Saturday, November 28, 2015

Santor Joins in the Holidays with a bit of Decorating!

Gloria Grahame's Birthday

Today marks the 92nd birthday of actress Gloria Grahame.

We're big fans of the work of Ms. Grahame here at The Signal Watch, and seeing her listed in the credits for a movie will always get us to check it out.  We generally prefer her noir work, where she plays a wide range of roles, but always with a certain flair.  We particularly recommend her work in The Big Heat, Human Desire and In a Lonely Place.

But, she's also Ado Annie in Oklahoma! and she's Violet in It's a Wonderful Life.

Her personal life was like an unscripted noir that ignored the Hayes Code, but I'll let you look into that yourself.  What I will say is that she died too young, and I wish she'd had a second go with her career.  She's so darn good, it's hard to believe she wouldn't have ended up doing more on TV or in movies.

Here's to one of the good ones.  Do yourself a favor and take time out for a Gloria Grahame picture this month.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Turkey Day 26

from our house to yours...

Happy Thanksgiving, everybuddy

Marvel Floats in the Thanksgiving Day Parade from Back in the 1980's

From 1987

From 1989

The kids will never understand that this felt like gigantic exposure for these characters at the time.

Happy Belated Birthday to Noel Neill, Our Lois Lane!

Technically, Jamie is Our Lois Lane, and I hate to play favorites when it comes to the great talent that has come to the role in radio, movies and television.  But I'd be lying if I didn't admit to tremendous affection for actress Noel Neill in her role as Lois Lane in The Adventures of Superman, and her affiliation with Superman as a character in other ways.

November 25th marked Neill's 95th, and we want to wish her a very happy belated birthday.

Ms. Neill was not in the first season of The Adventures of Superman when the role was played by actress Phyllis Coates.  She arrived in Season 2, and brought her own spark to the part.

She had practice!  Neill also played Lois in the 1948 Superman serials starring Kirk Alyn as The Man of Steel.

How's your Thanksgiving Prep going?

Jingle Watch: Jingle All the Way (1996)

Well, you can tell Doug is in town, because somehow we found ourselves watching the 1996 Christmas catastrophe Jingle All The Way starring Arnie and Sinbad.

This is the movie most famous for ending the cinematic career of stand-up comedian Sinbad (your mileage will vary on Sinbad.  Doug = not a fan) and the debut of Jake Lloyd in a part that in no way should have inspired confidence that he could carry a Star Wars movie.

It's an odd movie, and I have my theories about it.  It's set as this family friendly comedy, but it's not really fun for kids to see "Dad" getting tortured for an hour, I'd think.  A movie in '96 was a little early for what we'd get with Bad Santa (a movie I finally watched a couple years ago and firmly recommend) or other more adult-oriented holiday comedies.

And, Arnie is a businessman first, actor second.  If he was going to be in a movie, he was going to sell as many tickets as possible.  In fact, I have a firm memory of Arnie talking about the movie upon its release.  I was in film school at the time and was supposed to be making ART, but I also was a dedicated Arnie fan and saw almost all of his movies in the theater.  And here he was pitching the movie not as a story or entertainment, but as a holiday product everyone could enjoy (bring Grandma!).  It informed a lot of how I think of the movie business today, Arnie's relationship to said business, and profitability.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Supergirl Season 1 Episode 4 or 5 - "How Does She Do It?"

The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was making nobody care how good a show actually is, just how it makes them feel.

Actually, the red button would have just opened the door, but that's okay.

I'm not sure how many episodes we are into Season 1 of Supergirl, but this week's episode "How Does She Do It?" was supposed to be last week's episode, but the episode contained some terrorist-like elements that would have seemed a bit unseemly to use in a show about the world's ginchiest superhero a few days after very real terror attacks that made the news in the same parts of the world where Supergirl is broadcast.

What I do know is that the entire program feels very, very much like it is written by people who absolutely cannot be bothered to think through their own show.  And it is absolutely exhausting to watch a show where it seems like the writers cannot follow logic from Point A to Point B to Point C without then deciding Point 117 comes next.

Turkey Day 24

Monday, November 23, 2015

My Secret Shame: I Watch a Whole Lotta Hallmark Christmas Movies

About ten years ago I was up late doing who knows what, and I stumbled across a Christmas movie about a limo driver who has to haul Howard Hesseman around as he hands out money while seeking the daughter he lost track of long ago.  The movie was called Crazy for Christmas (2005), and it was just astonishingly bad.

Shot on a TV budget on the sunny streets of Los Angeles during a season that seemed to not at all be the Christmas season, I found the movie oddly compelling.  A razor thin plot, name actor kinda slumming it, a completely un-buyable situation with main characters moving about with the logic of NPCs in a Sims game thanks to the the incredibly piss-poor writing, all with a cheap-ass score cueing you for the wacky scenes versus the heartfelt moments of weepy joy?

Man.  It was like Christmas Crack.

And I was hooked.  Everything I loved about talking over a bad movie I could find here with the added bonus of the sheer, brutal formula-driven weirdly non-religious-specific Christmas magic of each of these movies.

Now, very specifically, I consider myself a connoisseur of the Christmas movies on the Hallmark Network.  I don't quite have down the nuance of the movies on the Lifetime network, Up! Network (yes.  Up!), or the smattering of movies that have already made their way onto ABC Family.

Turkey Day 23

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Pootie Watch: Pootie Tang (2001)

You're either on board with Pootie Tang (2001), or you are not.  And, according to what I've heard over the years, the studio that put out this film was decidedly not onboard with what a still kinda unknown Louis CK and his co-horts were up to.

What's amazing about the movie is that to make this movie today would cost infinitely more, as this thing is the starting gate for a whole lot of talent that people know today.  No, Louis CK never appears in the movie, but we get Wanda Sykes in her break-out role (no kidding), David Cross, Jennifer Coolidge, J.B. Smoove, Missy Elliot, Todd Barry, John Glaser, Mario Joyner, Dave Attell, Laura Kightlinger.  And, yeah, it also had the then-established Chris Rock and Andy Richter.  But also a very young Kristen Bell in a small role you only see in the credits.

And, of yeah, Costas.  Bob Costas is all up in this movie.

If you've not seen it, it's a bit of an urban super-hero movie.  You get an origin, you get the loss of faith and loss of powers, all in a comedy about a guy named "Pootie Tang" who is one part action hero, one part musician, one part friend of the children.  And who is, according to the movie's tag line "too cool for words".  Sappa Tay.

It is true, at no point in the movie does Pootie Tang ever actually string together any words you can understand.  And that's either totally funny to you, or it is not.

I really don't feel like I'm selling this film at all.

Turkey Day 22