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77 Sunset Strip / Hawaiian Eye, etc.

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Frank Soyke, Mar 7, 2011.

  1. Message #3141 of 3213 Oct 19, 2019
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2019
    Rustifer

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    This is one of the great elements you bring to the story, Rob. Being a native, you're familiar with all these places and can weave them into your narrative. As I've said before, location was such an important feature to the series--and we ALL wish there had been much more actual on-location filming during that highly interesting time period.

    Oh boy! Gosh, I do hope there's a touch of licentiousness in her background...
     
  2. criblecoblis

    criblecoblis Supporting Actor
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    Russ,

    I haven't found any so far, but I'll keep looking!
     
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  3. criblecoblis

    criblecoblis Supporting Actor
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    Saving The Strip: Seventh Season, 1964–65

    Part 3: Catching Up with The Gang

    Let’s examine the characters’ state of mind, and their situation, at the start of the seventh season.

    You’d think Stu would be somewhat subdued and more circumspect after his walk through the valley of the shadow of career death, but in fact his reaction is quite the opposite. His surviving the harrowing ordeal has exhilarated him and renewed his spirit. The spring is back in his step, the twinkle is back in his eye, he’s back living at the Sunset de Ville, and he’s even moved the part in his hair back to the left side. In short: he’s back!

    Jeff also has ample reason to be happy. He has a lovely wife (with whom he lives at his old apartment), he is back doing the work he loves, and his work with the Attorney General’s office has given him connections, high and low, that will be very valuable to the agency. And indeed, he is a happy man.

    Still, truth be told, Jeff didn’t enjoy the events of the sixth season any more than Stu did. As successful as he was with the Attorney General’s office, he disliked the job intensely. He hated being under constant scrutiny from above, and having to deal with all the red tape that comes with a government job.

    Thus, Jeff is determined to see the new firm succeed. He goes about his investigations with predatory ruthlessness, and is constantly working to moderate Stu’s ebullience to keep him from tilting at any more windmills.

    Not that he isn’t happy to see Stu living in the moment, getting some richly-deserved joy out of life, but Jeff’s eye is on the future. He wants the agency to keep moving forward, steadily expanding its client base and rebuilding its reputation as the top agency in town.

    Kookie’s experiences during the sixth season have made him a far more confident, assertive person, and his involvement during the sixth season with the baser forms of crime have brought back that slightly dangerous air he had early in the first season. He now considers himself equal to his partners in ability, and will never again submit to the ignominy of driving a six-cylinder Falcon with an automatic transmission unless it’s part of his cover.

    On the surface, however, he’s still the same loveable, breezy hipster we so quickly fell in love with back in ‘58. He has moved his digs to a small cottage in Laurel Canyon, and his hair is now longer (but still well-combed!).

    While Suzanne is deliriously happy to be Jeff’s wife, she is not yet ready to be a full-time homemaker. Sitting at home all day, she feels the walls closing in on her. Now that the band is back together, she desperately wants to be part of it. Not that she is not devoted to Jeff, but she feels that, for now at least, her proper place is at his side, not at home by herself.

    Roscoe is now a salaried employee, with his own small office and even a company car! He’s still the agency’s main leg man, but he is also a frequent operative, and in addition he now coordinates the firm’s field activities, moving people and things around as necessary. Roscoe has never worked as hard in his life.

    JR is a scant half-block east, still splitting his time between parking cars for Dino’s and working for the firm, but he is still very much in evidence, and Dino’s is still the main watering hole for the gang.

    Super-efficient Hannah is the agency’s stenographer, receptionist and overall ramrod. She seems to take the welfare of the agency as seriously as does Jeff. She keeps the place moving, and works closely with Roscoe, making sure he’s where he needs to be, because Roscoe is having a bit of trouble coping with all his new responsibilities.

    Next: the cars.
     
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  4. criblecoblis

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    Hey, everybody, I just found something very cool that I don't think has been mentioned here previously: an 84-minute interview of Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. from 2009. It is conducted by Cass Warner, Harry Warner's granddaughter. It was done for a documentary about the Warner brothers.

    I wish I could tell you that the interview is chock-full of tasty tidbits about 77 Sunset Strip, but although he does discuss the show, Cass Warner was naturally most interested in EZ's memories of Jack Warner, so about half the interview is that. The interview is fascinating nonetheless.

    I do have one small complaint about the interview: for someone who grew up steeped in all things Warner, Cass Warner has a shockingly poor knowledge of its on-screen history. EZ's memory was starting to give him some problems, and at one point he discusses a WB actor whose name he couldn't recall. Anyone who is more than a casual viewer of TCM would recognize EZ's description as referring to Dennis Morgan, but Cass Warner was utterly clueless. Nevertheless, the anecdote he relates about Morgan is pretty funny.

    Later, he discusses Hawaiian Eye, getting it confused briefly with Bourbon Street Beat, but he can't recall the name of either show. Again, Warner is clueless. And she is plenty old enough to have watched all the shows from that era in their original run.

    So get prepared to do a lot of yelling at the screen when you watch it! And by the way, EZ had very nice things to say about Anthony Eisley, whose name, EZ tells us, was actually Fred Eisley. WB made him change his name.
     
  5. Gary16

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    I’ll definitely watch it. Anthony Eisley had been billed as Fred in everything prior to “Hawaiian Eye.” I read an interview with him once where he said he didn’t know they’d changed his name until he saw it in publicity for the show.
     
  6. criblecoblis

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    I forget precisely the comment EZ made regarding the name change, but the gist of it was that, if there were really something wrong with the name "Fred Eisley," it would be the last name, not the first. He went on to say that Eisley deserved a far better career than the one he got.
     
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  7. criblecoblis

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    Saving The Strip: Seventh Season, 1964–65

    Part 4: The Cars


    My sense of the show is that Stu’s T-birds, Jeff’s various convertibles and Kookie’s Falcon were leased company cars. Within the four walls of the show, the vehicles were chosen to say something about the firm.

    They had to suggest success, to be sure, but they also had to suggest good judgement, respectability, and pecking order. Otherwise, they would simply have let Kookie keep his Model A. Stu got a fancier car than Jeff, but Jeff got a new one every year, while Stu only got a new one every other year or so.

    At the production level, Ford wanted the way their vehicles were portrayed to serve as a lifestyle statement, as an adjunct to their promotion. They wanted to show off their products as what happy, happening, successful people drove to serve their various needs. At the same time, they want to project the idea that simply everyone on the Strip, regardless of situation, drives a FoMoCo product. I used these considerations as my guide.

    Thus, Stu is driving a 1965 T-Bird convertible and Jeff is driving a 1965 Mercury Monterey convertible. Kookie is driving a 1965 Mustang coupe with the 289 HiPo V-8 and four-on-the-floor. It looks respectable enough on the outside, to make Stu and Jeff happy, but it is a holy terror under the hood, to make Kookie happy.

    JR has developed into a real surfer dude, deeply tanned with sun-bleached hair, although he still sports the preppie look when at work. Having found that it’s hard to fit both surfboards and girlfriends at the same time in the old Model A, he has traded it in for a 1934 Ford “woody” station wagon, which he is souping up with Kookie’s help.

    Suzanne drives a Mustang convertible. It is light blue metallic with a white top and a white Pony interior. At least, I think it’s light blue metallic; it’s hard to be sure in black-and-white.

    Hannah drives a well-cared-for 1960 Falcon convertible (her own car), as I mentioned in my description of the opening of S7E1.

    Roscoe drives a 1965 Falcon 3-door station wagon, with which he ferries people and things around as needed.

    Next: the music.
     
  8. Message #3148 of 3213 Oct 22, 2019
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2019
    Rustifer

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    Just absolutely fascinating! I agree with you, Rob, that it could have been an even better interview if Cass Warner had just a modicum of background knowledge to help spur Efrem's memories along. Still, his mind is impressively sharp for such an advanced age.
    Two visuals that I noticed: Efrem is still wearing the pinky ring that he's worn in everything I've ever seen him appear.
    And, even at 90, his blue oxford shirt is more crisply fitted and pressed than any shirt I've ever worn in my entire life.
     
  9. Rustifer

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    I always found it interesting that the 77 SS crew stuck with Ford products, whereas Hawaiian Eye tended toward Oldsmobiles and Surfside 6 with Pontiacs. Convertibles, of course.
    Seems that Warner Bros. was an equal opportunity car sponsor supporter. As JR would say, "R-I-S!"*

    *Ridin' In Style
     
  10. Rustifer

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    I can't help but think that at least part of what stymied Eisley's career was his stubborn adherence to a look that was more reminiscent of movie actors from the 1930's. The pencil thin moustache and slicked-back hair was great for the likes of John Barrymore, but just a bit passe for the emerging "free spirit" look of the 1960's.

    upload_2019-10-22_9-11-56. upload_2019-10-22_9-12-30.
     
  11. Flashgear

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    Very much enjoying your "Saving the Strip" installments, Rob! It's too bad that there wasn't somebody like you around the Warner lot to shepherd and safeguard the 77 Sunset Strip legacy for a seventh season re-launch with the reunited cast...but believe me, we are imagining your scenarios vividly in our mind's eye, courtesy of your descriptive narrative!

    Lively discussion of Anthony (Fred) Eisely, as well...great info, Rob, Gary and Russ! I always liked the guy in just about everything, including Hawaiian Eye, of course...interesting to know that it was WB who just went ahead and changed his given name without his input...very controlling, but something to be expected from the WB factory floor...

    Efrem and Anthony Eisely were reunited at WB while working on QM's The FBI, with Eisely turning up on 17 episodes from season one right through to season nine...except for the first and last of these episodes, Eisely played the continuing character of Special Agent in Charge Chet Randolph (love that name)...when you went to work on The FBI, you might as well have been employed by the actual Federal agency...you were under the thumb of J. Edgar Hoover himself, with his two teams of actual FBI agents on set to supervise everything at the behest of Hoover, who guarded the upright (and uptight) public image of his agency...so, there were no pinky rings or mustaches in evidence on The FBI's fictional agents, ha, ha...here are some screen caps I took from season two, Rope of Gold (Feb. 12, 1967)...Jessica Walters, Peter Graves and EZ's FBI issued 1967 Mustang convertible co-star in this episode...
    Eisely 1.JPG
    Eisely 2.JPG
    Eisely 6.JPG
    Eisely 5.JPG
    Eisely 8.JPG
    Eisely 9.JPG
    Eisely 10.JPG
    Eisely 11.JPG
    Eisely 4.JPG
    Eisely 12.JPG
     
  12. criblecoblis

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    Thanks, Randall!

    I wonder if Chet was Rex's brother?

    That's one gorgeous Mustang! But it's interesting to me that Ford put Erskine in Mustangs, at least for the first several seasons. I imagine J. Edgar would have preferred he drive a bone-stock Galaxie sedan.
     
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  13. criblecoblis

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    Yes! EZ's memory may have been suffering from overcrowding at that point, but that didn't get in the way of his expressing himself quite eloquently. And Cass Warner did do a good job in most other respects.

    But if I had been there, I would have loved to get EZ to talk more about Dennis Morgan. He was a prominent figure in the little community of La Crescenta in which I spent my school years, and I've always been interested in him.

    And of course I'd have gotten him to talk at greater length about Montgomery Pittman!

    Russ, I noticed the same thing re the shirt! I became mesmerized at how crisp it was, and how well he wore it. But I've never noticed the pinky ring before this interview. Now I have something new to look for!
     
  14. criblecoblis

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    Yes, pretty much everybody but Kookie in his Falcon had a convertible, right? And WB did obviously care to spread the love among all of the Big Three automakers. As I recall, BSB sported Pontiacs as well (I guess they followed Van Williams to SS6).
     
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  15. criblecoblis

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    Saving The Strip: Seventh Season, 1964–65

    Part 5: The Music


    Returning the music to its former semi-pervasiveness in the show’s environment was one of the first things Webb had addressed when planning the seventh season.

    In the first five seasons, most of the music came from Dino’s, and it was a constant presence in and around the 77 Sunset Strip building. It was a significant element in bringing the energy of the Strip to the show.

    In their new offices on the second floor of the Playboy building, however, they are mostly isolated from the sonic environment of the boulevard. Even at street level, Frankie Ortega’s trio would be at best barely audible. Webb saw this as a big problem.

    Webb’s solution, conveniently, lay just next door to the Playboy building on its west side: the Crescendo, the city’s premier jazz club. He planned to enter into a collective agreement with the Crescendo’s owner, Gene Norman, similar to the agreement WB had made with Dino’s.

    This was a promising idea, because Norman also owned GNP Crescendo Records, a jazz-oriented label, so Webb would gain not only the right to use the club in the same way that Dino’s had been, but also access to the label’s artist roster. This was necessary for Webb’s plan, because the studio’s record label was weak in the kind of acts he needed.

    The Crescendo was to become an alternate watering hole for the gang, giving the viewer a weekly serving of modern jazz by a number of current acts, who would be heard, seen and presumably recognized by the audience, but not otherwise promoted. Webb, a huge jazz fan, envisioned this as a great way to give the show a more contemporary, exciting feel. Plus, it would be a ready source of music in the environment, at least at street level.

    Webb proceeded to order new versions of the opening and closing themes, as well as a new library of music cues, all in hard-bop style, performed by a small combo of top LA session musicians after the style of the Horace Silver Quintet. For reference, here are some examples of what Webb had in mind: fast, medium (the theme has this feel), slow.

    Soon thereafter, the plan fell through when Norman suddenly sold the club in order to concentrate his efforts on his record label. This lost Webb the wonderful synergy of the club-label connection, without which the plan lost its viability.

    Thus, when Orr took over production, he was immediately faced with a big problem.

    Next: the music, continued.
     
  16. Rustifer

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    Good point, Randall! Apparently Efrem was told to lose the pinky ring for his role in the FBI--for I see no sign of it in your screen caps.
     
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  17. Rustifer

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    Okay--I buy into the Jazz angle, but only from the standpoint that jazz and private investigators just seem to go hand-in-hand in this particular era. And it certainly makes more sense--especially for this series--than trying to force feed the 60's SoCal surf song genre into the underscore. Icky.
    My only problem is purely personal--I've never been a jazz enthusiast. I also miss the office/Dino's setup. I still sigh at the opening credits of the iconic locale and therefore just hold onto the image as tightly as the steering wheel of a car going off a cliff.
    But by all means, don't let my peccadilloes deter your fantastic scrimmage into Season 7. This is great fun to follow along with your thoughts.
     
  18. Message #3158 of 3213 Oct 23, 2019
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2019
    Flashgear

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    Rob, I too thought the surname for Eisely's recurring character on The FBI to be an interesting coincidence to the earlier Rex Randolph of the WB TV universe...the writer for Eisely's introductory 1966 episode where he debuts as Chet Randolph, was written by a guy named Mark Rodgers...I checked on IMDB, an admittedly sometimes faulty resource, and can find no writing credits for Mark Rodgers on Bourbon Street Beat nor 77 Sunset Strip...he did do a lot of writing for WB television though, including one script for Hawaiian Eye and multiple scripts for Lawman during that period...like you, I was hoping to find a connection, but no luck...

    I haven't read EZ's biography, My Dinner of Herbs, but from available info I have found, the privilege of Inspector Erskine driving a new Mustang rather than a more realistically sedate Ford model was probably born out of J. Edgar Hoover's personal high regard for Efrem and their affable relationship (after he passed his National Security Check, ha, ha)...Quinn Martin introduced EZ to Hoover and FBI number 3 Jack DeLoach in January 1965...EZ and QM arriving at Dulles during a blizzard and being warmly received, hosted by Hoover and given the V.I.P. treatment both at HQ and at Quantico Virginia...also, Inspector Erskine driving a Mustang convertible is only seen under the closing credits, allowing for WB's obligated plug under the Ford promotional contract to furnish new models for the whole run of the series...during the bulk of the episodes, the FBI agents and some other characters are usually seen driving the very Galaxies that you suggested, but also Fairmonts and the odd Futura...

    I've read somewhat extensively on the FBI and Hoover in particular, and for years I wanted to believe that the more salacious revelations about him were possibly derived from Soviet era black propaganda and unsubstantiated gossip, but that notion has been severely battered by many other accounts and declassified records in succeeding years...unchallenged and feared by many of the DC power people, it would appear that Hoover was often an incompetent, gone rogue in his secret realm...


    That would be very interesting I'm sure, Rob...I really should read EZ's My Dinner of Herbs...has anyone here read his book and can comment? In just reading the pretty thorough entry on Wikipedia for Efrem, I discovered that he was a wounded WW2 combat veteran, a 2nd Lieutenant platoon leader who was awarded the Bronze Star for his service in the brutal battle of Huertgen Forrest with the 9th Infantry Division in the fall of 1944...they didn't just give the Bronze Star to anyone, you had to be sited for valor in receiving it...he received the Purple Heart for leg wounds also..

    Russ, I really admire a guy that can pull off the look of wearing a pinky ring as a matter of course and as an honest reflection of their own sense of self...for Efrem, I'm sure it was a genuine expression of his elegant gentleman persona, and also possibly a hallmark of his NYC upbringing and the ethnic diaspora of his youth...for Hoover signing off on Efrem's casting on The FBI, it probably didn't help that the pinky ring was sometimes associated in pop culture as a hallmark of the mob's "made" men...and a bit ostentatious for the buttoned down character of Inspector Erskine, ha, ha...but it is also true that if Hoover ever saw an FBI inspector driving his own Mustang convertible, he would have probably put that agent under surveillance for counter espionage...probably suspecting the Mustang to have been bought and paid for with KGB payoffs, ha, ha...by the way, did Efrem wear his pinky ring on camera during his multiple appearances on Remington Steele?

    I'm such a bland slice of white bread that if I ever wore a pinky ring (or Sinatra's Trilby hat), some tough guy would slap the Guido right out of me, pronto...
     
  19. Bob Goughan

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    SoCal surf, nah I agree. The Dino's setup was iconic and although I don't think I'd drive off a cliff for it..well...At any rate hard bop and Horace Silver strike a chord for me at least. I have reached the age where I didn't think I would ever read or hear the Silver Quartet mentioned again. I still listen to them on vinyl. Of all the things talked about on this gathering of the few that was probably the last thing I expected.
     
  20. Rustifer

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    Episode Revisit
    "Downbeat" (S1E31)

    All this great background on EZ inspired me to rewind this particular episode that so prominently features him. Plus, any excuse to make a martini at 2:00 in the afternoon. But, well...who needs an excuse?

    LA Chronicle Headline: BAILEY ACQUITTED FOR LACK OF EVIDENCE-- Government Fails to Prove Case Against Private Investigator
    The newsworthiness of the firm of Bailey & Spencer must be akin to that of Russia invading Poland to deserve a 50 point headline in a major metropolitan newspaper. As a result of the bad publicity, Stu's PI license has been revoked. Great Gobs of Gathering Gruesomeness!

    Jeff finds Stu in the office boxing up his belongings and sucking down a glass or two of the company's finest muscatel. Stu's calling it quits. But are we really buying into this? Instead, Stu takes up a whole new profession--drinking to excess. Now there's a career I can get behind. Even Stu's girlfriend is finding him off-putting. Although he hasn't quite reached the point of inadvertently wetting himself--his disgusting quotient is climbing to ionosphere levels. His hair and clothes begin to take on a life of their own. Even James Garner (in a cameo with reporter James Bacon) takes pity on him. Stu's drunkenness makes an amateur of Foster Brooks. Plus he's been piling up DUIs like chips in a Pringles can.
    [​IMG] upload_2019-10-23_14-31-45. upload_2019-10-23_14-33-49.
    James passes on another Pink Lady; Dorothy undresses; Van Dreelan wonders where the key goes in

    Anyway, the first half of the episode is to drive home Stu's stupendous slide into depravity. A defective detective, if you will. It works as a scheme to attract his old war buddy Hedrick Van Horn (John Van Dreelen), who visits Stu at his rat trap hotel--later to be downgraded to a Days Inn. Van Horn buys into Stu's down-and-out act and recruits him to the fun side of Communism. As an added incentive, Dorothy Provine in a bikini and high heels is thrown in. It's enough to attract Jerry Falwell to the far side, by golly. She's Stu's nurse in the "sanitarium" where he's been committed to dry out. He eventually goes on the wagon, cleans up, and Dorothy begins to nibble on him like Yogi Bear with a pic-a-nic basket.

    Stu proves to be smarter than the Commie goons as he's actually on a case to uncover Van Horn's dealings with the Communists. Oops...did I spoil it? He spools both Van Horn and Dorothy along for a while--well, Dorothy in a somewhat different manner--until he learns what's what and can turn the whole lot in. Fun, huh? It's a great cat and mouse episode that exists mainly to showcase EZ's acting, not to mention add to the era's Red Scare mania.

    Notes:
    A memorable scene includes Stu figuring out how to get alcohol from a locked liquor cabinet. Priceless in his dexterity.
     

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