Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Tuesday's Overlooked Films and/or Other A/V: the links

This week's selections  (reviews and citations at the links below) of undeservedly (and a few deservedly) underappreciated audio/visual experiences...as always, thanks to all the contributors and you readers. 

Allan Fish: Ghatashraddha

Anne Billson: Nymphomaniac V. 1

Bill Crider: Girls Town [trailer]

Brian Arnold: Super

BV Lawson: Media Murder; "Towards a Digital Atlas of European Crime Fiction?"

Comedy Film Nerds: Allan Havey; Kristen Carney

Dan Stumpf: The Man with Two Faces

Elizabeth Foxwell: "Espionage Target: You"; A. Conan Doyle on spiritualism and Holmes

Evan Lewis: The Shadow: A Trip to Eternity

George Kelley: Kinky Boots (stage)

How Did This Get Made?: Rhinestone

Iba Dawson: Anne V. Coates

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.: The Abbott and Costello Show

Jack Seabrook: The Abominable Dr. Phibes

Jackie Kashian: Mary Kennedy on Kennedys, reality tv, gossip magazines, politics, etc.

Jacqueline T. Lynch: Red Canyon

Jake Hinkson: Quais Du Polar​

James Reasoner: "No Matter What Shape..."

Jeff Flugel: horror and adjacent films: from The Leopard Man to Tucker & Dale vs. Evil

Jerry House: Science Fiction Theater: "Operation Flypaper"; Death Valley Days: "Sam Bass"; Ray Bradbury in 2001

John Grant: A Private Scandal; A Question of Adultery

Jonathan Lewis: The Mongols; Arizona Raiders

Kate Laity: Valhalla Rising

Kliph Nesteroff: Maynard Sloate, booker for Vegas casinos and clubs in the '50s and '60s

Laura: The Public Defender; Stand By for Action

Martin Edwards: Magic (1978 film)

Marty McKee: The Outfit

Patrick Murtha: A Perfect Couple

Patti Abbott: Los Angeles Plays Itself

Prashant Trikkanad: Passenger 57

Randy Johnson: Rio Bravo; Island of Lost Women

Rick: The Saint (tv)

Rod Lott: Girlhouse; Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau; Camp

Sergio Angelini: Marlowe (1969 film)

Stacia Jones: Black Patch

Stephen Bowie: Anthony Heald

Steve Lewis: Death Flies East

Todd Mason: the NTA Film Network (defunct US television network)

Walter Albert: Two-Fisted

Yvette Banek: To Be or Not To Be (the first film)

Monday, May 25, 2015

overlooked US television networks: NTA Film Network (flourished 1956-61)

Old VHF Channel 13 in New York City has been the or an anchor station for no fewer than three national television networks in the US so far...in 1962, it was among the later startups for public television in larger cities when, as WNDT (then, later, WNET), it became one of the key stations in the National Educational Television (NET) network, and, when PBS was initiated in 1970 (in part so that the Nixon Administration could "tame" NET), became a key station for that similarly decentralized network. But before the sale of the station in late 1961 to a public broadcasting nonprofit corporation, it had for some years served as WNTA, the launching point for a small national network, the NTA (National Telefilm Associates) Film Network. Some online references, at least, rather sloppily credit the NTA programs to NET or even PBS, others somewhat more understandably cited them as syndicated (the NTA network at its height had 128 affiliates, apparently, and most were primary affiliates of one of the three bigger commercial networks...the DuMont Network and the Paramount Television Network both having just ceased most operations earlier in 1956). However, the Wikipedia article on the network is pretty impressive.

As was some of the programming, most memorably The Play of the Week (1959-1961); John Houseman was among the regular participants behind the cameras. From their production of The Iceman Cometh (1960, starring Jason Robards and featuring Robert Redford): 

From the pilot episode, "Medea" with Judith Anderson (1959)
 Many episodes of this series are available on home video...some in the same package as NET Playhouse episodes produced later for NET and, briefly after, PBS, perhaps furthering confusion for the easily confused between WNTA and its network and its public successor and its networks.

Not every series was as notable, but the network got some licks in, even given that the most durable series associated with it were network co-owner David Susskind's talk show Open End (soon retitled The David Susskind Show, as the WNTA original would simply run on Sunday nights into Monday morning till Susskind and his guests tired of the conversation they were having, and the show and WNTA would sign off) and the Los Angeles affiliate KTTV's first contribution to the network, the first version of Divorce Court (which would continue in syndication till 1969).

As would the Fox/FBC network and the WB much later, NTA tried an initial national in-pattern primetime slate on one night only, on Fridays in 1958:

7:30pm ET/PT: Man Without a Gun
8pm This is Alice
8:30p How to Marry a Millionaire
9-11p Premiere Performance (first-run. if pre-1949, films from 20th Century Fox, who was a partner in the network)
to see as well how the other commercial networks programmed Fridays in '58-'59, click here.

Man Without a Gun opening

This is Alice opening (Desilu production)

How to Marry a Millionaire (first of three parts of a full episode)

Another NTA series, this one in partnership with the BBC (another tradition carried on by NET and PBS): The Third Man (a full episode)--a reasonably clever one written by (Ms.) Hagar Wilde, directed by Arthur Hiller, and featuring Suzanne Pleshette along with series star Michael Rennie as Harry Lime; "Listen for the Sound of a Witch":

From a David Susskind Show episode from not too long after the network's end, with Jerry Lewis blathering about his variety/talkshow failure:

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Saturday Music Club: influence detective edition: on free jazz singer Patty Waters, and those who cite her...

Patty Waters. latter 1960s
Patty Waters has had one of the more enigmatic careers among jazz vocalists, having been "discovered" singing in a supper club by avant-garde jazz saxophonist Albert Ayler and recommended to Ayler's primary label at the time, ESP-Disk Records. She recorded two albums for the indy label in 1965 and '66, then, after a bit of a European sojourn, retired from performance for decades. But the two LPs, and a rarities collection, helped her have some important influence on Patti Smith, Lydia Lunch and Diamanda Galás, by their own account (and through the first two, punk rock among other modes). Here, below, a slight query into some of those who might've influenced Waters, or at least got her to consider opening up her approach in the direction she took for her early recordings...to write "gave her permission" is too much, I suspect...Waters apparently hadn't heard the Lincoln performance till after recording her own.

Sheila Jordan with the George Russell Sextet: "You Are My Sunshine"

Nina Simone: "Feeling Good"

Jeanne Lee and Ran Blake: "Laura"

Abbey Lincoln with the Max Roach band: "Triptych (Prayer, Protest, Peace)" from Freedom Now Suite

Patty Waters: "It Never Entered My Mind"

Patty Waters: "Song of Clifford"

for her recording of "Black is the Color of My True Love's Hair"

Joan La Barbara: "Twelvesong"

Patti Smith Group: "Ain't It Strange"

Friday, May 22, 2015

FFS/eB: Walter M. Miller, Jr.: "Command Performance" (GALAXY, November 1952); "Conditionally Human" (GALAXY February 1952); "MacDoughal's Wife" (THE AMERICAN MERCURY March 1950)

We consider three important stories from early in the relatively short literary career of Walter M. Miller, Jr., best remembered for the linked novelets published as a novel A Canticle for Leibowitz. Miller stopped publishing new fiction, as far as I know, with the release of the Canticle volume in 1959; he had one notable national publication in The Nation in 1962 (an essay about the ongoing legal/investigative antagonism between Robert Kennedy and Jimmy Hoffa) and, in an anthology Miller edited with Martin H. Greenberg, published in 1985, a new poem appeared.  That was all till after  Miller's suicide, when the long-stalled sequel to Canticle, completed by Terry Bisson, was published in 1997.

"MacDoughal's Wife" was apparently Miller's first published work of fiction, though his second, "Mother of Mary" (Extension Magazine, May 1950) is mentioned in the footnote blurb in the March 1950 issue of The American Mercury and was presumably accepted/bought earlier by the Catholic outreach magazine (their current website is careful to cite contributions by Taylor Caldwell and a first sale by Mary Higgins Clark, but no mention of Miller; I've advised them of the above facts, and perhaps he isn't considered too heretical by them, though he was a RC convert who eventually strayed from the church).  Apparently, while never a particularly
doctrinaire Catholic, Miller did have some rather fixed traditionalist ideas about men and women, to judge (I suspect not quite unfairly) by their recurrence in his fiction.  MacDoughal, in this contemporary-mimetic story, fumes over his wife's consistent flirtation with other men, even as she makes some pointed comments about his tendency toward alcohol abuse, during a Sunday at the beach; he's particularly obsessed, in his interior monolog, with her miscarriage three years earlier and what he sees as her nonchalance about that, and the apparent result that she has been left infertile; their childlessness seems to bother him at least as much as her flirting and supposed shallowness, and his emotional and wedding-contractual yoke with her. 

"Conditionally Human," Miller's first story for Galaxy, is available in ebook format with an introduction by Barry N. Malzberg, the series editor for The Galaxy Project reprints from the early years of the magazine. Here, much is made of maternal instinct as the driving force behind the breeding of hyperintelligent dogs and cats, and human-appearance chimps with tales appended to help make it clear that they are not human, since "genetically flawed" humans are constrained from reproducing. The protagonist is a latter-day animal-control agent whose bailiwick is specifically to keep tabs on these surrogate children and their keepers/"parents"...consistently, he and the other men in the story are, or seem to be, the Rational, Rule-bound characters, the women the ruled-by-emotion and -biological imperative foils to their rationalizations for the frequent extermination of very sentient creatures; even a priest, who opposes the extermination, still sees the Child/Pets as soulless and not human enough to be considered on a par with us (genocide metaphor not to be lost here). Thus, both women and men are damned, and while some of the men are allowed to make some moral choices, the women are mostly not quite allowed to demonstrate a similar intellection, so much as hopeless conformity or apparently lunatic rebellion. 

"Command Performance" was Miller's second Galaxy contribution; slightly contrary to Barry's assertion, Miller published his first sf story with Amazing  but didn't go on to publish more or less exclusively with Astounding Science Fiction, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Galaxy, but would place many more stories with Howard Browne's Amazing, Fantastic, and Fantastic Adventures, and such magazines edited by old colleagues of Browne as If, initially edited by Browne's once and future assistant Paul Fairman, and Other Worlds, edited by Browne's old boss Ray Palmer, among many other magazines in the sf and fantasy fields.  The blurb on the Rosetta Books page for this one is also particularly bad, as the protagonist has no idea at the outset she's a telepath, nor that the telepath she meets will have such insanely pseudo-rational (and reproductive) designs on her.  But the introduction, by fantasy/sf/historical fiction writer David Drake, like Miller a combat veteran, is quite good in limning the shared history of combat-driven PTSD between Miller and Galaxy founding editor H. L. Gold (not completely unknown to Drake, as well), and noting how Miller's World War II bombing crew experience shaped his later life and career...though Drake also suggests that Astounding, later retitled Analog, editor John W. Campbell, Jr. is raked over the coals for his support of a variety of questionable pseudo-scientific notions, not least his obsession with telepathy and other psi powers,  while, say, Fantastic Universe and Saint Mystery Magazine editor Hans Stefan Santesson isn't faulted for his consistent use of UFO-related "nonfiction" in his f/sf magazine...when, of course, Santesson is tweaked and mocked for just that among those who remember FU under his editorship.

Three worth seeking out; I don't quite agree that these demonstrate that Miller was the best writer in 1950s sf and fantasy at novelet or novella lengths (we did have Fritz Leiber, Theodore Sturgeon and Damon Knight, among many others, doing much of their best work at this time), but they are compellingly written, and certainly the passions and desire to tackle the tough subjects are amply present.

For more of today's books (actual books, no less!), please see Patti Abbott's blog.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Tuesday's Overlooked Films and/or Other A/V: new links

aka I Promised to Pay in the US and other markets
This week's selections  (reviews and citations at the links below) of undeservedly (and a few deservedly) underappreciated audio/visual experiences...as always, thanks to all the contributors and you readers. Two George Baxt scripts this week...at least! And the late addition of Dan Stumpf's second film is a David Goodis adaptation, happily, rather than the two absolutely miserable films based on the famous early story by Isaac Asimov...

Allan Fish: Ikarie XB-1

Anne Billson: 15 of the Best Movie Car Chases

Bill Crider: Mr. Brooks [trailer]; "Dime Crimes #34"

B.V. Lawson: Media Murder

Comedy Film Nerds: Kristen Carney

Dan Stumpf: Possession; Nightfall (1957 film)

David Vineyard: A King without Distraction
Mr. Brooks

Elizabeth Foxwell: Secret Mission

Evan Lewis: Yancy Derringer

George Kelley: Eddie and the Cruisers

How Did This Get Made?: The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996 film)

Iba Dawson: A Ballerina's Tale

A Ballerina's Tale
Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.: Creature with the Atom Brain; biker movies on TCM

Jack Seabrook: the Roald Dahl episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents:

Jackie Kashian: Michelle McNamara, true crime researcher

Jacqueline T. Lynch: a play about being a fan of The Best Years of Our Lives

Jake Hinkson: The Lady from Shanghai
Club Havana

James Reasoner: Club Havana

Jeff Flugel: Hombre

Jerry House: God, the Universe and Everything Else: Arthur C. Clarke, Stephen Hawking and Carl Sagan in conversation, 1988; The City of the Dead (1960 film)

John Grant: The Groundstar Conspiracy; The Night Won't Talk; Lotte Eisner on early German cinema

Kate Laity: "Bear Feast Polska"

Kliph Nesteroff: Slick Slavin (comedic musician and '60s scenester)

Laura: 2015 Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival; Las Vegas Shakedown

Martin Edwards: Crimefest 2015; Brian Clemens

Marty McKee: Enforcer from Death Row

Patrick Murtha: Dennis Hopper

Patti Abbott: To Each His Own

Randy Johnson: Reverend Colt

Rick: My Favorite Classic Movie Blogathon; Fritz Lang's 5 Best

Rod Lott: Death Curse of Tartu; Abby
The Late Show

Scott Adlerberg: The Late Show (1977 film)

Sergio Angelini: Payroll

Stacia Jones: 42nd Street

Stephen Bowie: Peyton Place (tv series)

Stephen Gallagher: pan and scan on television

Walter Albert: Thundering Hoofs; Jazz Mad

Yvette Banek: Three Husbands