Wednesday, February 22, 2017

This will give you hope


I have a few fetishes, like cars from the 1940s (maybe you've noticed). Obsolete technology is definitely one of them. Fortunately I have the bliss of YouTube (which is also full of crap - maybe you've noticed that, too?), from which to make gifs. I've made thousands of them, literally,                 but one of my chief obsessions is old TV and movie logos. These giff up real good because they're so short, and lend themselves to the endless-loop format. I've pulled out some of my all-time favorites here. In some cases here, I cheat a bit and include TV show beginnings and endings that are just too good to leave out.

This fierce-looking ABC logo lights up from below, but it looks as if someone is manually raising a curtain on it. Either that, or they're using a flashlight. REALLY old shows had captions and titles that looked like they were on a long roll of paper or canvas that was rolled up and down like an old window blind. 

I LOVE DUMONT. I love everything about Dumont! I even love the low-tech-sounding name. Clips from this defunct network are few, because almost everything went out live back then, but a few kinescopes were made. We still have kinescopes: what this means is that people just make a video of what is on their TV screen. This gets 50,000 views, no matter how shaky the picture or how crappy the content. I don't know why this is, because I get 5 or 6 views at best for videos I spend hours on. 

But never mind. I love Dumont!  I have milked the few available clips for all they are worth. Here the Dumont logo seems to fall down violently with a big clunk. No doubt it was just a piece of cardboard that somebody dropped by hand.

Oh, this is weird. It's a version of the militaristic ABC logo attached to an old circus show, but this time a FACE pops up in the middle of it. Who IS that, anyway? (Why should we care? Imagine how long he has been dead.)

This is the famous ender for a well-known TV show. I have always loved its elegance, the silken heart, and the way the beautiful script writes itself. The CBS aperture/eye is a nice touch. It's spooky, as if you are going right inside it.

I don't know much about this. It was in one of those compilations. I wonder if it isn't a radio thing that someone has tinkered with to make it look like TV. No kidding. I saw a beautiful Buick thing that had a bright light flashing on and off all through it, like a strobe light, no doubt to make it look more "vintage". It ruined it, basically. Leave it alone, people. A masterpiece is a masterpiece.

This is more of a show title than a logo, but it was too good NOT to include. I love the distortion that indicates the degeneration/decay of the film, and the titles are definitely printed on a roll of something that is being cranked. The sponsors go on and on (and WHAT is Double Danderine?), and then comes the title, Okay Mother, starring Dennis James, who is nobody's mother.

This appeared at the end of very early Popeye cartoons. Only a few of them, the ones from the mid-1930s. When my kids were pre-teens, we were "into" Popeye and videotaped them from a show that aired them very early in the morning. If we saw one that had the pen-and-ink logo, we tried to "freeze" the tape on it with the VCR. I don't know if we ever succeeded. It is, of course, easy to freeze on a DVD of it, or even a YouTube video. 

I think of it now, and it gets to me. We watched St. Elsewhere together, and a few other things. Mad About You was another one. I remember they called it Love Sucks. They were about the same age then as my granddaughter Caitlin. For reasons unknown - for no reason at all that I can figure out - she will no longer give me the time of day. She will no longer say hi to me, or look at me or acknowledge me at all. I feel as if I am not even there. 

I don't get it, but it breaks my heart. Only a few years ago, we used to watch old commercials together - hours of them, it seemed. I was hopeful that she would share my love of the vintage and the obsolete.  I still have DVD boxed sets of old ads that we watched when the kids came here for sleepovers. For a couple of years we made YouTube videos together, which was one of the best times of my life. Sometimes I honestly wonder if she sees me as being too out of step with technology to bother with. Has my love of the obsolete made ME obsolete in her eyes?

But I digress.

I love the Pathe rooster! I didn't even know about it until relatively recently. I may have seen it on a logo somewhere, but I had no idea there was one that flapped around while standing on the world. It's pretty bizarre.

You have to watch this for a while for the payoff, but it is well worth it. Obviously this is very early TV, right around the turn of the '50s.  Kinescopes always seem to wobble up and down. (Come to that, so do those abominable videos that get tens of thousands of views.) You can tell someone is filming the monitor, which is the only way they could keep a record of shows. Obviously this is one of the earliest TV incarnations of the comic legend.

I don't think this needs any comment at all.

I just like this one.

Oh, now this is weird, and a recent find. Carl Laemmle (and how I hope I am spelling that right) was a Hollywood producer, but I had no idea he put his smiling face on things. This may well have been from the silent era.

This Universal logo showed up seemingly hundreds of times in compilations, with that wonderful grindy motor-sound that I talked about. This one was likely silent, but it is very elegant.

This is long, but yet another example of the classineses of those Universal titles. They had all the others beat. 

This might just be my favorite. It's startling and unexpected to see that Pathe rooster popping out of the Warner Brothers logo (which zooms out until it is right in your face). I had no idea chickens were so important to the film industry.

But there is one more I want to tack on. This is so strange that it doesn't fit anywhere.

These are from an unsold pilot for a game show (Pass the Line) from 1954. It looks like it was made on a budget of about $25.00. I might try to post it elsewhere, in case someone is interested in 27 minutes of agony. 

It makes no sense whatsoever. Someone, some kind of "artist" (in this case, the host's next-door neighbor) draws a picture. For some reason, it has to be in just ten lines. The first panelist has to copy it. The next panelist has to copy the copy. And so on. No one knows the point of this. It's one big muddle. At the end, the host exhorts the folks at home to "join right in", which is hard to do when you don't know what the hell is going on. The only thing that makes it interesting is that Jonathan Winters shows up. He has no idea what is going on either. But the end credits, again on cardboard, are fascinating. They are a whole new definition of "crawl".

The Black Stallion: what really happened

(From IMDB) The Black Stallion: trivia

The Black was portrayed by a champion Arabian stallion from Texas named Cass Ole; his friend, the old white horse named Napoleon, was portrayed by Junior - who had previously appeared in National Lampoon's Animal House (1978) as Trooper, Neidermeyer's horse.

The scene with the cobra took two days to film, because the cobra refused to spread its hood for the longest time. During filming, Kelly Reno was separated from the snake by a pane of glass.

Once completed, the film was shelved for two years by United Artists. Carroll Ballard recalled the studio "suits" complaining, "What is this, some kind of an art film for kids?" It took the full clout of Francis Ford Coppola to see that the film finally reached theatres.

Cass Ole, like most horses, had his mane trimmed into what's called a bridle path. This makes it easier to fit a bridle. For the movie, Cass Ole had to wear "hair extensions" to make his mane look like a wild horse's mane. He also had white markings on his legs and forehead and the white needed to be covered with a black hair dye to transform Cass Ole into the Black Stallion.

There was outrage in some quarters when Caleb Deschanel's ravishing cinematography failed to even be nominated for an Academy Award. Deschanel, then 34, commented, "I'm disappointed. The fact that so many people told me I was sure to get the nomination has made it harder to take. On the other hand, who am I? I'm just a young punk making his name in this business..."

Cass Ole learned to express anger by putting his ears back, rearing on his hind legs and stomping the ground - and could also turn soft and loving on cue, nodding his head and giving pretend kisses to Kelly Reno. Even his facial expressions changed. "It was amazing," said Corky Randall. "I never met a horse before who wanted to be an actor." Only once did the stallion lose patience - during the bareback ride on the beach when Alec holds up his hands in triumph. Cass Ole suddenly bolted, giving Reno a much wilder ride than he expected. The crew was terrified for the boy, but he was a capable rider who lowered his hands to grab the horse's mane and hang on for dear life.

Author Walter Farley had reservations about his signature story being filmed and feared that the novel might not translate successfully to a new medium. Happily, the movie exceeded his expectations in remaining true to the original and finding its own artistic identity. "They did a beautiful job," he conceded.

Among the innovations of sound editor Alan Splet, who won a special Oscar® for his work, was attaching microphones to the underside of the horse during the racing scenes to catch his actual hoof-beats and breathing.

A sequence that made everyone especially apprehensive in its filming was the one where the Black stomps and kills a cobra that is threatening Alec. A group of snakes was flown in from Milan with a handler, Carlo Guidi, who assured the filmmakers that his cobras had been milked of their deadly venom. Just in case, a special serum was kept on hand but, thankfully, did not have to be administered.

None of the equine doubles liked being in the water, so horses were brought in from the lagoons of Camargue in France for the underwater shots of the Black swimming in the sea. Cinematographer Caleb Deschanel recalled in an interview that the swimming horses "had pot bellies and incredibly ugly faces." But when they "came into the water and started swimming, they looked unbelievably graceful. They were the ugliest animals you've ever seen, but underwater...they were like Nijinsky." The crew nicknamed these horses Pete and Repete because of the numerous takes required to get the appropriate underwater footage.

The island of Sardinia was used for the island scenes with Toronto used for the eastern seaboard scenes.

Filming began in Toronto on July 4, 1977. The summer of 1977 in Canada was one of the wettest and hottest on record, and delays were caused by the torrents of rain that flooded the Woodbine Racetrack, creating a two-foot-deep layer of mud. At the end of August the film crew headed for the sunny Mediterranean, where they faced a new set of problems.

The first location in Sardinia was near the town of Marina di Arbus, where the horses were transported by a van containing portable stalls that were set up near the filming site, and the crew had to hand-carry the cameras and other equipment over the sand dunes. That situation was repeated at various other locations all over Sardinia, with exposure to sun, sand, sea and dysentery causing considerable discomfort for the crew. Other locations there included Capo Caccia, Capo Camino, Costa Paradiso, Cala Ganone and San Teodoro, which sported a mile-long stretch of fine white sand that was perfect for the boy's first ride on the stallion. Temperatures in Sardinia could become quite cold, and Reno shivered through scenes where he wore little clothing and was often in the water.