Thursday, September 20, 2012


Another from the Bill Shute library of fine cinematic caga, this time a matinee spectacular that rivals TABLE, DONKEY AND STICK for cheapazoid kiddie thrills you just can't get anymore. Really, watching this one sure brought back snoozeville memories of Sunday afternoons bored outta my gourd television viewing, and if you were one of those goofs whose parents made you watch wholesome films like this and MISTEROGERS and MISTEROGERS only (and the CBS CHILDREN'S FILM FESTIVAL only if you ate all of your veggies) when it came to your tee-vee habits boy, do I sympathize with you.

It's St. Patrick's Day, and Matthew O'Brien (played by up 'n comer David Bailey) decides to go fishing 'stead of school in celebration of the great day. On his way home he not only notices that the scenery looks a li'l bit different (shades of the climax of the infamous MAD spoof "Mickey Rodent") but discovers a real life honest to flesh and blood leprechaun who happens to have gotten his beard snagged in a log! Since Matthew caught the li'l mischief maker he's entitled to the lep's gold which turns out not to be just any gold but magic coins, only the hitch is you can't wish good for yourself but for others!

And thus the tale goes with Matthew encountering a talking signpost, a fuddy duddy English knight, a mad wizard who shoulda been played by Geofrey Crozier and other characters in this feature that reminds me of something that channel 23 in Akron woulda run as a "special" some snowy 1976 weekday afternoon in lieu of the usual TARZAN with Ron Ely reruns. Bailey actually plays is pretty good in your typical sixtes tee-vee kiddoid fashion, but really nothing could save the film with its loose script, cheap look (you'll be paying more attention to the microphone at the top of the screen as opposed to the acting during the Sahara desert scene) and general low budget slapdash permeating this film. Heck, I'm sure most single-digiters who went to see this 'un back '65 way would been bored stiff at this slo mo train wreck which just seems like yet more adult ideas of what kids like, or what they think kids should like in order to grow and mature into dull, robotic adults.

And while I'm at it, musical numbers that sound like rejects from a piano bar catering to men and men only were never meant for kid flicks even if the Disney Corporation were lucky enough to get Dame Elton John to do it for a nice juicy fee, or a nice juicy boy scout for all I know. When I was a kid I thought those musical interludes were just boring filler for the oldsters who hadda drag their unaware scions to films such as these, and for me they were always a good excuse to go to the snack bar or take a tinkle.

Well, there was one redeeming social value in this film, and it's the presence of Nancy De Carl as Esmerelda the Gypsy Gal who does have a sexiness to her with her straight black hair that looks more mid-sixties Sunset Strip'n fairy tale time. Dunno if any of the li'l kiddies in the audience woulda felt any primal tinglings of sexual maturity at the sight of her lovely visage, but maybe the dads who brought 'em felt their Saturday afternoon wasn't entirely wasted!

A couple of K. Gordon Murray-produced Christmas shorts were stuck on afterwards, and they certainly gave me a feeling of extreme discomfort. Not because they were gross or sickening, but due to the unadulteracted fact that they reminded me of something I would have watched on tee-vee when I was seven or so only I felt that this stuff was so turdleresque it was beneath my IQ to watch it! But I watched it anyway because it was the kinda thing I thought I was supposed to watch, then my mother'd come into the room and yell at me for being so immature for my age and naturally I'd shut if off feeling oh so embarrassed but glad that I didn't have to watch the blasted telecast! I know that sounds confusing, but when I was a kid I was getting so many contradicting messages from people all over you could bet my mind was spinning faster'n a Mattel Whizzer trying to separate the smart stuff and the crapola I was being handed day in and day out!

At least some classic tee-vee commercials pad the platter out, and they should bring back fond boob tube memories if you happened to've been conscious in the early-sixties and actually enjoyed watching shows and films we can only experience through DVDs and hazy memories lo these many years later. Find out why One-A-Day vitamins are better'n the rest (they're double coated!) and discover the time when Coca-Cola was now available in three sizes! Stuff like this should be taught in History Class 'stead of the usual dates, names and places we all hadda memorize, because in the end they certainly mattered more to all of us.

One revelation of surprise was the commercial for the Dell Books/American Heritage sixteen-volume history of the United States which was going for 99-cents a volume, the first one costing a mere forty-nine pennies if you can believe that! Given that we've had the entire series with a written introduction by John F. Kennedy(!) in our abode for years since Jillery got 'em as a Christmas present in the year of 1963, that 'un sure resonated deep within my late-period baby boomer mentality! Of course when I think about my folks actually dishing out $16.33 for an educational present the mind boggles because hey, back then you sure coulda bought a whole lotta great toys for that amount of money! True, books may be educational and guideposts on a road to a wholesome healthy life, toys are fun 'n gratuitous and make for finer memories once you reach my advanced age!  I sure don't look back on reading MRS. WIGGS OF THE CABBAGE PATCH with any particular fondness but I sure do scarfing up Matchbox cars like any self-respecting ADD-droid such as myself should! Readers, don't make the same mistake with your brats!

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