Thursday, February 28, 2013

Milton Parsons

If you needed an undertaker or other creepy character in a movie, actor Milton Parsons was your man.

Dead Men Tell (1941) - Charlie Chan

Sidney Toler plays Charlie, and Victor Sen Yung plays #2 son Jimmy. The ghost of an old woman's sea-going ancestor supposedly haunts her ship. She is played by Ethel Griffies. Milton Parsons shows up to provide his funereal presence.

Ethel Griffies.

Milton Parsons

This isn't rocket science

"Amid the doom and gloom over looming budget cuts, some are starting to see a silver lining.
The government might finally be forced to cut the waste, fiscal hawks say, and officials are already beginning to do away with some of the costly trappings of their office. On Thursday, the White House even suggested agency heads cut back on conference spending, a target of congressional ridicule for years."

It doesn't take a brain surgeon to see that Congress and the Executive Branch were never going to cut back spending, and neither party is going truly to cut back spending, unless forced to do so.

Van Cliburn just died

I actually got to shake hands with him once, in a reception line after a concert in Fort Smith.

"After wedding bells, prefer no phone bells."

Charlie Chan, from "Charlie Chan's Murder Cruise"

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

You said it, P. G., you said it!

It is a sad but indisputable fact that in this imperfect world Genius is too often condemned to walk along - if the earthier members of the community see it coming and have time to duck. [from Leave It To Smith, by Sir P. G. Wodehouse]

"Honey, I forgot to duck."

Those of my generation may remember this quip by President Reagan after the assassination attempt against him in 1981. What you probably do not know is that he was quoting Jack Dempsey after his first loss to Gene Tunney.

"After dinner is over, who cares about spoon?"

Charlie Chan, from Docks of New Orleans.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Information Please was an enjoyable radio show.

Lots of good information (naturally), but it was also very entertaining. Good comedic value. If you never have heard it, give it a try.

Outstanding post from another blog

One of the greatest and most difficult mental efforts

Not allowing your mind to feel sorry for yourself.

"Accidents can happen, if planned that way."

Charlie Chan, from "Dark Alibi"

Taxi driver sidekicks

What two radio show detectives had sidekicks who were taxi drivers? Simon Templar (The Saint) had Louie, played by Larry Dobkin. Frank Race had Mark Donovan, played by Tony Barrett.

100M miles on odometer

I actually watched the odometer on my car turn over 100,000 miles this weekend. That has not happened more than a time or two in my lifetime. (The watching, not the turning.)

Monday, February 25, 2013

"The Trap" (Charlie Chan) - 1947

Sidney Toler is Charlie. He solves some murders at a Malibu beach house stocked to the gills with young actresses. They are there for a vacation from their stage performances. One of the girls is a conceited prima dona and is the cause of the tension.

Victor Sen Yung is son Jimmy. Barbara Jean Wong plays San Toy, his romantic interest. Mantan Moreland as Birmingham Brown provides the comic relief. Standard Charlie Chan fare. This entry gave several minor starlets a shot at the big screen in a plot that did not particularly challenge their acting ability.

Barbara Jean Wong


Ever wonder why they were called this? This from Wikipedia:

carpet bag is a traveling bag made of carpet, commonly from an oriental rug, ranging in size from a small purse to a large duffel bag.
Such bags were popular in the United States and Europe during the 19th century. They are still made to this day, typically as women's decorative small luggage and purses, although typically no longer out of old carpets.
The carpetbaggers of the Reconstruction era following the American Civil War were given their name from this type of luggage which they carried.

Wanted Dead or Alive: "The Monster"

An elephant is being used to terrify mining camps. Josh Randall comes across an Indian boy running from the beast. Martin Landau (later of "Mission: Impossible" fame) is the bad guy. Bek Nelson is the girl who cares for the boy. Naturally, Josh almost falls for her - almost - before riding into the sunset.

You folks are missing some great old TV watching by not getting in on these old westerns.

Bek Nelson

Martin Landau

Lord Emsworth and "potter"

The word "potter" and its variations seem to be linked permanently with Clarence Threepwood, 9th Earl of Emsworth. The definition of "potter" is "to occupy oneself in an aimless and ineffective manner." I can sort of identify with the esteemed gentleman.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Bertha Blevitch and Maurice Heddlestone

When we learn (as we do from the Hon. Freddie Threepwood in Leave It To Psmith) that these two actors are going to be starring in a movie, we can know for sure that it is going to be a humdinger. Can there be any doubt? Don't you love those names?

Grant Withers: "He's cute"

My youngest daughter's assessment of actor Grant Withers a few years ago as we were watching one of his roles as the police lieutenant on one of the Mr. Wong series of movies starring Boris Karloff.

The Trespasser (1947)

Though not the leading part, Dale Evans makes a rare non-cowgirl appearance in this cute mystery. It stars Janet Martin as an aspiring new reporter. Rare first editions are the subject matter. Douglas Fowley (second place to Sheldon Leonard in gangster accents) is Martin's friends on the staff in a non-tough guy role. Fowley is one of my favorites from old movies. Our old buddy Grant Withers is an insurance investigator who looks into an attempt on Fowley's life.
1947 Janet Martin Kenny Baker Calendar Girl VINTAGE Movie PHOTO 122L
Janet Martin (with Kenny Baker)

Douglas Fowley

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Comparing "The Quiet Man" and "McLintock"

The Quiet Man was released in 1952, and McLintock! in 1963. Maureen O'Hara was the co-star in both, but the similarity does not end there. In both movies, she plays a fractious wife, and in both there is a famous scene in which she has her public comeuppance. I have often wondered if the scene from McLintock was inspired by the hugely successful one in The Quiet Man.

By the way, if you have never seen The Quiet Man, you need to put it on your "must see" list. It is one of my two favorite movies of all time. (The Great Escape is the other.) The assortment of character actors in this movie is outstanding.

But the real show-stealer is Barry Fitzgerald. How he did not win an Oscar for his performance in this movie is beyond me. After you have seen this show, every time anyone says "Irish," you will immediately think of Barry Fitzgerald.

Giggly granddaughters are so much fun

Sugar and spice.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Old men should watch their volunteerism

Volunteering to call the PA for 15 (almost 16) basketball games in a four-day tournament is a little more than the voice and the back can stand.

"Sometimes you're so beautiful it just gags me."

One of the great movie lines. Jimmy Stewart in "You Can't Take It With You."

When we are young

our children keep us awake at night. When we are older, we keep ourselves awake.

Thursday, February 21, 2013


Bah, double humbug!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Docks of New Orleans (1948)

Roland Winter is Charlie Chan, with old reliable Birmingham Brown (Mantan Moreland) and Victor Sen Yung as son Tommy along to "help." (With said help it is a wonder he solves any cases.) The case involves a stolen shipment of chemicals, and a unique method of committing murder. Virginia Dale (famous as Fred Astaire's dancing partner in Holiday Inn) is along as the niece of a slain industrialist.

HERE is a link to a nice blog about Dale.



Staats Cotsworth was the actor who portrayed Casey on the radio show, Casey,CrimePhotographer. That is an interesting name. I do not know that I ever heard it anywhere else.

Staats Cotsworth

Sleepless nights

They can stretch on interminably, it seems. As MacBeth put it (and as Jeeves so often quotes), "Sleep that knits up the raveled sleave of care,"

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Scottish accent - not pleasing, but interesting

Scottish is (to me) one of the least appealing of the accents speaking the English language. It is gutteral and clipped, and just does not flow to the ear like accents from Ireland or Georgia. However, perhaps because it is unappealing, it is one of the most interesting of English accents.

Haunted Bagpipes

I listened to this episode of Sherlock Holmes on satellite radio on the way to work. Starring Tom Conway and Nigel Bruce, and featuring an appearance by arch-enemy Professor Moriarty. It explains why Moriarty became a criminal. He had been an assistant to a doctor working on a cure or prevention for a fatal disease, and society would not let them use live subjects for their experimentation. He resented it so much that he turned against humanity. Whether this explanation was ever set forth by Conan Doyle, I do not recall.

Courtesy and etiquette in the home

These go a long way toward maintaining quiet and pleasantness in the home, which I suppose all would value and desire. There are many outstanding positive features to rural living in the Southwest which I like, but one which I do not like is our tendency to be too familiar and presumptuous in our conduct toward others, including those nearest and dearest to us.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Can you sniff like this? Hmm?

"It was the sort of sniff Sherlock Holmes would have sniffed when about to clap the darbies on the chap who had swiped the Maharajah's ruby." - from How Right You Are, Jeeves, by Sir P. G. Wodehouse

Some given names just never made it

in America. Like Percival. And Marmaduke. You might think of a few others. Good names. Nothing wrong with them. They just never caught on.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Golden Eye (1948) - Charlie Chan

This one is set on an Arizona dude ranch. Our old friend Mantan Moreland is back as Birmingham Brown, the intrepid chauffer, and Roland Winter is Charlie. Victor Sen Yung is Tommy, Charlie's son of the hour. (You haven't lived until you have seen Moreland in a full cowboy outfit, complete with chaps.)

Winter was not as comical as Sidney Toler nor as dignified as Warner Oland, but was the most businesslike of the three actors portraying Charlie.

Wanda McKay plays the female lead. It might (or might not) interest you to know that she was Miss American Aviation of 1938. Her real name was Dorothy Quackenbush, so it is not difficult to see why she went with a stage name.

More HERE about Roland Winter

Mantan Moreland

Wanda McKay

Wodehouse-ism for "dumb blonde"

"Though shaky on the I. Q., physically she was a pipterino of the first water." [from How Right You Are, Jeeves]

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Quorn and Pytchley

You may have read Bertie Wooster refer to these in the Jeeves books with regard to his Aunt Dahlia, who evidently was very fond of foxhunting in her younger years.

"The Quorn and the Pytchley are two well-known hunts in central England, the Quorn primarily in Leicestershire, with some coverts in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, and the Pytchley straddling the Leicestershire-Northamptonshire border."

John Green - furniture and cabinet maker

He does excellent work.

Friday, February 15, 2013

"I am going to begin supervising my wife's housework

in order to make her more efficient," he said, just before checking to make sure his accident insurance was paid up.

The Ostrich School of Management

You are, no doubt, familiar with it: stick your head in the sand and hope your employees will bail you out.

Boris Karloff is one of my favorite actors

and I have never seen him in one of his horror movies. He could have played (and did, on televisioin) a suave British gentleman.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Charlie Chan in Paris (1935)

Warner Oland in the title role. Keye Luke is #1 son Lee. Charlie is trying to get the goods on an international counterfeiting ring that has been putting bogus bonds on the market in Paris. Mary Brian and Thomas Beck provide the romantic interest. Beck is a young man who has known Charlie for years.

Thomas Beck

Mary Brian

The Phil Harris Show was very funny

except for Phil Harris. He was just irritating.

Lafayette - you also may not have known

More blue blood: The Marquis de La Fayette; Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier. They collected names like they collected titles.

Cornwallis - you may not have known

You might not have known that the Corwallis who surrendered to the Americans at Yorktown was General Sir Charles Cornwallis, 1st Marquess Cornwallis. (All those folks had blue blood back in those days.)

It is never hard to do

if you are not the one having to do it. Amazing how many folks conveniently forget this (or never intended to remember it).

American Airline is bankrupt

Few companies with whom I have done business deserved it more richly. Their customer service was atrocious. It ought to be law that all airline executives have to ride coach anonymously at least once a year just to experience the horrors of air travel.

The first thing I see each morning

if my face in the shaving mirror. It is a wonder that I am able to withstand the shock.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Charlie Chan at Monte Carlo (1937)

A messenger carrying a million dollars worth of bonds is killed. Charlie just happens to be on hand, so guess who is called upon to solve the case? This is Warner Oland's last appearance as Charlie. He was always characterized by his unfailing courtesy and his reponse, "Thank you so much."

Keye Luke is under foot as #1 Son.

Keye Luke

as Fibber McGee says

"Laugh, and the world laughs with you; snore, and you'll sleep along." (from "McGee Looks Happy," broadcast 8 June 43)

You Are Old, Father William

I heard this reference on the Information Please radio show. I had not thought about it in years. By Lewis Carroll

"You are old, Father William," the young man said,

"And your hair has become very white;
And yet you incessantly stand on your head—
Do you think, at your age, it is right?"

"In my youth," Father William replied to his son,
"I feared it might injure the brain;
But now that I'm perfectly sure I have none,
Why, I do it again and again."

"You are old," said the youth, "As I mentioned before,
And have grown most uncommonly fat;
Yet you turned a back-somersault in at the door—
Pray, what is the reason of that?"

"In my youth," said the sage, as he shook his grey locks,
"I kept all my limbs very supple
By the use of this ointment—one shilling the box—
Allow me to sell you a couple?"

"You are old," said the youth, "And your jaws are too weak
For anything tougher than suet;
Yet you finished the goose, with the bones and the beak—
Pray, how did you manage to do it?"

"In my youth," said his father, "I took to the law,
And argued each case with my wife;
And the muscular strength which it gave to my jaw,
Has lasted the rest of my life."

"You are old," said the youth, "one would hardly suppose
That your eye was as steady as ever;
Yet you balanced an eel on the end of your nose—
What made you so awfully clever?"

"I have answered three questions, and that is enough,"
Said his father; "don't give yourself airs!
Do you think I can listen all day to such stuff?
Be off, or I'll kick you down stairs!"

The pristine earth

The beauty of nature around us is sometimes breathtaking. But consider what it must have been before the Fall, when God cursed the earth for Adam's sake. Or ever further, before the catastrophic effects of the Flood. If things are beautiful now, what must they have been in the beginning?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Charlie Chan in Egypt

One of the Warner Oland entries in the Charlie series. Stepin Fetchit plays the black role, not as successfully as Mantan Moreland or Willie Best, in my opinion.

Gordon Shirreffs submarine books

Years ago I found in our local library a series of books by author Gordon Shirreffs about two young submariners.
The Killer Sea
Torpedoes Away
The Enemy Seas
The Hostile Beaches
The Cold Seas Beyond

These are most if not all of the books in the series. As I recall they were well written and exciting. Good reading for teenage boys, but good enough that I really enjoyed them, too. Shireffs wrote a lot of books, mainly westerns, and I know nothing about those.

My uncle was in the Coast Guard during WWII

He commented that he guarded about everyone's coast but his own. He was assigned to a troop transport vessel, which made runs across the northern Pacific, if I remember my facts correctly. He told us stories about a man being washed overboard in a storm, and of a Japanese (they presumed) submarine being detected close to them shortly after hostilities had officially ceased.

Managing emotions

Fighting off discouragement and depression is a constant battle for many people. One of the hardest things we face. But it can be done.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Recognize this face?

Those in my generation probably would. He played a lot of tough-guy roles, particularly comic ones. With the damage done to his nose, that persona was perhaps to be expected. You know the face. The name was Richard Bakalyan.

Origin of "Wanted Dead or Alive" TV show

It was a spin-off in March of 1958 of the series Trackdown, which featured Robert Culp as a Texas Ranger.
Robert Culp Trackdown 1957.JPG

Wise words from Hoppy

"Happiness has one big advantage over wealth: your friends don't try to borrow it." - Hopalong Cassidy in "Death Runs Dry"

I work just like I get paid

Twice a month, and very little at that. (Not original with me; I heard it years ago.)

Johnny Dollar in the private eye's favorite place

"As I slipped into the familiar world for private eyes, the land of beddy-bye darkness." Yes, like all radio private investigators, Johnny would get knocked out.

Edmund O'Brien the only no-go

Of all the actors who portrayed Johnny Dollar, the only one that just did not "click" with me was Edmund O'Brien. His voice was just too flat.

National unity?

When New York (and some other parts of the country) are mentioned, I really question how much national unity there exists. I just have no emotional attachment to them, at all. They might as well be on another planet.

Welcome to our world, China

They now have killer smog - literally. Soon, in order to survive, they will be having to put some restrictions on their manufacturing operations, which will drive their costs up.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Montana (1950) Errol Flynn, Alexis Smith

Action western starring Errol Flynn as an Australian who moves sheep into cattle territory, with the ensuing battle. (Flynn actually was born in Australia.) Alexis Smith is (of course) the beautiful cattle owner. Flynn gets beat up. Then Alexis faces him down with a gun and shoots him. But of course, she really loves him, so all ends well. (Glad my wife doesn't take that course.)

Errol loses a little of his dash, though, with those bags under his eyes.

The More the Merrier (1943)

One of the funniest movies I have seen in a long time. Stars Joel McCrea, Jean Arthur and Charles Coburn. About the housing shortage (and the shortage of men) in Washington during World War II. It won an Oscar for Charles Coburn, and got five other nominations.

McCrea was the star of the radio show Tales of the Texas Rangers. He pulls off the "strong, silent" type fully as well as Gary Cooper.

Coburn is not one of my favorite actors. Normally he is somewhat irritating, and he has a little of that quality about him in this movie, but here he pulls off a comic role in tremendous fashion. His Oscar surely was deserved.

Arthur is just a shade short of beautiful, but she just about sums up the word "cute."

This movie is funny, touching and romantic all at the same time. Definitely put it on your MUST list.

Arthur, McCrea and Coburn

Homecoming at University of the Ozarks

My son and I took my 88-year-old father to Clarksville yesterday for the Homecoming basketball game between the University of the Ozarks and Mississippi College. Ozarks (it was College of the Ozarks back then) is my parents' alma mater. The trip was a huge success. Ozarks won both games, and both games were close. They have an old-style gymnasium where the crowd is right down on the court, the ceiling is relatively low, all the surfaces are hard and whatever crowd is there will be very loud. The students are really into the game, a good many of them standing along the sideline and cheering constantly. On our way out of the gym, Daddy got to visit with the President of the University, who was very gracious and invited him to the alumni days in April.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

The Hunted (1948)

Starring Preston Foster and Belita.

A cop sends up his sweetheart. The plot thickens from there, because she had threatened to kill him and her defense lawyer. However, she comes to him when she has no place to stay, and he helps her get a job. He is bitter because she betrayed his confidence. She is bitter because she claims innocence and thinks he has only a cop's hard heart. But they re-fall in love, until she is accused of murder, and the evidence points to her guilt. He arrests her; she knocks him out and flees. He pursues her, but at the last minute evidence comes forth that she did not do it. And, they live happily ever after - of course.

Preston Foster was a low-key tough guy actor with a softer side to his personality that came off very well.

The female lead in the movie went by the simple stage name of Belita, but in fact her full name was Maria Belita Gladys Olive Lyne Jepson-Turner. Not difficult to see why she shortened it. She competed in the 1936 Olympics in ice skating.

Very nice music for what is essentially a B picture, but well done and worth watching nonetheless.

HERE is a youtube spot of Belita skating.

"Of that Ilk"

Sir David Gerald Moncreiffe of that Ilk, 10th Bt.

What does "of that Ilk" mean in such an expression? "Having a name that is the same as the place where one lives; Of that kind; of the same kind of person or thing as the one just mentioned." Or in other words, "Sir David Moncreiffe of Moncreiffe," I suppose.

Dame May Whitty

Dame May Whitty was a familiar figure in old movies. She had been knighted (or whatever they call it for women) in 1918 for her charitable work during World War I. Perhaps her most famous movie role was Lady Beldon in Mrs. Minniver, for which she received an Oscar nomination.

Did you have school teachers like this?

"At that period of our acquaintance he had been an upstanding old gentleman about eight feet six in height with burning eyes, foam-flecked lips and flame coming out of both nostrils." - Bertie Wooster's description of Aubrey Upjohn, who had been his schoolmaster, in How Right You Are, Jeeves

My son just said my wife is crafty

I thought he said she was crabby. Oh well. I'll be able to see out of that eye eventually.

Bob Bailey as George and as Dollar

His voice sounded somewhat different in the former series (Let George Do It) than it did in the latter (Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar). Maybe it is just my imagination, but it sounded just slightly more nasal earlier on.

The reason old men walk like their backs hurt

is because their backs hurt. Some things are very simple.

Friday, February 08, 2013

Weak religion

That religion manifests its weakness that must compel by force. If a religion is not able to compel due to unction of the Spirit in the hearts of men, then it has no legitimacy.

This is a BAD dog

"The sort of dog that hangs about on street corners and barks out of the side of its mouth, a dog, more than probably, known to the police." from Bachelors Anonymous by Sir P. G. Wodehouse

Uppy as a villain?!

In the movie Thundering Caravans (1952), actress Isabel Randolph (Abigail Uppington on Fibber McGee radio show) was the villain. Hard to imagine her in that role.

Speaking of Don Wilson of the Jack Benny radio show

He began his career as a singer, and covered the 1932 Olympics as a sportscaster. He had played football for the University of Colorado in the 1920's and was an excellent golfer.

Fun at work

I had two groups of cute little short persons visit me at work today. Certainly makes the day go better.

Quote from Jack Benny show

"Believe me, if I am your doctor, you won't live to regret it."

How much did Don Wilson weigh?

Jack Benny was constantly poking fun at announcer Don Wilson because of his weight, but Don weighed "only" about 240 pounds distributed over a 6-2 frame.

He came before Phil Harris

The orchestra on the Jack Benny program before Phil Harris was Johnny Green's. He composed the popular tune, "Body and Soul."

"Hello, Rube"

Remember the character on the Jack Benny program who had a Jewish accent and always refered to Jack as "Rube"? The actor was Sam Hearn, pictured below.

The Brooklyn-accent telephone operators on Jack Benny

The actresses were Sara Berner and Bea Benederet. I  could not find a picture of Berner, but Benederet went on to fame in Petticoat Junction.

Bea Benederet, better known for her adventures in Hooterville.

Ed in the vault on the Jack Benny show

You remember him? He guarded Jack's money down in the depths of the dungeon, and never knew what was going on in the outside world. Well, he also was well known as Mr. Wilson on the TV show Dennis the Menace. The actor was Joseph Kearns.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

The Man From Cairo - George Raft

Spy movie. Tough guy George Raft is the star. Oddly, Hollywood kept trotting him out as a leading man long after he was past the part (if he ever was).

Gianna Maria Canale was the romantic female lead.

Inspector LaSalle on Bold Venture radio show

Played by busy actor Nestor Paiva.

Sinful inclinations do not justify sinful actions

Just because you are naturally hot-tempered does not justify your poking someone in the nose.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Fibber & Molly: Ever wonder what they looked like?

Fibber & Molly
Jim and Marion Jordan - rare color photo of Fibber McGee and Molly
Abigail Uppington
Isabel Raldolph
Beulah (Yes, a man provided the voice)
Marlin Hunt
Doc Gamble

Mayor LaTrivia
Gale Gordon

Harold Peary
The second Gildersleeve

Bill Thompson (he played four characters)
Bill Thompson
Harlow Wilcox
Jim and Marian Jordan