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Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Frank Soyke, Mar 7, 2011.
I’m sure you meant “Laurel” not “Lauren”
My prior note about Montgomery Pittman - he wrote 16 scripts for 77 Sunset Strip. I corrected my note.
Pittman unfortunately died at a very young age (only 45) and at the height of his skills. Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., who thought very highly of Montgomery, delivered his eulogy.
Watching 77 SS in the Rustifer Lair:
"Negotiable Blonde" was on at the time (hard to read the title on the TV).
I posed a list of my favorite episodes some time ago with hopes that some of you guys would do the same. Don't be shy...
The demolition of Dino's--1985. Sad. RIP.
The address 8524 Sunset Blvd. had quite a history before Dino's popped up in 1958.
In 1945, the address functioned as the location for Charochka, one of two Russian restaurants on the strip--but it only lasted until 1947. There were a succession of restaurants and management after that, and finally morphing into Club Trocadero in 1954 before becoming the Alpine Lodge, then Dino's:
Most of this stuff came from J.H. Graham, who writes mystery novels set in LA in the 20's-1950's. I am not yet familiar with her work, but plan to be very soon.
In his autobiography, Zimbalist gives Pittman credit for making the show a hit, another indication of his high regard for the man, because Pittman didn't start working his magic, at least based upon his screen credits, until the show was already a hit.
For my part, I would say that many, if not most, of the show's high points involve Pittman in some way, and I understand Pittman mentored a number of new directors such as Robert Douglas.
Some historic establishments at 8524 Sunset Blvd.:
Seven course meal for $7.50! Can't even get that at Arby's today. Couldn't find much if anything about Shandor and his Gypsy Orchestra. Lost to the ages, I fear. Cal-Neva Lodge, mentioned in the ad, was interestingly enough owned by Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Chicago mobster Sam Giancano. You know what happened there if you didn't clean your plate...
Big on shish kebabs served aflame on swords. Only $3 and some singed eyebrows.
Opening night was March 21, 1958. Jack Elton was a classically trained pianist that graced Dino's lounge for a decade. He also arranged and composed music for the Carol Burnett Show. Apparently Frankie Ortega was more of a 77 SS invention.
Dean himself lived on Copa De Oro Road, just north of Sunset Blvd. and next to Bel-air Country Club--a few miles west of his restaurant. Quite a winding road and probably not easy to navigate on the way home after several martinis.
He looks pretty relaxed here. Pehaps spending a bit of free time contemplating the daily special menu at Dino's. Pizza? Check with the dog.
Montgomery Pittman directed 3 of my 10 ten favorite 77 SS episodes. Almost all the rest were done by George WaGGner.
Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. w/ Montgomery Pittman on set
Damn, Ruta Lee was HOT!!!!
Ruta kinda reminds me of the character played by Wendy McLendon-Covey on the TV series "The Goldbergs"
Ruta Lee and Wendy McLendon-Covey
In an interview with Will Hutchins (Sugarfoot), he talked about Montgomery Pittman:
As READER’S DIGEST would put it, Monte was the most unforgettable character I ever met. Arguably, the biggest talent at Warner Bros. back then. Confidentially, I suspect he was a genius. He looked not unlike a Florida swamp salesman or a riverboat gambler in the last touring company of “Show Boat”. Wherever he ambled he lit up the sky with his flamboyant threads, his undying cigar atilt, projecting from his eternal smile, partially camouflaged by a debonair moustache, all crowned by his curly black mane. I have long maintained our country’s best tale spinners come from the South.
Montgomery Pittman 1917-1962
Will Hutchins was asked to be a pallbearer at Pittman's funeral but declined because as a teenager he had dropped the casket of a relative and feared he might do so again.
I prefer episodes that take place in the LA area and the west coast.
I like when everyone is in a episode doing something like "The Wide Screen Affair" mention on the previous page.
And I enjoy the cameos/crossovers with the other WB Detective shows.
I've made it known in several posts that the "international" capers are my least favorite of the series. However, I take some solace in the fact that even supposedly taking place in a foreign land, the cast is NEVER far from the WB back lot. The show just did not have a budget to move an entire crew overseas to film these episodes. So at least I can enjoy my favorite stars despite them supposedly cavorting in, say, San Dede-- and revel in those interspaced ancillary scenes that take place back in the familiar environs of their office or Dino's.
The "crossover" episodes are always fun but serve more as mini promotions for the WB portfolio rather than having any integral or substantial function to the shows' plots. This being said, it's still 77 SS and always worth watching. Especially with a martini in hand. Enjoy!
Got caught up in watching Shane Black's "Nice Guys" with Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling, mainly because I heard it takes place in 1977 Los Angeles. I can't resist a vintage LA setting, and was not at all disappointed with the location shots. The WB movie is an absolute tongue-in-cheek blast. Russell Crowe, though, looks uncomfortably bloated whose bulk cannot be hid by his constant blue leather jacket.
I say this without malice to Mr. Crowe, as I myself ballooned up to nearly 400 lbs. just 4 years ago. My doctor said I was one staircase short of a stroke. It took me 3 years and some really focused dedication and sweat to shed 165 lbs. to get back to a normal weight for a guy 6'3". Not easy at my age.
But I digress. "Double Trouble" starts out with the boys tossing cards in a hat in the office lobby. Roscoe, of course, cheats by adding chewed gum ballast to his cards. The fun is cut short when Stu is suddenly called to the FBI in Washington D.C. to help capture big time mobster Silk Cipriano, who's so rich he wears...wait for it...$400 suits!!
Stu is selected because of his ex-CIA spook background, but more importantly he's a dead ringer for Silk's killmaster, Sandy the "Executioner". It's a tour de force acting stint for Stu as he must assume all the peculiar affects of Sandy and pull it off while wearing a wire around Silk and his henchmen. I was on the edge of my seat at every turn where Stu gets close to being discovered as a phony. Especially when confronted by Sandy's old girlfriend played by Dolores Donlon:
Silk is played in faux-Italian dialect by Bruce Cabot. Remember him as Fay Wray's love interest from "King Kong" filmed some 30 years earlier?
Bruce & Fay in "King Kong" and 30 years later
It's a really great nail-biting episode and as such made my Honorable Mention list due to a great script (Leonard Lee) and direction from the prolific George WaGGner. Filmed on Stage 14 at WB. I rate it at 2 and 1/2 martinis.
Settled in this weekend to watch "Trouble in the Middle East", one of my dreaded "international" capers. Jeff Spenser is on vacation in a Turkish-sort of country and we initially have no clue as to why he chose this particular godforsaken destination spot.
Right off the bat, he's caught in the middle of a civil uprising. What makes this episode stand out from the other international ones is the fact it's all done tongue-in-cheek. Roger Smith has a field day testing his comedic chops with the various silly characters involved in the uprising. All the "foreigners" seem to speak in a dialect that sounds suspiciously straight out of Brooklyn. I guess foreign enough to guys like me from Indiana.
Jeff's hotel and the city is easily recognizable as the cityscape from WB's back lot, many pictures of which I've included in some of my past posts.
We eventually find out that Jeff had been hired by the Emir to get his daughter out of the country before the trouble erupts. Happily the daughter is played by Sherry Jackson, giving me another excuse to post more cheesy pictures of this beauty:
Unrecognizable amongst the various bearded rebels is Vic Tayback, alias Mel from the old TV series Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore. With a Syrian Arabic heritage, he pulls it off.
The episode is written and directed by the always entertaining Montgomery Pittman (my apologies to him for constantly posting racy pics of his stepdaughter, Ms. Jackson). It's a fun story to watch, even though international. I rate this episode at 2 martinis.
Speaking of Sherry Jackson (as I often do) I thought I'd throw in some additional details of her career.
As we've discussed before, Sherry's actor friend Steve Cochran introduced Montgomery Pittman to her mom, Maurita and they eventually married with Sherry as flower girl in the ceremony.
Sherry had quite a career as a child actor, both as Danny Thomas' daughter Terry in his namesake show, and as one of the rambunctious brood of Ma and Pa Kettle in that film series.
Besides her frequent appearances on shows in the 50's and 60's, she also appeared in the blockbuster film of 1968: The Mini Skirt Mob:
Exploitive you say? Exactly. Made $1.5 mil at the box office. Also starred Diane McBain (Surfside 6) and Jeremy Slate (The Aquanauts).
Diane McBain and Jeremy Slate
I was always fascinated with Jeremy Slate in his short-lived TV series The Aquanauts (1960-61) which was sort of 77 Sunset Strip set underwater. The series also starred Ron Ely as Jeremy's diving partner.
Rumor has it that Sherry was discovered by an agent while she was waiting for a bus in her hometown of Wendell, Idaho. Going through the difficult adjustment of child star to adult actress, she found it increasingly hard to find work. As such, her skills as an actress were rarely tested while taking on roles that emphasized her obvious physical stature and allure. Thus, Mini Skirt Mob. A vixen.
Ms. Jackson turns 76 next week and resides in Los Angeles. Retired, I assume.
Sherry, a tiny bit older than we remember...
For those of you who really enjoy movies / TV that encompass Los Angeles backgrounds, I heartily recommend the series 'Bosch'. I've been watching it on Amazon Prime.
I think season 4 is coming up very soon, as author Michael Connelly has indicated that the filming for the series has completed filming.
Titus Welliver plays the title character, an understated but highly effective LA police detective chasing bad guys all over the city. Those of you who live in LA will recognize a whole bunch of the locations, I bet.
Season 2 guest stars Jeri Ryan. Need I say more?
We still have a dozen episodes left to watch. After we've seen them, I'll work on my list.