I wanted to incorporate one of my other loves into this website–classic television. My love of classic television was born after I discovered Nick-at-Nite one evening, circa 1995 when I was in the sixth grade. The first show I watched on Nick-at-Nite was I Love Lucy. This ignited my love of Lucille Ball and I Love Lucy. From then on, I had to see every episode of ‘Lucy.’ Later, my love of Lucille Ball led me to TCM to see her films. From watching films with Ball, I ended up discovering a variety of other favorite actors including (but not limited to): Gene Kelly, Katharine Hepburn, Ann Miller and Maureen O’Hara, just to name a few. I Love Lucy also featured a lot of great classic movie stars whom I loved on the show and discovered their films later on TCM. One of the all-time best I Love Lucy guest stars was William Holden. Holden guest starred in my favorite episode– “L.A. at Last!”
After spending two weeks driving across country and making stops at a run-down cafe/hotel near Cincinnati, OH, a brief detour/jail stint in Bent Fork, TN, and a visit with Ethel’s father in Albuquerque, NM, the Ricardos and Mertzes finally make it to Los Angeles, CA. After scoping out their hotel suite in the heart of Hollywood (courtesy of MGM), Ricky makes plans to have lunch alone (i.e. without Lucy) at the studio commissary. To soothe Lucy and the Mertzes’ disappointment, he gives them full use of their car and some money for lunch.
Since they set foot in Hollywood, Lucy and Ethel have been on the hunt for movie stars. Lucy wonders out loud if there’s any place where [the stars] gather in a big herd. Fred jokingly says, “maybe they all gather at the same watering hole.” This gives Lucy an idea and soon they’re off to “the watering hole,” aka The Brown Derby. While in the restaurant, Lucy and Ethel immediately begin gawking and rubbernecking at every celebrity in sight. We hear the restaurant page various unseen celebrities that they have a telephone call: Cary Grant, Walter Pidgeon and Gregory Peck. Fred reminds Ethel that “they’re (the stars) just people like you and me.” “Telephone for Ava Gardner!” says the overhead page at the restaurant. Fred jumps up and Ethel reminds him: “Remember? She’s (Ava Gardner) just people like you and me.” “She may be people, but she’s not like you and me!” Fred hilariously replies.
After an embarrassing interaction with Eve Arden where Ethel asks her if she’s Judy Holliday or Shelley Winters, William Holden is seated into the next booth on the other side of Lucy. Ethel gets Lucy’s attention and soon Lucy is gawking at Holden and making him uncomfortable. He decides to turn the tables on Lucy and stare back. Lucy is very uncomfortable and after a hilarious scene where Ethel cuts Lucy’s spaghetti with her manicuring scissors, Lucy and the Mertzes make a hasty exit–but not before Lucy trips the waiter and the pie on his tray falls on Holden.
Later, we see Ricky trying on costumes, a knight costume, for his new Don Juan picture. He just so happens to meet Holden at the studio and Holden offers to give him a ride home. Knowing Lucy’s love of movie stars and Holden in particular, Ricky asks Holden if he’d be willing to come in and meet Lucy. Holden is only too happy to oblige. Lucy, fearful of being exposed as the one who threw a pie at Holden, tries to disguise her appearance.
The funniest scene of the entire episode is the scene between Lucy with her fake putty nose, Holden and Ricky. Lucy’s nose constantly needs re-shaped and she ends up lighting it on fire. The looks on the men’s faces when Lucy is monkeying around with her nose is the absolute funniest part of the episode. After the jig is up, Holden doesn’t let Ricky know about the shenanigans at the restaurant and tells him that he wanted to ask the waiter “who the beautiful redhead was,” but Lucy ran out before he had a chance. Overwhelmed at Holden’s kind gesture, Lucy plants a kiss on him. “I kissed Bill Holden!” she exclaims.
What I love about this episode, besides the episode itself is how it sets up William Holden for being a big blabbermouth. In multiple episodes, other celebrities mention having heard from Bill Holden about Lucy. I like the idea that Holden is going around town telling everyone about Lucy and how ridiculous she is.
There are so many blogs out there. A person cannot “Google” a subject without finding someone’s blog on the topic. There are many great blogs, ones that are regularly maintained and always evolving. There are also a ton of blogs that an enthusiastic fan started and no sooner than they click “publish” on their free blog, they’ve abandoned it. It’s a regular ghost town of deserted blogs on the internet–Here’s hoping my blog doesn’t end up a statistic.
My intention with this blog is to share my enthusiasm and opinions of classic film and television. I may slip in some more recent films here and there, because I’m wacky like that. I do not intend to provide any serious technical analysis of film or television. I am not trying to win the Pulitzer Prize for greatest written article about Casablanca. I am not auditioning for anything. This is purely a not for profit fan blog written by someone who watches way too many movies and way too much television. I feel all this couch potato time is worthwhile, however. Someday, all this information (trivial or not) gleaned from these films and programs will assist in my quest to completely dominate trivia night. Everyone needs to know the name of the bully who relentlessly picked on Cindy Brady right? (Answer: It’s Buddy Hinton).
I am a former Nick-at-Nite junkie. I discovered it one night in the sixth grade in 1995 and watched it religiously until it went downhill (circa 2002). Nick-at-Nite, back in the day, had such a fun aesthetic. Retro-inspired graphics, jingles, funny advertisements for their programming (Look up “The Pants That Ate Fred Mertz” on You Tube. You won’t regret it), and on-screen placards before each episode which provided some basic information (episode name, number, original air date, etc.) with a fun trivia fact. Their annual Block Party Summer (each evening featured a 3-hour block of a specific show) was one of my favorite times of the year. It was always a downer when one day was a dud (e.g. one year, Mondays were “Monkee Mondays”). I always thought: “Now what am I going to do [insert day of the week] nights?”
The first show I watched on Nick-at-Nite was I Love Lucy starring the inimitable Lucille Ball (aka “Lucy”). Even now, after 21 years, I Love Lucy is still my favorite television show of all time. My other favorite shows that I discovered on Nick-at-Nite and continue to watch up until this day are: The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, Green Acres and The Brady Bunch. There are so many fantastic shows that Nick-at-Nite introduced (or re-introduced) me to over the years, and thanks to Hulu and DVDs, I can enjoy them again and again. I have been known to use a combination of You Tube, DVDs and Hulu to try and re-create at least something that kind of resembles my beloved night-time block of programming. Until my demands are met, and Nick-at-Nite in all its 90s retro-inspired “graphic-ed” glory are reinstated, my makeshift block of classic programming will have to make do.
In conjunction with my Nick-at-Nite and Lucy obsessions, I branched out into classic movies, via Turner Classic Movies (TCM) and American Movie Classics (AMC). TCM debuted in 1994. I only had the channel for a few years before it moved to a higher tiered cable package (don’t worry, I have since gotten it back and have had the channel for the last ten years or so). AMC used to show classic movies and shorts from the Golden Age of Hollywood. They closer resembled TCM in that they played a variety of films with Nick Clooney introducing them (a la Robert Osborne on TCM), I used to watch a lot of Laurel and Hardy, The Marx Brothers and The Three Stooges.
TCM (not so much AMC) provided the perfect venue to get to know more about my favorite classic television actor. Knowing that Lucille Ball had a movie career before I Love Lucy, it was my intention to see her appearances in these films, whether she had a walk on role (e.g. 1935’s Roberta. Ball appears in the fashion show sequence. Her lines were deleted from the final cut) or a small bit part (e.g. 1935’s Top Hat, she appears as the flower shop clerk and has couple lines), or was the star. I had to see all her films. I would set the VCR up for these recordings and cross my fingers that the tape didn’t run out or that I didn’t mess up the recording somehow.
During this time, I also watched the annual televised viewing of The Wizard of Oz, which was a tradition. I love this movie and enjoyed watching it each and every year. We eventually got the VHS, but there was just something about watching it on network television. It was an event. My favorite character in ‘Oz’ was Judy Garland’s character, Dorothy. From my love of Judy, I started seeking her films out on TCM in addition to Lucy’s.
My love of Lucy and Judy has led me into an inescapable vortex of classic film. Each film I watch has the possibility to join my running list of favorite films and introduce me to new favorite performers. Thanks to Nick-at-Nite and TCM, I have discovered so many great stars that have become my new favorites: Errol Flynn, Katharine Hepburn, Gene Kelly, Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Marilyn Monroe, William Holden, Audrey Hepburn, Fred Astaire, Betty Grable, just to name a few. I have one cardinal rule that I try to follow when going into a “new” film: Go into it hoping that it’ll become my new favorite film. I never look for what’s wrong with a film until the end, when I discover that nothing “clicked” for me when I watched it. I’m always willing to give films a second chance, unless I hated it so much that I don’t intend to ever watch it again (Apocalypse Now, I’m looking at you).
I hope to share my enthusiasm (and perhaps disappointment) about film and television. Some of the films I may discuss, I have seen a billion times, others I just watched for the first time and am sharing my initial thoughts and opinions about the film. I do not claim to be a film historian or expert, I am just a fan. I’m constantly amazed how many films there are in the world and every day, I am finding out about more and more films I’ve never even heard of, let alone seen. My DVR is always on the verge of being full. I can’t help it, everything sounds so interesting.
Remember, this is all opinion, my opinion. Please don’t beat up on me because you disagree with my opinion. I’m open to conversation and trying to understand another point of view or perhaps giving a film a second (or third or more) chance, but if someone flat out disagrees that my favorite road movie is The Long, Long Trailer, then I really don’t care. I love what I love.