Thursday, January 11, 2018


As a rule I hate documentaries, but when they ain't bein' preachy and trying to cram alien arguments into your beanie well----I gotta admit that I kinda like 'em. Of course only a very few of 'em make my own personal cut...f'rexample there was this pretty good documentary on Tex Avery that popped up back inna late eighties was good enough that it even had my dad cracking up, plus the Steve Allen-narrated Three Stooges 'un which used to run on PBS usually during pledge break time was boffo what with all of the expected public domain clips and ancient interviews not to mention the inclusion of various pseudo-rarities like the trailer for STOP, LOOK AND LAUGH which really dredged up a whole lotta memories I'll tell ya! That clip, if anything, reminds me of my 1974 Christmas break from school since channel 33 was airing the exact same trailer as a commercial all through the holiday season making any true fan of Stoogedom and general fun 'n jamz wanna watch the flicker if anything! The catch was that the dang thing was gonna be aired on their morning movie slot the exact same day school resumed, so like why the constant barrage of ads when none of the kids the film was aimed at were gonna be front and center to watch it?

THE OUR GANG STORY fits in more with the Three Stooges kinda documentary than it does with those uber-left soapboxers that I assume they still show on POV. That is, the thing is really fun to watch, informative, shows a whole lotta rarities that I haven't seen in ages and best of all IT SERVES TO REMIND YA OF JUST HOW MUCH FUN YOU HAD BACK WHEN YOU WERE A SUBURBAN SLOB TURDLER STUCK SMACK DAB IN FRONT OF YOUR TEE-VEE SET WATCHING THESE AND OTHER SHOWS THAT CONTINUE TO SPEAK TO YOUR SOUL LO THESE MANY YEARS LATER!!!!! I for one haven't forgotten the joys and thrills that such programming could bring and SPEAK to me and my mere existence, dunno about you.

And hey, this is everything that the longtime fan of the series would want in a Rascals documentary...I mean, the bastard's not only chock fulla stories and clips familiar or not galore, but it also gives us fairly accurate accounts regarding the major players of both the silent and talkie eras not to mention all of the black kids like Farina and Stymie who we always felt deep affection for even in those pre-civil rights days. Best of all we get to know about their real life existences not only while they were young 'n rascals but in their post-kid adult days and such, giving us updates and (most of all) that final curtain call for those talented young stars who made nonviable clumps of cells like myself want to join up with 'em and like pronto.

Of course that means yer gonna get a load of the obvious like that scene from IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE where Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer opens up the high school gym floor to reveal the swimming pool underneath but stuff more attuned to the BLOG TO COMM frame of derangement. I'm talkin' about things like that scene in the East Side Kids' SPOOKS RUN WILD where Sunshine Sammy as Scruno dusts about the portrait of a flesh and blood Bela Lugosi who utters that infamous "awwww---SHIT" which I guess got more'n a few kids out there wonderin' whether or not they heard right! It's stuff like that for which I live, and for that I dig these traipses back into a ranch house upbringing via a comedy series that was ancient history even then all the more.

You also get loads of oft-time neglected silent-era info and the dirt on the talkie and later-on post-Rascals MGM years as well, and best of all we even get a peek at those weird obscuro things that keep me coming back like early syndication opening clips and even some movie-theatre ad where Spanky's more or less endorsing some new bike that I doubt 99% of the people watching said ad could afford. There's even a clip of Roach and the Rascals meeting with Mussolini's son back when Benito was considered a Third Way kinda hero neither communist nor National Socialist, at least until he invaded Ethiopia and ruined everything.

But ill-fated dictators aside it's a good and easy watch, informative and memory jogging, even to the point where I could recall some sunny morning as a three-year-old watching Jackie Cooper push Wheezer and Petey down that steep road while they were hiding in a drainpipe thinking about how much fun that would be (taking the ride that is, not pushing the 'pipe!). And it sure brought back fine memories of a time in life where I didn't have to be bugged by anything more terrorizing than my cyst-er and everything from going to the supermarket to visiting the relatives was as big an adventure as anything those great moom pitcher kids were doin'. And believe you me, when I discovered that those comedies were made years earlier than I thought (after espying an outdoor scene with nothing but old cars---heck I thought those comedies were CONTEMPORARY!) I knew that my chances of being a Rascal were long gone. Oh well, in a few years I could always hope to be a castaway on GILLIGAN'S ISLAND.


diskojoe said...

MeTV was broadcasting The Little Rasclals on Saturday mornings this past summer & it was enjoyable watching them while eating my breakfast. They still stood up years after I first saw them as a kid on Channel 56 in Boston. I think the Hal Roach episodes were better than the MGM ones, which were too polished.

Christopher Stigliano said...

I remember watching the Rascals on channel 33's morning cartoon show including some silent-era ones that were definitely from the Pathe-era. Old home usage prints were bring used, and for the music the engineers just played the album from whence the theme to THE BARNEY BEAN SHOW was taken! It was a rinky dink tack piano done ragtime thing so it fit in well. I wish I knew the name of that album!

Head Company AB said...

I would like to know the title of that one theme background music they had. Dum dut da dum dum DUM DUMmmmm DAHhhh dat dada dahhhh

Head Company AB said...

P.S. I only remember the P.O.V. show as one of only a few that got away with nudity on the air, not even a live wardrobe malfunction they had to know