Friday, March 28, 2008

The Typo Trilogy

Man, Charles Bronson was cool.

When he rose to mega success with Death Wish in 1974 he had already appeared in over 130 movies and TV shows.
He was an older guy and people just loved to see him smack young people around.

After his breakout role in Death Wish he had a role in a film called Break Out.

Hello? Are you all still here? Did anyone get stuck in that last sentence? Good.

Anyway, around the time of Death Wish he made three films I like to call...


First up was the 1974 flick Mr. Majestyk.

The tag line was "he didn't want to be a hero... until they pushed him too far."

See, after being pushed he decided he really wanted to be a hero. He then went to hero school and study the ways of the hero and eventually he was hero-esque.

In the film he plays Vince Majestyk a man who's name is spelled funny. That might be why they pushed him.

Next was the 1977 film Telefon. In this one, Bronson beats punks to death with a telephone... uh... telefon. That's what the poster implies.

Bronson is shown smashing the phone in YOUR face.

Be honest, you probably deserve it.

The tag line was "they'll do anything to stop Telefon."

I would have just unplugged it, but that is why I am no Charles Bronson.

The last film of the Typo Trilogy was 1980's Caboblanco.

The tag line was "an epic adventure on the edge of the world."

I would have just said "like Casablanca, with more o's."

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Norm and Cliff Robots

Here is an odd little bit of history.

Back in the 1990's, around the time the Cheers left the airways the producers of the show entered into a deal that created about 50 "Cheers" bars located at Marriott hotels near major airports.

I never got to go to one of these bars, but I am not sure that they have all gone away. A Google search of "Cheers Bar" and "Marriott" does indicate that there may still be one in Sacramento, Kentucky and a few other places.

But as we have seen in the past just because a place is CALLED "Cheers" doesn't make it a Cheers Bar.

These franchises were originally designed to be a reasonable facsimile of the TV show set. A similar dark wood, a bar in the center, some Sam Malone baseball "memorabilia" on display and a couple robots.

Yup, robots. Of course, you were probably expecting such things when you read the title of this post.

It is "The Norm and Cliff Robots" if you are too lazy to scroll up.

Anyway, I have never seen these robots... but I do have a vague memory of a clip of them in the E! True Hollywood Story. I think they were choking each other.

Online, I was only able to find this tiny, little photo:

I also found out that the robots were actually named 'Bob' and 'Hank.' Some people described them as 'big stuffed mannequins' that moved very little and would act out clips from the show.

John Ratzenberger and George Wendt played Cliff and Norm. I always thought 'Wendt' should have at least one apostrophe in it.


I like that better.

John Ratzenberger and George Wend't played Cliff and Norm.

Hmmm. Now I think Ratzenberger needs... something.

How about this:

John "The Pixar Kid" Ratzenberger and George Wend't played Cliff and Norm.

No. That didn't work.

Peter Coyote and George Wend't played Cliff and Norm.

Sweet! Now, I just need George Lucas to go in and digital replace John with Peter.

Speaking of which, I gotta hurry this up, I need to hit the men's room.

So, moving along, Wend't and Coyote sued and settled out of court for 437 BILLION dollars and a truck load of mustache cream.

Or something like that.

I found some legal stuff to share with you:

197 F.3d 1284 (9th Cir. 1999)

GEORGE WENDT, an individual; JOHN RATZENBERGER, an individual, PlaintiffsAppellants,
HOST INTERNATIONAL, INC., a Delaware corporation, Defendant-Appellee, and PARAMOUNT PICTURES, CORPORATION, a Delaware corporation, Defendant-Intervenor.

No. 96-55243

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

December 28, 1999

Before: Betty B. Fletcher and Stephen S. Trott, Circuit Judges, and Bruce S. Jenkins,1 District Judge.

Order; Dissent by Judge KOZINSKI.

Prior Report: 125 F.3d 806


Betty B. Fletcher? Stephen S. Trott? Bruce S. Jenkins? Are these real people? Or pickle companies?

I don't get that one either.

Honorable Bruce S. Jenkins, Senior United States District Judge for the District of Utah, sitting by designation.

KOZINSKI, Circuit Judge, with whom Judges KLEINFELD and TASHIMA join, dissenting from the order rejecting the suggestion for rehearing en banc:

Robots again. In White v. Samsung Elecs. Am., Inc., 971 F.2d 1395, 1399 (9th Cir. 1992), we held that the right of publicity extends not just to the name, likeness, voice and signature of a famous person, but to anything at all that evokes that person's identity. The plaintiff there was Vanna White, Wheel of Fortune letter-turner extraordinaire; the offending robot stood next to a letter board, decked out in a blonde wig, Vanna-style gown and garish jewelry. Dissenting from our failure to take the case en banc, I argued that our broad application of the right of publicity put state law on a collision course with the federal rights of the copyright holder. See 989 F.2d 1512, 1517-18 (9th Cir. 1993).

The conflict in White was hypothetical, since the defendant (Samsung) did not have a license from the Wheel of Fortune copyright holder. Here it is concrete: The panel holds that licensed animatronic figures based on the copyrighted Cheers characters Norm and Cliff infringe on the rights of the actors who portrayed them. As I predicted, White's voracious logic swallows up rights conferred by Congress under the Copyright Act.

Oh boy do I remember the summer I spent with the Vanna White robot. I still have microchip scars on the back of my neck.

My favorite line in that was:
White's voracious logic swallows up rights conferred by Congress

Man, that sounds sexy.

Defendant Host International decided to tap into this keg of goodwill. After securing a license from Paramount, the copyright holder, Host opened a line of Cheers airport bars. To help get patrons into a Cheers mood, Host populated the bars with animatronic figures4 resembling Norm and Cliff: One is fat; the other is dressed as a mailman.5

That sounds sexy, too.

The brief than drones on for a handful of paragraphs. Nothing else is sexy about the brief... other than the word 'brief'.

Posted by Guy Hutchinson

Guy Hutchinson
Guy Hutchinson

Friday, March 14, 2008

More Movies Not On DVD

Man, DVDs are everywhere! Do you remember the days of VHS? Back then you really had to look for a place that sold VHS tapes. Today every single grocery store, tobacco shop or cobbler has a nice display of tobacco products. No wait, VHS tapes... I mean DVDs.

These movies, however, have not made the jump to DVD:

Skidoo- This is a bizarre film. Jackie Gleason plays this Archie Bunker character and he ends up in jail for some reason. In jail he tries LSD. The main drug dealer is played by Groucho Marx. His name is God. Mickey Rooney, Caesar Romero and a few other famous people stop by.

Club Fed- This also has something to prison. It stars Pauly from the Rocky movies and Sherman Hemsley

The Chicken Chronicles- This film is about a teen-aged Steve Guttenberg trying to lose his virginity. I imagine it ends with him hanging himself from a shower rod.

Full Moon High- This is basically Teen Wolf but made a few years before that. Also, Ed McMahon plays the father of the teen wolf.

The Fish that Saved Pittsburgh- This is a late 70's basketball film starring Dr. J, Kareem Paulula Abdul Jabar and Wilt Chamberlain. The 'fish' in the title has something to do with astrology.

Penn & Teller Get Killed- This is a fun film where everyone's favorite magic makers get offed. The film was directed by Arthur Penn which, as a kid, I thought might be some kind of combination of Penn and Teller's first names. I was very impressed to find out they also directed Bonnie & Clyde.

Dr. Death: Seeker of Souls- This horror flick marks the last appearance of Stooge Moe Howard. Moe pokes the devil in the eye and then hits him with a banana cream pie. The devil then rips off Moe's head and wears it as a hat. Hysterical stuff.

Higher Ground- John Denver plays a cop. No foolin'.

Skateboard: The Movie- This skateboard film follows the L.A. Wheels skating team (one of the gang is played by skate legend Tony Alva) as they rise to prominence.

Freewheelin’- This is a dramatized story of the life of skateboarder Stacey Peralta. Stacey plays himself... which I guess means he is a lazy, self centered jerk. As sappy tunes play he rides his skateboard along side his super bland, skinny girlfriend. He has a horrible job as a bus boy where SHOCKINGLY he is asked to clean tables! He complains constantly until some guy from Australia calls him and says "Hey Mate, come to Austrailia... first class!" Then he quits school ditches his girlfriend and the credits roll. Oh yeah, spoiler alert.

Rad- One of the best films NOT on DVD, this is the story of Cru Jones and his quest to ride Helltrack. It's kind of the "Rocky" of bike race movies (so much so that 'Adrian' Talia Shire plays Cru's mom.) It features one of my all time favorite line... when Cru does a 360 on his bike the announcer proclaims "Oh my word! A back flip! Hulk Hogan eat your heart out." I wish at that point the camera cut to a sobbing Hulk Hogan, but instead we see Hollywood Mike Miranda wipe out again.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

A Bunch of Movies NOT On DVD

When you pursue the shelves of your local supermarket, I bet you probably find yourself wondering: WHY DON'T THEY MAKE SPAGHETTIOS WITH SAUSAGE?

Me too.

Here are some movies that are not available on DVD...

Brewster Mcloud- This was a 1970's era Robert Altman flick about a weird kid who lived inside the Astrodome and dreamed of flying. It's an odd film featuring strange things like an old man riding down the highway (in an out of control wheelchair) and the lady who played Olive Oil in the Popeye film doing something.

Buy & Cell- Roddy Piper, Randall "Tex" Cobb and the 'beep boop beep' guy from Police Academy star in this piece of 1980s cinematic fast food. It has something to do with convicts making money in the stock market.

Cool as Ice- Vanilla Ice does a good James Dean impression... minus the bisexuality.

Doug’s First Movie- The animated Disney cartoon character appears in his first film.... minus the bisexuality.

Comrades of Summer- A favorite film here on, this flick stars Joe Mantegna as a guy who has to coach a bunch of Russian ball players. In the end they all find a deeper love than they ever knew... minus the bisexuality.

The Garbage Picking Field Goal Kicking Philadelphia Phenomenon- This film stars Tony Danza as a garbage man who becomes a Philadelphia Eagle. It is loosely based on the dude that Marky Mark played in Invincible... minus the... ah never mind.

The Gong Show Movie- Chuck Barris plays himself in a quirky film about a quirky show.
You know what would have been funny? Remember in Back to the Future when Marvin Berry was playing at the dance? What if it was Marvin Barris! Then he could call his cousin and say "Yo Chuck, it's Marvin... Marvin Barris! You know that new sound you're looking for? Well listen to this!" Then they cut to Marty McFly, but instead of playing 'Johnny B. Good' he is just banging a big Chinese gong.

Hamburger: The Motion Picture- This one is about a hamburger college. The back of the VHS box said something like "Russel has a beef. He's in a real pickle. He has a juicy college fund, but he needs to stop the bull and get his buns in gear and go to Buster Burger University. If he can cut the mustard and impress the big cheese he will get to tomato his meat patty and pass the mayonnaise and sesame seed bun, double quarter pounder... meat, meat, ketchup."

The Kid with the 200 I.Q.; The Kid from Left Field; The Kid with the Broken Halo- These three films are sort of, kind of a trilogy. Gary Coleman and Robert Guillaume star in all three and the word "The Kid" is in the title of each. My favorite is The Kid from Left Field where Gary plays for the San Diego Padres and Ed McMahon sits behind a desk and yells at people.

The Phynx- This is a dumb film with an all star cast. With stars as varied as James Brown, Richard Pryor, Ed Sullivan, Joe Louis and Colonel Sanders; this tells a story so convoluted I don't remember it. I do remember I was eating some chicken fajita jerky when I watched it. Man, that was some good jerky.

Rubin & Ed- A bizarre road comedy starring Howard Hessman and Crispin Glover, this flick is responsible for one of the oddest moments in TV history.
During a promotional appearance on the David Letterman late night show, Glover showed up in costume and in character. He proceeded to give a bizarre interview that made some people think he was on drugs... but watch this film and you will see that he was just being Rubin Farr.

The Singing Fool- This was Al Jolson's follow up to The Jazz Singer and was more successful than that film. It featured more talking and the famous song "I'm Sittin' on Top of the World."

Scavenger Hunt- This is the first film I remember seeing in a movie theater. I saw it in Early 1980 and I remember laughing and laughing. It featured a pretty stellar cast (including Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tony Randall, Richard Mulligan, Vincent Price and Scatman Corothers.) It was a semi-remake of It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. It features both slapstick and more nuanced types of humor... but I just remember liking that there was a scene with a toilet name Maurice.

Hollywood Hot Tubs- This 1980's jiggle-fest was most notable because they altered the Hollywood Sign (to say Hollyweed) for the opening scene. Other than that it mostly features girls in hot tubs.

This just scratches the surface of the films NOT on DVD. But, perhaps we shouldn't scratch too deeply. It might get infected.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Where Dennis the Menace Lives

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This is from a Dennis the Menace coloring book.

See, that is his house... and up top is his room. Down at the bottom is his dog, but that's not labeled.

And, at the bottom right is Dennis' disembodied head.

I like this one. It shows us so much about the "The Menace" family. They have a centrally located fireplace and they run it when leaves are on the trees, so they either live in a cold climate or Mr. The Menace has some nefarious documents that he must burn.

We also learn that they have some absurdly large amount of windows. No wonder Dennis carries a slingshot.