Sunday, October 02, 2016

The Red Skelton Show: The Best of the Early Years 1955-1958. Released by Timeless Media Group 2006/05/17
2 DVD set.

Timeless released DVD set of the Red Skelton show 1951-1955 in 2014. It was a near complete collection of season 1-4. Maybe some episode were missing because of condition and some were clips from past shows because Red Skelton was ill. 

The 2014 DVD set last episode was from February of season 4. 

This 2016 DVD set has 2 episodes from season 4, 6 episodes from
season 5, 4 from season 6, 8 from season 7.

Disc #1
Smithers & McGurk Go to Australia (Ep. 04.33 1955/05/33)  GS: Mary McCarty (Broadway star). This is another episode where Red and Mary play a vaudeville team. They win a trip to Australia from game show host Johnny Carson. They find out that they have to work on the ship for their "free" trip.    

Red Joins the Foreign Legion (Ep. 04.35 1955/05/17) GS: Xavier Cugat (Spanish-American bandleader), Abbe Lane (Nightclub singer). Red is sent to Morocco to make a motion picture. Cugat is a slave dealer that wants to capture the Foreign Legion fort. 

Phantom of the Ballet (Ep. 05.09 1955/11/29) GS: Peter Lorre. Clem plays a detective that tries to find a killer of male ballet stars. 

Cookie and Zsa Zsa Gabor (Ep. 05.13 1955/12/27) GS: Zsa Zsa Gabor. Cookie has a date with Zsa Zsa but she has also a date with a Maharajah the same night. Jamie Farr is in the cast. 

Lamb to Lion (Ep. 05/18 1956/01/31) GS: Jeanne Cagney. Appleby is a timid bank teller that gets hypnotized be tough and ends up robbing the bank.

Clem vs. the Mad Scientist (Ep. 05.21 1956/02/21) GS: Vincent Price. A scientist gives a growth serum to Clem. 

Dance Marathon (Ep. 05.26 1956/04/03) GS: Keefe Brasselle. Red enters a dance marathon so he can save his nightclub.

Public Pigeon (Ep. 05.34 1956/05/29) GS: ZaSu Pitts. A family wants to kill Rusty so they can get his life insurance. 

McPugg's Comeback (Ep. 06.01 1956/10/02) GS: Rocky Marciano. McPugg challenges Rocky to a fight.

The Atomic Sailor (Ep. 06.08 1956/11/27) GS: Boris Karloff, Eva Gabor. Cookie eats some top secret material. A enemy scientist wants to gets the secret.

Disc #2
Freddie Finds a Headlight (Ep. 06/15 1957/02/05) GS: Rochester, Jack Benny. Freddie finds a headlight to Jack Benny's Maxwell.

San Fernando's Showboat (Ep. 06/20 1957/02/26) GS: Charles Ruggles, Marie Windsor. San Fernando's daughter falls in love with a son of plantation owner. 

Freddie and the Brooklyn Dodgers (Ep. 07/01 1957/10/01) GS: Marie Wilson, Marilyn Maxwell. Freddie's shack is in the way for the Brooklyn Dodgers move to Los Angeles

Appleby's Cake (Ep. 07.03 1957/10/15) GS: Virginia Grey. Clara takes credit for a contest cake that George baked. George has to dress as Clare at the final.

Deadeye the Outlaw (Ep. 07.11 1957/12/17) GS: Mickey Rooney, Jack Kirkwood. An ageing Sheriff calls on his son from the east to deal with Deadeye. Finds out the son, Rollo, is a bit of a wimp.

Willie on the Wagon (Ep. 07.12 1957/12/31) GS: Mercedes McCambridge: Charles Ruggles. Willie dates a daughter whose father is against drinking.

Clem the Bullfighter (Ep. 07/18 1958/02/11) GS: Rita Moreno. Clem becomes a bullfighter to get the love an Senorita.

Cauliflower's Hamburger Stand (Ep. 07.23 1958/03/18) GS: Marie Windsor. Gangsters try to fix a fight with a special hamburger.

San Fernando's Fillibuster (Ep. 07.25 1958/04/01) GS: Ruth Hussey. An insider in San Fernando's campaign get Red to fight against is own bill.

Bolivar and the Lost Patrol (Ep. 07/35 1958/06/24) GS: Lon Chaney Jr.; Sessue Hayakawa. American and Japanese patrols don't know that the war is over.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Is "A Southern Yankee" endangered?

With this issue about the confederate flag and taking off "The Dukes of Hazzard", I was wondering if the Red Skelton film "A Southern Yankee" is next to go.

A Southern Yankee (1948 MGM)
Plot: The movie is about a bellboy from the north that ends up impersonating a spy from the south. He goes to the south to plant false maps and instructions. He ends up falling in love with a female agent.

Story: St. Louis - 1865 at the Palmer Hotel. Aubrey Filmore (Red Skelton) is a bellboy day dreaming of catching southern spies. Told to knock on doors for wake up call. Talks to Col. Baker and tries to join his special service. Col. Baker gets word that the "Grey Spider" is coming to St. Louis. He decides to dress up as a civilian. Aubrey is looking for the Grey Spider and see someone in grey and follows him. He lost him but finds another person in grey. He tries to capture him and finds out it is Col. Baker.

     Aubrey is sent to delivery clothing to a Maj. Drumman. He finds the room empty and plays with the hat. He finds a hidden pocket in the brim. It has a note to the Grey Spider. He finds someone in the hall with a bathrobe for help. The person happens to be Maj. Drumman. Drumman wants Aubrey to where the clothing and make people think that Aubrey is the Grey Spider. Drumman give him a special ring. Aubrey is able to knock Drumman out by accident. He hears a knock on the door and someone is singing "Oh, Susanna". It is Sallyann (Arlene Dahl) a southern spy. Aubrey takes the role of the Grey Spider to find others spies. He finds that they have northern battle plans. Col. Baker wants Aubrey to keep on being the Grey Spider to give the south false plans. This sets up a classic gag about papers in the pocket and the boot with the buckle.

     Aubrey need to cross the north and south line in the middle of a battle. He ends up wearing half of northern uniform and half a southern uniform. He has two flags, one United States and one Confederate. He walks between the fighting armies until the wind changes and exposes the flags to the wrong side. He runs but gets wounded. At a hospital. He looks for his uniform with the papers and map. During this time there is a comedy bit at the dentist. Aubrey is hard to understand because he has a tooth pulled. He tries to find the boot with the buckle in pile with some negro children. Then he goes through a pile of jackets to find the one with the papers. Later on he meets Sallyann working at the hospital.

     Sallyann has been going with Kurt Devlynn but now she is falling in love with Grey Spider. Kurt finds out that the Grey Spider has important papers. He hires a raiding party to get the papers. The raiding party dress up as Yankees and chase after Aubrey. Aubrey thinks that they are real Yankees and tell them he is a spy with important papers. The raiding party is chased off by Confederate soldiers. 

    Aubrey arrives at a southern headquarters at a plantation. He meets Sallyann's father, Col. Weatherby, he gets the map and papers mixed up and give Weatherby instructions to another spy. Aubrey tries to find the other spy. They find out the papers and map are mixed up and try to switch them. The other spy is caught and trap is set to find who is working with. The real Grey Spider has escaped and travels to the headquarters. Aubrey is able to trick the Grey Spider into the trap. The real Grey Spider's father arrives and exposes Aubrey as the fake. There is a chase in the plantation. Aubrey is caught but end up with a "fate worse than death".   

Buster Keaton was a gag writer for the film and many gags were from his films.  Most compare it with "The General" because it is set in the south. But there gags from "Our Hospitality". In "The General" he did were both uniforms. In "Our Hospitality" he did have a chase scene where he had to dress as a woman then put the clothing on a animal to fool the people chasing him. This was used in "A Southern Yankee" but it was not a remake of the Keaton movies. 

Note: In the film Aubrey said his age was 26. Red was 35.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Junior in 1950 comic strip ad.

1950 ad for Sheaffer's Skrip. Sheaffer still makes ink bottles today. The ad features Junior "the mean widdle kid". Red Skelton would have been on radio at this time. The ad also plugs "The Yellow Cab Man".

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Red Skelton hour TV Christmas shows.

Red Skelton started the 12the season with hour long shows. The Christmas episode had the "Freddie and the Yuletide Doll" from 1961. 1962 episode also had the Modernairs sing "The Little Christmas Tree", ballet dancer Roberta Lubell dance to two Christmas songs composed by David Rose, Red singing with the Mitchell Boys Choir and a silent spot with Lubell and Skelton dancing in "The Spectre and the Rose". The Yuletide Doll was used in 1963. A week before the 1962 episode Red did a silent spot of a husband looking for his gift from his wife.

Sometimes Red repeated Christmas skits. In 1963 he did a silent spot about a Christmas rush in a toy store that may have been shown again in 1966,

1964 and 1965 Freddie was featured with Greer Garson in "The Plight Before Christmas". Freddie is looking for a place to have a show for orphans. Greer Garson just finished her performance as the Flower Lady in her theatre. She is still in make-up when she can't get into her theatre. Freddie lets her stay in his shake for the night. She get backs to the theatre and offers the theatre for Freddie's show. Freddie does not realize that Garson and the Flower Lady are the same person.  The orphans' show has Freddie singing with the Hillcrest Elementary School Choir of Los Angeles. They sing "The Night Before Christmas" written by Red Skelton. Freddie does a mime bit of threading a needle. Greer Garson reads "Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus". The show ends with Freddie and Garson singing "Side by Side". A week before the repeat of this show in 1965, there was a silent spot of Scrooge type newspaper vendor during Christmas.
In 1966 the Flower Lady returns. The 100-voice Recruit Bluejacket Choir from US Naval Training Center this time sings Skelton's "The Night Before Christmas". 

A silent spot in 1967 had Santa on a slick roof. The next week had "The Christmas Urchin". The story was about a Freddie and a police officer (Howard Keel) helping a mother and a little girl (Linda Sue Risk). Keel sings Christmas music including Skelton's "The Night Before Christmas".

The 1968 Christmas episode is one I would like to see. The story is based on Christmas during the Revolutionary War. "Senator Dirksen reads Clement Clark Moore's 'A Visit From St. Nicholas' and narrates a dramatic sketch 'A Christmas Story - 1777', written by Red. Balerina Jiliana dances to a medley of David Rose tunes. Mrs. Red Skelton makes her first appearance on the show in eleven years, accepting gifts from four of Red's characters. In the Silent Spot, titled, 'Yes, There is a Santa Claus', Red reprises his classic routine as a husband playing Santa Claus contending with a slippery rooftop."  *IMDb

Linda Sue Risk returns in a 1969 silent spot "The Magic of Christmas". A toymaker on Christmas Eve. Risk appears in a silent spot in 1970. "The Gift of Giving" is about a shoeshiner finds a way to help a mother with a little girl.

Red's last Christmas episode was on NBC in 1970 with Leslie Neilsen as a police officer helping Freddie put on a show for orphans.

Freddie appeared on TV again in a Bob Hope special in 1978.

Last Christmas special was for a HBO in 1981. In "Red Skelton's Christmas Dinner" Freddie has saved his money to pay for a Christmas dinner with his friend Professor Humperdoo (Vincent Price). While Freddie is trying to find his friend, he does acts of kindness. One of the them is doing a mime at a children's hospital. He ends up spending all his money on kindness and can't afford a dinner. But being kind has its rewards.

Red Skelton did one special that is played during Christmas because it it connected to Santa Claus but it really is a New Year's special. "Rudolph's Shiny New Year" has the red nosed reindeer looking for the baby new year. Skelton plays Father Time and also Baby Bear of the Three Bears. Baby Bear sounds like his Junior character from the radio.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Red Skelton half hour TV Christmas shows

Red Skelton did many episodes about Christmas.

1951 - "Clean Politics"
In 1951 Skelton was in the Christmas spirit early. He did a bit as Clem selling Christmas tree. This was based on a radio skit. Then he did a bit as Willie Lump Lump trimming a tree.

1951 - The Skeltons at Home
On Christmas week, he did a special episode with his family and friends. Cast member Shirley Mitchell welcomed guest to Skelton's home. Guest were humor writer Gene Folwer and wife, David Rose and wife and Skelton's business manager Bo Roos. Skelton's character stopped by for a quick visit. The show ended with a boys choir.
"The Christmas Show" 1952 has not been released on DVD. I have seen the script. The outline of the show has Red Visits Santa, Different People Buying Toys, Freddie, Dressing the Window, Clem in the Post Office and Red's Closing Christmas Speech. I hope Timeless would release the episode. 

 In 1953 another visit with the Skelton family. They wonder how Freddie is celebrating Christmas. He gets a gift of a turkey from the police and dresses up as Santa to give himself a gift. Ends with a boys choir and Red sings "Oh Come All Ye Faithful".

1954 has Red telling the story of the "The Unwanted Christmas Tree" to his family. Red is Chester, an assistant tree salesman. He gets an unwanted tree to poor boys club. Magic happens when the boys welcome the tree.

Red Skelton adapted the short story "The Cop and the Anthem" by O. Henry for Freddie the Freeloader. The story is about a hobo that plans to spend the winter in a warm jail. He tries many ways to get arrested but fails. Ends up getting inspired to better himself after just before he gets arrested. This episode first aired in 1955, then repeated in 1956 and 1960.

Freddie is featured in the 1957 Christmas episode "The Third Wish". All I know (not on DVD) is that Freddie is repairing toys for children and gets help from a Genie. The Genie is played by child actor Richard Eyer. This episode aired before Eyer played the Genie on the "The 7th Voyage of Sinbad". This episode was repeated in 1958.

"Clem the Mailman" was the 1959 episode. Clem is a mailman during Christmas time. He gets involved with a jewel thief trying to smuggle gems in candy.

1961 was the last season of the half hour episodes. Red did an all mime Christmas episode. Freddie finds a Raggedy Ann doll in a park played by Cara Williams. Williams was appearing in a TV comedy show "Pete and Gladys" at the time. It comes to life and they visit Santa and ice skate. "Freddie and the Yuletide Doll" was repeated in the hour episodes in  1962, 1963 and 1964.

More about the hour Christmas shows in another post.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Red Skelton Revue 1954

About a month after is last 1/2 hour show Red returned to television in a hour long variety show for the summer. The Red Skelton Revue had a mix of Red Skelton characters, nightclub acts, tap dancing, ballet and opera singers. On his first show he had Liberace and brother George, Tony Curtis, Alan Ladd, Egyptian Acrobats, the Amin Brothers and Sahara Hotel chorus line. Other guest on the Revue were Burt Lancaster and Rosemary Clooney. One show had Frank Sinatra and helped the career of Johnny Carson.

Johnny Carson appeared on local television and was a writer for the show. He wrote the seagulls jokes. Red Skelton was injured during a rehearsal of the show. Red could not perform. Johnny Carson hosted the show. This gave Carson national attention. On another episode Red's guess was Ed Wynn. During the show Red tells the story of meeting Ed Wynn in Vincennes. More about the Ed Wynn story in a future blog. 
Red Skelton returned to a half hour show for the Season 4.

Will Rogers Jr. and Deadeye
Freddie with Peggy Lee

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Red Skelton Show Season 03 1953-54 NBC

NBC cancelled the Red Skelton Show in 1953.  Ratings were low. This may have been because of low energy in the production. Skelton was under doctor's orders to take it easy. The was taped and Red was able to retake and take his time for costume changes. This was good for Red but not for the show. The sponsor Tide did not renew the contract. Red thought he was done but CBS picked up the show. Red got his timing back by performing live in Las Vegas. He wanted to do his show like his Vegas show but CBS did not want that. It still had some of the format of the old show. Announcer Bob Warren and music director David Rose went to his CBS show. The show did have a new cast and sponsor.

It fits that the sponsor was Geritol. This product was suppose to help tired blood. New blood to the cast included Jan Arvan, Ray Kellogg, Jimmy Cross and Isabel Randolph. Some of the cast stayed with him to the to the end of his series. A new character appeared. There was a hint to this type of character last season but this season he had the name George Appleby. Freddie's home was seen. First he had a shack at 422 Country Club Drive but that was removed for a highway. Then he had a place with a fireplace. He dressed up as Santa to give himself a gift.

Red had bigger guest star this season. John Wayne appeared again to get a award from Modern Screen magazine and at the end of a skit. Jackie Gleason appeared as his character Reginald Van Gleason. Ann Southern was on spoofing her TV show "Private Secretary". Ed Sullivan had a bit with McPugg.

Red Skelton last show of season 3 was three guest stars, Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney, Jr. and Vampire. Lugosi was going through hard times in 1954. This was the time he was with Ed Wood. In the 1994 film "Ed Wood" there was a scene where Lugosi appeared on a comic's TV show. Martin Landau played Bela having trouble with Red's ad libs. This did not happen in the 1954 episode.

Red did not get in the top 30s ratings. He tried something different in his next season after a special summer.