Film critic Bill Newcott reviews Boundaries, a shaggy dog story starring the always-excellent Christopher Plummer; and Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Morgan Neville’s documentary about children’s television legend Fred Rogers. He also reviews the latest home movie releases, including The box set of Elvis Presley movies, 5 Films; the 1952 film that introduced the world to the wide-screen viewing experience, This Is Cinerama, now fully restored in Blu-ray; the gritty biblical epic, Paul, Apostle of Christ; the box set, Jerry Lewis: 10 Films; and the moody, powerful Russian film, Loveless.
RIP Jerry Lewis, Dick Gregory, Jay Thomas, Brian Aldiss, Sonny Burgess, Sonny Landham, Jon Shepodd, Thomas Meehan, Bea Wain
It seems like we’re losing all of the classic stars of the ’50s and ’60s. There aren’t that many left now that Jerry Lewis has died. Lewis started doing standup in his late teens and just a few years later was teamed with singer Dean Martin. The duo spent 10 very successful years together, with their own TV show and a string of hit movies, before going their separate ways in 1956. Lewis spent decades as host of The Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon (he was dumped by the producers in 2009) and went on to do several successful solo movies, many of which he wrote, produced, directed, and starred in. Lewis died Sunday at the age of 91. His death has brought out many tributes from other comics who were influenced by Lewis.
Here’s the part of the 1976 telethon where Frank Sinatra reunited Martin and Lewis after 20 years. Lewis, along with James Kaplan, wrote a book in 2005 titled Dean and Me that is worth reading.
Dick Gregory was an influential comic who later became an influential political activist. He started doing standup at Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Club in Chicago in the early ’60s and in 1962 became the first black comic to sit on The Tonight Show with Jack Paar couch. Gregory died Saturday at the age of 84.
Jay Thomas was an actor and comic who appeared on such shows as Cheers, Mork & Mindy, and Murphy Brown, where he won two Emmys, and starred in two sitcoms of his own, Love & War and the underrated Married People. He was also host of his own daily talk show on SIRIUS Radio and appeared in several movies. Every year he appeared on David Letterman’s show at Christmas, where he would throw a football and try to hit the meatball on top of Dave’s Christmas tree (you had to see it to understand it) and tell a story about meeting Clayton Moore while working as a disc jockey. He died earlier this week at the age of 69.
Brian Aldiss was an acclaimed writer of many novels and short stories and is probably best known for his many works of science fiction. He died last week at the age of 92.
Sonny Burgess was a rockabilly star and Sun Records musician who founded the band the Pacers, who often opened up for Elvis Presley. Burgess was still performing up until last month and died last Thursday at the age of 88.
Sonny Landham was an actor who appeared in such films as Predator, 48 Hours, and Action Jackson and also ran for governor of Kentucky in 2003. He died last Thursday at the age of 76.
Jon Shepodd was the first person to play Paul Martin, Timmy’s dad on Lassie. When Cloris Leachman, who played his wife, Ruth, decided to leave the show after one season, producers felt they had to get rid of Shepodd too and start fresh, with June Lockhart and Hugh Reilly as Jon Provost’s parents. Shepodd died last Wednesday at the age of 89.
Thomas Meehan wrote the books for three big stage plays: The Producers, Hairspary, and Annie won him three Tony Awards. Other shows that Meehan wrote include Young Frankenstein, Rocky, Cry-Baby, and Elf. He started his career as a writer for The New Yorker. Meehan died earlier this week at the age of 88.
Bea Wain was one of the last living singers of the big band era. She sang such songs as “Deep Purple,” “My Reverie,” and “Heart and Soul,” and was actually the first person to record “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” though her recording was held back until after The Wizard of Oz came out. Wain died last weekend at the age of 100.
In a time where every single week we say to ourselves “this is the craziest thing I’ve seen in a while,” I still have to say this is the craziest thing I’ve seen in a while.
Robert Lee is an Asian American college football announcer for ESPN, and the network announced this week that they’re taking him off the September 2 home opener at the University of Virginia. Can you guess why? Hint: It has to do with his name.
That’s right, ESPN has decided that Robert Lee’s name is a little too much like Robert E. Lee’s name, so they “collectively made the decision with Robert to switch games as the tragic events in Charlottesville were unfolding.” I wonder if college students even know who Robert E. Lee was?
I just hope The Saturday Evening Post doesn’t realize my first name is Robert and I live near a restaurant named Lee’s.
USS Indianapolis Wreckage Found
In the classic film Jaws, shark hunter Quint tells the story of how he was on the USS Indianapolis in 1945 when it was hit by two Japanese torpedoes. Of nearly 1,200 men on board, 300 went down the with the ship. The rest of the crew went into the water. Only 316 survived. The rest were killed by exposure, thirst, injuries, and … sharks.
The Indianapolis was lost in the sea for 72 years, but this week it was just found by an expedition funded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.
— Paul Allen (@PaulGAllen) August 19, 2017
Let’s Talk about the Next Eclipse
I know, I know. We just got done with one eclipse this week and we’re already looking to the next one? It happens on April 8, 2024, and this time the path of totality will start in Mexico and go up towards New York and New England. Make sure you don’t use the same glasses you used this week, though. The lenses only last a few years, so you might as well just sell them on Craigslist as “collectors’ items.”
This is one of the best pics from the eclipse, a plane flying across just as the eclipse is happening in Lewiston, Idaho.
— Mike Seidel (@mikeseidel) August 22, 2017
Millennials Hate Black-and-White Movies, Love Paper Towels
It’s always something with you millennials. First you try to destroy the cereal industry because it takes too long to clean the bowl and spoon, and then you reveal that you can’t even watch a black-and-white movie all the way through? What’s next, are you going to stop using napkins?
Yes. Business Insider has a list of the industries and products that generation Y has either killed or at the very least has hurt deeply, including casual dining places like Applebee’s and Hooters, homeownership, beer, motorcycles, golf, and napkins. Apparently, millennials are in love with paper towels (though I like to think they’re just barbarians who wipe their mouths with their sleeves) because they’re more practical than napkins and you can clean up more. But wait, aren’t millennials the ones who hate to take the time to clean even a cereal bowl?
I have to agree with one item that they don’t use anymore: bars of soap. Though I washed with Ivory every day when I was a kid, I haven’t used a bar of soap in 15 years.
Don’t be funny. I mean I use liquid soap now.
Two All-Beef Patties, Special Sauce, Lettuce, Cheese, Pickles, Onions on a Sesame Seed Bun
McDonald’s popular burger was invented by Jim Delligatti at the Uniontown, Pennsylvania, location and first served on August 22, 1967. Here’s a commercial from that same year:
Interesting that this commercial uses the line “… and a sesame seed bun” when other commercials use “on.” Okay, it’s not that interesting.
This Week in History
Dorothy Parker Born (August 22, 1893)
British Invade Washington, D.C. (August 24, 1814)
The White House was one of the buildings burned when British troops marched into Washington during the War of 1812. It was uninhabitable for three years.
This Week in Saturday Evening Post History
“Home from Vacation” (August 23, 1952)
Here it is, August 25, which means that summer will soon be over. Oh, sure, summer technically doesn’t end until September 22, but we all know it ends when the kids go back to school. In some areas that has already happened and in other places school starts the day after Labor Day. In this cover by John Falter, the family is coming home after their vacation and unloading the car, about to find out what bills have been piling up while they were gone.
National Cherry Popsicle Day
“Popsicle” is actually a registered trademark of Unilever, though we seem to call every frozen ice pop a “popsicle.” The same way we call every adhesive bandage a “band-aid,” even though there’s only one Band-Aid.
Anyway, I have no idea why cherry Popsicles get their own special day tomorrow, August 26. I’m an orange, grape, or root-beer guy.
Next Week’s Holidays and Events
National Dog Day (August 26)
Is it a controversial thing to say that dogs are better than cats? But they are! Here’s the official National Dog Day site, where you can learn how to celebrate the day with your best friend. Cats have to wait until October 29 for their day.
Frankenstein Day (August 30)
Why is Frankenstein celebrated on August 30? That’s the birthday of author Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, author of Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, which was published in 1818. On a related note, here’s a 1962 Post interview with Boris Karloff, who played Frankenstein in the 1931 film adaption.
We remember comedian and philanthropist Jerry Lewis, who passed away on August 20, 2017.
This Post article from 1963, “The Search for Jerry Lewis,” shows that Lewis was a complicated, fretful, driven man.
Lewis was aware of some critics’ distaste for his work, but he was far more concerned with pleasing his fans and his inner critic. He quipped, “I’ve never been able to get the best table at Sardi’s, but I’m kingpin at the Automat.”
Lewis’ generosity was legendary. As author Edward Lin noted, “Any of his crew can thrill him by coming to him with a personal problem, and if he can solve their problem with money, his whole day is made.” And of course, he hosted the annual 24-hour muscular dystrophy telethons for 44 years, raising $2.5 billion.
He was forever trying to improve on his past efforts, prompting his wife to comment, “He’ll never live to be as old as it takes to be half as perfect as he’d like.”
But by living 91 years, he had plenty of time to try.