Saturday, December 25, 2010

1994 Hall Family Christmas Picture!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, everyone! I just found the photo I referred to in my Aug. 22, 2009 blog. Since Santa Claus is also in the picture, it must be Christmas time! Or could it be the Mystery Science Theater 3000 costume ball at their first convention?

So I found the 9/19/94 New York Times in the bottom of a box of movie posters. The picture was not on the cover like I remembered but way back on page 2 of the entertainment section. I built the robot head out of fiber glass using techniques I had learned in the prop department at the Guthrie Theater. In retrospect, the head is too big for the rest of the costume since I am no giant, although it helped boost the costume above 7 feet. I won first prize, probably for strutting around in discomfort, and almost fell getting off the stage. The only video we have of the robot in the parking lot and entering the convention is incorporated into THIS VIDEO.

Click on the photo to open it full size. Besides me, the big tin one, Scott Johnson is a deranged Torgo from "Manos, the Hands of Fate." Scott is my brother-in-law. My son Jeff (age 13 at the time) is the short Torgo in the middle. My wife Chris is behind Scott with her back to the camera. Santa Claus is...?

So Merry Ho-Ho-Ho Christmas from the Hall family, 1994.

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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Spoooky Thrillers!

I have always been fascinated by "haunted house" films and TV shows. The earliest one that made an impression was some version of Mary Roberts Rinehart's THE BAT glimpsed on a flickering TV. This might have been the "Broadway Television Theatre" version broadcast live in November of 1953 when I was 7. There is also a "Dow Hour of Great Mysteries" version from 1960, which I should have remembered more clearly being 14 at that time. It is unlikely either will ever surface for a re-see. My memory is people walking down dark hallways and stairs by candlelight. A masked madman stalks the creepy mansion. Suspense builds. The unseen in the shadows engenders fear until... something happens.

That pretty much sums up horror films! I always try to watch a haunted house film today, but mostly they put me to sleep. Seriously, most do not deliver and simply bore. What still spooks one today is a good question with a different answer for everyone. The 1927 Cat and the Canary superbly establishes mood with terrific sets and camerawork, but excessive comedy and unappealing stars Laura LaPlante and Creighton Hale weaken the second half.

The 1930 sound remake called The Cat Creeps is a lost film! I urge you to watch the fascinating 1 minute and 43 seconds that survive although without sound track here on Youtube. The 1926 version of "The Bat" succeeds with eerie shadows and real danger, as does the fascinating 1930 remake by Roland West shot in 70mm widescreen! I need to re-watch the 1959 version with Vincent Price and Agnes Moorhead though I've always felt it lacked shadows, dark camerawork and mood.

Other childhood horrors I remember fondly lurched through the gothic episodes of Boris Karloff's Thriller, all of which were released on video this year. I have been watching them daily for the past few weeks courtesy of Netflix. Half of them are merely crime stories and I skipped a few. Ah, but a lot of the scary shows are absolutely terrific with stories by Robert Bloch, direction by John Newland, Ida Lupino and John Brahm and starring William Shatner, Henry Daniell, Patricia Medina, Ron (Sherlock Holmes) Howard and Karloff himself. Better yet, the best ones still frighten. You can watch a six minute Promo Reel with highlights from the spookiest shows. One viewer commented the following, which is better said than I can:

"The horror episodes of Thriller are the best ever done. They are truly frightening - not the pathetic hack/slash/gore formula common nowadays, a poor substitute for geniune fear, which these episodes so convincingly convey. They are in a class by themselves, true masterworks of the horror genre. Beg, borrow, or steal a video copy of them. Wait until night, when things are still, then turn off the lights and watch them. You will not be disappointed."

The episode I remembered by title all these years since 1962 was The Hungry Glass with William Shatner. It unfolded a bit different than I recalled, but the scene of two ghosts pulling the heroine into the mirrors startled me. They all have outstanding sets, dark lighting, shadows and slow trips up stairs to the locked door. Some are half hour stories stretched to fill hour shows, but the padding creates suspense that today's TV has no patience with. The first horror episode is the seventh show in the series -- The Purple Room. A man must stay overnight in an eerie house in order to inherit. He is visited by a specter resembling the James Cagney make-up of Lon Chaney's Phantom of the Opera for "Man of a Thousand Faces."

Karloff first acts in the tenth episode, "The Prediction," about a mentalist who starts seeing the truth about the future. A good show but not scary. "The Cheaters" features a decrepit house where spectacles are created that show the wearer the truth; years later a man returns to the even more run down place to see his truth, which naturally drives him mad. Don't miss "The Well of Doom" with Henry Daniell costumed like the vampire in London After Midnight and acting like the Devil himself. Don't miss "Parasite Mansion," "The Prisoner in the Mirror," "The Premature Burial" or "The Devil's Ticket."

Perhaps spookiest of all is "The Pigeons from Hell." Adapted from a Robert E. Howard story, taking place entirely at night, two brothers from up north whose car is trapped in the mud somewhere in the Deep South who take refuge in a deserted plantation house devoid of furniture surrounded by noisy pigeons who give off otherworldly vibes. As they settle down for a night's sleep, one brother ventures upstairs, only to return a few moments later with a split forehead, blood streaming down his face, hatchet in hand and looking ready to kill. The other brother flees the big house, runs into the woods, falls down, and is found by the local sheriff to whom he relates his harrowing experience. The investigation continues into the night and into the gloom of a forbidden room where the lantern keeps blowing out.

Watch if you dare....

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Saturday, December 11, 2010

What Are the 39 Steps?

At the climax of Alfred Hitchcock's 1935 suspense classic The 39 Steps, hero Richard Hanney yells at the stage of the crowded London Palladium the enigmatic question: "What are the 39 Steps?" This is my favorite movie moment ever! These are my fond reflections on that oft-viewed scene that still stops my heart with anticipation of the answer.

The specific answer (revealed under the video below) really doesn't matter. In the John Buchan 1915 adventure novel from which Hitchcock borrowed the title and hero's name but little else, the 39 Steps refers to a specific location in Scotland where 39 steps lead down to the ocean. I read the novel as a teenager but don't recall details. I hated the 1959 color remake because it copied the original scene for scene but extremely poorly. The 1978 and 2008 versions go back to the book and I need to check them out.

Needless to say, do not read further unless you have seen the 1935 original. You can watch it online right this second if you subscribe to Netflix. A high quality six-part download starts here on Youtube. The last seven minutes that include my favorite movie scene and favorite moment are in the video below.

Let's back up. Many of these blog ramblings are about what films impressed me when I was young, because those happy times turned me into the raving cineaste who continues to watch away his life. Not a complaint, but that's who I am. I first saw The 39 Steps in 1964 when I was a senior in high school. I saw it in the small movie theater inside the University of Wisconsin student union in Madison. Though not yet a college student, anyone could walk in to see the films. Both my mother and father had attended the U. We lived about one mile from the western edge of the University and five miles from the student union on the eastern end, and I was comfortable going there on my own.

I had long been a Hitchcock fan from his 1955-1962 Alfred Hitchcock Presents TV show. I had lived through a solo theater viewing of Psycho (1960) when I was 14, and had seen The Birds first run in a theater only recently. However, I had never had the chance to see The 39 Steps or any of his other early films. They did not show British films on TV in those days. No video, either, though it's hard to imagine those dinosaur days before VHS came into common usage around 1980. Few film books had been written either. I had William Everson's "Classics of the Silent Screen" (1959) but his "Films of Laurel and Hardy" was not published until 1967.

I mention the dark ages of film scholarship and accessibility to explain one simple fact: when I walked into The 39 Steps screening that memorable evening, I had absolutely no idea what the film was about! I only knew it was an Alfred Hitchcock film about an innocent man on the run, pursued by both the police and a spy ring. I assume I knew that much, but I had read nothing more. The time, location, setting and viewing age can all affect one's reaction to a great film. Watching it for the first time today on Youtube you can see how good it still is, but you can't possibly share my emotional response.

I'll skip most comments about great acting, sets, camera work, ingenious plot and man-on-the-run theme that Hitchcock used many times. I do love that vintage helicopter! There is a big surprise right in the middle when Hanney is shot point-blank by the villain and crumples to the floor. You expect he will get out of his predicament in some manner when he walks into the lion's den, but not by being shot dead. Like the shower scene in Psycho, after this point the viewer can be led down any garden path the director chooses, or is it "up?"

One escape and adventure follows another with the hero and viewer wondering "What the heck is going on?" right up to the denouement in the London Palladium. The suspense builds by painting Hanney into an impossible trap. Wanted for murder, he is surrounded by dozens of police closing in. Only he and Pamela (Madeleine Carroll) are aware of a spy ring stealing secrets that day and that moment. Hanney connects the villain with a missing finger to the vaudeville act onstage, Mr. Memory who knows everything. The viewer figures it out at the same time, and yet how can Hanney possibly extricate himself? How? How? How? The question lingers as the suspense builds. There is no obvious way out.

The quick thinking of the hero saves the day, unlike conventional climaxes resolved by a bullet, fight or chase. Hanney turns the tables on Mr. Memory by challenging him in his own act with the question "What are the 39 steps?" In the brief moment that follows the viewer absolutely knows that Memory must answer, because his professional reputation is at stake. He knows everything and must answer all questions, even if the last question will lead to his own death. He answers, is shot, the bad guy is apprehended and the film fades out within three minutes. It's a surprise ending out of the blue and a most satisfying one. Partly because of when I saw the film in my viewing life, I count it as my very favorite scene and climax of all the movies I have seen. Ever.

Re-watch the climax of Alfred Hitchcock's 39 Steps here:

And what are the 39 Steps? Mr. Memory answers Richard Hanney's question from the audience: "The 39 Steps is an organisation of spies, collecting information on behalf of the foreign office of ...." A bullet cuts short the revelation.

A quick note on posters for the film. The color poster at the top is from the original 1935 release. One sold in 1992 by Christies for $14,300. The similar poster to the right was taken from the exact same litho plates, but with less color. Although undated it is assumed to be from the 1938 re-release. This poster sold in 2002 for $920. I have a near-mint example of this 1938 poster hanging on my wall, and have decided to keep it rather than testing the current market value at auction. Time may prove it to be more valuable. It is right now to me.

Visit my website at Festival Films

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Misremembered Tide of Keaton!

I recently ran across a DVD I had copied off Turner Classic Movies maybe 5 or 10 years ago, who knows? The 1929 MGM silent film with music and effects track is Tide of Empire. This fast-moving, large-scale A-western directed by Alan Dwan is set in the Gold Rush days. Having just scanned through it a few times I can highly recommend it. The ruggedly handsome hero is future cowboy B-star Tom Keene, here billed as George Duryea. So Tom started at the top with MGM but rode off to greener valleys, much like Johnny Mac Brown made love to Greta Garbo in silents until sound revealed his very southern accent and true calling in the West.

The discovery of gold in California in 1848 brings a tide of gold seekers to the area, disrupting the lives of the Guerrero family who have owned nearby Rancho Chico for generations. Among these are Dermod D'Arcy, in partners with a jailer, Bejabbers. At a fiesta where horse races are traditionally run, a stranger notices Dermod's exceptionally fast horse, Pathfinder, and urges him to enter the horse in the race. It becomes a three-horse race, with Don José Guerrero betting his ranch that his horse will win. When Pathfinder wins, Dermod takes the ranch as his share of the winnings and gives it to Don José's daughter, Josephita, with whom he had fallen in love earlier, when he met her. Dermod and Bejabbers leave to search for gold, and the town grows rich as more and more gold is amassed. Meanwhile, a bandit chief, Cannon, met Josephita's brother, Romauldo, and forced him to join the gang.

The female star of the surviving silent version is Renée Adorée, the French star of The Big Parade who is quite appealing there and in other late silent MGMs. Sadly she only made 3 more films after Tide before dying of tuberculosis at the age of 35. A curious credit appears on the IMDB that a second version of Tide of Empire was made with the same cast except that Joan Crawford replaced Renée. Is this a lost sound version, a lost Joan Crawford film, or a mistake by IMDB? I wonder because extensive Joan Crawford sites such as this one do not even mention the film. In search of one mystery I found another.

I recall that Robert Osborne said in his introduction that Buster Keaton was rumored to have visited the set with his wife Natalie, and that Buster appeared in the film in a cameo, but no one could quite find him in the film today.

Certainly Keaton would be welcome on any MGM set between his big hits The Cameraman and Spite Marriage. My wife and I took up the challenge and ran through the crowd scenes again and again until we thought we found him. This may have been ten years ago. My clear memory is that we found Buster in heavy disguise (mustache and beaver hat) but right up front in a wedding scene at the end of the film. My intention today was to put this scene on Youtube with a link so Keaton fans could see the lost scene. Much to my surprise today, there is no wedding scene!

Once more, where the heck is Buster? The IMDB lists him as uncredited as a character called "Bump." So I looked and looked and finally found two seconds of bonafide, I swear it's him, Buster Keaton. But look fast in the clip that follows. Right after the frog race is a brief shot of the fiesta party. Keaton's head is directly above Renée's in the top left quarter of the frame. He opens his mouth wide in a Buster expression and in two seconds it cuts to the title "Come Josepheta ... dance for us!" The next short scene before she dances is a continuation of the same shot. It is harder to be certain it is Buster, because the character is laughing. After the dance, I repeat the Buster cameo without the inter-title for a second look. Tune in the next time Tide of Empire is on TCM. I will. I need to make a sharper transfer!

If anyone knows of another Buster glimpse in the film, I'm all ears. Anyway, he was there that day and looks like he had fun! Viva Keaton!

Visit my website at Festival Films

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Viking Thanksgiving!

But first lets get the "turkeys" out of the way. We live in Vikings country, the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Our turkey Viking is the NFL football team. Everyone knows the great warrior (no disrespect intended) Brett Favre should have retired at the top of his game ... last year. When they talk about going to the Super Bowl before the first game is played, you know it's about over. It's over.

Gathered in my home this Thanksgiving were wife, Chris, her brother Scott, her sister Nancy, husband Greg and two teenage sons Nick and Brendan. My son Jeff couldn't make it here from San Francisco. All of us have fun by making relatives sit through, or at least sample, really bad movies. If they are truly boring, I may walk out and go watch a western, which they may consider an equal waste of time. Some half-baked turkeys in our home are Anthony Adverse, Tender is the Night and the seasonal gobbler (wow, a bad movie with a turkey/thanksgiving theme) Plymouth Adventure.

We watched PA last year -- colorful but boring and unconvincing. I hope Spencer Tracy was well paid. Gene Tierney looked like no Pilgrim. Will they make it to the new world??? Yes, they do! So when it was on TCM this week I taped it for the guests. We only got around to running the credits as they were putting on their coats. The mere music sped them out the door. Mission accomplished.

Also on TCM last Sunday was a film we had missed in earlier showings -- The Viking, made in 1928 in full and still stunning two-strip Technicolor. I taped it and watched it on Wednesday night with Scott. After the big turkey dinner the next day, talk turned to the film because of rumors we had descended from Eric the Red or Leif Ericsson, plus a silent all-color film was pretty scarce. A suggestion to show a few minutes turned into re-watching the entire movie with two teenage boys who may have never seen a silent film before. No grumbling, no leaving the room and no fast forwarding. It entertained. I sat in the one big chair without a view of the screen and slept through the first half. After turkey I would have slept through London After Midnight.

So what the heck is so good or fascinating about The Viking? The blue-red color hues surely give it an ancient look.... Skip that, it's perky, pretty and busty Helga pictured here and played by Pauline Starke. Helga is the only woman on a long ocean voyage to uncharted lands ... some costume, huh?

From the IMDB: "Yes, it's true, an all color silent movie! The title refers to Leif Ericsson, who leaves Norway to search for new lands west of Greenland. On the way he vies for the love of Helga with his companion Egil and Alwin, an English slave. More conflict arises when he stops at the colony of his father (Eric the Red) in Greenland, for Leif has converted to Christianity, which his father hates. He also has to deal with the unrest of his crew, who fear falling off the edge of the Earth."

Director Roy William Neil helmed most of the Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes films and Roy knew even in 1928 how to move a film right along. It's loaded with viking sword fight action. The young hero is played by Le Roy Mason, who went on to a long career in B-westerns as the head bad guy vs. John Wayne, Roy, Hoppy, Gene and more. Le Roy is right up there with Roy Barcroft and Douglas Dumbrille. The older hero who plays Leif Ericson is Donald Crisp, silent film director and distinguished actor from The Birth of Nation to his Oscar role in How Green Was My Valley. Pauline Starke appeared in Griffith's Intolerance (1916) and was 27 when she made The Viking. Alas, that's too old for a leading lady in Hollywood and Pauline's zenith was also her farewell to stardom. Here is a nice still of the three stars. Double click to enlarge the photo. They are all good, the many vikings are manly, and the largely true story of the first trip to America is convincing. The Viking was our Thanksgiving desert this year!

Be sure to catch The Viking the next time it is on TCM. If anyone would like to borrow my DVD (sending a copy would be an FBI violation!), then send me an email to

Visit my website at Festival Films

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Santa's Surprise!

Quick, open the present! Santa's surprise is a brand new (old) public domain Christmas show that no one else has. Only me. Wow, what is it? Got your attention? We'll get to it shortly.

This column is mainly an ad. Buy my new Christmas DVD as a gift to your viewers. That's all. "A happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!" says Santa at the end of "A Night Before Christmas." The end.

OK, I don't actually do ads in this blog. For specific "Buy this, it's good" ads, visit my website and check out the Festival Films/Café Roxy Christmas Programs. I only write here about films or projects that are new or of possible interest to others or have been consuming my week, and I try not to be boring.

This project started nine days ago when two active customers in Nevada wanted Christmas shows for local TV. They had shown the Beverly Hillbillies / Petticoat Junction X-mas shows last year and now wanted to get Scrooge, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, A Christmas Without Snow, Christmas Cartoon Festival and a special 2-hour compilation of the best of TV Christmas shows. This last program of shorts I would make up fresh. They asked for the Burns and Allen Christmas show, which I have but only in poor quality. One of them summed up their desire in a way I could not have written better:

"My thoughts are, back as a little kid and being born in 1958 we used to watch black and white TV, of course. The big thing was shows had audiences and loved the Christmas specials by whom ever. We knew when there was a show coming up in November and specially in December it would be a Chhristmas show. I am trying to wear the past time travel helmet and I know this new generation would get a kick out of it as us parents recite back in those days! Oh man, I am getting old, lol. So now you know my thoughts gentlemen. Retro blast of the past to the way it was, and now you too know how it feels."

Of all the 1950s popular TV series, none had more Christmas shows than "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet" because they often worked in two each season as in "Boys' Christmas Money" (12/19/52) and "Late Christmas Gift" shown the next week of the first season on 12/26/1952. Season Two only had one X-Mas show -- "The Miracle" -- and this is the surprise I obtained recently and added to the new "Best of TV Christmas" show, as per line-up shown in the poster on the left (which anyone who buys the show can use to promote it in move theaters or on TV.) That's a plug, but try it, it works.

At first I had included the Captain Gallant Christmas show "The Boy Who Found Christmas" and called the program "Christmas Film Fun." Cuffy, played by Buster Crabbe's son in the series, runs away to find lost presents and during his adventure discovers the true meaning of Christmas. It's a good show and was the only "serious" episode among all the comedy, but a few days later it struck me (I'm slow) that few remember Captain Gallant while everyone loves Betty White. Her Christmas show, which I offered on another disc, is from her 1957 one-season series "A Date with the Angels." It concerns a department store Santa who gives away presents, thus thawing the heart of the Scrooge-like manager. So I replaced Betty for Buster and re-named the show "A Classic Christmas." You can even call it "A Classic Christmas with Betty White & Friends!"

Back to the Ozzie rarity. "The Miracle" is not only a good Christmas show that has not been on the market in any DVD collections, it is unique in the entire series of over 400 shows. It's Christmas at the Nelsons, natch, and Ozzie brings home a merchant gift of a barometer that says it will snow soon. This recalls a memory leading to a flashback of when Ozzie was a kid in around 1915. Ricky plays Oz as a kid while David plays his older brother Al. Ozzie and Harriet play their parents. The miracle in both the past and present stories is that the father promises snow when it isn't supposed to. (Ozzie's barometer is a fake that never changes its reading.) Guess what? It snows anyway.

See all my other Christmas Programs.
Visit my website at Festival Films

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Happy Trails Ride Again!

July 15, 2010: NEW YORK (AP) - Roy Rogers' stuffed horse, Trigger, has been sold at auction for more than $266,000 in Midtown. Christie's said Rogers' faithful companion was bought by cable's RFD-TV in Omaha, Nebraska, at an auction Wednesday of items from the now-closed Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Museum in Branson, Missouri. Roy Rogers' stuffed and mounted dog, Bullet, fetched $35,000 on the second day of an auction of the movie cowboy's belongings in New York City.

The television network's chief financial officer says Rogers' reflects the company's values. The station calls itself "Rural America's Most Important Network." CFO Steve Campione says the company hopes to start its own museum. He said the company is looking to buy more Rogers items at auction.

When I heard this news back in July I said to myself I should contact RFD-TV to see if they needed any Roy Rogers movies. I didn't. But better yet, they contacted me this past week inquiring about the Roy Rogers TV shows from 1951 to 1957. All episodes are in the public domain except for some from the final season. I mailed off some sample episodes on DVD-R, but recommend they acquire on BetaSP for maximum quality because RFD-TV is a national cable company.

The big, big news is that RFD-TV has acquired 33 episodes in the "Happy Trails Theater" series and is currently airing them 3 times a week. Check out their schedule. Last week they ran Southward Ho. Debuting on Sunday is The Arizona Kid. So Happy Trails are back, only a bit different. In the original series an elderly Roy and Dale introduced each film and talked with guests like Iron Eyes Cody, Peggy Stewart, Gene Autry, their son Dusty and many more. Well, these intros are gone, but you can still enjoy them in the Happy Trails versions of Roy's westerns available from Netflix.

The new intros are by Dusty Rogers, aka. Roy Rogers Jr., and his son (I assume) Dustin Rogers. They give informative and professional insights into the film, then return after the feature to sing a song and tell stories. The time slot is currently 90 minutes. The original Happy Trails shows only ran about 65 minutes without commercials and in many cases the features were cut to fit this. I will be curious to see if they run full length features at times. If RFC-TV adds Roy's TV show, the slot could expand to two-hours.

The revamped Happy Trails Theater is the only vintage movies or TV shows currently on RFD-TV. As such it's a wonderful opportunity to attract new viewers and fans to B-westerns and to Roy Rogers in particular. I'm betting the popularity mushrooms.

Just in the last week I saw two of Roy's better films, courtesy of Netflix, that I had always wanted to see. Sons of the Pioneers (1942) co-stars Gabby Hayes and Pat Brady as Roy's sidekicks. They work well together a full 9 years before Pat became the "comical sidekick" on Roy's TV series. Roy pretends to be a milquetoast easterner so he can work undercover. His chemist training helps uncover the truth about fake foot and mouth disease. Go watch it!

Of greater interest, and far more fun than I expected, was Trail of Robin Hood, a Trucolor gem from 1950. Roy plays a forest ranger or something using his own name, of course. Jack Holt, father of cowboy star Tim Holt, plays himself -- a retired old time cowboy movie star. The story even works in a screening from one of Jack's silent westerns. Penny Edwards is the girl and Gordon Jones as Splinters McGonigle is Roy's sidekick.

The very best Republic western director, William Witney, put a lot of innovation into scripts and action in the waning years of the B-western. The basic plot concerns the dread Christmas tree syndicate??? Jack Holt wants to sell the trees on his land dirt cheap so that poor families can all have a tree, whereas a big businessman wants to corner the market and jack up the prices. The bigwig is Penny Edwards' father so you know he's not really bad, but his chief henchman sure is.

In 1945 Republic filmed another great Roy Rogers Bells of Rosarita with Gabby Hayes and Dale Evans. In that film Roy played a cowboy movie star for Republic. The studio sent over 5 other cowboy stars to help Roy in the climax: Don Red Berry, Wild Bill Elliot, Allan Rocky Lane, Sunset Carson and Robert Livingston. Studio girl on the phone: "I'm sorry but John Wayne is on location and can't make it."

In Trail of Robin Hood Republic repeated this formula of guest stars in the climax. The bad Christmas tree guys scare away all wagon drivers in the area. Who will get the trees to market? The little girl in the story sees a wall of cowboy photos in Jack Holt's bedroom and gets the idea to invite them all to help out -- Allan Rocky Lane, Rex Allen, Crash Corrigan, Monte Hale, Tom Tyler, Kermit (brother of Ken) Maynard, Tom Keene and two more. The first surprise is William Bill Farnum who started films in 1914. Bill rides up and says: "I want to help too. I'm Bill Farnum. I rode with Jack 20 years ago."

Another old timer who started in 1915 rides up: "Hi Boys, I'm George Chesebro." Now George was on the ugly and scrawny side, ideally suited for playing in henchmen in well over 100 B-westerns. He strides into the bunch of good guys who turn away and will not shake his hand! Finally the little girl says, "Hey, wait a minute. I know you. You're always a meanie." George: "I know, but after making 20 pictures with Jack Holt, he reformed me." Roy: "In that case we can use you." And everyone welcomes George to the gang.

Watch the scene and a bit more of the cowboy all-stars here:

Get the complete Trail of Robin Hood from Netflix, or watch for RFD-TV to air it on Happy Trails Theater shortly before Christmas!

Visit my website at Festival Films

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Bride of Frankie Posters!

What will this poster sell for at auction on November 12? Follow the bidding and the suspense on the Heritage House auction site. 5,815 have already visited this page and two bidders have already placed their bids. If you would like to be the third, you better have half a million in your pocket.

Yes, a handful of movie posters rival the old masters in sales and future value, or at least that's buyer expectation. The Universal horror films will continue to rank at the very top. They have inspired so many kids over the years (me too!) and the gothic images are iconic, ultimate collectibles. People would pay to see these posters in museums, where many will end up if not already there.

This Bride poster is the only one known to exist! Here is much more from the Heritage web page: "To a new world of gods and monsters." With that toast, Dr. Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) and Doctor Pretorius (Ernest Thesiger) begin the thrilling adventure of creating the mate for The Monster (Boris Karloff) in the critically acclaimed masterwork directed by James Whale, The Bride of Frankenstein, sequel to the smash hit from 1931, Frankenstein. Whale, insisting on complete control, delivered a triumphant sequel, surpassing it's original in almost every way, creating a sly and subversive work with its mix of dark humor, gothic horror, unspoken subtext and superb craftsmanship."

"Considered by many the greatest horror film of all time, The Bride of Frankenstein proved director James Whale's crowning achievement. Aside from cast members Clive and Karloff reprising their roles, the addition of Ernest Thesiger as the demented Dr. Pretorius and Elsa Lanchester in the dual roles of Mary Shelley (seen in the prologue) and obviously, as 'The Monster's Mate' proved a brilliant stroke of casting. Also contributing with excellent work was makeup genius Jack Pierce, luminous camerawork by John J. Mescall, stunning art direction by Charles D. Hall aided immeasurably by Kenneth Strickfadden's electrical lab equipment and design and of course, the extraordinary musical score composed by Franz Waxman. Such talent in front and behind the camera all helped to create a timeless classic selected in 1998 to be part of the National Film Registry, Library of Congress."

"Of the three one sheet designs originally produced for in-theatre promotion for The Bride of Frankenstein, this only known Teaser (Advance) poster boasts the most powerful image of the lot. With it's brilliant cherry red printing combined with the shocking image of The Monster in torn, burned clothing, shackled and chained to a heavy chair with rays of energy and light bursting behind, it simply does not get any better. The compelling tagline "I DEMAND A MATE" arguably provocative given the time, is further enhanced by challenging the reader with "WHO will be THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN" and "WHO will dare?"

This incredible Universal Horror one sheet from The Bride of Frankenstein, one of the most dramatic we have ever seen from any genre, from perhaps the greatest horror film of all time, is celebrating it's 75th Anniversary this year."

"Again, this is the only example of the Teaser one sheet from The Bride of Frankenstein ever to surface and after all these years, it's very likely there will never be another."

"The poster is unrestored with some border and interior pinholes, a few minor border chips and two clean tears that extend into the image, one at the top left and the other in the lower right. Paper tape supports both tears on verso as well as a tiny piece at each cross fold. The poster displays beautifully as is, or with the most minor restoration would present itself as virtually mint. The poster has been graded by MP Grading and the Certificate of Authenticity and Grading Document is included. From the collection of Todd Feiertag. Fine-. We invite everyone to come see this rare treasure in our Beverly Hills office. Estimate: $700,000 - $900,000."

The Bride of Frankenstein lobby cards displayed above were sold by Heritage House at prices of $8,365, $3,585 and $10,755, but are of course not the only ones in existence.

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Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Bride and Me!

Up until I was 14 I lived in Deerfield, Wisconsin. We got mediocre TV reception from Madison 25 miles to the west and rather poor shows from Milwaukee 70 miles east, despite having a tall antenna on the roof that was motorized so it could rotate for best tuning. I always suspected it froze up during the dead of winter but never ventured onto the roof to unjam it.

By the age of 13 (1959) I got my first issue of "Famous Monsters of Filmland" and dove into the eerie world of classic sci-fi & horror films that I had never seen before. This magazine altered my life by opening worlds of excitement. Horror films were fun, mysterious, scary and forbidden by parents. Forry Ackerman's love of Lon Chaney Sr. also led me into the world of silent films. A good history of the birth of FM is on the official website.

The Universal horror package was released to most local TV stations in the mid to late 1950s, often with local horror hosts. They were either slow reaching Madison or I was forbidden to watch them. I know I was forbidden to watch horror films so I suspect they simply were not playing on local TV because I would surely remember missing them. I don't know what my parents had against the classic gothic horror films. Most parents of the 1950s seemed to oppose them on moral grounds or afraid their kids would be scared too much! That's not how it worked.

About the same time in my life I took on a newspaper delivery route that covered about half of the small town. I delivered papers for about two years and quit when we moved to Madison when I was 14. (I went to three years of high school and four years of college in Madison.) Am I boring, or are you wondering how a paper route connects with Boris Karloff?

I used earnings from paper delivering to order back issues of Famous Monsters from their sales branch, Captain Company. Often Captain Company took my quarters and dimes sent in the mail and returned nothing back! Eventually and after repeated orderings I obtained all the back issues, including #1 that sells for big bucks today, except for the elusive issue #4. I wrote to the editor, Forry Ackerman, about my problems and he mailed me an autographed copy, that I totally did not expect and which earned a lifetime of gratitude. I eventually stopped collecting FM with issue #100, but I have kept them all to this very day and they are not for sale.

A year before we moved to Madison a TV station finally began running the Universal horror films Saturday late night at 1:00 am. I delivered the Sunday newspaper starting at 6:00 am. In order to "not wake people up" I conceived and executed a master plan. I slept Saturday night on the couch in the living room... where the TV was. I set an alarm clock under my pillow to wake me at 1:00, I watched the horror films with barely audible sound, went back to sleep and got up two hours later for the paper route. Some nights reception was not that hot. I still recall trying to watch the mediocre, non-horror film Black Friday with both Karloff and Lugosi, and I mainly remember because I have never seen it since. They were slow to broadcast the real classics but eventually got around to House of Frankenstein, House of Dracula, Dracula's Daughter and most of the rest.

The family had made plans to move to Madison and a moving date was set, but I cared more about seeing the ultimate MONSTER film. I had read all about it, but had never seen The Bride of Frankenstein in its totally. I did own the 3 minute Castle Films 8mm silent version, which is entirely footage of the lab sequence, Boris meeting Bride and the end explosion. If you ran the projector at silent speed it may have played for five minutes. Or backwards....

I kept my paper route up until the last week in Deerfield, and the unbelievable did happen. The station showed The Bride just one week before we moved! It lived up to all expectations and is my favorite of all the Universal horrors. That's not too original as The Bride is many fans' favorite. I later owned a 16mm print of the film (I believe the first 16mm I ever bought) and showed it often to friends and my early-1970s film society.

I am partial to The Mummy as my second favorite Universal horror because of the terrific mummy-comes-to-life sequence and the superb make-up and acting of Karloff throughout.

I started this column intending to write about the rarest movie poster in the world that is being auctioned next month for a lot of money, one assumes. Yes, it's a Bride of Frankenstein one-sheet poster, but it is NOT the one shown here. This poster sold for a mere $334,600.00 in 2007.

Next time I will discuss the more valuable Bride poster.

PS. I won't be bidding.

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Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Perfect Spook Show...

... was sure not the one I saw in high school around 1963!

It's Halloween again, which brings back childhood memories of canvassing every single home in the small town of Deerfield, Wisconsin, or rather the houses with lights on, in the mid-1950s. The small town of 700 or so still had quite a few houses for an 8 year old with a pillow case to cover. I must have been under ten because the town soon initiated "parties" in the high school gym. I remember those as well, but without the darkness, the cold, the running from house to house and the heavy bag of candy by night's end.

I also recall with envy the newspaper ads for Halloween horror movies in nearby Madison, reprisals of Frankenstein/Dracula double features and who knows what else. The ads always looked great, likely better than the films if it was "I Was a Teenage Werewolf" meets "I Married a Monster from Outer Space." Similar horror midnight shows surfaced every Friday the 13th as well, but I never got to any because movie trips to Madison only took place during the day, and horror films were strictly taboo until I got into high school and could watch any films I could get to on my own.

Horror film revivals were also featured from the 1930s through the mid-1960s in SPOOK SHOWS. After a chilling double feature, these live stage shows featured a magician and real, live, famous movie monsters who came into the audience when the lights blacked out. They were promoted (between the lines) to bring a date and sneak in some smooching between the screams.

You can read all about this lost era in "Ghost Masters" from "This is a book that makes me want to don a gorilla suit and rip apart a blonde with my bare claws. It's a true history of my artistic idols: the mad doctors and maniacal magicians who toured with live midnight fright shows, and scared the bejeezus out of hormone-pumped teenagers on dates. In my opinion, an absolute must-read for horror and magic fans." --Teller of Penn & Teller

Some fun movie posters like the two above can be viewed Here.

There's a wonderful video compilation about these shows called Monsters Crash the Pajama Party. "Grab the kids, lower the lights, and turn every night into Halloween with the Monsters Crash the Pajama Party Spook Show Spectacular! It's a Spookaroo Whoop-de-doo with this Terrorific 3-hour-plus Spooktacular containing everything you need for your very own Spook Party! First, join some terrified teens who spend a night in a haunted house and get spooked by a mad doctor and his ghoulish gang when the Monsters Crash the Pajama Party, a hilarious 1965 theatrical featurette complete with werewolf, gorilla in a fur coat, and goofy gimmick! Then, feel your eyes pop out of their sockets when you check into The Asylum of the Insane, a startling short subject with monsters in 3-D Spookarama (3-D glasses included)! But that's not all! This scary, screwy, chill-arious fright show includes bonus shorts, Spook Show previews, audio commentaries, How to Put on Your Own Spook Show, music by The Dead Elvi, and much more--plus the bonus feature-length chiller-diller Tormented!"

My family moved to Madison in time for me to attend high school. I could see lots more movies in theaters, about anything I wanted as the bus trips were short and direct, and yes, I caught one of the last Spook Shows. Anticipation high; packed theater; hopes dashed. I can't remember the double feature for starters, so likely no monsters -- maybe some British film like "Burn, Witch, Burn!" The stage show was a hypnotist who took volunteers from the audience. This went on forever. Only one teenage boy really went under, ha-ha, a plant and the climax of the act was when his pants came off! Then Frankenstein's monster came onstage, the theater went pitch black, lots of screaming, houselights on and go home. Mainly I remember the disappointment. In retrospect, no wonder -- I did not have a date to make out with!

I had not thought about my Spook Show experience in quite awhile, not until today. I realize it may be behind my desire to show young people a good time with the old horror films in a theater. I got the chance this past week when a new customer, the Arabian Theater in Alabama, asked for a horror show for next Saturday, Oct. 30. Since Halloween proper is on Sunday this year, Saturday is the best day for a film show. After some discussion, we settled on a 3 to 3 1/2 hour show from 6 to 9:30 pm or so that kids could come or go to throughout the evening. I came up with a two-disc show. The second part is "White Zombie" which is genuinely spooky with lots of zombie monsters but no blood or brain-eating. Moody but a bit slow, which is OK since if anyone doesn't get into it and leaves in the middle they will have already seen 90 minutes of cartoons and classic monster trailers.

The first half of the show contains:
Sure-Locked Homes -- Felix the Cat, 1928
The Mechanical Man -- Oswald Rabbit, 1932
Is My Palm Read? -- Betty Boop, 1933
Gypped in Egypt -- Tom & Jerry, 1930
Superman Cartoons -- Underground World & The Mummy Strikes for a little color.
The Mad Doctor -- Walt Disney Mickey Mouse, 1933
The cartoons are interspersed with horror trailers for: Robot Monster, White Zombie, The Giant Claw, King Kong, Dracula, Frankenstein and others, plus Buster Keaton in “The Haunted House” (1921). The Keaton short is not spooky, but is a perfect chance to expose kids to silent comedy. I suspect it will be the big hit of the evening!

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Saturday, October 16, 2010

Still Batty about Tarzan Escapes!

As this recently unearthed Czechoslovakian poster for Tarzan Escapes illustrates, the Czechs got to see Tarzan fight giant vampire bats in 1936. All of Europe probably saw the same version. The Bat Attack was the best scene in the film and is highlighted on this poster (which I got in a poster auction last week).

Yet this action/horror/mayhem scene that was the climax of the entire film has not been seen since the 1950s. I can never forget seeing it in a movie theater as a kid of eight, especially the shot of a giant bat picking up a native and flying him off to a fate worse than death. My childhood memory and quest to find this elusive scene somewhere in the world is documented at the Edgar Rice Burroughs website in an article I Saw the Giant Vampire Bats.

In 1954 MGM re-released a double feature of Tarzan, the Ape Man and Tarzan Escapes to theaters in new 35mm safety prints. I had never seen a Tarzan film before and had no idea (no one did) that the bat scene would disappear from all subsequent showings. The newspaper ads promised "SEE! ... The giant vulture bats swoop from the sky in a vicious air attack!" The MGM Press Book for Tarzan Escapes, also in my hands, describes the thrills:

"The story takes its characters into a country of giant vampire bats, and its thrills include a battle between an army of elephants and savage warriors, the routing of lions by an elephant stampede, a dash through a crocodile-infested river, the rescue of the white party from the wild Ganeloni (sic., should read Gaboni) tribesmen, and Tarzan's escape from a cage in which he has been imprisoned when he hurtles the cage over a cliff."

Interestingly, the elephants attacking lions scene was filmed for the 1935 version of Tarzan Escapes that was never released! So this scene and the entire 1935 film are completely lost! MGM had entrusted Tarzan Escapes to director James C. McKay who had never directed a sound film and never made one later. McKay had directed some action scenes in Tarzan and His Mate but apparently had no story sense. Tarzan Escapes was finished and scheduled for release in 1935 with an advance trailer mentioning the bats that you can watch here. However, studio bosses were appalled at a preview showing when they found the film absolutely terrible, in fact un-releasable. The costly decision was made to re-write and re-shoot the entire film under director Richard Thorpe, keeping only the attack of the vampire bats.

The lost 1935 film is preserved in a "Big Little Book" that recounts the plot with about 100 photos that are NOT in the 1936 release. A few changes: in 1935 Tarzan and Jane lived in a cave while in the 1936 film they lived in their tree house. The 1935 film has the Great Apes (men in gorilla costumes); in 1936 no apes. In 1935 Jane rescues Tarzan at the end instead of him saving her! In 1935 the bats attack in a swamp at night; in 1936 the scene full of dead trees is set inside a cave. In 1936 comic relief Herbert Mundin was added to the safari.

The 1936 film was previewed to audiences to more woes. Some mothers complained of the extreme violence so loudly that MGM hastily edited a sanitized print that eliminated the intense vampire bats scene. They also cut a scene of Tarzan fighting and killing two lions with his knife. The scene is set up in the surviving version when Jane tells Tarzan to go get food. He slays an antelope, is menaced by a lion but escapes without a fight. The missing fight was actually stock footage lifted from Tarzan the Ape Man, so that scene can be reconstructed today.

A minor censored scene is illustrated on this 1936 lobby card. Evil Captain Fry captures Tarzan and dispatches the cage back to civilization with a group of his natives so that Jane will not see Tarzan captured. The violent Gaboni warriors, shown here, slaugther these natives by shooting arrows into their foreheads in the deleted scene and then carry Tarzan in cage back toward their village. He escapes en route. The grisly slaughter was a simple cut for violence, but an important one that added to the suspense when all are captured and tortured.

For the 1954 Tarzan double feature reissue, MGM had two negatives in their vault of Tarzan Escapes -- the censored one and the far better one that they wisely chose to release. In the 1960s when they made prints for TV, for 16mm rentals and for eventual video release, they picked the censored version in error and that is all we can see today. I don't for a moment believe it was 1960s intentional censorship. I suspect the person in charge had no idea there were two versions and may have picked the negative that had seen less wear.

It is my strong feeling that the Vampire Bats version was widely shown in Mexico, South America and all over Europe in 1936. This Spanish lobby card shows a pygmy tribe in the cave/swamp after they save the safari from the bats. Of course there are no pygmies in the surviving film.

This lobby card mentions the film is "En Espanol" or Spanish language version. MGM probably archived this Spanish dubbed version of the film, and may well have re-released it on safety film to Mexico and South America in 1954. If the film survives in any foreign archive from the 1936 or 1954 releases, then the bats may be waiting for discovery. The problem in the past is that nobody knew they should look for the bats because Tarzan Escapes seemed to be well preserved on DVD with occasional showings on Turner Classic Movies. Archivists today are aware of the lost bat scene and are in the process of examining MGM prints in foreign archives.

You can help spread the word! Alert film archives! Anyone, anywhere ... watch the last ten minutes of Tarzan Escapes to see if anything happens inside that ju-ju cave. Somewhere the Vampire Bats are lurking to attack!

If you too recall seeing the vampire bats in a movie theater in the mid-1950s, please write to Ron Hall at

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Saturday, October 9, 2010

Gabby Gab!

Well, pards, Gabby Hayes has been on my mind the last few weeks, as expressed in recent entries.

First I created a Gabby Hayes DVD that contains two episodes of "The Gabby Hayes Show" and his feature with Roy Rogers - Southward Ho! I haven't advertised it, I haven't been asked for it and I haven't sold one yet. I just made up the disc and DVD jacket. In the first TV show Gabby tells how his ancestor Bullwhip Hayes whipped boulders into Pike’s Peak. The exciting western that follows features Tex Riter and Dave O’Brien as Texas Rangers. In the second episode Gabby tells how Uncle Flapjack Hayes created the first flying saucers. Then Hoot Gibson rides into action against cattle rustlers.

Southward Ho! (1939) is one of Roy's early "historical" westerns set in the old west, as opposed to most of his later films set in the present (i.e. 1940s). In post Civil War Texas a former Union officer is the government's chief law enforcement official and tax collector. Roy discovers that the man is also the head of an outlaw gang. Gabby is head sidekick #1 through every scene except the love making.
Next I won the lobby card from Night Rider with Harry Carey, or stole it for only $6. That seemed a steal to me, or is it a sign of the decline of interest in B-westerns. Just scroll down to last week's notes to see the card. As far as I know, it is the earliest known lobby card or poster to display George Hayes in his soon-to-be Gabby character. A good western expert might be able to pull out other posters, but the only earlier Gabby I have seen is Hidden Valley starring Bob Steele, in which Mr. Hayes plays the 4th heavy as an extra.

A better role for Gabby than the one in Night Rider is as Dude Saunders in Border Devils, both in 1932 and both with Harry Carey. I feel this is the earliest prototype of the bewhiskered "Gabby" codger with a sense of humor and the ability to make us laugh. See if you agree. I put together a little highlight reel from this film and posted it on Youtube, which means you can watch Gabby & Harry right now!

Struck by Gabby Mania, I finally bought the book by Bobby J. Copeland and Richard B. Smith, III -- "Gabby Hayes, King of the Cowboy Comics" from for $20. Since it came Thursday, I haven't had a chance to read much, but I recommend it for all the Gabby talk. The earliest photos are with Hoppy in 1935, and they don't even mention Border Devils other than the filmography where they call his character Duke instead of Dude, so maybe the authors never even saw it!

Go have yourself a Gabby old time! Watch my video, buy the book, buy the DVD and spread the word. Do it ya' young whippersnapper!

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Saturday, October 2, 2010

Posters -- Buy a Few, Sell a Few!

I have become an avid follower of the 3 weekly auctions at Bruce Hershenson's auction site. I enjoy browsing the hundreds of movie posters and related material put up for sale each week, finding images I have never seen before and lots of bargains. I bid on occasion, and a few weeks ago won reissue press books for Hitchcock's The 39 Steps and Tarzan Escapes.

The top posters still fetch high prices. Interestingly (to me only), I had auctioned this Lady from Shanghai lobby card in early August and it went for $901, while another identical one sold this past week for $854. has over 7,600 registered bidders, all of whom are movie fans and most of whom check in weekly to see which of their special wants or interests might be on the block. Around 2,000 items are auctioned weekly, so many sell for under $5.00. This is truly a great time for acquiring rare posters at low prices and I encourage all movie fans to check out the site.

The 1962 Jason Robards Sr./Jennifer Jones film Tender is the Night is a joke in my household. My wife, her brother and sister discuss it endlessly as an atrociously BAD, yet interesting, film from an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel, and sometimes they even watch it together to ridicule the acting. We have taped versions off TCM over the years that are flat and letterboxed and once they even showed a longer, uncut version. Imagine that excitement! Anyways, I found this lobby card up for auction last week and thought I would buy it as a joke gift at Christmas, giving it to all 3 relatives in order, none of whom would really want it.

So I put in a bid for $5.00. Each buyer of any poster in the Thursday all-lobby card auction would also receive a free poster book of "John Wayne Posters," a $20 value. Shipping was an additional $10, but it still seemed like a good deal. It was indeed a very good deal if I got the poster real cheap. However, a few days later the idea crept into my head that the shipping charge would cover any number of posters, so I looked at every lobby card and put $5 bids on 20 more. I knew that $5 was way too low on the 3 that eventually sold for $46, $58 and $95. I did raise my bid on a few and ended up winning 7 posters:

2 lobby cards from The Joe Louis Story (one would have been enough) cost me $3 and $2. I bid because it is a public domain film. That's why I bid on 2 cards for Tulsa with Susan Hayward. The better one went to someone else for $10; I paid $5. The Adventures of Gallant Bess (public domain film) cost me $5. Outrages of the Orient is a public domain exploitation film that I had recently sold to Alpha Video. While I don't need the poster for anything in particular, I have a 16mm print and now have the poster for only $13. I bought Strike Up the Band as a Christmas present for a Paul Whiteman fan for $13. I don't think Paul is featured on many posters.

The last one I never thought I would get but am most happy that I did. I had seen the film The Night Rider in the past year and thought it was the very best early performance I had seen by George "Gabby" Hayes. I like Harry Carey a lot and watch as many of his films as I can. There is real chemistry between the two, and some good comic exchanges when George keeps calling the older Harry "Young feller." I should put some clips up on Youtube, now that I think of it. I bid $10 initially on the lobby card and got it for a mere $6. Anyone writing a book on Gabby, contact me....

I have consigned six minor items to and will comment on them later. Two of them should appear in the Tuesday auction: 4 lobby cards from Last Year at Marienbad and the 8 lobby card set from the 1954 reissue of Dead End. Even though they are reissue cards, the first screen appearance of the Dead End Kids, and with Humphrey Bogart as well, should do well at auction. The other major, weekly auctioner of movie posters -- Heritage Auction Galleries -- sold 2 of these cards in 2006 for $431! I doubt I get close to that for all 8, but we'll see.

And what about that Tender is the Night lobby card? I forgot about the auction on the evening it was closing and someone else outbid me at the last minute and got it for $6! I would have gone as high as $8.

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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Customers Outside (Da Box)!

My Website gets over 90 hits a day and 78% are new visitors. This seems huge because I am oriented to selling movies that are in the public domain. Rabid movie fans are welcome, but they generally don't care if a film is in the public domain, they are just looking for rare films or their favorites. As someone wrote me this week, "I have been collecting the Laramie episodes for 35 years, and am looking for the few I don't have." I don't have any Laramie because they are all copyrighted, but that's an example of the earnest collector I usually do NOT get.

Of the many who visit my site thru links or googling Public Domain Films, a few do contact me each week and usually with specific uses in mind for public domain films like showing them on their TV station or in their movie theater. A few have unusual ideas.

Check out Old School Horror website to watch a horror film every Saturday late night with two Horror Hosts harking back to the 1950s "Shock Theater" that played in most cities with local hosts. A new show debuts every Saturday night, but is then archived so you can watch it anytime, forever. The Dead never sleep. They will soon be adding the Boris Karloff TV show "The Veil."

Walking Shadows is another horror website showing films and selling films, some of which are their own releases. The DVD boxes are well designed and have appealing bonuses. I can vouch for the quality and contents of Reefer Madness, which includes the second dope film Marijuana and some weed shorts I have not seen before. The big challenge to any website is to attract traffic. It can be done. Good luck!

Rodeo TV on the Internet. Coming soon to your own computer. I just googled Rodeo TV and found 3 or 4 sites already operating. The one I am working with has big plans like connecting horse and steer owners with rodeos who need a large yearly supply. They plan to host a live hour Rodeo show every week and then archive them. They want to offer B-westerns and TV shows on the site as well to attract people back or give them more to do once they are there. I was surprised to hear there is a large audience for all things rodeo.

Saturday Matinee Website, again coming soon. In preparation for over a year now, this ambitious site will revive interest in the Saturday Matinee with hundreds of hours of programming.

Comic book videos in comic book stores. A long-time wholesaler with a link to comic book stores plans a new line of DVDs with comic connections, to be sold in comic book stores which currently do not sell DVDs. While the Max Fleischer Superman cartoons are easy to buy online, a young comic fan may not know this and buy a $5 DVD when he is in the store. I suggested Sheena, Queen of the Jungle and just put one of her comic book covers on the DVD case. TV Sheena's Irish McCalla does not disappoint in the scantily clad department.

Brainstorming, I pointed out that all the cowboy stars had their own comic books in the 1950s, but rather than offering Roy Rogers, etc., why not try Gabby Hayes? Once you get going in a local comic store, I said, try putting a few Gabby Hayes DVDs out for sale to test interest. Gabby had 59 comic books from 1948 to 1957. Hence I found the comic book here, which is the start of a DVD cover.

Others come to me with vague ideas about wanting to do something with public domain films. I advise them to think outside the box and find new ways to market or new audiences to market to. You can't sell to Walmart no matter how nifty your packaging is because others have cornered that market long ago and the prices are too low anyway. So think. I have lots of ideas to get you started. Next time.

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