Wednesday, December 2, 2020

THE BARON - "Diplomatic Immunity" (1966)

This week's Wild Wednesday extravaganza is the first episode "The Baron" TV show that was on for one season in 1966 and into 1967.

I don't remember this show at all. Tabonga and I were seniors in high school in 1966, and I'm pretty sure we were busy doing other things, and "The Baron" probably was too smart and not cool enough for us, but as an old man, I like this show a lot!! 

The concept of being an antique dealer and also an undercover agent is pretty novel!

The first episode was titled "Diplomatic Immunity" for obvious reasons. 
Although it was a British show, it was first shown in the U.S. but wasn't widely received, so it only aired for thirteen episodes, but it then became very popular in the U.K. where they got to see all thirty. I was told about it by my editor Lord Litter in Germany, so you can see it's a show that has a lot of International appeal!

Steve Forrest stars as John Mannering, aka "The Baron." Steve was in "The Twilight Zone" episode titled "The Parallel," and was in dozens of TV shows that included "Night Gallery." In the mid 70's, he was one of the stars of the show "S.W.A.T."

Although "The Baron" was a British show, the star Steve Forrest was born in Huntsville, Texas!

This ugly but very expensive Faberge couch just got lifted from John Mannering's Antique shop.

They captured the heist on this sneaky camera.................

.........................But there's only one problem. The woman who stole it is easily recognized even though she has a wig on, but she can't be touched because she works at the embassy of a foreign country called Pamerania and has full diplomatic immunity from any crimes, and once she's out of the country, forget about it!

It always cracks me up to see guys in cars sitting so close together so they can get them in the shot! It's either that, or they just like each other! Who knows what's going on since you can't see their hands!

Time for "The Baron" to go on an overseas mission!

"The Baron" has got a top of the line security system!
Of course he's going to need some stuff like a mini tape recorder built into a brush, and a cigarette lighter that shoots sideways when you use it. Both of these items are going to come in very handy!

"The Baron's" contact in Pamerania is Cordelia Winfield as played by Sue (Hysteria) Lloyd. Sue was a staple on British TV in the 60's and 70's, and was in some great shows like "Department S," and "Jason King."

Dora (Space:1999) Reisser had the role of Eva Dummel, the gal who stole the Faberge, and this is what she got when she tried to break free of the whole routine! Luckily, that little tape recorder caught the whole thing!

"The Baron" is not only suave, he's tough too, and disposes of a lot of Pameranian clowns like this!
A couple of weeks ago, our pal Brian James Riedel told me about a website where you can literally get lost for the rest of your life watching old TV programs and movies for free called "Uncle Earl's Classic Television Channel" where you can watch at least eighteen episodes of "The Baron," along with a host of other classic shows like "The Man From U.N.C.L.E.," "The Avengers," and "The Professionals," just to name a few! Just don't blame me if you never make it back!

Monday, November 30, 2020

LIGHTS OUT / "Dead Man's Coat" - 1951

Here's our last post for November... Today's tale deals with a dead man's coat that can become a cloak of invisibility, a bitter man with scores to settle, combined with grave-robbing and murder! Strap on your seat belts!!

It stars Basil Rathbone, William Post Jr. and Norman Rose. We know that Basil is a fantastic actor, to me he was the Real Sherlock Holmes for example. His next to last movie was HILLBIILLYS IN A HAUNTED HOUSE, his last one was the Mexican production, AUTOPSY OF A GHOST! William Post Jr. was in a number of movies from 1931 to 1948, then did only TV from 1949 to 1976. Norman Rose had 42 acting credits from 1949 to 1992 and was narrator in WAR BETWEEN THE PLANETS and MESSAGE FROM SPACE besides being in some quality movies.

In a novel beginning, we see our narrator Frank Gallop on the TV, he saying (an old wife's tale) that a dead man's coat could make a person invisible if it's retrieve at midnight on the day they're buried!

Mr. Francis tells his butler Gregory to turn the TV off, the idea is just plain ridiculous! But, he reads in the paper that a friend of his was buried today.

After mulling it over and realizing that he could settle some scores with a few of his other 'friends' by becoming invisible, he tells Gregory to grab some tools, they're going to the graveyard to do some grave-robbing!

At the gravesite, Gregory is beside himself, he's filled with anxiety. And when Francis starts using an ax on the coffin lid (because it's only a few minutes before midnight) the butler just can't stand it.

Low and behold, Francis comes out of the hole with the coat in hand, right on time. Gregory says he wants to leave...

That sets Francis off, telling Gregory that if he tried to go to the police it would be the last thing he ever did! Francis puts the coat on and becomes invisible, Gregory faints!

Back at home, Gregory brings his boss a drink, but is confused about where the invisible man is in the room! When Gregory refuses a request, well, Francis (he's one sadistic SOB) comes out of nowhere and either slaps or chokes the poor butler. He also threatens him with sending him to prison for past his deeds, so he'd better remain loyal... Now, where in the Hell have I heard THAT shit before?

In the only 'invisible' effect, the phone spins in circles as Francis chokes Gregory into submission to call a friend, Hamilton, and set up an appointment to meet together at his office, where Francis plans on killing him!

So, Gregory meets with (his real friend) Hamilton the next day and is under duress as he tries to talk to him. Thing is, Francis is in the room with them. Poor Gregory...

And poor Hamilton! Gregory's ordered to lock the door by the invisible psycho...

Basil's gestures are gripping! Only a few actors could be this convincing in this role.

Francis attacks Hamilton and it's not long before the unsuspecting victim ist tote. Wow, can you even imagine what it's like for Gregory to see this happen to his real friend!

The evening Hamilton is laid to rest in a crypt, Francis cannot help himself, he wants to go to the graveyard and say goodbye to his 'friend' and gloat over his dead body! We see the keepers arrange things and leave the tomb...

On the way out, one guy says that he ran into someone, but didn't see anything! To which another one quips, well, he'd have to be invisible! The jokes start.

Then the door is locked. Gregory inquires about the door and the guy with the key says that they just replaced the lock, and that no one will ever be able to get in without the key. The guy in the glasses turns to him and says, yeah, and no one can get out!!

Gregory talks with Francis through the opening. Mr. Invisible tells Gregory to go to the car and get some tools to get him out, it's cold as Hell in here! Get it?

The butler returns with a file, really making Francis pissed off. He wanted like a crowbar! So he tells Gregory to get to work, start filing!! Gregory says, no!! Francis starts sniveling, saying, my dear dear friend, I'm soooo sorry for all the things I've done to you over the years! Waa!

Gregory tells him he'll give him a chance to save himself, and drops the file to the ground . He tells Francis to reach through the opening and grab the file, and when he does, Gregory steps on his fingers and kicks the file out of reach!

Francis is crying like a 4 year old now (where have I heard THAT shit before!) but Gregory is done with him. Quoting from the Bible, Francis is put in his place as our good guy turns the tables on him. Let you be judged on murder, grave-robbing, abuse of others and blackmailing a person with false accusations about their past, as with Gregory!! Let you be judged by your Maker!.. Great little story!

Saturday, November 28, 2020

MURDER AT THE VANITIES - "Show Girls On Parade and Murder Set To Music" (1934)

It's time for another Saturday Night Special, and this time it's a film called "Murder At The Vanities" from 1934! It might have been 86 years ago, but it's still as fresh as the year it was made!

"Murder At The Vanities" was one of the last films made before the The Motion Picture Production Code was enacted!

This was the code that governed the film making business until freakin' 1968, when the ratings system they still use today kicked in. I.E........G, PG, R, X.
I'd love to list all the rules for you, but here are just a couple that would have made this film be banned if it had been made the following year.  VI.4 "Dancing costumes intended to permit undue exposure of indecent movements in the dance are forbidden." or VII.2 "Dances which emphasize indecent movements are to be regarded as obscene!"

From 1957 to 1968, Kitty Carlisle was a panelist on the TV show called "To Tell The Truth" for an unbelievable 389 episodes and I never ever thought she was sexy once, but "Murder At The Vanities" changed my mind completely!

"Murder At The Vanities" is for all rights and purposes, a musical and has a huge cast that includes "The Most Beautiful Girls In The World."

This was a tough film to limit to a handful of pictures. The insanely gorgeous imagery just goes on forever!

Girls, girls, girls, girls, and then.............................

...............There's more girls.

The Vanities was one heckuva extraganza, and it's no wonder it was sold out!

Wow! Sexy but can kick your butt!!

Over the course of the film, a couple of people do get murdered, but it's incidental to the real story, which is what you see here!

Two of the main players are Victor McLaglen on the left as the Detective more interested in the ladies than the murders, and on the right is Jack Oakie, the guy trying to put on this show. Victor McLaglen was a boxer who would take on all comers at circuses and wild west shows. He fought World Heavyweight Champion Jack Johnson in a 1909 exibition match! Funny guy Jack Oakie was functionally deaf, and worked by reading lips, but you would never know it by watching him perform!

All that, and I haven't even got around to the good stuff yet!!
If you've never seen "Murder At The Vanities," this song and dance number will literally blow your mind! Gertrude (Flamingo Road) Michael as Rita Ross belts out a little ditty called "Sweet Marijuana."
Although it doesn't have anything to do with dealing drugs, they might have just stepped over the code line one more time, and you can check it out for yourself right HERE!

This is just one of the seven cute little Mary Jane blossoms!

At this point, they've completely lost their minds and the black cast members take over the whole show, and the man in charge is one of the most phenomenal and extraordinary musicians of any time, Mr. Duke Ellington!

The high energy of the black performers totally rocks the place, and takes the whole show to a higher level, especially in the sexy beautiful women department!

This is just a fantastic shot!

Amongst all this beauty, believe it or not, the real star of the show is the smaltzy Eric Lander as played by Danish actor Carl Brisson, who doubly believe it or not, was also a professional boxer, and starred in a movie called "The Ring" in 1927!
Carl delivers a very suave version of the classic "Cocktails For Two"............. 
...........But my favorite version of this song will always be the high energy one delivered by

So how the Hell do you cram almost thirty people into one tight shot and make it work? well, it's just like everything else in "Murder At The Vanities," Sheer genius!
Just in case you'd like to know more about the code, Wikipedia does a good job of explaining the whole thing!

Monster Music

Monster Music
AAARRGGHHH!!!! Ya'll Come On Back Now, Y'Hear??