1958 Oscars and Grammys

This is a new segment to look at past Oscar and Grammy winners. I am starting with 1958 because it is the first year of the Grammys (the first Academy Award was in 1929), and it is the 60th anniversary of the Grammys this year. I will just note the major categories and those of special interest.

THE OSCARS
Held at the Pantages Theatre, Hollywood

The Kirkster, The Burtster, and choreographer Jack Cole in a dance rehearsal for a number named “It’s Great Not To Be Nominated”, which did not go down well with some nominees that year.

Best pictureThe Bridge on the River Kwai
Best foreign filmNights of Cabiria

Giulietta Masina in Nights of Cabiria

Best director – David Lean, The Bridge on the River Kwai
Supporting actress – Miyoshi Umeki for Sayonara (note Ricardo Montalbán’s role)
Actor in a Supporting Role – Russ Tamblyn (Dr. Lawrence Jacoby in Twin Peaks), Peyton Place

Russ Tamblyn, centre, in Oscar rehearsals.

From Wikipedia: The show’s producer, Jerry Wald, started cutting numbers from the show to make sure it ran on time. He cut too much material and the ceremony ended 20 minutes early, leaving Jerry Lewis to attempt to fill in the time. Eventually, NBC cut to a re-run of a sports show.

THE GRAMMYS
Held at the Beverly Hilton, Beverly Hills.

Frankie lucked out except for best album cover

Record of the YearNel Blu Dipinto di Blu (Volare), Domenico Modugno
Album of the YearThe Music From Peter Gunn, Henry Mancini

Best Album CoverOnly The Lonely, Frankie

Best Vocal Performance, FemaleElla Fitzgerald Sings the Irving Berlin Song Book, Ella Fitzgerald

Best Rhythm and Blues Performance – “Tequila”, The Champs

Best Comedy Performance“The Chipmunk Song”, David Seville

Best Performance, Documentary or Spoken WordThe Best of the Stan Freberg Shows, Stan Freburg

Ella Fitzerald won the most awards that year with three in all.
Note there is no rock ‘n’ roll at all in the awards. The first award for rock came in 1961 for Chubby Checker in the “Best Rock & Roll Recording” category.

Saturday Night Fever

Not only is this an interesting and amazing film, but it also has one of the best film soundtracks around, which is why I snapped this up a few weeks back when I found it.

Six of the seventeen tracks on this double-album are Bee Gees tracks, pretty much all of their major hit songs with tracks like “Stayin’ Alive”, “Night Fever”, and “Jive Talkin'”. Other bands include Kool & The Gang, K.C. And The Sunshine Band, David Shire, and The Trammps. The film score tracks by David Shire though are not that great, they let down the album a bit, but the rest is pure disco gold.

The vinyl is is excellent condition and the cover is not too bad and includes the “obi” (the strip on the cover) which seems to be advantageous to have whether buying or selling a used record here. I got it for around 800 yen.

Fave track on the album is the 10 min 50 sec version of “Disco Inferno” by The Trammps.

Next, I want to find the “Staying Alive” soundtrack.

Music count 2018: 104
Total vinyl count: 21

Wicked Woman

This 1953 low-budget film is about a tall blonde bad girl that rides into town on a bus from somewhere, gets a job at a bar, falls in love with the married owner, plots to run away to Mexico with him but her plan which involves fraud goes awry, and at the end of the film she is on another bus for Kansas to carry on her wickedness elsewhere.

The actress playing said blonde pretty much makes the whole film. Her name was Beverly Michaels and she played bad girls in a few films, but this one is her most well-known film. She was good at it too.

Also in the film as the bar owner was Richard Egan who was a familiar face. He had roles in many film and television roles.

Egan and Michaels

And another familiar face with an even more familiar voice was Percy Helton.

The film itself was decent and didn’t get boring. The last 15 minutes was very well done with the tension building up, but the ending was a bit of a cop-out as I was expecting the two fraudsters to go to the joint, but it was instead all neatly and happily ended with just the bad blonde moping out of town to carry on her bad ways somewhere else. But really, that is how it should have ended.

A pretty decent watch overall.

Date watched: November 22nd
Score: 6.6/10
Film count 2018: 74

The Man From Planet X

This is a 1951 independent science fiction film, and overall rather mediocre.

The story is about a roaming planet which astronomers named “Planet X” that was on a course for Earth. A news reporter following the story went to Scotland where the planet was supposed to be nearest to when it arrives. He meets an astronomer there, and his pretty daughter, and soon meets “The Man from Planet X”. At first the alien is friendly, but when a greedy scientist attacks the alien for his secrets things turn sour and the alien starts turning villagers into mindless zombies using a zombiefier, and prepares for the invasion of Earth by his fellow aliens who need a new planet to live on.

Most of the film was done on a set in Hollywood, and parts of the set were used in Ingrid Bergman’s “Joan of Arc”. It was shot in six days. Most of the film was just a lot of talk and very little alien action. The alien had a kind of ray gun, but we didn’t get to see him blast anyone with it, I presume the low budget for this film (US$41,000 or US$387,000 in today’s money) couldn’t allow for that. For a budget film though the acting was not bad. The Scottish actors had very thick accents, some of them were hard to understand at times.

The alien was a very bizarre looking dude. His face never changed and he made a kind of musical humming noise as communication, but we never found out what he was trying to say. His voice was the inspiration for Steven Spielberg’s “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” for the alien spaceship sounds.

Planet X man gets bushwhacked

The guy in the alien suit was bit of a mystery himself. From Wikipedia:
Actor Pat Goldin and dwarf actor Billy Curtis have both been rumored to be the unknown actor who played the role of the alien space visitor in the film. However, Robert Clarke, who is frequently named as the source of the Pat Goldin rumor, never actually knew the name of the actor who played the role of the alien, nor did the other cast members, including Margaret Field and William Schallert. Furthermore, the unknown actor who played the alien role was noticeably taller than Billy Curtis. Cast member Robert Clarke recalls only that he was of Jewish origin, stood about five feet tall, and was once part of an acrobatic vaudeville act. Margaret Field and producer Jack Pollexfen later recalled only that he had complained about his uncomfortable costume and his low pay, while William Schallert remembered him only as a very small, interesting-looking middle-aged man who wasn’t much of an actor.

The pretty daughter was played by Margaret Field, mother of Sally Field who was five years old when this film was made. Margaret made only this and another film, but had many television roles.

William Schallert played the evil scientist.

Quite forgettable except for the weird-looking alien.

Date watched: November 17th
Score: 4/10
Film count 2018: 73

The Inner Circle

This is a 1946 film-noir mystery starring a bunch of mostly unknown actors, except for William Frawley who appeared in a few well-known TV shows back in the fifties and sixties.

The story was about the moider of a gossip radio announcer (they didn’t call them DJ’s back then it seems), and a rather intricate plot in which the leading blond has appears to be covering up the murder when in fact she is actually trying to cover-up the fact that her sister involved in the murder (but innocent of course) which is not a good thing as their father is a congressman, so she first gets herself the job of secretary for a detective who just happened to be looking for one, then she gets the detective to investigate the crime and while doing so she hits him over the head at the scene of the yet-unreported crime. A fuzz chief arrives and immediately suspects the detective but the blond comes along and gives a convincing story to the fuzz chief that in fact the crime was perpetrated by a mysterious woman in black, but it was actually the blond with a mourning dress on because she was pretending to be the moider victim’s grieving wife, when in fact he was not married as the fuzz chief noted. From there the story goes on all sorts of tangents and soon we have a cast of potential moiderers.

“I didn’t moider nobody!”

It was all told in a jovial and humourous manner with plenty of one-liners and sassy jokes from the witty blond, who was the highlight of the cast. This is not Bogart level stuff, but it was nonetheless quite entertaining with decent acting. Unfortunately the quality of this film on YouTube was pretty bad.

The ending though was a bit weird and second rate. To find the moiderer the detective came up with a plan. He got all of the principal players to go to the scene of the crime where a live radio broadcast was already set up. An announcer starts the broadcast explaining that the moider will be solved by the detective, and each of the people involved in the crime will be reading from a script of the actual events. So they all go through the script and the detective gets the moiderer to unwittingly reveal himself. The moiderer though was not the character that the story had up to that point suspected, so that at least was good.

But, apart from the unconventional and rather contrived ending, this was a quite fun way to spend 57 minutes.

Date watched: November 10th
Score: 6.5/10
Film count 2018: 72

Heavy Metal Britannia

This is another of the Britannia series of documentaries, the previous one I watched was Synth Britannia, which I wrote about a couple of posts back.

In this we follow heavy metal from it’s very early beginnings in England with bands like Budgie, Deep Purple, and of course Black Sabbath. There are plenty of interviews with many people including Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, Rob Halford, Bruce Dickinson, Lemmy, and Ozzy. And there is plenty of interesting footage and photos.

I learned a few interesting things such as how the term “heavy metal” was coined by William H. Burroughs in his “Naked Lunch” book. Steppenwolf then used it in their song “Born To Be Wild”. However, to check the story on the interwebs I came up with this article which tells a different and not conclusive tale.

I also learned that it was Judas Priest who started the whole leather, gun belts, and plenty-of-studs look that defined how a heavy metal band should look. And I learned that many of these heavy metal chaps are quite nice fellows who just love what they do…always the best way to be. Rob Halford is a very likeable fellow, and Ozzy is just plain funny.

Rob Halford

Definitely a must-watch for metal fans, and an education for those who know little about one of the happiest forms of music there is (I can attest to that).

Date watched: October 28th
Score: 9/10
Film count 2018: 71

Van Halen – Fair Warning

This was an album I had my eyes on for a while, but I passed it over for other albums such as the Abba album I bought a while ago. But, finally I succumbed and it has been in my collection for a few weeks now.

I am not a huge fan of Van Halen, but songs like “Jump” and “Hot For Teacher” are just too catchy to not like. This is their fourth album and does not have any tracks that most people would know unless they are V.H. fans, although “Unchained” is quite familiar.

It came out in 1981, three years before 1984 which is the album that had aforementioned songs and made Van Halen super-duper-stars. This album though is a very Van Halen-sounding album and has some good tracks. I just find it to be a decent but not essential listen. I am listening to it as I type, and I am actually getting into it as I bash on the keys, so perhaps I am warming to it.

The record and album cover are both in near-new condition. It is a Japanese pressing.

I am getting behind in my record posts, I have at least four more to write about, so I will get onto that.

Music count 2018: 103
Total vinyl count: 20