Thursday, March 9, 2017

Captain's Library & Theatre KING KONG "meets P T Bunkum"

With a new King Kong movie hitting screens tomorrow...
...we're going to have a look at the only comic based on the first King Kong animated series from 1966...

An animated series that also lead to another King Kong film...

...using elements from the animated series including the villain, Doctor Who!
the animated version
the live action version
No, not the BBC's Time Lord...
...but a decidedly-hammy human villain!
Two interesting American-Japanese links to the tv series and movie.
1) The series, though produced by Rankin-Bass was animated by Toei Animation, making it the first anime specifically-produced for America!
2) The movie was a co-production of Rankin-Bass and Toho Studios., using characters and plot elements from the cartoon series including Doctor Who and MechaniKong!
Though it uses King Kong, it is not a sequel to King Kong vs Godzilla, and no reference is made to events of the earlier film.
Now, back to the comic...
While the writer is unknown (and the story may be adapted from one of the episodes), the art is believed to be penciled by Sol Brodsky and John Verpoorten and inked by Frank Giacoia.
If those names seem familiar, it's because the one-shot comic this tale appeared in, America's Best TV Comics (1967), was packaged by Marvel for ABC!
Besides abridged reprints of Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, and Casper tales, the 68-page comic featured the first (and only) strips based on the animated Journey to the Center of the Earth, King Kong, as well as George of the Jungle's first comic book appearance!
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King Kong
Vol 1
and
King Kong
Vol 2

Monday, February 20, 2017

MOVIE OF THE WEEK BLOGATHON "Shadow on the Land"

In 1968, the creator of I Dream of Jeannie predicted what may yet occur in 2017...
...with a tv-movie that aired on network only once, yet had an enormous impact on those who saw it!
In 2016, as in 1968...
We were engaged in an unpopular military action that spawned an ongoing protest movement!
Race relations were cratering!
The economy was doing well, but individuals thought, because they weren't personally doing well, the whole economy was collapsing!
The current President (a Democrat) was not on the ballot for the Presidental election!
With an less than popular Democratic candidate, a Republican who promised "law and order" and to "protect America from potential invaders" won the White House!
Sidney Sheldon, creator/producer of lightweight escapist entertainment like I Dream of Jeannie, Hart to Hart, and The Patty Duke Show, looked at what was going on around him and took a chance.
Screen Gems gave him carte blanche, probably expecting something in a similar vein.
He greenlighted a story by Nedrick Young, who had scripted The Defiant Ones (1958) and the screenplay adaptation of Inherit the Wind (1960).
Sheldon then selected an experenced, versatile director, Richard C Sarafian, with credits ranging from Dr Kildare to Batman!

The cast used both established pros like John Forsythe (against type as the villainous General Bruce, the Leader's trusted military commander) and Jackie Cooper (as the heroic, but doomed, Lt Col Davis), as well as up-and-comers like Gene Hackman and Carol Lynley in supporting roles.
(Trivia Note: one of the supporting characters, Lt Allen, is played by Jonathan Lippe/Jonathan Goldsmith, known today as "the Most Interesting Man in the World" in Dos Equis beer commercials!)
The protaganist, rebel leader Major McCloud, was played by Marc Strange in his only leading role.

The tv-movie, using concepts from both Sinclair Lewis' It Can't Happen Here and George Orwell's 1984, portrayed a near-future America where the President declared a national emergency and imposed martial law...but the undefined "emergency" never ended, and martial law quickly mutated into fascist repression!
But the Society of Man, an organized resistance group with people placed within the government, fights back as best it can against the overwheming military and technological might of the fascists.
Left open-ended, the movie practically begs to be continued as a mini-series, if not an ongoing series!

Airing on ABC during the Christmas season (December 4, 1968), it failed to garner decent ratings, and the potential series died quietly.

(Trivia Note: Kenneth Johnson proposed a similar concept called Storm Warnings to NBC in the early 1980s.
They turned it down, and Johnson, following in the steps of Rod Serling and Gene Roddenberry, revamped the concept with science fiction elements, making the fascists into reptilian aliens, and sold the concept as V, which ran as two mini-series and a brief ongoing series in the 80s and a two-season reboot in 2009-10.)

Never available on VHS, DVD or BluRay, the only way to see it is right here.
I'd say "enjoy, but, it's really more frightening than enjoyable...
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