“A Regular Ray Bradbury”

“The Mind and the Matter”, written by Rod Serling and directed by Buzz Kulik is episode 63 of the American television anthology series, The Twilight Zone. It originally aired on May 12, 1961 on CBS. That’s from the Wikipedia. The subject matter is prescient; being what our society, in this modern age, has had to endure over the past 16 years, since the year 2000, but it also ushers in the era of the “Me” Generation, starting with the baby boomer generation and the self-involved qualities that some people associated with it. The baby boomers (Americans born during the 1946 to 1964 baby boom) were dubbed the “Me” generation by writer Tom Wolfe during the 1970s – again, the Wikipedia, sorry.

You have this self-involved “turd”, Archibald Beechcroft, which is such a fake-sounding name, it seems like Serling just belched out this idea onto fresh typing paper, it’s not inspiring, in any sense of the word. He works in an office situation. This is New York City, I’m assuming. He lives in a tiny apartment. He’s sick of people. He’s a misanthrope. What he wants is peace and quiet. This guy gives him a book – “The Mind and the Matter”, which is a self-help book.

In “Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?”, we have a couple of cops in the snowy woods, great photography here, especially if I suspect it was shot on a soundstage, it’s absolutely amazing if you take that into consideration. It would make very little sense to go on location since the majority of the action occurs in a small diner; location work being extremely expensive. The bridge is out, and the cops hear strange sounds, which they immediately surmise is some kind of an unidentified flying object passing overhead, perhaps crashing.

A bus carrying a bunch of passengers has to make an unscheduled stop, everybody files out and goes to the diner. Slow night, and you have to wonder – based on what we eventually discover – if it isn’t possible that the owner of the diner orchestrated the crash at the bridge just so he could drum up some business? Even if he didn’t, it’s still a great set-up. The episode turns into a mood piece about paranoia. John Hoyt is a businessman. The great character actor Jack Elam plays a nutty old man. I watched Cannonball Run recently for Vintage Cable Box, and I absolutely love him. He plays a drugged-up doctor that Burt Reynolds and Dom De Luise abduct so nobody will question them driving an ambulance. He shoots up Farrah Fawcett with sedatives and keeps giving everybody the finger. He’s hilarious.

Don’t forget to visit Craig’s sites, My Life In The Shadow Of The Twilight Zone and My Life In The Glow Of The Outer Limits and check out Craig’s Twilight Zone podcast, “Between Light and Shadow” – very entertaining.

Written by David Lawler
Additional Commentary by Craig Beam
Original Music by Alex Saltz, APS Mastering
Introduction Music: “Rose Tint My World” (Richard O’Brien) by Tim Curry, Barry Bostwick, Susan Sarandon, and Jonathan Adams (from the 1975 film, The Rocky Horror Picture Show directed by Jim Sharman).
Audio Clips: Complaints and Grievances (a 2001 stand-up comedy special starring George Carlin), “Bart’s Inner Child” (a 1993 episode of The Simpsons written by George Meyer), “The Mind and the Matter”, “Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?”

Recorded September 28, 2016

© BlissVille, David Lawler copyright 2016 for all original vocal and audio content featuring David Lawler and selected guests each episode. Original Music © Alex Saltz copyright 2015. This podcast, “That Twilighty Show About That Zone” is not affiliated with CBS Entertainment, the CBS Television Network, or The Rod Serling Estate. Any and all images, audio clips, and dialogue extracts are the property of their respective copyright owners. This blog and podcast was created for criticism, research, and is completely nonprofit, and should be considered Fair Use as stated in the Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. section 107. It is not an official product, and it should not be sold nor bought; this is intended for private use, and any public broadcast is not recommended. All music clips appear under Fair Use as well. If you’re thinking of suing because you want a piece of the pie, please remember, there is no actual pie. We at BlissVille have no money, and as such, cannot compensate you. If anything, we’re doing you a favor, so please be kind. I do this ’cause it’s fun, and nothing else.

Running Time: 37:34

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Vintage Cable Box: The Cannonball Run, 1981

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“Officer, I sincerely hope you’re not a Catholic.”

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The Cannonball Run, 1981 (Burt Reynolds), 20th Century Fox

Early ’80s cable television was a dumping ground of racing movies; most of them starring Burt Reynolds and directed by the legendary stuntman-turned-director Hal Needham. You had your Hooper, your Stroker Ace, your Six Pack, your Smokey cycle, and you had The Cannonball Run (which spawned two sequels), which plays more as an excuse to hang out with your friends and make a fun movie than an effort to produce a serious racing movie. We’re not even fifteen minutes in and Burt (with buddy Dom De Luise) are working on hot cars, flying single-engine planes, and riding speed-boats as they try to figure out what vehicle to race in the famous “Cannonball Trophy Dash” from Connecticut to California. Burt gets the idea to use an ambulance after sustaining injuries in the resulting speed-boat crash, but first they need a patient and a real doctor, so they abduct (what?) Farrah Fawcett and a junkie doctor (hilarious Jack “I just gave her a little prick” Elam), so they can drive at high speeds.

The film is a veritable Who’s Who of late 70s/early 80s celebrities, both minor (Terry Bradshaw, Rick Aviles, Jamie Farr) and major (Dean “Father Putz” Martin, Sammy “The Chocolate Monk” Davis Jr., Roger “The Fly Who Bugged Me” Moore), as well as a few up-and-coming stars (Adrienne Barbeau, Jackie Chan).  Farr, as an Arabian Sheik, drives a Silver Shadow Rolls.  Chan drives a state-of-the-art Subaru GL with all kinds of gadgetry.  Roger Moore spoofs his “James Bond” persona as Seymour Goldfarb, a nice Jewish boy who thinks he’s Roger Moore, and drives a gorgeous Aston Martin.  Dean and Sammy are dressed as priests, driving a red Ferrari.  Buxom Barbeau and Tara Buckman drive a Lamborghini (the ultimate winners, but it doesn’t matter) and get out of speeding tickets by showing off their cleavage, until they come upon a similarly stacked State Trooper (Valerie Perrine).

We, of course, have a bad guy, but he’s not really a bad guy.  George Furth (a dependable character actor mainly known for ’70s television) is Arthur J. Foyt (a clever play on racer A.J. Foyt), a crusader (or what you’d call social justice warrior), looking to shut down this silly “Cannonball” competition.  The whole idea seems insanely dangerous, but the lure is a big money cash prize, so who can blame some of your more reckless racing enthusiasts for giving it a shot.  The only real problem in the narrative is that the movie takes too long to get going.  It’s like one of those old Plymouths you had to warm up in the garage for twenty minutes, except in this case it’s more like 35 minutes before we start up the engines.  This is understandable given the many characters and their vignettes, and that the screenplay (screenplay?) plays as a series of episodes rather than a cohesive narrative, but that’s okay.  This is such a fun movie – and never boring – that I don’t care.  It’s obvious everybody’s having a great time.  Burt Reynolds barely represses the urge to laugh in every scene with Dom De Luise.  Dean Martin is obviously drunk throughout the movie, and Sammy’s not that far behind.

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I’m not a fan of NASCAR, or any kind of professional racing (though I have good friends who are).  I don’t get it the same way I don’t get hockey.  I’m a baseball guy.  I tend to agree with David Cronenberg in that the ultimate “man-machine interface” is the man or woman who gets into his or her car in the morning and drives to work without thinking about it.  Plus, these competitions seem to be a serious waste of gasoline (also I suspect a good portion of the audience is there to see horrific crashes), but that’s none of my business.  I do, however, enjoy this movie quite a bit, mainly because it doesn’t take itself seriously.  There’s a brief shot I always remember when I think about The Cannonball Run.  Dean and Sammy pull over the ambulance to let the air out of the tires under the guise of offering a “blessing”.  They slide the door open and see a drugged Farrah smiling back at them.  She was truly beautiful.  Critics, at the time, steeped in Scorsese and Coppola-isms, were not appreciative.  A film snob myself, I don’t necessarily believe all movies should be serious masterpieces of style and form.  In fact, I think we should have an even (and wide) distribution of movies that stimulate our minds, and movies that go for the big belly-laugh.  Nothing wrong with that.

Our first cable box was a non-descript metal contraption with a rotary dial and unlimited potential (with no brand name – weird). We flipped it on, and the first thing we noticed was that the reception was crystal-clear; no ghosting, no snow, no fuzzy images. We had the premium package: HBO, Cinemax, The Movie Channel, MTV, Nickelodeon, CNN, The Disney Channel, and the local network affiliates. About $25-$30 a month.  Each week (and sometimes twice a week!), “Vintage Cable Box” explores the wonderful world of premium Cable TV of the early eighties.