had run parallel to their own, had to come together with them to make it happen. The Beatles always had the potential to be the greatest, they always had the talent and charisma, and they certainly always had the belief that something would happen…but without certain people and opportunities, it would not have happened, and we would still be listening to Pat Boone records.

One of the most interesting things I learned was how Decca didn’t necessarily reject the Beatles — well, they kind of did, but they also offered to assist Epstein in getting the Beatles on a record. But Epstein, amazingly (albeit thankfully), refused. Lewisohn explains Epstein’s thinking: “The bottom line seems to have been that Brian couldn’t accept the Beatles’ records being made by someone who didn’t appreciate them and was doing it only for money. In a perfect world they would come under the wing of a man who, like him, could see their potential and was interested in adding his talents to theirs.” That man, of course, was George Martin who was actually forced to sign the Beatles! Oh, what stories are in this book.

I especially love Lewisohn’s thoughts about a recording of the Quarry Men’s evening performance the day Paul met John. Writing of the tape and this early Lennon vocal performance, Lewisohn hits so many things about Lennon (and by extension, the Beatles) that make them so remarkable:

“And this, even more than its highly improbably existence, is the most extraordinary thing about the tape: it is unmistakably John Lennon. Although inspired by Elvis and Lonnie, he’s not attempting to imitate their voices or their style, and more strikingly still he’s not adopting any phoney American or mid-Atlantic accent. Singers always start off as impersonators, mimicking whoever made the record they’re performing, some perhaps going on to develop their own voice. That John Lennon already had it at Woolton, that he was so audibly himself, is the mark of a true original. Not only does he have a great rock voice, it’s an honest one.”

Influenced, yes, but unmistakable an individual, an original — a natural, honest original, not painstakingly groomed for prime time but just being himself.

I just finished this yesterday, and I am so depressed. I just wanted it to keep…going. It took Lewisohn ten years to research and write this volume, and he hasn’t written the remaining two volumes, and I don’t know if I can sustain the will to live long enough to see them written and released. I hope so.

Best Actor: 1953

Just shy of a year later…The Oscars series returns, with another round of the Best Actor nominees — this time ’round featuring the nominees of 1953! The purpose of this series is to examine and rank past Oscar-nominated performances — who won and who should have won? And to refresh your memory (and mine!), here are the criteria I have established in reviewing and ranking performances:

  • Is this a believable performance? Or, rather, is the actor utterly captivating, pulling me into their performance for the entire duration of the film? Do I forget that this actor is…well, acting?
  • Does the actor and his performance make (…or break) the film?
  • Would I watch this film again? Would I recommend it to other people?
  • The complexity/depth of the performance.

The nominees for Best Actor in a Leading Role of 1953 were as follows:

  • Marlon Brando, Julius Caesar 
  • Richard Burton, The Robe
  • Montgomery Clift, From Here to Eternity
  • William Holden, Stalag 17 
  • Burt Lancaster, From Here to Eternity 

Think you know who I’m going to give the Oscar to? Who do you think should have won the Oscar? Let’s see how our rankings compare! (I’m feeling a bit like Ellery Queen here, challenge to the reader and all.)

5. Richard Burton in The Robe **/*****

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That’s the exact expression I had while watching this movie. Flattering, huh?

This was Richard Burton’s second Oscar nomination (although his first for a Best Actor in a Leading Role). He did not win. He would be nominated a total of seven times and amazingly, he never won.

The premise of The Robe is that it answers the question: what happened to the Roman soldier who won Jesus’ robe in a dice game?

Richard Burton plays that Roman soldier, Marcellus Gallio, who is cruel, condescending, and a womanizer to boot. When he wins Christ’s robe in a dice game at the site of the crucifixion, he is cursed by his slave, Demetrius, and is furthermore plagued by guilt and nightmares, leading people to believe he is crazy (which he kind of is). In an effort to rid himself of this guilt, he searches for Demetrius, who now possesses the robe, with the plan to destroy the robe, which he believes in turn will cause the nightmares to cease. Instead, however, after a series of events and meetings, he becomes converted to Christianity.

You would expect such a dramatic transformation to be extraordinary and rich with palpable emotion. This performance, however, is rather dull and flat, with little depth. I kept waiting to feel something, to care about this character and what happened…but I never did. Caligula was more interesting to me because…well, it was Caligula, so of course it was entertaining.

I think Burton was a great actor (or at least I remember him as being so in what films my 9th grade World Geography teacher showed our class…don’t ask), but this was not a very good performance, and it did not deserve the Oscar. Maybe next time!

4. Marlon Brando, Julius Caesar ***/*****

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Yo, wassup, Brand-o?

This was Marlon Brando’s third (in a row!) Oscar nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role. He did not win. He would be nominated a total of eight times and win twice, in 1954 for On the Waterfront and in 1972 for The Godfather (an honor which he famously rejected).

Ouch. It hurts to see Brando ranked fourth out of five because it’s Brando and I love Brando. Frankly, however, when I was reviewing which films/performances I needed to watch/review for 1953, I completely forgot that he was even nominated, signaling that this was not a standout performance. Reviewing the film, however, it’s not so much that it’s not a standout performance (indeed, it’s a very, very good one) as that it’s more of a supporting performance. Perhaps a Best Actor in a Leading Role nomination would have been more suitable for James Mason as Brutus, while nominating Brando in the Best Supporting Actor category. At the same time, however, every time Brando enters a scene, he commands your attention. You can’t take your eyes off him!

Brando had been deemed “The Mumbler” and doing Shakespeare was seen as a chance to disprove that title. He does a fantastic job — the guy could do it all! — the famous speech of Mark Antony is especially impressive. Check it out:

Goosebumps!

In Brando’s autobiography, Songs My Mother Taught Me, he wrote of his experience making Julius Caesar: “After being a Mexican revolutionary, I played Mark Antony in Julius Caesar. Joseph L. Mankiewicz, the director, assembled a good cast, including Louis Calhern, James Mason, Greer Garson, Deborah Kerr, Edmond O’Brien and John Gielgud, who played Cassius. Though English actors generally are far superior to American actors in their style, speech and familiarity with Shakespeare, many British actors, like Maurice Evans, are no better than we are in his plays. It takes someone of Gielgud’s stature to perform with authority because he has played most of the important Shakespeare roles. But for me to walk onto a movie set and play Mark Antony without more experiences was asinine.”

I think Brando was being a bit harsh — he did a great job. (And he looked pretty good in those skimpy Roman outfits, too.) There were, however, stronger and more captivating performances deserving of the Oscar that year.

3. William Holden, Stalag 17 ****/*****

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“I’m no escape artist…You can be the heroes, the guys with the fruit salad on your chest. Me, I’m staying put. And I’m gonna make myself as comfortable as I can. And if it takes a littler trading with the enemy to get me some food or a better mattress…that’s okay by Sefton.” 

This was William Holden’s second Oscar nomination. He won! He was nominated a total of three times, with this being his only win.

William Holden plays Sefton, an American airman in a German Prisoner of War camp. Sefton is cynical and practical. He derides the others’ attempts at escape. He has decided to make the best of his situation, trading cigarettes (which he mostly wins by betting with the other prisoners) with the Germans for food and favors. Because of this behavior and certain occurrences demonstrating that someone inside their camp is keeping the Germans informed of their plans and deviations, he is soon accused of  being a “stoolie.” After suffering physical abuse because of this accusation, he becomes determined to reveal the true rat.

Holden gives an excellent, gripping performance, pulling you into the story, gluing you to the screen as you become determined as him to uncover the truth. You grow to care about Sefton, cynical and unsympathetic as he is at times. Still, at the end of the film, you, like the others, wonder what made him do it. (What “it” is…you have to watch the film to see!) Holden’s performance earned the Oscar. I just happen to think two others may have earned it more – an opinion Holden himself held!

Good on Holden for giving the shortest Oscar acceptance speech on record: “Thank you.”

2. Burt Lancaster, From Here to Eternity ****/*****

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This was Burt Lancaster’s first Oscar nomination. He did not win. He would be nominated a total four times, winning once in 1960 for Elmer Gantry.

Aren’t you proud of me for resisting the temptation to use a screencap of a half-naked Lancaster on the beach? I am. Aren’t you disappointed in the Academy for resisting giving Lancaster the Oscar just for being half-naked on the beach? I am.

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Oh, you didn’t really think I had that much willpower, did you?

Moving on from Burt Lancaster’s booty to his actual performance…Lancaster brings the perfect mixture of toughness and gentleness to the role of First Sergeant Milton Warden, a man who loves the Army more than anything, including the woman he loves, yet despises and undermines the corruption and cruelty of Captain Holmes. Even though he is no nonsense on the surface, there is a warmth and gentleness to Lancaster’s performance that lets you know Warden is a good, kind man underneath his tough exterior, which, I think, is slowly revealed through his relationship with Clift’s Private Prewitt, a man he at first believes to be stubbornly stupid but by the film’s end perhaps realizes he has more in common with him than he initially thought.

I was torn between Lancaster and Holden — I think their performances are equal in terms of quality and depth, and I can’t exactly pinpoint what made me pick Lancaster over Holden — perhaps a personal preference for Lancaster or a character with more depth or maybe an overall preference for From Here to Eternity

1. Montgomery Clift, From Here to Eternity *****/*****

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This was Montgomery Clift’s third Oscar nomination for Best Actor. He did not win (again). What the heck, Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences? He would be nominated a total of four times, and he would sadly never win — unjustly so.

There was no question for me as to who should have won the Oscar this year. Montgomery Clift as Private Robert E. Lee Prewitt is undoubtedly the heart of this film. Director Fred Zinneman noted: “Clift forced the other actors to be much better than they really were. That’s the only way I can put it. He got performances from the other actors, he got reactions from the other actors that were totally genuine.” Indeed, both Frank Sinatra and Donna Reed, who each won Supporting Actor and Actress Oscars for their performances in From Here to Eternity, would credit Clift with helping them craft and perfect their performances.

Prewitt is a loner, a principled man whose choices and actions do not make much sense to others but to him are simple — in a way, Prewitt is an embodiment of Clift himself. Prewitt switches companies after being relegated to second Bugler in his previous outfit not because of talent or skill but favoritism. When he arrives at his new company, he is immediately pressured by the crooked Captain Holmes to join the boxing team, which he refuses to do despite continuous pressure and cruelty. To Lancaster’s Warden, this is stupid, and he tells Prewitt so.

Warden: You know what you did just now when you turned down dynamite Holmes? You put your head in a noose. Things are soft for a boxer in this outfit. Otherwise, you’d better know how to soldier.
Prewitt: I can soldier with any man.
Warden: You’ll fight, Prewitt. You’ll fight because Captain Holmes wants to be Major Holmes. He’s got an idea he’ll make it if he gets a winning team. And if you don’t do it for him, you’ll do it for me, ’cause my job is to keep him happy, see? The more he’s happy, the less he bothers me and the better I run his company. So we know where we stand, don’t we, kid?
Prewitt: I know where I stand. A man don’t go his own way, he’s nothin’.

“I know where I stand. A man don’t go his own way, he’s nothin’.” These are probably my favorite lines in the entire film and lines that better than any other encapsulate the character of Prewitt.

Clift, as always, puts so much into his performance. From the moment the novel From Here to Eternity was published, he hoped to play Prewitt in a screen adaptation. He envisioned Prewitt as an inarticulate man and thus cut his dialogue as much as possible. Furthermore, he modeled his subtle accent on recordings of Kentucky speech he tracked down with director Fred Zinneman. He spent hours learning and practicing the bugle, even though he knew he would not actually be playing in the film. He complete engrosses himself in the character, and as a result, he pulls you in with him. His performance is, in a word…meticulous, fearless, emotional, breathtaking, flawless, unforgettable.

This performance matches every criteria I have set for reviewing performances. Yes, this performance is believable and makes the film. Yes, I forget Montgomery Clift is acting. Yes, I would watch this film again and recommend it to other people. Yes, there is a depth and feeling to this performance unmatched by any of the others. So why didn’t Clift win the Oscar? Karl Malden offered these thoughts: “Because he always became part of the warp and woof of a script. So much so that his artistry wasn’t always appreciated. If you watch him in From Here to Eternity, he completely immerses himself in the character and situation of Prewitt, so much so that he actually sinks into the flesh of the story.”

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What is your face? A work of art, that’s what. Your face was made to be seen in high definition, so let’s release as many of your films in Blu-Ray as soon as possible and there will finally be world peace. And your skill and talent as an actor — pure artistry. The best. My favorite. Always.

Previously: Best Actor 1951 

Up next (by Christmas, maybe): Perhaps a year where Montgomery Clift wasn’t nominated so I won’t be so doggone predictable.

Grab Bag!

Because I’ve been too lazy to watch all the 1940/1946/1953/1954/1962/etc Best Actor Oscar nominees and thus revive my Oscar series as a buildup to this year’s ceremony. Because I am also too lazy to construct cohesive posts about the various topics that have been floating around in my head (there’s so much room up there). But mostly because I am oh so fascinating and have oh so many interesting thoughts about oh so many things…here is this month’s grab bag of a post–upcoming anniversaries, forgotten films, out-of-syndication television programs, and dead actors and musicians (actually just one…still livin’ and breathin’ nothin’ but Ricky Nelson ’round here), straight ahead!    

1. The Super Bowl wasn’t that super this year.

That’s right–I do turn on the television and pretend to live in this century every now and then. It’s harder, though, for me to pretend to understand the sport that is American Football. All I’ve got so far is scoring touchdowns is good. Anyway. The Super Bowl was kind of depressing and most definitely Boring with a capital B–except when they showed Paul McCartney chowing down on his vegetarian pizza. That was awesome. And it was oh so awesome when Bob Dylan asked, “Is there anything more American than America?” (I’m guessing…no?)

My sister was all, “Bob Dylan can still walk?”

2. Sunday marks the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.

I honestly don’t know what the big deal is since last year was the 49th anniversary? But I am loving the big deal because everywhere it is Beatles, Beatles, Beatles, as it should be!

“Won’t you please sing something?”

“NO!”

Oh, I love nothing more than the Beatles. They have been my favorite people in the world since I was a little girl and will forever remain so. Looking forward to the CBS special this Sunday!

3. I have started spending a lot of time in a bar. 

Because I just want to go where everybody knows my name. And they’re always glad I came.

That’s right…I’ve started watching Cheers. I’m not really sure why, but I’m kind of in love. Coach and Cliff are my favorites so far, but I also like Norm and Sam and Carla and Diane is kind of annoying but she’s OK, I guess. I absolutely cannot wait for Frasier to come onto the scene! Only a few more episodes!

4. I FINALLY got to see Désirée, a 1954 film starring Jean Simmons and Marlon Brando as Napoleon Bonaparte. Thank you, TCM, for airing this gem at 2 A.M.!

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Can you say awesome?

Besides the awesomeness of Brando’s wardrobe (and Brando in general), I enjoyed the film way more than I thought I would. It was engaging and interesting and Brando, Brando, Brando! Was there ever a more attractive and compelling actor? Oh, yeah, Montgomery Clift. Hahahahahahahahaha. Great, now I feel like watching Clift compare guns with John Ireland and woo Olivia de Havilland and fall off a train all in one night.

5. That Darn Cat! (1965) is definitely superior to That Darn Cat (1997). 

The exclamation point totally should have given it away, but after watching and enjoying the original film, I wanted to re-watch the remake and compare notes. The remake has its moments but overall it is just so cheesy. And cheese gives me gas, man.

Plus the original is just so darn perfect. Perfect cast. Perfect soundtrack. Perfect cat, though darned he may be.

Oh, and I just happened to find this photo of Dean Jones this past week. You know me, always searching the web for a good Dean Jones photo. Here he is hanging out with Sal Mineo and the Nelson brothers. What a world this is!

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6. My My Three Sons diet is becoming harder to maintain because the episodes are so funny and poignant and just plain old wonderful.

I got the second season on DVD for my birthday in October and told myself I would have to limit myself to watching it sparingly because none of the other seasons are available on DVD (…WHY???) and it’s not in syndication here.

I recently watched the episode entitled “Bub’s Lodge.” In this episode, Bub is being honored in his Lodge where he will be crowned D’Artagnan of the East Door. He has a fancy outfit and everything. Meanwhile, Mike is aiming to become part of a fraternity and is worried that Bub and his ridiculous outfit will embarrass him. The episode is funny, of course, but it’s also so sweet and touching. My favorite part is the glimpse it allows into Bub’s room:

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There are pictures of Steve and the boys everywhere. D’awwwwww!

I love Uncle Charley and all, but Bub was the best. The early episodes are the best. Give me more!

7. I saw Two for the Road and loved it.

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Two for the Road is a polarizing film, I think, because it is so unconventional. It is not your typical romantic comedy. Everything is not tied neatly in a bow by the end of the film, and the overall narrative is non-linear and often difficult to follow, requiring careful and attentive viewing. The story of Mark and Joanna Wallace is not told in chronological order but rather story threads are loosely connected by a certain sight — like the sight of a ferry where they first met — or an object — like a hat — or something as simple as the weather. In the present, as the film begins, the audience sees Mark and Joanna, with obvious tension between them, embark on a trip and as they travel, they reflect on their relationship through other trips they took together. Their relationship has had its ups and downs, and toward the end of the film when Mark asks Joanna why they didn’t end their relationship at a certain point, part of you is wondering the same thing. But the other part also knows that these two people love each other, despite the difficulties of their relationship. The film is realistic in its portrayal of love and relationships — it’s not always easy and Shangri-La like in a movie but is instead often very difficult and requires a lot of effort and hard work.

8. I also watched Love and Kisses, starring Rick and Kris Nelson, and loved it. 

This movie has been described as nothing more than an extended episode of The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet and in some ways that is true. It’s not the greatest movie ever made but it is fun and cute and some really important things happened in this movie.

First, Rick wears some white pants that are really flattering.

Second, there is a dream sequence that involves Rick visiting a strip club/bar, and he gets into a major fight. Meanwhile, David and Wally sit at the bar and wonder if they know Rick. They decide they don’t. It’s cute.

Third, Rick (actually his character’s name in the film is Buzzy, which is bizarre so I am just going to keep on calling him Rick) gives this speech to his dad (who is not Ozzie which is also bizarre) about teeny-weeny jammies, itsy bitsy feet, diapers, and a trip to Disneyland. It’s awesome.

Finally…Rick (er…Buzzy) curses in this film. He let’s a “what the hell” rip not just once but twice and then claims that saying “what the hell” is not cursing. There’s also a bonus d–n. Pretty sure if this were released today, they would have to slap an “R” rating on it.

Anyway. This movie was cute, you can watch it on YouTube (in poor VHS quality, alas), and sorry about the curse words. I’m gonna put a bar of soap on my keyboard.

9. My current Rick Nelson phase is starting to scare me because I stayed up late last night watching an episode of The Hardy Boys that Rick guest starred in. 

Rick plays a rock star named Tony Eagle who actually sings Rick Nelson songs and he’s unknowingly involved in the disappearance of a man the Hardy brothers are investigating. It also involves a plane which makes me scream and cry inside for obvious reasons.

I’d never watched The Hardy Boys before and it’s so ’70s, but it was also kind of fun and entertaining. Getting to watch Rick sing so many songs was wonderful. He was so natural…and beautiful. Sigh.

10. I recently learned that Montgomery Clift reportedly turned down the part of Dude (eventually played by Dean Martin) in Rio Bravo

Do you realize what this means?  

Do you?

This means that had Clift taken the role, he and Rick Nelson would have been in the same movie and I never would have worn a clean pair of underwear in my life (as if I don’t have enough trouble with that already). Clift reportedly turned down the role because he did not want to work with John Wayne again (can’t blame him).

Thanks, Monty. I like wearing clean underwear.

OK, that’s it for this grab bag. I’m off to work on something cohesive and worthwhile…that is, after I finish watching this unaired pilot featuring Rick Nelson as some sort of bad guy in tights. Until next time!

Much love,
The Count Petofi

Good Ol’ Freda (Ryan White, 2013)

When it comes to The Beatles, there are plenty of myths and legends. There are the tell-all books and exclusive interviews of close and loose associates of the band that sometimes create or perpetuate these falsehoods, distorting the truth in the process. Then there are the words, memories, and opinions of the Beatles themselves – and sometimes even they contradict themselves! (See their recollections of receiving the MBE in The Beatles Anthology!) And then, rarest of the rare, there are the untold stories of those who were actually there.

Good Ol’ Freda tells such a story.

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Freda Kelly had the dream job of countless teenagers (and adults, too, I’m sure!) in the 1960s: she was head of the Beatles’ fan club…and personal secretary to the Fab Four themselves, placing her in their coveted inner circle and giving her a front-row seat to the madness that was Beatlemania and all the crazy, wonderful stories that went along with it. There are so many stories — and kinds of stories — in Good Ol’ Freda.

There is the story of her close relationship with all of the Beatles and their families — how George’s father taught her to ballroom dance and how Ringo’s mother eventually influenced Brian Epstein to give Freda a raise. There is the story of how John Lennon’s laugh once saved her job. There is the story of how George, sweetheart that he was, got her all of the Beatles autographs. There is the story of how she made John Lennon, who moments earlier had declared she was “sacked”, get down on his knees and beg her to once again serve as his secretary. What a sight that must have been!

Then there are the stories of how she took care of the fans because she was, first and foremost, a Beatles fan, and she knew what that meant. She understood the intense devotion, admiration, and love the Beatles inspired in their fans. And so when fans wrote requesting locks of hair, she scoured the floor of the barbershop and sent them real locks of their hair. When a fan sent a pillow requesting that Ringo sleep on it and send it back to her, Freda made sure that Ringo slept on that pillow. And when scores of fans wrote for autographs, she did her best to make sure that they received genuine autographs. (She — like John Lennon — disliked the use of the stamped autographs Brian Epstein tried to make standard practice because, quite simply, they weren’t the real thing. And she understood the disappointment and frustration that a fan would feel when they received not only a stamped autograph but a stamped autograph that had smudged.) Even after the Beatles had disbanded, she gave away memorabilia worth literally millions to real Beatles fans in the mid-1970s.

And then there are the stories of Freda as a person — staunchly loyal, unfailingly trustworthy and honest, not swayed by materialism or wealth, and highly protective of the Beatles and their fans. Freda was kind, but she was not to be crossed, as the story of how she fired an assistant once she discovered she had cut her sister’s hair and tried to pass it off as the Beatles’ hair demonstrates. The situation was simple to Freda: she could no longer trust the assistant and thus she had to go. Freda was fiercely loyal. She was once offered money in exchange for as many bits of information she could fit into an envelope. Nobody would have to know — she could place an envelope through a door and an envelope, with a large check enclosed, would be returned. Looking back on the situation, Freda explains how everybody needs and likes money and often would like to have more money — but she did not want it that much. Her integrity was worth more to her. What a gal!

To Freda, fame and wealth do not mean much. Because, as she reflects on the deaths of those once part of the Beatles’ circle, all the fame and money in the world still can’t cure cancer, can it? Throughout the years, Freda has refused offer after offer to write a book and tell her story — and the only reason she chose to tell it recently was for her posterity, spurred on by the birth of her grandson and the death of her son who had often asked her about her memories of working with The Beatles.

Watching Good Ol’ Freda, it’s easy to fall in love with Freda. You recognize yourself in her because she, like you, is a Beatles fan. She has been one since she visited The Cavern Club during her lunch break one day and will forever remain one. And you appreciate that she was there, in the midst of all the craziness, to take care of not only the Beatles but also their fans. You see the genuine love she had for the Beatles, their families, and those other close associates she worked with. “I worked with a lot of good people,” she remarks toward the end of the film.

She, too, was one of the good people, and I am so glad her story has finally been told. Thanks, Freda!

America’s Favorite Family, The Nelsons!

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The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet is, quite simply, an American Institution. It began as a radio program in 1944, with David and Ricky joining the cast in 1949, and then made the move to television in 1952, after a full-length theatrical feature Here Come the Nelsons was released that same year. The show ran for 14 (!!) seasons, and America watched Ricky and David grow from bickering, wise-cracking little boys to married men–oh, and Ricky blossomed into a singing sensation somewhere along the way, too. Ozzie and Harriet, meanwhile, stayed Ozzie Harriet–wise, loving parents and the gosh darndest cutest couple that ever was.

Ozzie Nelson wrote, directed, produced, and starred in the television series, and he infused his values into the show–values like a loving family and good-natured fun, values that helped shape the Nelson family into the ideal American family, values that still hold up. Despite the show’s title, it wasn’t a very adventuresome show. Most of the plots center around little misunderstandings or mix-ups–but what funny, wholesome, entertaining misunderstandings and mix-ups they were!

Rick Nelson once said that watching episodes of the show were like watching home movies for him. Like a home movie, you can see the genuine love and warmth this family had for one another while watching the show. It makes you want to go over to their house and spend time with them, which you can’t do so you just have to settle for watching another episode, which works out well because there are 435! Here are a few–a very few–of my favorites.

The Pills
Season 1, Episode 3
Original air date: October 17, 1952

Ozzie thinks he needs to lose weight. Why? Harriet has bought him a new pair of pants–a size 33, which he thinks will be too big because he measured a size 30 for his pants in high school. Ozzie models the size 33 for Harriet and Ricky, who begins singing, “Roll out the barrels!” The pants are a little tight, and Ozzie believes it’s because the store sold Harriet the wrong size but still decides to dedicate himself to going on a diet in order to fit into the pants. When he learns that Thorny’s weight loss has actually been due to some appetite-suppressing pills, he decides to do the same…except the pills that he thinks are appetite-suppressing are actually the pills prescribed to Ricky to increase his appetite for nutritious foods (‘cos the kid can’t keep out of the cookie jar apparently). Laughs straight ahead!

Oscillating Ozzie
Season 1, Episode 39
Original air date: June 26, 1953

It all begins with Harriet frying instead of boiling Ozzie’s eggs for breakfast. She just thought he might like a change, but this unexpected change in routine spurs a discussion that perhaps Ozzie, like most men, has become “set in his ways.” Ozzie then becomes determined to prove that he is definitely NOT set in his ways, especially after a discussion with the most annoying character on this show, Emmy Lou. Emmy Lou is a teenager who is all “ooohs” and “ahhhs” and other annoying exclamations. She raves to Ozzie about a movie she recently saw. “What was it called?” Ozzie wants to know. “Farley Granger,” she sighs.

Speaking of Farley Granger, remember that time when a young Ricky Nelson starred in The Story of Three Loves? He was the most adorable, charming child who ran around terrorizing his governess, speaking French–s’il vous plaît, s’il vous plaît!, and wishing desperately that he was all grown up so that he could stay up as late as he liked and would have no more stupid French lessons. Oh, he was adorable and charming. And then he duly goes to bed in his white and blue striped pajamas…and wakes up as Farley Granger, who, try as he might, is just not as adorable and charming as young Ricky Nelson. Maybe because I have a tiny bit of trouble forgetting that time he took part in the “perfect” murder.

Back to Oscillating Ozzie, though.

Emmy Lou’s rave review about this Farley Granger film where Farley Granger is irresponsible and unpredictable convinces Ozzie that he must prove to Harriet that he is NOT set in his ways. He is unpredictable, prone to change his mind, crazy! So he does not buy one quart of vanilla ice cream and one quart of chocolate ice cream. Oh, no–he buys three quarts of Tutti Frutti ice cream! (“What’s Tutti Frutti?” asks Ricky. Ha! Ha! Ha! Spoiler alert! Pop’s gonna spend an entire episode looking for some Tutti Frutti ice cream, Ricky.) And he walks instead of driving–and doesn’t take his usual route, to boot. He changes his clothes for dinner. He decides to stay home and play his banjo instead of going out bowling with Thorny…until Harriet practically pushes him out of the house because she is having a new rug delivered while Ozzie is out because the change would upset him.

“I wonder what’s come over, Pop,” wonders Dave. Ricky just shakes his head and says, “Crazy, mixed up kid!”

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Boy, does that kid makes the show.

When Ozzie meets the rug delivery man on his way to meet Thorny, he discovers Harriet’s plot and decides once again to surprise her by being so incredibly unpredictable and crazy in an ending you have to see for yourself. Oh, Ozzie, we love you just the way you are!

Hairstyle for Harriet
Season 5, Episode 15
Original air date: January 9, 1957

This episode is kind of a companion to “Oscillating Ozzie.” When Ozzie can describe Harriet’s hairstyle perfectly, she believes it’s time for a change, which alarms Ozzie because he likes her hair just the way it is. He’s worried about what she’ll do to her hair and decides to change his own hair, which shocks everyone. Here’s Ricky’s reaction:

Even better, though, is the end of the episode, where Ricky and Dave head out to a costume party. Ricky dresses up as Elvis….and sings a few lines from “Love Me Tender” (this is just a few episodes before his singing debut). Sigh.

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An even deeper sigh. Check out those eyelashes!

And David, inspired by Ozzie, dresses up as Yul Brynner in The King and I, replete with “Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.” Not to be missed!

The Trophy
Season 6, Episode 13
Original air date: January 1, 1958

Ozzie cannot find his decathlon trophy and nobody at the Men’s Club believes he ever won it! So the family decides to enter (and win!) the upcoming Family Decathlon at the Men’s Club picnic. Harriet wins the pie-baking contest. David wins the football-throwing contest. Ricky wins at tennis. And Ozzie…well, Ozzie has a hard time.

There’s also a rock ‘n’ roll dance contest. Guess who enters?

…and scares everybody else out of entering, apparently.

But the final competition–and the one that will determine whether the Nelson family wins the Decathlon and the trophy–is the Obstacle Course, which Ozzie enters. Can he do it? What do you mean, can he do it? Ozzie can do anything!

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With Harriet’s help, of course.

Closed Circut
Season 6, Episode 25
Original air date: March 26, 1958

Ok, I love, love, LOVE this episode. It makes me laugh. A lot.

The Randolphs son, Joe Jr., has devised a way to broadcast television programs from the Nelsons’ basement. This allows for many tricks to be played on unsuspecting members of the Nelson family and visitors in their home! I love when Ricky is a supposed contestant on a game show and can’t answer the question, “What does the formula H2O stand for?”

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“Water!” shouts Ozzie.

“Oh, thanks, Pop!”

Later, Joe Randolph Sr. and Ozzie decide to use the set-up to play a trick on their wives, who have just been spending too much time at the Women’s Club meetings and not enough time at home cooking their dinners. With the help of Ricky, Dave, Joe Jr., and a bachelor friend named Fred, they create a nightclub–drinks, music, dancing, and beautiful girls included!

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Of course the trick backfires. But all ends well with the Nelsons watching Joe and Clara fight and make up on the television. And then….

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Yeah, they totally just broke the fourth wall. And they did it being lovelier and cuter and more endearing than anybody else ever in the history of television.

The Circus
Season 8, Episode 15
Original air date: January 27, 1960

The plot of this episode is actually kind of boring: David, now a budding law clerk, has to serve a summons to an owner of a circus, Mr. Cantini, and he doesn’t want to because the guy is so nice. The best part of this episode is that it allows David and Rick to showcase their actual trapeze talents. The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet may have been idealized in some ways, but so many of its story lines were derived from real-life events or integrated their real-life hobbies and skills. David and Ricky actually performed all the flying trapeze tricks in this episode (David was also part of a group that travelled and performed during the summer), and it’s so fun to watch. It’s also fun to watch how Ozzie was able to incorporate their skills into the storyline.

David is restless, worrying about serving this dog-gone summons. “Hey, Ricky,” he asks. “What would you do if you had to serve a summons?”

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“The first thing I’d do is get a good night’s sleep,” responds Ricky, whose hair just happens to be perfectly groomed. Ricky then suggests that David serve Papa Cantini the summons when he swings across the trapeze. David falls asleep and begins to dream about just that…

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David’s the catcher and Ricky’s the flier, and they do some tricks that make me a little nervous. But it’s awesome….just like their outfits.

Let’s take a moment to consider and appreciate that the following photo is for sale on eBay for a mere $9.49:

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I am THIS close to messaging the following to the seller: “Hi, just wondering if this comes in a LARGE poster size. Thanks.”

Cafe Caper
Season 13, Episode 15
Original air date: December 30, 1964

I love this episode. Even though Rick and Dave have both moved out and married, this episode finds them going on a fishing trip with good ol’ Pop. Except they run into a little trouble. First, Harriet is supposed to make them a big breakfast–just like in the old days!–before they head out, but once she hears where June and Kris are spending their day (at a big sale down at the Emporium–where else?), she bolts, leaving the boys and Ozzie to make their own breakfast. Yeah, like that’s gonna happen. So they head to a little diner, where they unwittingly witness a robbery, of which they (particularly Ozzie) also become the prime suspects. So…with the help of Harriet, they try to track down the person they believe actually committed the crime, a little old lady who sold them a few donuts before leaving the diner under suspicious circumstances. They eventually find her home, and this VERY important moment occurs:

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Yeah, little Ricky is all grown up…and married. And Kris is a really good cook!

This episode is a lot of fun, and it kept me wondering who really was in the wrong at that little diner. (Ellery Queen probably would have been disappointed in my deduction skills.) Plus, I just love that they are all together…which I guess they are now, too. Tear.

What a special family they were. Sometimes, I take a step back and think about how I’m spending my time watching what I’m watching. Like…why am I spending my time watching a reality show about people losing weight? (Really, I would like to know the answer to this.) Why am I spending my time watching a show where everyone in this hospital has slept with everybody else at some point? Why am I spending my time watching a show about people lost on an island? I don’t have to stop and wonder why I am watching The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. (Well, I have thought about when I actually reach the point where I have seen all 435 episodes–I’m about halfway–which will mean I have spent over 200 hours with this family, and that is kind of crazy.) I watch it because it’s a good show from start to finish–some shows lose quality over time, but not this one. I watch it because it is filled with genuine warmth, affection, and comedy. I watch it because Ricky Nelson has really long, beautiful eyelashes. (Just kidding! …kind of.) I watch it because it’s the Nelsons, America’s favorite family! My favorite family.