All posts by Adam Montierth

Love Affair, An Affair To Remember

 

The original story is the brainstorm of director Leo McCarey, who directed the first version and the second version of the screenplay, only 18 years apart. The first version with Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer, called Love Affair (1939) and the second version with Deborah Kerr and Cary Grant called An Affair To Remember (1957). He would hire screenwriters Mildred Cram, Delmer Daves and one of my favorites, Donald Ogden Stewart.

It’s a rare story when it becomes a favorite of almost everyone involved. The original was a favorite movie of both Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer and Leo McCarey liked it so much that years later when he had a chance to remake one of his previous films, he chose this one. The film is about a handsome playboy (Cary/Charles) who falls in love with American Terry McKay on board a transatlantic cruise ship. They arrange to reunite some time later, after (Charles/Cary) has had a chance to earn a decent living, only to have Terry not show up. They learn later that Terry has had a tragic accident, and can no longer walk. The character name for Charles and Cary are different, so that’s why I mention them instead of the character name whereas the name of the character for Irene Dunne and Deborah Kerr is the same, Terry McKay.

The scripts were the same for each movie, but in the second version, Cary and Deborah were given the opportunity to improvise and so several of these moments made the final cut. Interesting to note, the year before this film was made, Kerr played Anna Leonowens in The King and I (1956), also a role that had previously been played by Irene Dunne in the black-and-white classic Anna and the King of Siam (1946). “The King and I” is a musical based on the same book.

Now, An Affair to Remember was voted number 5 for Greatest Love Stories of all Time by the American Film Institute, but neither the original nor the 1994 version of Love Affair, made with Warren Beatty and Annette Benning, made the top 100 list. In my opinion, this is the way it should be, as the Warren Beatty version is awful. Although, a film that was inspired by An Affair to Remember, Sleepless in Seattle (1993) which was voted 45th on that list (but it ended up as #10 on the list of Romantic Comedies), I think is the best film of all four.  I love that film as it really shows why An Affair to Remember holds up so well and is so beloved by so many people.  So, as a perfect tandem, I would suggest seeing a Double Feature of An Affair To Remember 1st and then follow it up with Sleepless in Seattle. That is a perfect date night!

 

Con-Man Episode: Kids Need to Read

 

Two years ago, my brother and I attended the Phoenix Comicon and we played in the Kids Need to Read Poker Tournament.  I just wanted to stay in long enough to meet Nathan Fillion.  I thought he would show up at some point since it was his charity.  Unfortunately, he did not.  But I did win the tournament.  I have the token to prove it.

The experience became the basis for an idea that we wrote up for a Con-Man writing contest a few months back.  It was fun to write, and although we only came in second place, Alan Tudyk did read it.  So here’s to a first place tournament chip and a second place short script.  I hope you enjoy it!

FADE IN:

INT. PHOENIX COMICON – CONVENTION CENTER

WRAY rushes off of a makeshift stage. He is physically drained from a rousing Q & A session with Spectrum fans.

BOBBY is waiting in the wing holding Wray’s cell phone.

WRAY

Hey, that’s my phone. How did you get that?

He checks his pants pockets.

BOBBY

You know they don’t want you to have it during the Spectrum Q & A.

WRAY

That’s a suggestion. Now I’m feeling a bit violated.

He snatches the phone from her.

They walk.

BOBBY

Jack Moore is on the line.

WRAY

You called Jack?

BOBBY

I knew he was going to be here this weekend.

WRAY

Why did you? How? (Putting the phone up to his ear.) Hello, Jack?

JACK (O.S.)

Hey, Buddy!

WRAY

Uh, oh. What do you want me to do?

JACK (O.S.)

What do you mean?

WRAY

You’re using your “I need you to do something for me” voice.

JACK (O.S.)

I am not. This is my normal voice.

WRAY

So you don’t need anything from me?

JACK (O.S.)

It’s for the children.

WRAY

I don’t like kids.

He says this overly loud and comicon patrons stare at him disapprovingly.

WRAY

I mean, of course I like kids, I just don’t have any kids, to like.

(Exasperated and back to the phone.) What do you need?

JACK (O.S.)

I need you to sit in for me at the Kids Need to Read Charity Poker Tournament. I’m on my way, but I’m going to be late.  And coincidentally, it’s in the room right next to the Q & A you just hosted.

WRAY

Convenient. This sounds somewhat planned.

Wray looks at Bobby who looks away nonchalantly.

JACK (O.S.)

Thanks buddy. It’s for the children.

WRAY

You keep saying that. I don’t even know how to play poker.

JACK (O.S.)

It’s okay. Take my seat. Lose your chips quickly and then duck out. I do it all the time.  Smile, wave, leave.

WRAY

(Heavy sigh.) Okay fine.

JACK (O.S.)

I knew I could count on you. See you soon!

Wray hangs up and puts his phone in his pants pocket. He turns to Bobby.

WRAY

I’m just a big sap.

Bobby doesn’t say anything. She just turns Wray around and pushes him through another doorway.

INT. KIDS NEED TO READ CHARITY POKER TOURNAMENT

Wray steps into the room. There is a partition next to another make shift stage at the end of a long conference room. The HOST is waiting there.

Wray peeks through the partition.  The room is full of comicon attendees sitting at many round poker tables scattered though out the large room.

No children can be seen.

HOST

Welcome Mr. Nerely. It’s generous of you to join us this evening.

WRAY

Evening?

HOST

Is Jack with you?

WRAY

He’s running late. He asked me to take his seat.

HOST

Oh, that’s too bad.

WRAY

Don’t sound so disappointed.  He’ll be here later on.

HOST

(More upbeat now.) Oh, great news.

WRAY

Where are all the children?

The Host laughs. Bobby joins in. Wray follows suit confused.

HOST

It’s a charity poker tournament for the children, not a poker tournament with the children.

WRAY

(Laughing louder.) Of course.

The Host hands Wray a paper.

HOST

Here are some instructions and your seat assignments.

Bobby leans in to see the paper. He keeps it away from her and tries to stare her down. When he turns back to his paper, it’s gone. He’s no longer holding it. He turns back to find Bobby reading it.

WRAY

How did?

BOBBY

Oh good. You may have your phone at the table with you.

She hands him his phone.

WRAY

What? Again? How do you keep doing that?

He checks all of his pants pockets again.

He snatches the phone and puts it into his shirt pocket this time.

HOST

I’ll introduce you and then you can take your seat.

WRAY

Is it possible for me to just say a few words and then duck out?

HOST

Jack would never “duck out”. He committed to playing in the tournament.

WRAY

But he’s not here.

HOST

But you’re taking his place.

WRAY

I don’t even know how to play poker.

HOST

Please do the best that you can.  And remember, it’s for the children.

WRAY

As I’ve been told.

The Host goes to the mic and the crowd goes quiet.

HOST

Ladies and gentlemen, zombies and superheroes, welcome to the Phoenix Comicon’s 10th Annual Kids Need to Read Charity Poker Tournament.

The crowd claps enthusiastically.

HOST

I’d like to introduce our special guest tonight from Spectrum… The audience hoops and hollars.

HOST

Wray Nerely.

Wray steps out from behind the partition and waves. The crowd goes flat.

HOST

Wray will be sitting in for Jack, but I’ve been assured that Jack will be here later on.

The crowd responds enthusiastically.

Wray checks his paper and heads to his seat. Bobby follows.

WRAY

What am I doing? They don’t even really want me here.

BOBBY

Of course they want you here. They just prefer Jack. Who wouldn’t?

WRAY

Thank you for that.

BOBBY

Just lose quickly.

WRAY

And how do I do that?

BOBBY

Push all your chips in and say, all in.

WRAY

All in what?

BOBBY

No, just all in.

Bobby leaves him.

WRAY

What?

Wray finds his seat between two large WOMEN. There is very little room left for him. He tries to squeeze in.

Both women are more masculine than Wray.

FAT PAT

I don’t think so muchacho.

LARGE MARGE

This seat is reserved for Jack Moore.

WRAY

I’m Wray Nerely.

FAT PAT

We know who you are. Love your work, but this seat’s for Jack.

LARGE MARGE

You’re awesome. Now move on.

WRAY

Wow, I’ve never experienced such hostile adoration. I’m sitting in for Jack.

FAT PAT

What?

LARGE MARGE

You’re kidding?

WRAY

He asked for me to sit in for him.

FAT PAT

We paid good money for these seats.

LARGE MARGE

We donated $500.00

WRAY

It’s for the children!?!

FAT PAT

I’m tempted to ask for half my money back.

Wray squeezes in.

WRAY

At least sitting by me is worth something.

LARGE MARGE

We’ll see.

Wray pushes his chips forward.

WRAY

I’m all in.

DEALER

We haven’t started yet.

WRAY

Just kidding.

He pulls the stacks back in front of him.  Pat and Marge are not laughing.

Wray looks around the table. There is a ZOMBIE, a KLINGON, a SUPERHERO, and an ANIME CHARACTER with a huge cardboard sword.

Directly across the table sits a COWBOY.

WRAY

What are you dressed as? Space Cowboy?

COWBOY

Are you makin’ fun of how I dress?

WRAY

No?

COWBOY

I’m not here for your little Comicon! And I don’t care about your children’s charity. I’m here for one thing and one thing only. The poker. And to win, of course.

WRAY

That’s two things.

COWBOY

So don’t get to attached to your chips, sunshine. They’re mine!

WRAY

You can have them.

COWBOY

That’s right! I will own them.  And yours, and yours, and yours…

Cowboy points around the table.

FAT PAT

Yeah, yeah, yeah. We get it. They’re all yours. We’re all very intimidated.

COWBOY

I’m just saying.

LARGE MARGE

Don’t let him get in your head. He’s all bravado.

COWBOY

Oh, yeah? Cowboy pulls out a little chip and holds it up for all to see.

COWBOY

Does this look like bravado?

WRAY

What is it?

FAT PAT

Last years champion token.

COWBOY

I won last years poker tournament.

WRAY

Congratulations.

COWBOY

So, now you know that I mean it when I say that I’m going to be taking all of your chips.

WRAY

You can have them.

COWBOY

I mean it.

WRAY

So do I.

COWBOY

Do you smell that?

WRAY

Comicon B.O.?

COWBOY

Repeat victory!

The table moans.

A bell suddenly sounds.

HOST

The tournament begins now. Good luck. We have a very special gift for tonight’s champion.

The DEALER deals out two cards per person at the table.

COWBOY

Did you hear that? I’ll get a special gift.

WRAY

Thank you, we heard.

COWBOY

I just don’t want you to forget… I’m taking your chips, and yours, and yours…

FAT PAT

This is going to be a long night!

DEALER

Bet to you Mr. Nerely.

WRAY

Me? Can I go all in now?

DEALER

Do you want to look at your cards first?

WRAY

Not particularly.

DEALER

Okay, then you can place your bet.

Wray pushes all of his chips forward.

WRAY

All chips in.

COWBOY

What?

LARGE MARGE

That shut up Cowboy!

Everyone folds to Cowboy.

COWBOY

What’s your deal actor man?

WRAY

What? Me? I’m giving you my chips.

COWBOY

You’re going in blind?

WRAY

I have no idea what you just said.

FAT PAT

I think he’s scared.

COWBOY

I ain’t scared. Okay, I’ll be your Huckleberry!

WRAY

My what?

LARGE MARGE

Don’t worry, that’s good.

Cowboy pushes all in.

COWBOY

All in.

Everyone else at the table folds.

DEALER

Do you want to go face up? It’s just the two of you now.

COWBOY

Just show us the board.

The Dealer motions to Wray who shrugs. The Dealer flips three cards, an ace, three, and seven.

He burns a card and then flips another card, a three.  Then he burns another card and flips the final card, an ace.

DEALER

Two aces showing.

The Cowboy fidgets nervously.

Wray just sits there looking around. He has no idea what’s going on.

DEALER

Gentlemen, please flip your cards.

They both flip their cards at the same time. Cowboy has a three and a king.

Wray has two aces.

The Cowboy freezes in total shock.

WRAY

(Acting upset) Oh man, I just lost didn’t I? Oh well, good game.

He begins to stand.

FAT PAT

Pocket rockets to four of a kind. Unbelievable.

LARGE MARGE

I’ve never seen anything like it.

The cowboy bursts out crying. Gasping sobs. He runs off.

Wray is mortified.

The Dealer pushes the pot to Wray.

WRAY

What just happened?

FAT PAT

That was awesome! You made that man cry!

LARGE MARGE

I take it back. That was worth every penny I paid for this seat.

Pat and Marge are totally impressed now. They make room for Wray to sit back down more comfortably.

Wray realizes that he’s still in the game and miserably starts stacking his chips.

The girls smile and he weakly smiles back.

INT. MONTAGUE – SAME

The evening progresses. Wray’s chip stacks continue to grow.

He gets more miserable as the night goes on.

INT. KIDS NEED TO READ CHARITY POKER TOURNAMENT – LATER

Jack enters a near empty hall.  Wray and the Host sit alone at the final table.

JACK

I’m here. Where is everyone?

They stand to greet him.

HOST

The tournament is over.

JACK

Where’s the champion?

HOST

The winner of the Phoenix Comicon’s 10th Annual Kids Need to Read Charity Poker Tournament is… Wray Nerely.

Wray waves unenthusiastically.

JACK

What? I told you to lose.

WRAY

I tried.

HOST

Nice of you to bring in a ringer. Early on he became the chip leader and preceded to bully the other participants.

WRAY

I did not.

JACK

I thought you didn’t know how to play?

WRAY

I didn’t. I don’t.

JACK

Then how did you…

WRAY

I’m tired and just want to go home. (To Host) You mentioned a special gift?

HOST

Ah yes, you get this special first place chip and a photo with Jack Moore himself.

WRAY

A photo with Jack?

Jack smiles. The Host gets his camera ready.

HOST

Plus a free seat in next years tournament.

WRAY

No thank you.

JACK

As this years winner, you’re expected to return to defend your title. It’s kind of an obligation.

WRAY

Just keeps getting better.

HOST

Just remember…

WRAY & JACK

It’s for the children!

The flash goes off, as the photo is taken.

END

 

Opening Stunt for Locker 13

FADE IN:

EXT. GUNSIGHT PASS – ARIZONA TERRITORY – DUSK

An old west town at dusk. A tumbleweed drifts by.  Two GUNFIGHTERS walk to the center of the dirt street some thirty paces apart. It’s apparent; a showdown at high noon.

Nervous eyes flit back and forth between guns and pupils.  Hands at the ready.  One flinches first and they both draw. Two GUNSHOTS ring out.

One man hits the dirt, dead.

Only the wind rustles, as the wild west town settles for a second until…

A CROWD rises in APPLAUSE. Revealed on the side of the dirt street opposite of the town is a crowd of TOURISTS, with cameras and balloons and cowboy hats made out of straw with the logo for “Gunsight Pass” stitched on them.

Locker 13 Western Scene

This is the opening scene to Brothers’ Ink Productions anthology film, “Locker 13”.   Now I helped craft this scene as one of the writers and as the Director.  It’s one thing to envision the scene on paper and then orchestrate the scene for film.  A lot goes into what you see here.

There is a team of people that work closely together to create this scene that lasts just a moment on screen.  I’m very happy with the way it turned out.  And it’s in large part to the two actor/stuntmen that you see here, Chaz Lee and George Nelson from Six Gun Entertainment.

Western pic 2

Chaz Lee

These guys were awesome!  They were in character, in costume, and ready to go.  They understood exactly what I needed and performed seamlessly every time.  They were a God send, because we were waiting on the crew to set up, we had a crowd of extras to deal with, and we were losing light.  The sun was setting fast.  They were excellent to work with.  Definitely a directors dream.

And I can’t go without mentioning the stunt Chaz performed over and over.  I needed him to get shot and fall on the rocky ground.  We could have faked it with a close-up and pads on the ground.  But I wanted to get the full shot.  I remember asking him if that was a problem and he said “no problem”.  Then, I made him do it 6 times before the sun set that day.  He never complained.  And it was flawless.  Everytime.

Being a stuntman is not easy and they have the broken bones and bruises to prove it.  And many times it’s a thankless job.  But they continue to do it, so we can watch great movies.  I just wanted to make sure that they get some love once in a while.  So, Chaz Lee and George Nelson, I just wanted to thank you again.  You guys rock!

 

Happy Birthday!

 

Have you ever wondered who shared your birthday?  I was thinking about that today in fact.  It being my birthday and all.  Now being a twin, I share my birthday with my brother.  So I’m used to the concept.  But it’s always cool to see who else shares your same birthday.  I feel like there is a connection between me and them.  A bond that no one can break.  Who are my birthday buddies?  Here are a few of them.

February 18th Birthdays:

John Travolta

John_Travolta_1997

Who doesn’t know him?  When people ask me who I share my birthday with, I almost always respond with him.  Of course.  He’s a nice guy, that has done some great films.  Some of his best work is Saturday Night Fever, Grease, Urban Cowboy, Pulp Fiction, Get Shorty, Wild Hogs, and so much more.  But my favorite thing about him is, he married Kelly Preston.  Wow!  It takes a real man to keep a woman like her happy for over 25 years.  In Hollywood no less.  Way to go Travolta!

John Hughes

MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET, producer John Hughes, on set, 1994. TM and Copyright ©20th Century Fox Film Corp. All rights reserved.

Few film directors can say they helped to define a generation.  John Hughes is one of them.  He made some of the best and most memorable films from the 80’s.  Who doesn’t remember Mr. Mom, National Lampoon’s Vacation, Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Weird Science, Pretty in Pink, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Planes Trains and Automobiles, Home Alone, as well as many, many more.  He will be missed!

Molly Ringwald

Molly Ringwald

She must have shared a few birthdays with one of her favorite writer/director’s, as her and John Hughes collaborated frequently.  Craft services could save a few pennies and make just one cake to cover both birthdays.  Some of her films are Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, The Pick-up Artist, and Betsy’s Wedding.   And she’s only two years older than me.

Matt Dillon

Matt_Dillon_0001

The only man on this list that I have actually met.  And I wasn’t disappointed.  He’s a very nice guy.  So, I’m happy to say that we share the same birthday.  He’s got quite the repertory as well with films such as: My Bodyguard, Little Darlings, The Outsiders, Rumble Fish, The Flamingo Kid, There’s Something About Mary, Crash, as well as many others.  Way to go Matt.  Keep up the good work.  Make us February 18ther’s proud!

George Kennedy

George-Kennedy

What can be said for the great George Kennedy.  Mr. Disaster Movie Man himself (I made that up).  He’s simply awesome.  And he’s done some of the best films of all time: Spartacus, McHale’s Navy, In Harm’s Way, The Dirty Dozen, Cool Hand Luke, Airport, Earthquake, The Naked Gun, and so much more.  My birthday buddies are looking pretty good.  Not too shabby.  Thanks George for rounding us out.

Here are a few other birthday buddies worth mentioning: Milos Forman (director of One Who Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Amadeus ), Cybill Shepherd (The Last Picture Show, Moonlighting), Jack Palance (City Slickers), Greta Scacchi (Presumed Innocent), and Dr. Dre (Rapper).

Happy Birthday!

 

 

The Amazing Writing Team of Your Show of Shows

 

Your Show of Shows was a live 90 minute  variety show starring comedy legends Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca.  It ran from 1950 to 1954.  The writing staff had a staggering talent pool that included; Mel Tolkin (All in the Family), Carl Reiner (Dick Van Dyke Show, The Jerk), Mel Brooks (Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, Space Balls), Michael Stewart (Bye Bye Birdie, Hello Dolly!), Joseph Stein (Fiddler on the Roof), Lucille Kallen (worked on Broadway) , Danny Simon (The Carol Burnette Show, Diff’rent Strokes) and Neil Simon (The Odd Couple, Murder by Death).

Wow.  Now that’s a writing staff.  Each one has done so much to shape comedy through the years.  Their influence is like ripples in a pond.

Your Show of Shows 2

A widely spread misconception is that Larry Gelbart (M*A*S*H) wrote for the Show, when he actually wrote for the Caesar’s Hour that followed years later.  Another misconception was that Woody Allen (Annie Hall) also wrote for the Show, when he actually wrote for several Sid Caesar TV Specials later on.

Your Show of Shows inspired many great productions through their talented staff for years to come.  My favorite TV show, The Dick Van Dyke Show, was based off of Carl Reiner’s time as a writer for Sid Caesar.  Mel Brooks cited My Favorite Year as being inspired by his time working as a writer on the Show.  Also, Neil Simon says that his award winning play, Laughter on the 23rd Floor was also inspired by his time there.

So, here’s to Your Show of Shows for helping to mold comedy thanks to a very special team of writers!

Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner

 

Top 10 Comedy Teams of All Time

 

I love to see a good comedy team again and again.  And what makes a good comedy team?  There’s magic that happens when some people get together.  Chemistry is key.  Sometimes it just clicks and you know that you’re seeing something special.  Part of it could be that the performers are just having so much fun themselves that it’s infectious.  I would like to celebrate the top 10 Comedy Teams of All Time, by counting them down.

Creating the list was very difficult, because there are so many.  I did not get to include many teams that were truly great.  I would also like to shout out a few Honorable Mentions to a few of my favorites.  Teams such as:

Burns_allen_1952George Burns and Gracie Allen

Smothers Brothers  The Smothers Brothers

Cheech and ChongCheech and Chong

Gene Wilder and Richard PryorGene Wilder and Richard Pryor

Mel Brooks and Carl ReinerMel Brooks and Carl Reiner

Peter-Cook-And-Dudley-Moo-002Peter Cook and Dudley Moore

Don Knotts and Tim ConwayDon Knotts and Tim Conway

Now I can go on and on, because there are many more great teams.  But eventually I will have to get to my top 10.  So, with no further adeau…  The Top 10 Comedy Teams of All Time:

#10 Simon Pegg and Nick Frost

Nick Frost and Simon PeggI know, I know.  They haven’t been around as long as some of the Honorable Mentioned teams, but these guys are awesome.  They’re bromance is as entertaining as it is endearing.  I would see anything with the two of them in it.  Always funny.  They work very well together and I want to see them continue to work together for many years to come.  So, will they work together again?  Nothing is set, but their true friendship is well documented and they’re always looking to spent time together.  Why not get paid, and make many of us laugh in the process.  Fun for them, and us.

A few of the projects they’ve done together are; Spaced, Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Paul, The Adventures of Tintin, The World’s End, and The Boxtrolls.  Keep it up guys, I can’t wait for the next one.

#9Amy Poehler and Tina Fey

Tina Fey and Amy PoehlerThese two amazing women are quickly climbing the ranks of the Best Female Comedians of All Time.  And that’s saying something.  They’re right up there with the best of the best.  So, it should be no surprise to find them here.  Now again, like number 10, they’re a great team and great friends.  When it works, it works.

Here is a list of some of the projects they’ve done together; Chicago’s Improv, Olympics, Second City, Saturday Night Live, Martin & Orloff, Mean Girls, Baby Mama, and Sisters.  Not to mention, they’ve hosted the Golden Globes together 3 times.  All to rave reviews.  May we continue to see them together in the future.

#8 Jack Lemmon and Walter Mattheu

Jack Lemmon and Walter MatthauI love these guys, and it’s not just because of Grumpy Old Men.  They each have prolific careers in their own right, but put them together and something extra special happens.  This original Odd Couple made some of the most memorable movies together.  They will be greatly missed.

Here are a few of the highlights of their work together; The Odd Couple, The Fortune Cookie, The Front Page, Buddy Buddy, Kotch, JFK, Grumpy Old Men, Out to Sea, Grumpier Old Men, and The Odd Couple II.

#7 Bob Hope and Bing Crosby

Bob Hope and Bing CrosbyThese guys were well established before making their “Road” movies together.  They filmed seven together beginning in 1940 and even had an 8th planned, but it was scrapped after Crosby died prematurely from a heart attack.

They performed many times together on the stage, television, and to the troops around the world.  Both of them were well known supporters of men and women in uniform.

Their films together were; Road to Singapore, Road to Zanzibar, Road to Morocco, Road to Utopia, Road to Rio, Road to Bali, and Road to Hong Kong.

#6 Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis

Lewis_and_MartinThese two first teamed up in a night club routine, moved on to radio, and eventually into television and the movies.  They performed together for 10 years, to the day.  Much of their earlier material was improvised.   They made over 17 feature films together and were hailed as “the hottest act in the 50’s!”

They split rather abruptly and it was widely publicized.  Both went on to become very success on their own.  Years later they reconciled, but they never officially performed together again.

Some of their most popular films were; My Friend Irma, Money From Home, Scared Stiff, The Caddy, Living It Up, and Hollywood or Bust.

#5 Monty Python

monty-python-original-cast“Monty Python’s Flying Circus” first aired on October 5th, 1969 and the world would never be the same.  After a very successful series of 45 episodes, Monty Python continued on with records, stage shows, books, specials, films, and much more.  The team consisted of; Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Jones, Eric Idle, Michael Palin, and Terry Gilliam.

They have all gone on to successful solo careers and have performed periodically together for special occasions.  Their films include; And Now For Something Completely Different, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Monty Python’s Life of Brian, Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl, and Monty Python’s Meaning of Life.

#4 Laurel and Hardy

laurel-and-hardyThis pair appeared in over 32 silent short films, 40 short sound films, 23 full length feature films, as well as television, radio, and stage productions together.  Both of them were well known actors before they teamed up, but skyrocketed in popularity afterwards.  They continued to work together for over 20 years.

Some of their most popular films are; Helpmates, Block-Heads, County Hospital, A Chump at Oxford, Way Out West, The Devil’s Brother, Babes in Toyland, Sons of the Desert, and The Music Box.

#3 The 3 Stooges

stooges-fixThe 3 Stooges made 220 films.  They appeared on television, cartoons, radio, books, and a lot of merchandise.  The most famous Stooges were Moe Howard, Larry Fine, and Curly Howard.  Other members were Shemp Howard, Joe Besser, and Curly Joe DeRita.  We used to watch them every afternoon mixed in with our cartoons, as it ran continuously for many years in syndication.  I doubt there is a person out there that doesn’t know who they are, even today.  Their brand recognition is amazing.

Their most popular films are; Hoi Polloi, Three Little Pigskins, How High is Up?, Brideless Groom, Punch Drunks, Disorder in the Court, Sing a Song of Six Pants, Who Done It?, and Malice in the Palace.

#2 Abbott and Costello

Abbott-and-Costello-620x366These two created the best sketch of all time, “Who’s on First?”.  It’s also what pushed them into the big leagues.  They began performing together in Burlesque shows and made their way from the stage to radio to television and the movies.  In a partnership that lasted for over 32 years, they made some of the most popular films during World War II.

Some of their most popular films were; Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd, Abbott and Costello Meet the Foreign Legion, The Time of Their Lives, Buck Privates, Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man, Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy, Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Hold That Ghost, and Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.

#1 The Marx Brothers

The Marx BrothersThese guys not only top most comedy lists I’ve seen, but they are my personal favorite for Best Comedy Teams Ever.  They’re the best.  Their movies are classic.  Five of their thirteen films, were selected by the American Film Institute as among the Top 100 Comedies of All Time.

This family of performers honed their skills in vaudeville and their first two films, The Cocoanuts and Animal Crackers, were originally stage plays.  The team consisted of Groucho, Chico, Harpo, Zeppo (for five films), and Gummo (Manager for the brothers).  And let’s not forget Margaret Dumont, who is considered by many to be the fifth Marx brother, as she appeared in most of their films as the “straight man” to Groucho’s zaniness.

Some of their best films are; Monkey Business, Horse Feathers, Duck Soup, A Night at the Opera, A Day at the Races, Room Service, and At the Circus.

 

The Dick Van Dyke Show – 1961 Comedy

 

The Dick Van Dyke Show is an American television sitcom that initially aired on CBS from October 3, 1961, until June 1, 1966. The show was created by Carl Reiner and starred Dick Van Dyke, Rose Marie, Morey Amsterdam, Larry Mathews, and Mary Tyler Moore. It centered on the work and home life of television comedy writer Rob Petrie (Van Dyke). The show was produced by Reiner with Bill Persky and Sam Denoff. The music for the show’s theme song was written by Earle Hagen.

Now in my humble opinion, The Dick Van Dyke Show, is the best sitcom ever. Many might disagree, but it still won 15 Emmy Awards overall. Plus in 1997, the episodes “Coast-to-Coast Big Mouth” and “It May Look Like a Walnut” were ranked at 8 and 15 respectively on TV Guide’s 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time. Also in 2002, it did rank at 13 on TV Guide’s 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time and in 2013, it was ranked at 20 on TV Guide’s list of the 60 Best Series.

Premise – The two main settings consist of the work and home life of Rob Petrie (Dick Van Dyke), the head writer of a comedy/variety television show (the fictitious The Alan Brady Show). Many scenes deal with Rob and his co-writers, Buddy Sorrell (Morey Amsterdam) and Sally Rogers (Rose Marie). Mel Cooley (Richard Deacon), a balding straight man and recipient of numerous insulting one-liners from Buddy, was the show’s producer and the brother-in-law of the show’s star, Alan Brady (Carl Reiner). As Rob, Buddy, and Sally write for a comedy show, the premise provides a built-in forum for them to be making jokes constantly. Other scenes focus on the home life of Rob, his wife Laura (Mary Tyler Moore), and son Richie (Larry Mathews), who live at 148 Bonnie Meadow Road in suburban New Rochelle, New York. Also often seen are their next-door neighbors and best friends, Jerry Helper (Jerry Paris), a dentist, and his wife Millie (Ann Morgan Guilbert).

Dick Van Dyke Show 2Little Known Facts
• Mary Tyler Moore usually wore Capri pants on the show, but the Network didn’t like it. So they required the producers to put her in a skirt or a dress for a specific number of scenes per episode. So they filmed a scene where she goes into the kitchen in Capri pants and came out shortly thereafter wearing a skirt. The Network eventually relented.
• Because of Moore, Capri pants became a huge fashion craze in the early 1960s.
• The office where Rob works is a re-creation of the writers’ bullpen from Your Show of Shows, where Carl Reiner worked as a young writer. The character, Rob Petrie, was based on Reiner and the character, Buddy Sorrell, was based on Mel Brooks. The role of Alan Brady, was based on Sid Caesar.
• Reportedly Mary Tyler Moore told the producers she was older than she really was in order to get the role of Laura. Carl Reiner later incorporated this into the show causing Rob and Laura having to get re-married because Laura had lied about her age.
• Carl Reiner would often ask cast and crew members about funny things that had happened to them, then he would write episodes about these occurrences. As a result, many episodes of the show were based on actual events.
The Dick Van Dyke Show was the last show to be shot entirely in black and white. The show was due to be shot in color after the fifth season, but never happened because of the cast and producers’ decision to end the show after five seasons.
• For the first three seasons, Alan Brady’s face was never shown but his voice was heard rarely, because Carl Reiner wanted to get a big star to play Alan. Reiner eventually decided to take on the role himself.
• Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore played a married couple so convincingly on the show that many viewers actually thought they were married in real life. They have remained close friends ever since.
• Carl Reiner was careful not to use any 1960s slang in the show. In fact, references to any time period or current events are very few and far between.
• According to Dick Van Dyke, viewers used to make bets (during the opening credits of seasons 2, 3, 4 & 5) on whether or not Rob Petrie would stumble over the Ottoman.
• Rose Marie’s husband, Bobby Guy, died during the series. This caused her to want to quit the show. Director John Rich talked her out of it and she stayed until the series’ end.
• Dick Van Dyke’s personal assistant, Frank Adamo, can be seen in numerous episodes as a waiter, delivery man, walk-on, or just a face in the crowd. He was always un-credited.
• Morey Amsterdam and Richard Deacon were actually close friends. According to Deacon, many of the best insults Buddy hurled at Mel were worked out while the two went out for a drink after work, or a screen filming time out.
• Dick Van Dyke took a big chance agreeing to do this show because in order to do it, he had to leave the Broadway hit show Bye Bye Birdie for which he won a Tony Award. If the show was not a hit, he would have been out of work.
• Johnny Carson was a runner-up for the role of Rob Petrie.
• The show’s production company was called Calvada Productions. The name came from the names of all of the key persons involved in production: Carl Reiner, Sheldon Leonard, Dick Van Dyke and Danny Thomas.
• Dick Van Dyke was concerned that the age difference between he and Mary Tyler Moore would not be convincing as husband and wife, but their on-screen chemistry soon dispelled that fear.
• Laura’s maiden name was changed from Meeker to Meehan following Mary Tyler Moore’s divorce from her first husband, Richard Meeker.
• As soon as Rose Marie signed her contract, she immediately suggested Morey Amsterdam for the role of Buddy Sorrell.
• During Richard Deacon’s first season as Mel Cooley, on The Dick Van Dyke Show, he was also finishing up the last season as Fred Rutherford on Leave It to Beaver.
• Morey Amsterdam wrote lyrics to Earle Hagen’s famous musical theme, but they were never used. The lyrics can be heard as a bonus on The Dick Van Dyke Show season 4 DVD’s and blue-ray discs.
• During the final season, Carl Reiner temporarily gave up his producer duties in order to appear in The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming.
• The running gag about Alan Brady’s toupee was based on Max Liebman, the producer of Your Show of Shows.
• The task of casting Laura proved to be the most difficult. About 60 actresses auditioned for the role before Mary Tyler Moore was chosen. She almost didn’t go to the audition, but was persuaded by her agent.
• Dick Van Dyke’s favorite episodes from the entire run of The Dick Van Dyke Show are: #5 – The Attempted Marriage, #4 – It May Look Like a Walnut, #3 – I’d Rather Be Bald Than Have No Head at All, #2 – Never Bathe on Saturday, and his top favorite, # 1 – Where Did I Come From?.

Dick Van Dyke Show Emmy awards pic 3

Little Known Facts about Charles M. Schultz and The Peanuts – 1950 Comedy

 

•There are over 65 productions on television, film, and stage.
• Schulz wasn’t a fan of the name Peanuts. Even after Peanuts became hugely successful, Schulz said he never liked the name and wanted to call the strip “Good Old Charlie Brown.”
• Schulz loosely based Snoopy on a black-and-white dog named Spike he had as a teenager.
• Woodstock was named for the 1969 landmark music festival.
• Named Charlie Brown after an instructor at the art correspondence school he attended and taught at.
• The never seen character of the “Little Red-Haired Girl” that Charlie Brown has a crush on was based on a girl Schulz knew in his youth, who turned him down when he asked her for a date.
• TV execs thought “A Charlie Brown Christmas” would flop. It later won an Emmy award and became one of the longest-running holiday specials of all time.
• Charles M. Schulz was a World War II veteran.
• 2/12/00: Died in his sleep at about 9:45 pm in Santa Rosa, CA. He was suffering from colon cancer, with which he was diagnosed in November 1999. He also had Parkinson’s disease.
• Charles M. Schultz won the Reuben Award, comic art’s highest honor, in 1955 and 1964.
• In 1978 Charles M. Schultz was named International Cartoonist of the Year.
• His comic strips featuring the character Snoopy, in his World War One Flying Ace strips, are credited with reviving interest in WWI aircraft, especially the Sopwith Camel, which Snoopy pretended to fly.
• Was a .50-caliber machine gunner in World War Two. He forgot to load the thing during the one time he actually had the opportunity to use it; fortunately the German soldier he ran into surrendered.
• 5/27/00: Nearly 100 syndicated cartoonists created special Peanuts-themed comics as a lasting memorial to him, as creator of the enduring and beloved strip.
• His studio in Santa Rosa was One Snoopy Place.
• At the peak of his popularity, “Peanuts” captured as many as 355 million readers, and he was earning from US$30 to US$40 million a year.
• Schulz liked to play hockey, which is why hockey and skating were occasionally featured in both the comic strip and the animated programs.
• Was struggling to come up with the name for a new character when he happened to see a bowl of candy, and decided on “Peppermint Patty.”
• He was promoted a couple of grades when he was in school, and this was the cause of his depression and anxiety; the older kids who were now his classmates were constantly teasing him because of his small size, which also fostered a deep competitive streak in him.
• Schulz was the grand marshal of the 1973 Rose Bowl Parade.
• When Mad Magazine parodied Schulz’s book, “Happiness is a Warm Puppy”, with their article, “Being Rich is Better than a Warm Puppy”, Schulz canceled his subscription.
• Contrary to popular belief, Schulz’s chief character, Charlie Brown, is not bald. Schulz insisted that Charlie Brown’s hair is blond, but the hair is so light that it is almost transparent.
• His favorite movie was Citizen Kane (1941). He incorporated many references to the film in his strips over the years.
• He was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7021 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California.
• Peanuts comic strips and products gave Schulz an estimated income of $30-40 million each year, and Peanuts characters were featured on 20,000 new products every year, by 1999.
• Peanuts is considered as one of the most influential, greatest and popular comics of all time, receiving a number of awards over the years, and as a result, Snoopy became the mascot of NASA personal safety for astronauts, and along with Charlie Brown became the semi-official mascot of the Apollo 10 mission.

Snoopy Stamp

The Peanuts – 1950 Comedy

 

The Peanuts history in a nutshell:

“The Peanuts” began as a syndicated comic strip that ran daily, with a special color extended strip every Sunday. It was written and illustrated by the late, great, Charles M. Schultz. It ran from October 2, 1950 until February 13, 2000, with reruns continuing on afterwards. It is one of the most popular and influential comic strips of all time, with 17,897 strips published in all. At its peak, Peanuts ran in over 2,600 newspapers, with a readership of 355 million in 75 countries, and was translated into 21 languages.

But to me, that is just the tip of the iceberg. The Peanuts influence is massive. It reaches into every facet of our society. To understand this completely, I think we should acknowledge that what began as a small black and white comic in a small local newspaper, blew up to be a worldwide, billion dollar franchise. The newspaper strips were just a part of that, and a small part of it at that. There have been books, television productions, feature films, plays, recordings, t-shirts, toys, peanut butter, underwear, a shaved ice machine, waffle maker, Hallmark cards, Christmas ornaments, ties, lunch boxes, skate boards, figurines, candy, coin banks, puzzles, corn on the cob holders, and on and on. In 2011, Forbes Magazine listed Peanuts as number 9 on its’ list of the 20 best-selling entertainment products in the world.

Let’s face it, it’s a brand that is recognized the world over, by many generations. And even 15 years after Schultz death, it’s as strong as ever. There’s even a new movie coming out as I write this. And I don’t know about you, but I’m super excited about taking my kids to go see it!

So I have to ask, what makes Peanuts so great! Is it the relatable loser Charlie Brown, who can’t seem to win? (Has he ever kicked the football?) Or is it his lovable dog Snoopy? Lucy? Linus? Peppermint Patty? Woodstock? Pig-pen? Franklin? Schroeder? Sally? Marcie? Did I miss anyone? I wrote that list without looking. That’s how ingrained these characters are to me. I remember their television specials and movies. I remember their bed sheets. There would be no Thanksgiving Day Parade without the Snoopy balloon. He also has his own blimp. How cool is that? How many characters can say that?
I love The Peanuts and you love The Peanuts (come on, you know you do). The world loves The Peanuts. We love the strips, the television specials, and so forth. We love all of it.  And evidently, we can’t get enough of it. Why?

Well, let’s see. It’s funny. It’s heartwarming. It’s sad at times. It’s relatable. It’s got complex characters. It’s got intriguing story lines. It has no adults. And it’s wholesome. I found countless articles on the internet about the enduring timeless messages in the Peanuts content. The proof is there. I think there is something for everyone. I believe there’s a Charlie Brown and Snoopy in all of us.

Top 10 Charles M. Schultz films according to Flickchart.com:

Charlie Brown 1Charlie Brown 2Charlie Brown 3Charlie Brown 4Charlie Brown 5Charlie Brown 6Charlie Brown 7Charlie Brown 8Charlie Brown 9Charlie Brown 10

Little Known Facts About Mary Pickford

 

• Stage producer David Belasco gave Mary her stage name in 1908. Her real name, Gladys Marie Smith, wasn`t right for an actress on his stage. “Gladys” didn`t suit the diminutive actress, “Smith” was too common, “Marie” was too foreign. “Marie” became “Mary”. “Pickford” was her mother`s maiden name. Years later, a fan who traced her family tree found that the name “Mary Pickford” occurred several times in her mother`s family going back to the 12th century.
• Pickford charmed producer David Belasco on their first meeting. When he asked, “So you want to be an actress, little girl?”, she cagily replied, “No, sir. I have been an actress. I want to be a good actress.”
• In October 1911, a court voided her contract with IMP because she was a minor when she signed it. As a result, she left IMP for the Majestic Company for $275/week.
• Became a US citizen on her marriage to Douglas Fairbanks, but later reclaimed her Canadian citizenship and died a dual US/Canadian citizen.
• First star (along with husband Douglas Fairbanks) to officially place hand and footprints in the cement at Grauman`s Chinese Theatre (April 30, 1927).
• Was named #24 on The American Film Institute 50 Greatest Screen Legends.
• The house in which she lived in Hollywood for most of her life was nicknamed “Pickfair”.
• Was Joan Crawford`s mother-in-law, while Crawford was married to Pickford`s son, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.
• Measurements: 33 1/4-25-36 (from her dress designer).
• She and husband Fairbanks were friends of the Edsel Fords (Henry Ford`s son). In the Edsel & Eleanor Ford home at 1100 Lake Shore Rd., Grosse Point Shores, MI there hangs in the study an autographed photo of her signed “Mary Pick-A-Ford”, c. 1932.
• She became estranged from daughter Roxanne for a time when she, at age eighteen, ran off to marry a man her parents did not approve of.
• She had intended to have all of her films destroyed after her death, fearing that no one would care about them. She was convinced not to do this.

mary-pickford-stamp