Thursday, December 01, 2005

Them bad old days

The local community college channel sometimes runs series from the early years of TV. You know instantly that these were non-network productions. Everything from the sets to to the clothes were, to understate, cheap.

I caught one the other night (I missed the beginning but think it was The Lone Wolf with Louis Hayward) that made even Ramar of The Jungle and Superman look good.

Most of the Wolf was filmed on set. Fast, cheap. But they did go outside. And when they did it was astonishing--even when the actors were obviously talking to each other, Hayward delivered all the info voice over. No live outdoor sound to be dubbed later. Save the $.

Ramar of The Jungle has three sets basically. Jon Hall, supposedly once a hunk, was somehow boyish even in his Fifties. Sort of like Roy Rogers. As much as I liked Roy, I always thought of him as the slightly embarrassing older brother whose dying words would be "Gee Whiz." As a jungle show, Ramar committed all the usual racial sins but kind of even things out because the whites were just as stupid as the blacks were supposed to be (M'gowa, my ass!). And needless to say about half the running time was stock footage of snakes, tigers, lions.

I'm waiting for Highway Patrol. Broderick Crawford went from Academy-award status to Patrol in six years. There has to be a sad career tale in that one. I suspect booze. But folks my age will never forget him leaning his considerable bulk against that bloated bathtub of a Nash police car bellowing "Ten-Four! Ten-four!" into his hand mike. Fifty years ago it was the number one syndicated show.

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