bye bye birdie

the year: 1963

the genre: musical

the cast: Dick Van Dyke (Albert Peterson); Janet Leigh (Rosie DeLeon); Ann-Margaret (Kim McAfee); Maureen Stapleton (Mae Peterson); Bobby Rydell (Hugo Peabody); Paul Lynde (Harry McAfee); Ed Sullivan (Himself)

the plot: None-too-successful songwriter Albert Peterson hatches a plot with his secretary - and long-suffering girlfriend - to get rock-and-roll phenomenon Conrad Birdie to sing one of his songs on The Ed Sullivan Show. The pop star would then symbolically kiss goodbye to a young lady chosen at random from the country's womanhood, this being his last appearance before being drafted. Complicated to start with, things get more tricky as everyone including Albert's clinging mother descend on the small town where the chosen girl lives.

count: how many females faint when Conrad sings "You Gotta Be Sincere".

watch for: another case of an unplugged electric guitar during the opening chords of "You Gotta Be Sincere".

don't miss: the "Telephone Hour".

listen for: "Randolph, your father's warned you. If you make another bomb, you'll get spanked."

did you know: The sheet music of Birdie's next hit song, "Mumbo Jumbo Gooey Gumbo," which Albert picks up from the piano in his first scene, is the same music as the title tune, "Bye Bye Birdie."

extra bonus points: if you know why Albert's music company is called "ALMAELOU."


the end

Can you guess the movie by the end title?


guess who?

According to singer Mel Tormé, she had a powerful gift of retention. She could view a piece of music once and have the entire thing memorized.

She had an intense fears of flying, horses, and guns.

She was close friends with Katherine Hepburn.

Her most famous role was the inspiration for the character of MaryAnn on Gilligan's Island.

She heard the same line in two of her movies. In both, her love interest says, "Why didn't you tell me I was in love with you?"

Her nicknames included Joots, Miss Show Business, and Baby Gumm.


thin man sequels

The Thin Man series is (I think) a lot of fun to watch. I love the back-and-forth banter of Nick and Nora, the not-too-scary mysteries, Nora's fabulous fashions, Nick's friends in low places, Asta's antics, and how they always gets their man.

And while watching on a rainy day is ideal, these are good enough to watch even if it's sunny outside.

There were five sequels: After the Thin Man, Anther Thin Man, Shadow of the Thin Man, The Thin Man Goes Home, and Song of the Thin Man.

After the Thin Man - back in San Francisco after their holiday in New York, it's New Year's Eve and Nick and Nora are summoned to dinner at Nora's elderly, and very aristocratic, family. There they find that cousin Thelma's husband Charles has been missing for three days. Nick reluctantly agrees to look for him but the case takes a twist when Charles is shot and Thelma is accused of murder. Several other murders occur but eventually Nick gathers everyone into the same room to reveal the identity of the killer. [Trailer here.] Also stars Jimmy Stewart.

Another Thin Man - the Charles' are back in New York with Asta and a new arrival: Nicky Jr. They are invited by Colonel MacFey to spend the weekend at his house in Long Island as he desperately wants Charles to help him out. It seems he has been receiving threats from Phil Church, a very shady character. When McFey is killed Church seems to be the obvious suspect but Nick suspects there is something far more complicated going on. McFey's housekeeper, daughter and various hangers-on may all have had an interest in seeking the old man's demise. [Trailer here.]

Shadow of the Thin Man - Nick and Nora are looking forward to a day of leisure, but when they make a trip to the race track, they learn that a jockey, who was recently accused of throwing a race, has just been found shot to death. With his friend Lieutenant Abrams in charge of the case, Nick has difficulty keeping from getting involved. Then a special state deputy, in charge of investigating gambling scandals, comes to see Nick. He tells Nick that the jockey could have been silenced by a gambling syndicate, and he asks for Nick's help. Soon Nick is fully involved in a complicated and hazardous investigation. (This one is my personal favorite - the wrestling scene is one of the best.) [Trailer here.] Also stars Donna Reed.

The Thin Man Goes Home - Nick and Nora head to Nick's hometown of Sycamore Springs to spend some time with his parents. His father, a prominent local physician, was always a bit disappointed with Nick's choice of profession in particular and his lifestyle in general. With Nick's arrival the townsfolk, including several of the local criminal element, are convinced that he must be there on a case despite his protestations that he's just there for rest and relaxation. When someone is shot dead on his doorstep however, Nick finds himself working on a case whether he wants to or not. [Trailer here.]

Song of the Thin Man - Nick and Nora Charles attend a charity benefit aboard a gambling ship. The festive atmosphere conceals many tensions among those connected with the ship, with most of the friction centering around Tommy Drake, its unpopular, spiteful band-leader. When he is murdered later that night, suspicion falls on Phil Brant, who had argued with Drake earlier in the evening. When Phil and his wife seek help from Nick and Nora, Nick refuses to get involved. But when shots are fired outside his own apartment, Nick begins to investigate, and he soon finds himself in a confusing case with numerous suspects. [Trailer here.}


the thin man

the year: 1934

the genre: mystery

the cast: William Powell (Nick Charles); Myrna Loy (Nora Charles); Maureen O'Sullivan (Dorothy Wynant); Cesar Romero (Chris Jorgenson)

the plot: After a four year absence, one time detective Nick Charles returns to New York with his new wife Nora and their dog, Asta. Nick re-connects with many of his old cronies, several of whom are eccentric characters, to say the least. He's also approached by Dorothy Wynant whose inventor father Clyde Wynant is suspected of murdering her step-mother. Her father left on a planned trip some months before and she has had no contact with him. Nick isn't all that keen on resuming his former profession but egged-on by wife Nora, who thinks this all very exciting, he agrees to help out.

did you know: Louis B. Mayer didn't want to make the film, so director W.S. Van Dyke agreed to shoot the film with a tiny budget and within 2 weeks. It went on to become one of the year's smash hits.

don't miss: Christmas morning at the Charles' home.

watch for: the fabulous pairing of Myrna Loy and William Powell. They would star in 14 films together.

listen for: "The important thing is the rhythm. Always have rhythm in your shaking. Now a Manhattan you shake to fox-trot time, a Bronx to two-step time, a dry martini you always shake to waltz time."


apollo 13

the year: 1995

the genre: drama

the cast: Tom Hanks (Jim Lovell); Bill Paxton (Fred Haise); Kevin Bacon (Jack Swigert); Gary Sinise (Ken Mattingly); Ed Harris (Gene Krantz); Chris Ellis (Deke Slayton)

the plot: based on the true story of the ill-fated 13th Apollo mission bound for the moon. Astronauts Lovell, Haise and Swigert are scheduled to fly Apollo 14, but then moved up to 13. Having already achieved a lunar landing goal, Americans have little interest in this "routine" flight...until things go very wrong, and prospects of a safe return fade.

don't miss: the medical mutiny.

watch for: the real-life Jim Lovell - he plays the captain of the USS Iwo Jima in the final minute of the movie. You can see Tom Hanks' character shake hands with with him while Hanks narrates the line "And as for me..."

listen for: "Don't you worry. If they could get a washing machine to fly, my Jimmy could land it."

did you know: Ron Howard's mother played Blanche Lovell.

did you also know: the cast and crew flew between 500 and 600 parabolic arcs in NASA's KC-135 airplane (nicknamed the "Vomit Comet") to achieve real weightlessness. Each of the arcs got them 23 seconds of zero gravity.

extra bonus points: if you can name another movie that co-starred Chris Ellis, Tom Hanks, Clint Howard. (Hint: Ellis played Phil Horace, Hanks played Mr. White, and Howard played a disk jockey.)

also listen for: "We've got to find a way to make THIS...fit into the hole for THIS...using nothing but THAT."