March 31, 2017
Around the dial
One of the things I always liked about The Twilight Zone (at least the first two or three times I saw each episode) was the twist at the end that made so many of them so memorable. The Twilight Zone Vortex is counting down the 20 best twist endings; the countdown starts with #s 20-16.
Lately I've been doing some reading on famous murder cases, a bit of research for my next novel (#1 is already out, #2 should be out by the end of this year, and that TV book's gonna be out sometime between #2 and #3), so of course I was attracted by "Murder Case," the Jack Bridges-written episode that appears in bare-bones e-zine's Hitchcock Project.
When I was in college, back in the days before the internet and VCRs, I used to do my research at Wilson Library on the campus of the University of Minnesota, where I'd spend the last 20 minutes of my day reading old TV Guides in the periodical section. Over time, I used TV Guide's Academy Awards issues to write down movies that interested me, particularly lesser-known (to me, anyway) movies that had garnered major nominations. It's how I heard of Albert Finney, and how I wound up enjoying his kitchen-sink drama Saturday Night and Sunday Morning when it aired on KTCA one weekend. It's a long way of saying that I appreciated Classic Film and TV Café's review of the movie, and the genre.
Now, I know what you're thinking: "Hondo and the Gladiators" sounds like fodder for MST3K. Well, you're wrong. It's episode 15 of Ralph Taeger's 1967-68 Western series that aired on ABC, and The Horn Section is here to tell you all about it.
I think I've told you before about my enjoyment of Allan Sherman when I was young, and so it's not surprising that when I see his name pop up, I pause and read. That's what I did here, with The Lucky Strike Papers, when Andrew gives us a good dose of Sherman, as well as an interesting note on guys named Jackie.
I wrote about Lola Albright a few years ago, and her character here, and there's not a whole lot I can add to that. She and Craig Stevens had real chemistry on that show, and one of the things I liked about that relationship was that it wasn't a starry-eyed romance, nor was it one of clothes-ripping lust. It was an adult relationship between two adults, and there's something refreshing about that. Of course, she did more than just Gunn; she was in numerous movies, most notably as Kirk Douglas' inamorata in the great boxing movie Champion. (Kirk sure didn't know how to treat her like Pete did!) There was a lot of TV as well, including an episode of The Twilight Zone that may or may not make it into that list of twist endings, and an episode of Burke's Law that I particularly enjoyed. It's well worth your time checking out some of those performances.
However, it was Gunn for which people will remember her, and when they remember you the way The Hollywood Reporter did in it's obit of her, as "the charming actress with the smoky voice who sang and starred on TV's Peter Gunn and was spurned by the back-stabbing Kirk Douglas in the classic 1949 boxing drama Champion," then I think you've done pretty well for yourself, because that's not a bad way to be remembered.