Month: October 2017

The Sure Thing – Hit And Run – tape 868

This tape opens with the end of an episode of Horizon about the Exxon Valdez oil spill. I’m assuming that this was a replacement for the programme listed in the Radio Times, as Genome says this should be Medicine 2000, which was actually broadcast the following week (and listed as such).

There’s a trailer for Oranges are Not the Only Fruit.

Then, as the first in the American Tales season, we have The Sure Thing.

Oh look, a few days after Top Gun, there’s Anthony Edwards again, as John Cusack’s High School best friend. I hope he’s OK.

John Cusack plays John Cusack, a cheeky, fast-talking student who’s gone to university in New England, and is frustrated at his lack of success with the ladies. Frankly, he’s a bit of an arsehole.

Daphne Zuniga is a fellow student in his English class, who’s super organised, but who (according to her teacher) needs to live life more.

Yes, he’s a force of nature, she’s uptight and cold. It’s an age old story, always told by men.

Edwards, studying in California, tells Cusack that a beautiful girl he knows thinks he looks cute, and if he travels to California for Christmas, it’s ‘a sure thing’. Yes, this rather creepy premise is the trigger for the whole story.

He can’t afford to fly across the country, so he has to car share, and wouldn’t you know it, sharing the same car is Zuniga.

Their drivers are Tim Robbins and Lisa Jane Persky, who like singing show tunes as they drive.

But after Zuniga decides to show some spontaneity by flashing her breasts at a passing car, and Robbins is cited by a traffic cop (“Don’t forget ‘driving with a load not properly tied down'” suggests Cusack helpfully), Robbins drops them at the side of the road, and it all goes a bit Planes Trains and Automobiles.

I shouldn’t be too down on this, as there’s still some great comedy here. Trapped in a downpour, they seek shelter in a shack which turns out not to have a roof, then they find a caravan, but it’s locked. “It’s important that this place should have an airtight security system.”

As he tries to jimmy the lock, Zuniga rediscovers the credit card her father had given her.

“I have a credit card.”

“No, credit cards work on a completely different kind of lock.”

“Oh wait. Dad said I should only use it in an emergency.”

“Well maybe one’ll come up.”

They do finally make it to Los Angeles. Zuniga meets her boyfriend, a law student who is as dull as we expect. When she insists on going to a party, he says one of my favourite lines. “Look at these people. They probably think they’re having a good time.”

Anthony Edwards really does have the poster of the tennis player scratching her bum on his wall.

But it all works out in the end, and Cusack and Zuniga get together.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 8th January 1990 – 21:00

After this, recording switches to an episode of Hit and Run featuring a brief appearance from Dawn French.

Ruby interviews a strange gravedigger.

There’s also a sequence at Glastonbury, back when it appears to be mostly about new age hippies rather than corporate hospitality.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 9th January 1990 – 21:00

After this, there’s an advert for the Radio Times, about Trevor Eve’s new show A Sense of Guilt.

Then the recording ends, and underneath there’s a short bit of Newsnight about an ambulance driver’s dispute, and that recording stops too.

Underneath is an orchestra playing some music I don’t recognise. It’s from Channel 4, and it sounds very modern.

Then Channel 4 closes down, with the Channel 4 clock.

The tape ends here.

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To Be Or Not To Be – The Media Show – tape 863

First on this tape, Ernst Lubitsch’s World War II comedy To Be Or Not To Be. I’ve looked at the Mel Brooks remake quite a while ago, but this is the original, made in 1942 while the war was still going on, which might explain the film’s most famous gag, which probably wouldn’t have been written after the war, although Brooks did use it in his remake.

Jack Benny and Carole Lombard are the husband and wife acting stars of the Polish theatre. They get involved in a plot to top vital details about the resistance falling into the hands of the occupying Gestapo from a German spy which starts with them intercepting the spy and posing as the Gestapo to get his information and find out how much he knows. Jack Benny poses as the head of the Gestapo, Colonel Ehrhardt.

“You know, you’re quite famous in London Colonel. They call you Concentration Camp Ehrhardt.”

“Yes, Yes, we do the concentrating, the Pole do the camping.”

As I said, in 1942 I don’t think the full scope of the Holocaust was really grasped, and most people were still assuming the camps were merely prison camps. I don’t think that joke would have been written post-war.

They end up killing the spy, Siletsky, so Benny then has to pretend to be him and talk to the real Ehrhardt to ensure the release of his wife. But when the Nazis discover the real Siletsky’s body, instead of merely arresting Benny, they decide to have some fun, putting the body in a chair in a room, then inviting Benny to wait in there, expecting him to freak out.

But Benny pulls a brilliant switch by shaving the professor’s real beard off, and affixing his spare fake beard to the corpse, and almost manages to fool the Gestapo into thinking he’s really the real Siletsky. It’s a brilliant piece of writing.

Things get even more complicated when they also have to impersonate Hitler to escape the country.

After this, there’s an episode of The Media Show. It’s a special episode coming after the publication of the Broadcasting Bill, the bill that changes how the ITV franchises are selected, and also changed the way Channel Four was structured.

It’s rather heartbreaking to see Richard Dunn zero in on the ‘highest bidder’ clause as the worst part of the bill. Dunn was Managing Director of Thames Television, and as we know now, Thames lost the franchise to Carlton precisely because of the highest bidder clause.

Grade: “You’re always going to get some egomaniac media tycoon who’s going to come in and pay way over the odds.”

Here’s the whole show.

After this, recording continues for a moment with the start of One Hour with Jonathan Ross, featuring boxer Gary Mason, Music from Neneh Cherry and an interview with Wendy James, where the tape ends. Here’s the last frame.

Adverts:

  • Family Credit
  • Casio Tonebanks
  • Halls
  • trail: Tomorrow on Four
  • Trivial Pursuit
  • Yves Saint Laurent
  • Quality Street
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  • Black & Decker
  • Tennent’s Pilsner
  • Halls
  • Heinz World Soups
  • Royal Mail
  • Woolworth’s
  • Sanatogen
  • Ikea
  • Grand Marnier
  • trail: Signals
  • Dry Blackthorn Cider
  • Mandate
  • After Eight
  • Glayva
  • TSW
  • Holsten Pils
  • Grand Marnier
  • trail: Christmas Ballet
  • trail: One Hour with Jonathan Ross
  • Loulou
  • Carlsberg
  • Black Magic
  • Obsession for Men
  • Stone’s Ginger Wine
  • Tower Records – Sidney Youngblood
  • Toshiba
  • Hollywood Nites
  • Sanatogen
  • trail: Big World

Clive Anderson Talks Back – tape 928

I feel like this entry should carry a trigger warning.

Here’s some episodes from Clive Anderson Talks Back starting with the first episode of the second series. We know it’s the first one because there’s jokes about Michael Grade, with Steve Punt playing a singing telegram.

Also introduced is Chris Langham (trigger warning) as the comedy sidekick, and much fun is had at how he’s replacing the very popular Tony Slattery.

As if this weren’t enough 80s shame, the first guest is Jonathan King. He even gets booed as he comes on, and frequently during the interview, since his political opinions are fairly clear – he’s a big Thatcher fan.

The next guest is Ann Webb, who keeps tarantulas.

There’s a comedy bit with Chris Langham that even has a Doctor Who reference – “Ewe and Who’s Army”.

And the final guest is Frankie Howerd.

In the next episode, the first guest is John Moschitta, who is there to explain the Poll Tax. The joke being that he is the person from the Federal Express adverts who talks really quickly.

Emo Phillips is a guest.

With Judy Tenuta

And Sir David Steel

Before the next episode, there’s the end of an episode of Roseanne.

The first guest in the next episode is Ken Livingstone – and he doesn’t mention Hitler once.

Next, some music from Philip Pope – he sings a great song about why singer songwriters write songs that are too high for them to sing. The lyrics are by Michael Fenton Stevens, another Radio Active alumnus.

The stars of I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue, Willie Rushton, Barry Cryer and Graeme Garden.

There’s a Chris Langham bit about how his parents affected him

Lastly it’s Ian Hislop.

In the next episode, first guest is David Bellamy.

Next, there’s Beatrice Lydecker, a pet psychic, who we’ve seen twice before, on Jonathan Ross and David Letterman.

One of the pet owners who comes on for Beatrice to show her powers is novelist John O’Farrell, one of the writers on the show.

The final guest on this show is Robbie Coltrane.

After this episode, the recording stops, and underneath there’s a bit of another recording, with the end of a short film, Tight Trousers, and the start of another film, Ticket to Heaven, when the tape ends.

One thing I should mention is that, if my YouTube channel is anything to go by, Clive Anderson is not the most popular interviewer in the world. I have several interviews from other shows, and the most frequent comment on those is about how annoying people find him. I don’t know if this was a common reaction at the time – I’ve always liked him, but I can see how his mannerisms might annoy people.

Adverts:

  • trail: Brass
  • Carling Black Label
  • Rover 400
  • Fanta
  • Air UK
  • Dimension
  • Golden Fishies
  • First Direct
  • Tower Records – Nigel Kennedy – The Four Seasons
  • ICI
  • LA Gear
  • Cher – Heart of Stone
  • Our Price – Suzanne Vega
  • Air UK
  • Holsten Pils – Griff Rhys Jones
  • Oxy Clean
  • Mountains of the Moon in cinemas
  • Lunn Poly
  • Halifax
  • trail: thirtysomething
  • Red Star
  • Castlemaine XXXX
  • American Express
  • trail: The Manageress
  • Mail on Sunday
  • Our Price – Suzanne Vega
  • Carlsberg
  • Wrangler
  • Nigel Kennedy – The Four Seasons
  • Dulux
  • trail: Wim Wenders Season

The Decline of Western Civilisation II – The Metal Years – tape 882

Here’s an entertaining documentary by Penelope Spheeris about the Heavy Metal scene. It’s part of BBC Two’s Heavy Metal Heaven season, introduced by Elvira, Mistress of the Dark.

Watching it, it’s easy to remember why so many people could watch Spinal Tap without realising it was parody.

I’m having to resist the urge to call out every single creepy sexist thing, just because I’d probably hit the word cap on the blog. But the interview footage Paul Stanley of Kiss is something special. Note – this is how he was shot while answering the questions from the director. Most bands are on a sofa, or sitting in front of a speaker stack. Not Paul Stanley of Kiss.

Ozzy Osbourne, on the other hand, is happy to be interviewed while making bacon and eggs.

There are some interjections from Lemmy, which is sad given his untimely death last year, but every single one of his answers is sharply sarcastic.

The sexism inherent in the scene is, at least, directly addressed. The film isn’t judgemental or fingerpointing, but it doesn’t try to hide the attitudes of the bands towards women. And the bands are almost exclusively men.

About the only contrary voice in the movie is from Darlyne Pettinicchio, billed as a probation officer, who at one point explains the symbolism of the Devil Horns hand. “The three fingers down represents the denial of the trinity.”

In the end, I didn’t really want to listen to any more Heavy Metal. I confess it’s a musical genre that has little appeal for me. But this is still an entertaining documentary.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 29th December 1989 – 22:40

After this, there’s a preview of Oranges are Not the Only Fruit featuring writer Jeanette Winterson. I tried to put it up on YouTube but the clips from the programme got it blocked. Good old BBC.

Then the tape continues for a bit with the start of James Whale’s classic The Invisible Man starring Claude Raines. It co-stars Gloria Stuart, who was Old Rose in Titanic, which just seems mind boggling. It also has the same theme music as the old Flash Gordon serials.

The tape ends during the film.

Paramount City – Chan Is Missing – tape 914

This tape opens with the end of the news and sport, including a tribute to Rex Harrison.

There’s weather from Bill Giles.

There’s a trailer for the World Cup.

Then, an episode of Paramount City, the last in the series. Opening with Denis Leary, still on his smoking schtick. And amazing 80s hair.

There’s music from True Image

Stand-Up from Paul Merton.

Series regulars Curtis and Ishmael

More impressions from Steve Coogan

Music from Bel Biv Devoe

Stand-Up from Helen Lederer, four weeks after having a baby, so lots of pregnancy jokes.

More comedy from Michael Redmond. He does his now infamous “People often say to me ‘Hey You, what are you doing in my garden?'” line, much later the subject of a Stewart Lee routine when it was ‘borrowed’ by Joe Pasquale.

American Stand-Up Karen Haber

Musical Comedy from Kevin Seisay

More US comedy from Fred Stoller

A set from Jo Brand.

And the show closes with more music from True Image

BBC Genome: BBC One – 2nd June 1990 – 23:00

After this, over to Channel 4 for Chan is Missing, Wayne Wang’s debut feature about life in the Chinese American community in San Francisco. A cab driver is looking for his friend Chan, who has gone missing with money meant to purchase a lease on an independent cab license. With his son, they travel Chinatown, looking for Chan, or any reason he might have disappeared.

It’s shot in Black and White, and has the feel of an improvised piece. The mystery takes the pair around the community, and involves an incident where the Taiwan flag was waved at a public event, and a man was shot and killed as a result, but the film ends on an enigmatic note, as the picture of Chan the men find in their investigations is inherently contradictory, a metaphor for the Chinese community.

It’s a nice, low-key film, which reminds me of early Jim Jarmusch films like Stranger than Paradise.

After this, recording switches to an unmarked recording from LWT. I was puzzled at first, as it seemed to be a recording of yachting, with no titles and no narration. But this was just a short filler, and the actual programme I was recording comes next.

It’s Soap.

As I write this, we learned that Robert Guillaume, who plays Benson, died yesterday. When I found out last night I was genuinely upset, not only for the loss of a beloved actor, but also because I had looked at a couple of episodes of Soap before going on holiday, and that entry had been published the day before he died.

So now, the day after he died, I’m watching another episode, and I can’t help feeling that the blog’s Death Watch has never felt so real.

In the episode, Jessica and family think Chester is dead, and get together to reminisce.

Sally, Burt’s secretary and secret lover, visits Mary.

Jodie flies to Texas to confront Carol, who has gone back to her mother’s and tells Jodie she doesn’t want him to be the father of her baby. Her mother is very funny. “You’re my first homo.”

Chester is wandering, homeless, having lost his memory.

The tape runs out right after this episode.

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  • ICI

Top Gun – tape 945

This tape opens with the end of the LWT weather (Sponsored by Zone Phone, that short-lived proto-mobile service I mentioned a while back).

Then, Top Gun. It’s fair to say it’s not a film I love. I don’t mind Tom Cruise in many things, but at this stage of his career, he was concentrating on his hyper-macho persona. I wonder if part of my antipathy to this is because I actually liked Cruise in Risky Business, where he was much more of an everyman, and this was him as the ultimate alpha male, which doesn’t really interest me.

Everyone in this movie appears to be sweating. All the time. It’s quite weird. I can understand it for the pilots just off an encounter with ‘The Migs’ (as the always unnamed enemy are referred to) but even their boss, James Tolkan (Mr Strickland from Back to the Future) is all shiny.

Cruise, as ‘Maverick’, gets a chance to attend the navy’s elite fighter training school, the titular Top Gun, along with his co-pilot Goose (ER’s Anthony Edwards), after the best pilot in his group loses his nerve after the Mig encounter.

This movie is almost like a time capsule of the 80s, a distillation of everything, good and bad, that I think of when I think of 80s movies. It’s got the synthy Harold Faltermeyer score, heavy with the classic 80s drum beats, it’s chock full of 80s rock and power ballads, many courtesy of the peerless Giorgio Moroder, including two iconic hits – Danger Zone by Kenny Loggins, and Take My Breath Away by Berlin, which were also huge single hits.

It’s also a textbook presentation of Tony Scott’s directorial style, honed by years working in commercials. Almost everything is shot using long lenses, which has the effect of compressing everything on the frame, and increasing the effect of all the smoke he uses to make the light rays shine just right. And he’s never met a sky that doesn’t look better with a graduated filter slapped all over it. He must have loved it when digital grading came along, and he could do most of these tricks in post-production. I bet it saved him a ton of time on set.

And then there’s the cast, filled with the brightest young actors of the time, before they moved on to greater (or sometimes lesser) things. Val Kilmer is Iceman, whose role in the movie is supposed to be the ‘bad guy’ – Maverick’s competition for the top of the class – but who, in actual fact, is the best pilot mainly because he’s controlled, does things by the book, and cares about the safety of his fellow flyers. Let’s face it, in this movie Maverick is the villain.

Other familiar faces in the cast include Rick Rossovich as Slider, who seemed to be in quite a few movies at this time, but never quite got his big starring vehicle.

There’s even a young Tim Robbins in the final dogfight scene.

Before classes begin, Maverick spots a beautiful woman in the bar, and tries to impress her by singing ‘You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling’. This almost made my ears hurt it was so painfully off key. This scene was later co-opted by Robson Green and Jerome Flynn in Soldier Soldier leading to their brief pop career.

The beautiful woman turns out to be Kelly McGillis, a civilian instructor at Top Gun. Because this is a movie, naturally, she and Cruise develop something of a relationship, and because this was the 80s, she’s not fired for it.

The sexual politics in this movie are about the only thing I don’t have a problem with, which is odd when so many older movies now seem really troubling. Their relationship, ignoring the teacher/student power differential, while it’s a bit quick off the mark, seems entirely mutual, and Cruise is charming throughout, with the exception of the one scene when McGillis criticises Cruise’s flying in class, and when she tries to talk to him afterwards he’s just revving his motorcycle engine at her. He was definitely a dick there.

Other 80s legends in the cast are the great Michael Ironside (call sign Jester).

Also, Tom Skerritt (Viper).

And Meg Ryan makes an appearance as Goose’s wife. She’s not in it much, but I do like the way she’s written and played, and the scenes with her, Edwards and Cruise very clearly illustrate a strong bond not only between Ryan and Edwards, but also with Cruise.

As for the oft-discussed homo-erotic subtext that many other people have talked about, I’d have to say there’s very little that’s ‘sub’ about it. It does feel like the gayest blockbuster ever, especially when the obligatory sports scene is a beach volleyball game. It only seems odd because we’re not used to seeing men presented on screen this way, so in that way maybe it’s massively progressive. I did also think, in the last scene when the pilots have just defeated the ‘Migs’ in a life or death battle, and Maverick and Iceman square off and do their “You can be my wingman any day” stuff, I did actually shout “Just kiss, already” at the screen.

So, this will never be a movie I love, but it’s by no means a movie I hate.

After this, recording continues, with the start of what looks like a made of TV movie called The Return of Desperado. The tape ends during this.

This is the first tape I’ve looked at since I’ve been back from a two week holiday visiting Disneyland Paris. So I was quite surprised to see that one of the first adverts on the tape was for Lunn Poly, featuring Big Thunder Mountain.

That’s from Walt Disney World in Florida, though, and not the one in Paris – this tape predates the opening of Disneyland Paris by at least a couple of years. Still, it’s another of those strange coincidences that just keep happening with this project.

Adverts:

  • Metropolitan Police Recruitment
  • RAC
  • Lyons Decaffeinated Tea Bags
  • Sunday Times
  • Lunn Poly
  • Burger King
  • trail: London’s Burning/Hale & Pace
  • Heineken – Josie Lawrence and Celia Imrie
  • Lloyd’s Bank – Nigel Havers, Jan Francis
  • Heineken
  • Vauxhall Calibra
  • Mail on Sunday
  • Heineken
  • trail: Desperado
  • Royal Navy
  • Tilda
  • Tennent’s Pilsner
  • General Accident
  • Nintendo

  • trail: The Tall Guy
  • Tesco – Dudley Moore
  • Irn Bru
  • KP Frisps
  • Weetabix
  • Castella Classic – Russ Abbott
  • Tesco – Dudley Moore
  • trail: London’s Burning
  • trail: The Tall Guy
  • Bisto
  • Sunday Mirror
  • Robocop 2 in cinemas
  • Lycra
  • Allied
  • Gillette Sensor
  • Woolmark
  • Capri-Sun
  • Capital Radio
  • trail: Sunday on LWT
  • Yorkie
  • National Savings
  • Johnny Handsome/Next of Kin on video
  • Radio Rentals
  • British Telecom
  • Sellotape
  • Robocop 2 in cinemas
  • Royal Bank of Scotland
  • Tennent’s Pilsner
  • RAC
  • Woolmark

Film 90 – tape 924

It’s time for more film reviews from the much missed Barry Norman in Film 90 where he talks about:

There’s a location report on the Liam Neeson movie The Big Man.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 3rd April 1990 – 22:20

In the next episode (skipping a week) Barry casts an eye on the following films:

There’s a report on new filmmakers, including Ross Smith, Jim Groom of Revenge of Billy The Kid, Richard Stanley and Hardware.

There’s also a brief eulogy for Greta Garbo.

And talking about new filmmakers, Writer of the Guerilla Filmmaker’s Handbook Chris Jones gets namechecked in the movie news.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 17th April 1990 – 22:20

Before the next episode, the end of an episode of Making Out. I spotted Margi Clarke and Brian Hubbert among others.

Then, more from Film 90 with reviews of

And an interview with Richard Gere

BBC Genome: BBC One – 24th April 1990 – 22:20

In the next episode, Barry looks at the following films:

Tom Brook reports on Music Box.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 1st May 1990 – 23:15

The next episode has reviews of

There’s a profile of Brigitte Bardot.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 8th May 1990 – 23:15

Before the next episode, some football with Sportsnight.

There’s a trail for On The Line.

Then, more reviews from Barry Norman, looking at:

Tom Brook talks to Roy Scheider and John Frankenheimer about The Fourth War.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 15th May 1990 – 22:40

The tape ends just before this episode finishes.