Day: November 3, 2018

The Wizard Of Speed And Time – Man on the Moon – tape 1754

Now here is a genuinely obscure film. Mike Jittlov was an animator, and he made a short film called The Wizard of Speed and Time for Disney which was a stop motion animation featuring Jittlov himself as the eponymous wizard. It gained him a certain fame, which enabled him to make a feature film with the same title.

It’s a strange film, the plot of which sees Jittlov playing basically himself, or a vaguely magical version of himself, trying to get a movie made.

One of his shorts, Time Tripper, features the time machine from George Pal’s The Time Machine.

The movie has a very negative view towards movie unions. Mike works mostly on his own, but the studios only hire union members. There’s a sequence where he goes round all the different unions, trying to find out how to join. But then, its view of hollywood producers is equally negative, so I guess this is all viewed from Jittlov’s position.

The producers are trying to make a show about special effects. These are the films they’re hoping to include.

Mike has a garage sale to raise money to make a short film to be included in the special effects show. Not sure these comics are priced accurately.

There’s some odd cameos here, presumably friends of Jittlov. Here’s animator Ward Kimball as an IRS auditor.

Philip Michael Thomas, familiar from Miami Vice, plays a policeman.

90s internet thing Bob makes a couple of appearances.

There’s plenty of old-school celluloid editing porn here.

This is definitely an one-off. I think the comedy is just a bit too broad. The movie producers are all greedy and stupid, all the union people are stupid, the two thugs hired to try to derail his film are both really stupid, only Jittlov and his friends are the smart people. It’s certainly wish fulfillment.

The effects work is definitely of its time. His stop motion (with pixilation – using actors in the scene) is often impressive, and the amount of work involved must have been immense. It did make me think of similar effects used in The Goodies, usually to much funnier effect.

I’ll link to someone else’s upload of the movie, so apologies if it stops working in the future.

After this, recording switches to BBC2 and the end of Rab C Nesbitt.

There’s a trailer for next Tuesday on BBC2, with an Alien inspired BBC2 logo.

There’s also a trailer for Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

Then, the first in a two part documentary about the moon landings, to coincide with the 25th anniversary. Rather unusually, Man on the Moon has an introduction from Neil Armstrong, a famously private man who never did a lot of publicity after he left the space programme, so it’s quite a coup to have his introduction here.

I’m not sure I’ve every recounted my Neil Armstrong anecdote on this blog. I was flying to New York, on my way to Las Vegas for a technical conference. Early in the flight, there was a very long announcement from the cabin crew, the start of which I missed, but it seemed to be talking about ‘esteemed guests of United Airlines’ on the flight, and I mentally started checking out of the announcement, assuming it was company executives or something.

But then they got to the names of the guests, and I was interested again. Among a fairly large group of NASA pilots and test pilots, on board the aircraft were three Apollo astronauts. Neil Armstrong, Jim Lovell and Gene Cernan.

I was way back in economy, and I didn’t have the guts to ask if I could meet them and shake their hands, and I reckoned gentlemen of their age would probably prefer to not be disturbed too often on the flight.

The flight was pretty rough, with enough turbulence that some people in other rows were being sick. I was OK, but it was definitely a bumpy flight.

Then came the landing in New York. There were crosswinds of greater than 40 mph, and the pilot tried three times to land, each time pulling up sharply before he was able to land.

There was a lot more puking, and plenty of people were looking nervous, but I was fairly calm, because I knew that there was no way that God was crashing a plane containing three Apollo astronauts.

In the end, we were rerouted to Boston, then taken on a bus back to JFK, where I would have to wait almost a whole day before I could catch another connecting flight to Vegas, but I did meet one of the people travelling with Armstrong et al, who talked to me about the tour they’d been on.

So that’s how I flew with Neil Armstrong.

This is the first part of a two part documentary, starting with Sputnik, talking a lot about the function of the Space Race as propaganda, and at the start it’s all a bit disheartening for Americans, as prototype rockets just explode on the launch pad, and scientific experts talk seriously about sending up a potato into space.

Donald Chaffee, father of Roger, talks heartbreakingly of learning that his son died in a fire on the launchpad in Apollo 1, along with Gus Grissom and Ed White.

This episode goes up to Apollo 8, which was the first Apollo mission to leave Earth Orbit and travel to the moon, although it was not intended to make a landing. There’s footage of the BBC coverage, including Cliff Michelmore.

James Burke

Patrick Moore.

Even Sir Bernard Lovell, director of the Jodrell Bank observatory

 

It’s nice to see Gene Kranz, one of the central figures in Apollo 13, my favourite movie. I love Apollo 13 so much that I even cry watching the behind the scenes documentary on the DVD. In particular, there’s a scene where Gene Kranz is talking about the moment they regained the signal to the command module as it reentered the atmosphere, not knowing if the heatshield was still intact, and so whether the craft would burn up during reentry. His voice breaks a little as he talks, and he brushes away a manly tear, a moment that Ed Harris captures in his performance, and it never fails to set me off.

 

The episode ends with the crew of Apollo 8 reading a passage from the bible, as their footage of Earthrise over the moon’s horizon plays, an astonishing image at the time, but perhaps one we’ve grown so used to seeing that its impact is diminished.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 28th June 1994 – 21:30

After this, recording continues with a trailer for Heretic. And for Wimbledon Tennis.

Then there’s a short programme looking at finalists for the BBC Design Awards, presented by Muriel Gray.

The finalists in this programme are a Basic Thermos Flask

A Flashcard Torch

A chair

A motorcycle

and a wetsuit.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 28th June 1994 – 22:20

There’s a trailer for State of the Ark. Then an episode of Video Nation featuring Teresa Carden, a school supervisor from Liverpool.

Then, a whole episode of Newsnight, featuring Hospital league tables, and a profile of John Prescott.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 28th June 1994 – 22:30

After this, there’s a trailer for Room 101, and for Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

Then, the tape runs out during Face to Face in which Jeremy Isaacs interviews Jeanette Winterson, then a hot writer following the success of the TV adaptation of Oranges are Not the Only Fruit. There’s about 35 minutes of this interview, which is very interesting.

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