lynde-halloween

Camp Kitsch Week 1: The Paul Lynde Halloween Special (1976)

 

Hello, welcome to Serendipitous Anachronisms, if this is your first visit, then be warned: this blog fluctuates between very high and very low cinematic arts. And we are going very low this Halloween.

Welcome back kiddie cats because CAMP KITSCH is back in session!

This year’s theme is “Kitsch Me Baby One More Time.” Yes, I did get my title from a Britney Spears song. If you have not experienced Camp Kitsch, check out last year’s session “Summer Camp: The Season of the Kitsch” For “Kitsch Me Baby One More Time”  we have only two rules:

  1. All films reviewed are Halloween specials.
  2. All of these films have been pre-screened by yours truly; hence the name, this will avoid covering less savory pics such as Werewolf in A Girl’s Dormitory. (No, really, don’t try to watch this film, I know it is a tempting title, trust me).

The Paul Lynde Halloween Special

the-paul-lynde-halloween-special-adReaders, you may recognize Paul Lynde as “Uncle Arthur” on Bewitched and “Harry MacAfee” in Bye Bye Birdie. If not, then you are missing out on something truly spectacular, if you want to know the definition of the word “Campy” watch Paul Lynde.

Snarky, hysterical, why should this man not be given a Halloween special?

Too bad he wasn’t given one.

Let’s just say right now this show may have witches and pumpkins on the set, but this show has nothing to do with Halloween.

And the jokes, oh the jokes, that is where the true horror lies.

To put it simply this show is stupid, it is awful, it is terrible, and yet I cannot help but love this travesty.

The show opens with a series of vignettes featuring Paul Lynde dressed as Santa, the Easter Bunny, and ready for Valentine’s Day. The running joke is his housekeeper Margaret (played by Margaret Hamilton) telling him, it’s not Christmas, it’s not Easter… The joke goes on way too long, will someone please buy this man a calendar?

MARGARET. I’ll give you a hint; it’s filled with witches, spooks, and weird creatures of the night.

LYNDE. Oh, sounds like Hollywood Squares.

While the pre-recorded laugh track goes crazy, it’s a stinker, and when the opening monologue starts the jokes get even worse.

LYNDE. I was fat, Mom put me in a shower curtain, it didn’t fit. So she let it out, and I went as the Hindenberg, it was a disaster.

Speaking of disasters, we go into our first musical number which is a parody of the song “Kids” from the musical Bye Bye Birdie.

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So Margaret and Paul, having enough of those “pesky kids,” get in the car and drive to Margaret’s sister’s house.

As it turns out, they are both witches!

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I guess the Doctor Who scarf was readily available in 1976, totally jelly.

In exchange for helping the witches clean up their bad PR, Lynde is granted three wishes.

What follows is the most hastily compiled mess of skits I have ever seen in my life.

“The Rhinestone Trucker”

lyndepinkyLynde uses his first wish to be a trucker named “Big Red.” Big Red wears a white leather rhinestone jacket, unbuttoned to the navel with a hairy chest, white leather pants, and silver boots.

Big Red and his arch rival played by Tim Conway, both want to marry the same waitress “Kinky Pinky.”

The writers having written themselves into a hole choose to exit the scene by transitioning to a CB Radio, hoe-down, musical wedding number. Here is a sample of the lyrics:

I am tired making these silly calls,

I wanna get out of my overalls.”

Umm… You’re not wearing overalls. This number makes absolutely no sense.

Just when things get horrifically unwatchable, KISS arrive to play “Detroit, Rock City!”

What? Why are they in Witchiepoo’s house? Who cares! It’s KISS!

“The Great Lover”

paul-lynde-florence-hendersonFor Paul Lynde’s second wish he is transported to the Sahara Desert, for a romantic Rudolph Valentino fantasy, with an icy British adventuress, played by Florence Henderson (a.k.a. Carol Brady) a woman so cold she turns a glass of wine into ice cubes:

HENDERSON. Why are you wearing that earring? 

LYNDE. Because I am a very chic sheik. 

Oh, the horror.

Strangely enough, Lynde is still wearing the silver platform boots from the Big Red sketch.

“The Hollywood Disco”

For the third wish, Lynde takes the two witches to a “Hollywood Disco.” The house infiltrated by dancers in orange wigs. For entertainment, and I use that word very loosely, Florence Henderson sings an operatic rendition of “Old Black Magic” to a disco arrangement. This song might be the worst thing I have ever heard in my life.

Just when things hit an all-time low, KISS return and sing “Beth.”

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Lynde: I can take one look at you, and tell you how you got your look and your name, you had a fight, and your mothers told you to kiss and make up.

D’oh! These jokes are not just bad they are terrible. Fortunately, someone had the foresight to end this banter early and let KISS play “King of the Night Time World.”

But rather than end the show on a high note, they opt for a full company rendition of “Disco Lady.” Everyone is doing the hustle. Except for KISS, who are banished to the balcony. Like they are too cool for school. But hindsight is 20-20, we know they were just plotting on how to tap into this disco craze because three years later they recorded their own disco song “I was Made for Loving You.”

My understanding is that The Paul Lynde Halloween Special is a “lost treasure” it aired on ABC October 29, 1976. Bootleg copies were distributed amongst KISS fans for years. The original footage was found, and The Paul Lynde Halloween Special was released on DVD.

I think you would have to be a KISS fan, to render this madness watchable, but if you are in the mood for some truly terrible jokes, a few completely unplausible storylines, and a strange mish-mash of musical numbers, then, by all means, watch  The Paul Lynde Halloween Special.

Ciao for now, Dearies!

mousetrap

Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap

Hello, Darlings!

When I found out Christina Wehner and Little Bits of Classics were co-hosting an Agatha Christie Blogathon, I was excited, but when I discovered it was interdisciplinary, I was thrilled because there is nothing I would rather talk about than Agatha Christie’s play The Mousetrap. You might wonder why with so many acclaimed classic Agatha Christie films, I am covering a play on a movie blog?

I have had the tremendous good fortune to star in this play as “Mollie Ralston” in three separate productions.

So without further ado, I present Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap.

An Illustrious Beginning

When the BBC contacted the royal family for a program suggestion to celebrate Queen Mary’s 80th birthday, the Queen requested an Agatha Christie radio play. “Three Blind Mice,” a half-hour radio play was written in honor of the Queen, would later be expanded to the full-length stage play The Mousetrap, and an enduring classic was born.

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Agatha Christie cuts a cake with a sword at the Mousetrap 10th Anniversary Party

The Mousetrap became the world’s longest-running play in the history of British Theatre, it opened on October 6, 1952, at the Theatre Royal in Nottingham, and the original production is still playing at the St. Martin’s Theatre in London.

Let me make this clear. It is not like Les Miserables, or Phantom of the Opera where several separate concurrent professional productions are running, this play’s original production has not closed, it is still in its first run, 64 years later!

60th-anniversary

The 60th Anniversary and production number 25,000 included a star-studded cast,  including Julie Walters, Patrick Stewart, Hugh Bonneville, and Iain Glen

While this is a phenomenal feat, there is a downside to this nifty little factoid; the production moved to the West End under the agreement that the producers will not release adaptation rights to movie executives, until six months after the initial production closed.

While licensing is available for stage productions through Samuel French, the outcome of the play is a closely guarded secret, so this post will be spoiler-free.

The Plot

The show begins with the melody of “Three Blind Mice” followed by what sounds like the discovery of murder.

Mousetrap Set

As the curtain rises we see a large manor home and hear a radio broadcast:

RADIO BROADCAST. A murder has occurred at twenty-four Culver Street in Paddington. The victim was a Mrs. Maureen Lyon. The police are now anxious to interview a man seen in the vicinity, wearing a dark overcoat, light scarf, and soft felt hat.

A woman enters dressed like the suspect and hides a mysterious parcel in the room, and exits. Shortly after that, a man enters also dressed as the suspect hides a parcel in the home.

We soon learn these people are newlyweds Mollie and Giles Ralston. We also learn that these people clearly have something to hide from one another. They are both evasive with one another about their actions earlier that day. Shortly after World War II, the couple inherited a large estate. The couple converts the home to an inn to generate an income, but they have no experience in the hospitality industry:

GILES. We’re rather mugs at this game.

MOLLIE. They bring luggage. If they don’t pay, we hang onto their luggage. It’s quite simple.

Having not bothered to check references of their guests, Giles is uneasy is about opening their home to strangers, but Mollie is optimistic. And when the guests begin to arrive, Giles feels even less secure in their new venture.

Their first guest arrives wearing a dark overcoat, light scarf, and soft felt hat. Christopher Wren is an odd architect, with messy hair and strange taste in neckties. After a small hitch in their newly budding relationship, Christopher and Mollie hit it off, Giles in nonplussed.

CHRISTOPHER. I think I’m going to like it here. I find your wife most sympathetic.

GILES. Indeed.

CHRISTOPHER. And really quite beautiful.

MOLLIE. Oh, don’t be absurd.

CHRISTOPHER. There, isn’t that like an English woman? Compliments always embarrass them. European women take compliments as a matter of course, but English women have all the feminine spirit crushed out of them by their husbands. There’s something very boorish about English husbands.

And once again, someone arrives wearing a dark overcoat, light scarf, and soft felt hat.

This time, it is Mrs. Boyle, a stern woman ready to disapprove of everything she sees.

MOLLIE. No indoor staff, just us.

MRS. BOYLE. In-deed? I understood this was a guesthouse in full running order.

MOLLIE. We’ve only just started.

MRS. BOYLE. I would have said that a proper staff was essential before opening this kind of establishment. I consider your advertisement was most misleading.

Meanwhile, Christopher Wren now feeling comfortable in his new home, is behaving even stranger:

CHRISTOPHER. I do adore nursery rhymes. Don’t you? Always so macabre, that’s why children like them.

We then meet our next guest, Major Metcalf, an incredibly amiable and friendly chap (think Nigel Bruce as “Dr. Watson”), who happens to be wearing a dark overcoat, light scarf, and soft felt hat.

MAJOR METCALF. How d’you do? Absolute blizzard outside. Thought at one time we shouldn’t make it. If it goes on like this, I should say you’ll have five or six feet of snow by morning. I haven’t seen anything like it since I was on leave in 1940.

He is followed by Miss Casewell, a rather manly woman with a firm handshake (a Katherine Hepburn type), a twisted sense of humor, and incidentally wearing a dark overcoat, light scarf, and soft felt hat.

MISS CASEWELL. Looks like we’re going to be snowed up here.Weather forecast says heavy falls expected. Motorists warned, etcetera. Hope you got plenty of provisions in.

GILES. Oh, yes my wife’s an excellent manager. Anyway, we can always eat our hens.

MISS CASEWELL. Before we start eating each other, eh?

With the guests all in place, the Ralstons begin to prepare for dinner noting that other than Major Metcalf all their guests seem rather odd or unpleasant.

Suddenly the doorbell rings, again and Mr. Paravicini arrives, a strange Italian man, whose car is broken down on the side of the road. Paravicini is clearly aware of the mysteriousness of his arrival and plays it up to the hilt.

PARAVICINI. Yes, the unexpected guest. The guest that you did not invite. The guest who just arrived, from nowhere, out of the storm. Who am I? You do not know. Where do I come from? You do not know. Me? I am a man of mystery. (Laughs). But now I tell you this. there will be no more arrivals. And no departures, either. By tomorrow-perhaps even already- we are cut off from civilization. No butcher, no baker, no milkman, no postman, no daily papers. No one and nothing but ourselves. That is admirable, admirable, it could not suit me better.

Incidentally, he too is wearing a dark overcoat, light scarf, and soft felt hat.

The next morning, tensions mount as this incompatible group of strangers live under one roof. As the snow piles up, it is clear that everyone is trapped in the home.

The guests are alarmed when they find out Scotland Yard has telephoned to let the Ralstons know they are sending Detective Sergeant Trotter to the house. Shortly after that, the telephone dies. As the roads are blocked with snow, the young detective arrives on skis.

attenborough

A young Richard Attenborough played the first “Trotter”on stage

MRS. BOYLE. I suppose that’s what we pay our police for, nowadays. To go about enjoying themselves at winter sports.

The Detective reveals that the murderer of Maureen Lyon (the woman mentioned in the radio broadcast) left a clue at the previous crime scene, the address of the Ralston’s home. The police suspect the murderer and Maureen Lyon are connected through a previous court case where a child in foster care died at Longridge Farm several years back. Acting on their suspicions the police investigate everyone staying at Monkswell Manor.

DETECTIVE SERGEANT TROTTER. With instructions to get full particulars of everyone in the house, to report back on the phone, take whatever measure he sees fit to ensure the safety of the household.

GILES. Safety? What danger does he think we’re in? Good Lord, he’s not suggesting someone may be killed here.

TROTTER. I don’t want to frighten any of the ladies, but frankly, yes, that is the idea.

GILES. But why? The whole thing is crazy!

TROTTER. It’s because it’s crazy that it’s dangerous.

MRS. BOYLE. Nonsense.

MISS CASEWELL. I must say it’s a bit far-fetched.

CHRISTOPHER. I think it’s wonderful!

When the detective finds out the phones are out of service, he becomes concerned. And while everyone else is trying to figure out what happened to the phones, Mrs. Boyle is murdered. What follows is a fairly tense potboiler thriller as the detective interrogates the guests one-by-one to find out who committed the murder. As it turns out everyone has a motive,means, and opportunity.

In the grand tradition of The Mousetrap, I will not reveal the ending.  This is one of the most widely produced plays in the world, I highly recommend seeing it staged live.

What is in those packages Mollie and Giles are hiding? Is Miss Casewell a woman? Is Mr. Paravicini traveling in disguise? Why is Christopher Wren behaving so strangely? Who cut the phone lines? Who is connected with the Longridge farm case? Who killed Mrs. Boyle? Who will be next?

You can also read the published version of the script available through Barnes and Noble here.

And if anyone needs someone to play Mollie, I’m free!

Ciao for now, dearies!

 

mousetrap

Here I am with brown hair playing Mollie Ralston! Characters L to R Miss Casewell, Giles Ralston, Mollie Ralston, Mrs. Boyle, Major Metcalf, Mr. Paravicini, Detective Sgt. Trotter, and Christopher Wren

Resources

Saunders, Peter. The Mousetrap Story. London: St. Martins Theatre, 1992. Print.

sunshine-blogger

Sunshine Blogger Award

Hello, my darlings! Some days you got to celebrate, and the party is today because Serendipitous Anachronisms won a Sunshine Blogger Award from Thoughts All Sorts.

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Little Miss Sunshine

I cannot tell you how flattered I am. If you are not following Thoughts All Sorts, this blog offer perspectives on cinema, books, and music, three of life’s greatest pleasures, no?

The Sunshine Blogger Award is peer award distributed amongst bloggers, very similar to a Liebster. I find it incredibly flattering to be awarded by a fellow blogger because they understand the work that goes into a blog.

The rules for the Sunshine Blogger Award are:

  • Post the award on your blog
  • Thank the person who nominated you
  • Answer the 11 questions they set you
  • Pick another 11 bloggers (and let them know they are nominated!)
  • Set them 11 questions

So here we go!

Q1: If you could somehow transport yourself into a movie and be a character, who would you be?

A1: I would like to be in any old Hollywood musical, but I would still want to be cool, I would love to be Ann-Margret in Viva Las Vegas.

Q2: A good book and a good movie are lovingly waiting for you at the same time. Do you read or watch a movie?

A2: I think my money is evenly spread between books and DVDs, so it depends on my mood, I don’t think I can pick here.

mackenzie

Q3: Do you find yourself quoting movies (or books) or singing lines of songs to colleagues (or friends) when an opportune moment presents itself in a conversation or situation?

A3: Oh we are supposed to wait for an opportune moment? I do this constantly! I sing and dance, a lot.

Q4: Night owl or Early bird?

A4: Both, late afternoon is my slump time.

Q5: Which movie from your childhood will you always have a soft spot for even if it isn’t as great as you remember it?

A5: At the risk of offending many, I am going to say all phases of “Star Wars.” I still love “Star Wars,” but I just don’t think those films are as great as I did as a kid. 

Q6: What languages do you speak?

A6: A little Spanish, a little German, a little French, a little Latin. I would love to learn Tolkien’s Elvish languages, but that would be even less useful than my Latin.

Q7: What is your perfect holiday destination?

A7: Anywhere with lots of culture and lots of shopping. 

white-chicks-shopping

Q8: Have you ever met anyone famous?

A8: I have met a lot of famous people, but the highlight of my childhood was meeting the New Kids on the Block. They aren’t necessarily the most famous people I have met, but I was pretty obsessed with them as a kid. I am pretty certain I can still do all their choreography too.

Q9: Vampire or Werewolves?

A9: I like both, but I will probably go with Vampires because Vampires are better looking.

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Usually.

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Okay, nevermind, Vampires aren’t attractive, but they seem cooler, than werewolves. I am really into Southern Gothic Architecture, Vampires suit that landscape better.

southern-gothic

Q10: What is your guilty pleasure (book, movie, or series)?

A10: Here is something I rarely admit, I secretly love reality tv; I recently started this horrible reality show called “90 Day Fiance” which follows international couples who have met online. The overseas fiance come to the U.S. to meet their intended on a 90-day visa, during this time they have to get married or get deported. The show is horrible, like a car wreck, but I cannot look away. I am also a huge fan of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” this show combines costume construction, talent, lip-sync, make-up, and beauty! I also like “The Real Housewives of Orange County,” my favorite on that show is Heather Dubrow, she is so classy compared to all the other ladies.

dubrow

Q11: If you could transport yourself back in time to live in another era/age, which would it be?

A11: I must have access to equal rights, plumbing, and refrigeration, which limits things, but if I could be fabulously wealthy I would love to love in Edwardian or Elizabethan England or France during the age of enlightenment. Of course, these choices are all motivated by fashion.

Now it’s time to “Spread a Little Sunshine*; my honorees are bloggers who I subscribe to and bloggers who make my inbox a little brighter. *That was a “Pippin” reference, points to anyone who knows that song.

  1. Michaela of Love Letters to Old Hollywood
  2. Crystal of In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood
  3. Geoff of The Telltale Mind
  4. Spinenumbered of Make Mine Criterion!
  5. Jay from Assholes Watching Movies
  6. Gary from Cracked Rear Viewer
  7. Table 9 Mutant from Cinema Parrot Disco
  8. Jaina from Recap Retro
  9. Emily from The Vintage Cameo
  10. Molly from Dreaming in the Balcony
  11. Film Score Hunter from The Cinematic Frontier

I realize accepting this award is time-consuming, so I won’t be offended if you do not spread the sunshine onward.

Meanwhile here are your 11 questions, should you choose to accept the fabulous award.

  1. Are there any films that you adore that you do not blog about because they do not fit the focus of your blog?
  2. If you could watch only one movie for the rest of your life, which movie would you choose and why?
  3. Are you currently reading anything?
  4. Do you have creative outlets other than blogging?
  5. Do you prefer fruity treats or chocolatey treats?
  6. What is the one seriously underrated film you wish everyone would watch?
  7. Coffee or tea?
  8. How did you settle on your blog name?
  9. If you could have any superpower or magical ability, what would it be?
  10. Who do you think has the best speaking voice in Hollywood?
  11. If your home had to be decorated to fit in the world of a specific film, which film would dress your living space?

Finally, there are many badges out there for the Sunshine Blogger Award, I made a custom classic horror movie badge in Wes Anderson fonts and colors for movie bloggers, you are free to use it, find another online, or create your own!

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Ciao for now, dearies!

Summer

gene-wilder-Willy Wonka

A Salute to Gene Wilder’s Wonderful Whimsical Charm

I cannot begin to express how saddened I was to hear of Gene Wilder’s passing today at the age of 83. Gene Wilder was a huge part of my cinematic upbringing. I remember being little and watching VHS tapes (yes, VHS tapes) of films like Young Frankenstein (Franken-Steen) See No Evil, Hear No Evil (“Fuzzy Wuzzy was a Woman?!” might be the best line ever written), The World’s Greatest Lover, and Haunted Honeymoon. Gene Wilder was hysterical.

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Announcing “At the Circus Blogathon”

The Circus is coming to town!

When Le from Crìtica Retrô invited me to co-host the “At the Circus Blogathon” I was beyond excited, I had such a lovely time hosting the France on Film Blogathon but thought it would be much more fun to co-host an event.

So here we are Serendipitous Anachronisms “fun classic media with an academic twist” and Crìtica Retrô “classic film with a tropical twist” (we are very twisty over here) uniting forces to pay tribute to The Greatest Show on Earth- The Circus!

It is my pleasure to invite you to take part in the At the Circus Blogathon Continue reading

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The Babadook (2014)

DookDookDarling Readers, as you know, Serendipitous Anachronisms is technically a classic movie blog. Yes, occasionally we delve into the 90s or 2000s, but rarely do we ever cover something one would refer to as “contemporary media.”

How gauche, no?

So imagine my astonishment when the thought went through my mind, “I am going to watch and cover The Babadook” as I was driving home from work this afternoon. So hang on my darlings as we throw caution to the wind, throw all the rules out the window, and dive into the strange world of the Babadook. Dook. Dook.

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children of the night

Jason and The Argonauts (1963)

This post is part of the Sword and Sandal Blogathon hosted by Debbie Vee at Moon in Gemini, and what better film to cover, than a movie where swords and sandals have great significance.

A one-sandaled man shall come

The prophets tell Pelias (Douglas Wilmer), he will be victorious in battle; he shall win the throne of Thessaly from King Aristo because Zeus (Niall MacGinnis) has ordained it. In tribute to the gods, Pelias offers his sword to Zeus. However, Zeus has also ordained that Pelias will lose the throne to one of Aristo’s children. Continue reading

Rosenkranz und Gueldenstern / Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
GB/ 1990
Regie: Tom Stoppard
Darsteller: Tim Roth, Gary Oldman
Rollen: Gueldenstern, Rosenkranz

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (1990)

This post is part of the derivative works genre post series, this month’s selection for Movie Rob’s genre grandeur, and this theme, derivative works, was selected by yours truly. Now, what is a derivative work? We hear this phrase bandied about in fan studies, often to describe fan fiction.

For this event, we define it as work based on existing source material but reinvents the material into something special, which is a wide selection, because almost everything is adapted from something nowadays.

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charlotte lucy

A Room with a View (1985)

a-room-with-a-view-movie-poster-1986-1020201162Dear Readers, this post is part of the “Sex! (Now That I Have Your Attention) Blogathon” hosted by Steve at moviemovieblogblog. This event focuses on films that ooze with sexual chemistry, while not showing a darn thing.

Everyone has that one movie, that film, one that defines what romance is to you. Whether it is John Cusack as Lloyd Dobler blasting Peter Gabriel in a boom box to Ione Skye in Say Anything, or Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy proposing to Elizabeth Bennet (for the second time!) in Pride and Prejudice we all have that movie. The one that will set the template of exactly what love looks like and everything else pales in comparison.

For me, that movie is Merchant Ivory’s 1985 film, A Room with a View. I am pretty certain my best friend in high school Shannon and I saw that film at least 20 times on video. Probably closer to 30. I lost count, but it’s not a good sign when you know every line. Continue reading