Classic Movies · Movies · Stuff You Should Know



Sorry about being away from the blog yesterday. The end of the month usually finds me in busy-beaver mode, and I was working away, putting the finishing touches on a set of liner notes for both Radio Spirits and First Generation Radio Archives—two collections that I unfortunately need to keep mum about for the time being, because I don’t wish to steal anyone’s thunder.

sundropI made a trip to Publix yesterday morning with my mother, and I was distressed in that they no longer apparently carrying Sun Drop at the Atlanta Highway location. A friend of mine from the In the Balcony boards introduced me to this tasty citrus beverage bottled in Tennessee (it has since been purchased by Cadbury Beverages and is in the fold that features 7-Up, A&W Root Beer, Sunkist and RC Cola). (Does anyone even drink RC Cola anymore? The last time I sampled some it tasted as if it were de-carbonated by design.) Apparently I’m the only one whoever purchased this at Publix (along with a 12 pack of Orange Crush); maybe the next time I go in I’ll ask what the deal is.

In the comments section on my Carson-Morgan post, Andrew Leal of Spanish Popeye was good enough to point me in the direction of Tobacco, as well as the script library of the Old Time Radio Researchers Group, who downloaded a lot of the OTR scripts available at Tobacco—some of which I did not have (it would appear that I have some assorted scripts not in the OTTRG archives as well). I was tickled to find, in a routine search at Documents, that they have available for download some television scripts that were sponsored by Pall Mall—among them Make Room for Daddy (which is nice, considering the shows appear to be no longer in syndication or available period), M SquadTales of Wells Fargo and Boris Karloff’s Thriller. With the assistance of Tobacco and OTTRG, I was able to beef up and cover some gaps in my Abbott & Costello, Blondie and Durante & Moore collections. (If you have a lot of free time, you should go on over and check it out—fascinating artifacts of history, and since many of these shows no longer exist in recorded form the scripts are the next best thing.)

sleuthI haven’t been afforded the opportunity to see too many movies in the past few days, but I did manage to revisit Super-Sleuth (1937) on Thursday (a fun comedy starring Jack Oakie as an obnoxious movie star whose popular movies—in which he plays a detective—spur him on to try and solve a murder) and Border Incident (1949) on Friday: a great film noir directed by Anthony Mann and starring George Murphy and Ricardo Montalban as a pair of Feds trying to bring down an illegal operation exploiting Mexican brasseros (Montalban is first-rate, and even Murphy’s better than usual). Last night I caught a pair of James Earl Jones films that I hadn’t seen previously, the first being The Great White Hope (1970), a boxing flick loosely based on the career of pugilist Jack Johnson (the character is called Jack Jefferson here), which was first presented as a stage play written by Howard Sackler (who also wrote the screenplay). Jones was splendid as a boxer whom the powers-that-be set out to crush (he’s been dating white Jane Alexander, something that did not set well with the PTB at the time), and he’s joined by a sensational cast of supporting character actors including Chester Morris (nice to see him go out with a winner), Lou Gilbert, Robert Webber, Marlene Warfield, R.G. Armstrong, Hal Holbrook, Beah Richards, Moses Gunn, Roy Glenn and Lloyd Gough. (There are also some great performers who unfortunately go uncredited, including Scatman Crothers, Lillian Randolph…and I swear I saw Zara Cully, the actress who played George Jefferson’s mother on The Jeffersons before she passed on 1978.

Jane Alexander and James Earl Jones in The Great White Hope (1970)

The Great White Hope is the only film for which Jones ever earned an Oscar nomination, and I don’t know what MPAAS was doing in 1995 (considering their ages, probably napping during the screeners) but how they missed tapping him for another nom for his performance in Cry, the Beloved Country is a question to which I think I might not want to know the answer. I’ve seen Jones in some sensational movies—Matewan (1987) and Field of Dreams (1989) are two particular standouts—but now I’m convinced that Country (an adaptation of Alan Paton’s classic novel) is truly his finest hour onscreen. He was positively amazing as a South African preacher who journeys to Johannesburg in the days of apartheid looking for his lost son…and discovers that his flesh-and-blood is responsible for the shooting death of a man who’s the son of a wealthy farmer/landowner (Richard Harris) in his village. The scenes with Harris and Jones—particularly when Jones reveals to Harris who his son is—will literally tear your heart in two. Country was filmed previously in 1951 (and as a musical, Lost in the Stars, in 1974) and features Canada Lee and Sidney Poitier; TCM will run this rare goodie in March (on the 19th at 2:00am EST) as part of a tribute to director Zoltan Korda.

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