Saturday, July 25, 2015

Dell TV Comics

Comic books have been around since the mid-1800s, originating from pulp magazines, but it wasn't until 1938 with the publication of Action Comics No. 1 feature "Superman" that comic books - as we know them today - took off in popularity.

All these years later, they are still popular amongst kiddies and the young at heart, not only for their colorful stories and great drawings, but because - in my own humble opinion - some of them featured covers that were simply irresistible. This is certainly true when it comes to the television and movie-themed comic books of the 1950s and 1960s. One of the big daddies of the TV comic book publishing world, Dell, released some of the most eye-catching covers. 

Dell Publishing originally began as a pulp magazine publisher in the 1920s and so when comic books started hitting the market, it was easy to them to transform their business into a picture-publisher. In the 1950s, when public criticism was attacking comic books for their unwholesome stories, Dell began printing a Pledge to Parents inside their books announcing that their editorial process "eliminates, rather than regulates, objectionable material". During this time most children were already glued to their television sets watching western series with wholesome heroes such as The Lone Ranger and The Cisco Kid, and so Dell Comics decided to put these same heroes into comic book form and began licensing television adaptations. With the success of these books, Dell expanded on the number of television titles that they licensed. 

Eventually, in the early 1960s, Western Publishing, with whom Dell was in partnership with, broke off and created their own label - Gold Key - which became Dell's key competitor. They too had some wonderful covers, especially among their movie titles. 

When the 1970s comic book slump came, both companies fizzled out and today these comic books are collector's items. Luckily, television-themed comics are not as pricey as some of the better known superhero comics so good deals can be had. We'd collect them for their covers alone...and for that reason, we thought we'd share with our dear readers - in gallery format - some of colorful covers Dell released between the mid-1950s and early 1970s. 

Westerns


                  

Colt .45 July 1960A short-lived series dating from 1960 with Wayne Preston in the starring role.
Wagon Train September 1961 This issue includes the "Dell Trading Post of Great Values". Hot diggity dog!

                  

Maverick - November 1961 - A young Roger Moore is grinning on the cover of this western classic.
Buffalo Bill Jr. - April 1959  - Dick Jones is featured here when the books were "still 10 cents".

                  

The Monroes - April 1967 - Another short lived western series, this time with Michael Anderson Jr.
Gunsmoke - September 1960 - James Arness is looking cool as Marshal Matt Dillon.

                  

Bat Masterson - February 1960 - Gene Barry as the debonair crime-solver.
Bat Masterson - May 1960 - Here Gene flashes his silver Colt. 

Sitcoms


                  


The Beverly Hillbillies - July 1963 - Crank her up, Jethro!
The Beverly Hillbillies - October 1964 - A hillybilly wedding, yee-hah!

                  

I'm Dickens He's Fenster - July 1963 - John Astin and Marty Ingels teamed up for this series about two carpenters. 
Leave it to Beaver - July 1962 - Even the Beav got his own comic book.

                  

I Love Lucy - October 1957 - Lucille tooting on her favorite saxophone.
I Love Lucy - April 1958 - The classic fishing episode brought to comic-splendor.

                  

The Andy Griffith Show - March 1962 - Opie doesn't seem happy here.
Petticoat Junction - March 1964 - a nice group shot of the whole cast.

                  

Nanny and the Professor - October 1970 - "there's something in the air.." it's Nanny magic!
The Brady Bunch - February 1970  - the first issue released.

                  

The Courtship of Eddie's Father - May 1970 - a series that only lasted a few issues. Great show though.
Lassie - April 1957 - if Lassie didn't have enough trouble with Timmy, now he has to encounter more in this series.


World War II Series


                  

The Rat Patrol - April 1967 - Rat attacks on paper? I just can't imagine that being very exciting.
12 O'Clock High - January 1965 - Another short-lived series.

                  

Hogan's Heroes - December 1966 - Hogan's Heroes was quite popular in comic book format.
Hogan's Heroes - September 1966 - "when Klink's away Schultz will play..."

Criminal Catchers


                  

The Untouchables - July 1962 - Robert Stack as Eliot Ness.
Car 54, Where are You? - December 1962 - Ooo, ooo, it's Tooty and Francis!

                  

Burke's Law - May 1965 - The Hollywood Monsters, now that's an issue not to miss.
77 Sunset Strip - July 1962 - Kookie and the gang looking rad on the cover.

                  

87th Precinct - September 1962 - This issue promises a smashing saga of action and adventure. Too bad the series wasn't a smashing success itself.
The Mod Squad - May 1970 - Caution! Very mod.


Misc. Series

                  

Walt Disney's Spin and Marty - July 1962 - these chapters sound good! 
Sea Hunt - October 1960 - Lloyd Bridges looks like he may have lost something.

                  


The Twilight Zone - May 1962 - another dimension in comic book history.
Dr. Kildare - November 1963 - Richard Chamberlain is giving himself a bath in preparation of more medical work.

                  


Cain's Hundred - September 1962 - this series starring Mark Richard ran but one season.
McKeever and the Colonel - February 1963 - McKeever and the Colonel played out like Dennis the Menace at military school.

To browse more comic book covers or to buy one yourself check out these great sites : comicbookplus.com; eBay Silver Age comics; and the Comic Book Database.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Eric Linden - His Second Chance

Girl trouble caused Eric Linden to drop a promising career, but he's back now, a wiser young man. 

Eric Linden is the lad who walked out on a Hollywood career which was going great guns, because he had girl-trouble. 

That may sound facetious, but there was nothing facetious about Eric at the time. He was torn wide apart — raw, sensitive, quivering in every nerve. At twenty-one, you get that way. When the girl is Frances Dee, I suppose you get it a little bit worse, for Frances is in a class by herself. 

That wasn't all, either....

"I wasn't doing what I wanted to do — I hated the parts I had to play. Wild youth and suffering mama's boys — suffering cats!" said Eric. "I was getting labeled, you know how people get the idea you are what you play. I avoided everyone. I was called eccentric. At my age! You can be erratic at twenty, but eccentric is out. Well, I just got funny, I guess, and thought it best to have a change of scene." 

We'll refer to that later, as the tax-collector says. It was discovered while he was away that a darn good actor was lacking for many a part that no one else could quite fill. Maybe his absence made them realize it all the more. 

At any rate, when he returned he didn't have to pick up where he left off. He was way ahead of it. He made a fresh start with one of the grandest juvenile roles ever written, the boy in Ah, Wilderness. And some say he beat a Barrymore to the draw. The whole cast was pretty fast company for a kid who was out of practice but, I reckon before things went very far, Eric was pacing 'em. If he had read every script in town and had his choice of parts to play, he couldn't have found one that could approach the anguished dawn-of-love lad in Ah, Wilderness. There was something so helpless and lovable and pathetic — and familiar — about the boy in his first relentless grip of love. He has just done another stand-out performance in The Voice of Bugle Ann. They have some wonderful things planned for him, way into the future. When a studio does that an actor has arrived. 


With Maureen O'Sullivan in Voice of Bugle Ann
He's twenty-four now and doesn't look it. But still, he doesn't seem exactly a child, either. There is calm confidence in his bearing ; he has lost the old too-eager-to-please that had him tied in knots. He says he used to go for days without seeing anyone, then when he did, he talked a blue streak about nothing. He really didn't want to talk, but was afraid silence would be rude. 

Not knowing the first thing about acting — he says so himself — he played one intensely dramatic part for the Theatre Guild. So Hollywood called him and began talking over contracts and prospective roles with him. "You're emotional, aren't you?" they said, in substance. "Okay, emote." 

Poor kid, he presided at every death-bed scene and wept gallons and had hysterics and paced corridors and wore his nerve-ends down to the quick. He didn't know how to act, and he was afraid to tell anyone, so all he could do was be what he was playing. If it happened to be a frantic, jittery, end-of-the-rope kid, why Eric drank gallons of coffee and didn't go to bed, and thought about terrible disasters, and got himself in fine shape to scream if anybody looked at him. He relived all the family tragedies that had ever happened to him — things he might better have forgotten. Well, no human can keep that up forever — and be in love, in addition. 

Frances Dee with her man , Joel McCrea
So he put two and two together and decided that he'd soon be measured for a strait-jacket if he didn't break loose. Eric didn't even pause to say goodbye. He boarded a plane for New York, and sailed next day on the Bremen. He found a villa near Nice, got himself a cook, a police dog, a French gardener, some chickens and a lot of books. He had yearned to write a book for some time, so he wrote one. It isn't for anybody to see. He wrote steadily for four months. ". . . and I was purged of all my complexes," says Eric. "I wrote them down and got rid of them." 

He adds, "You have to be in love to write." Well, I guess that's as good an excuse as any. Then, all his obsessions, aberrations and frustrations being neatly cataloged, disposed of and checked out, naturally he fell in love again. 

He met a girl. She was very young, and recently divorced. She was entirely lovely. 

"She had a lot of healthy young madness in her," is the way Eric says it. They walked around Juan Les Pins, they swam in the moonlight, they bicycled. They found a great, empty, haunted old gambling house on the Island of Campiane and gave an animated and inspired vaudeville performance which echoed through the vast vacancy. 

Eric's recovery was almost complete when they joined forces with a group of fun-making young Americans, doing Europe and doing it right. Another group, from Cambridge, appeared out of the azure and were instantly members of the same club. Through France and Spain and Italy, they pursued their merry way. Not the usual time-wasters and money-spenders, but happy young intellectuals who knew where they were going and why — but were not in any great hurry about it. They knew how to play, and for the first time in his life, Eric Linden played. He lost track of time, he didn't have to be any place at eight o'clock, or give out interviews, or consider the consequences, or work up a fine frenzy for the camera, or wear his heart on his sleeve. 


He was cured. He was well. He felt so good he wanted more outlet for it than play. All of a sudden, he figured it was time to go back to work. Confidence welled in him. He paused in New York to do a play — preparation for Hollywood again. And then Hollywood. Right away there was Ah, Wilderness, and he fitted into it like the center piece of a jigsaw puzzle. The company went East to Grafton, Massachusetts. Eric was feted by the Swedish colony in Worcester — he is of Swedish ancestry, though born in New York City. All told, it was a grand trip. 

Near Grafton, Eric found a charming seven-acre farm with a house two hundred and fifty years old. "So cheap," he says, "it took my breath away." He bought it. It will be rented to tenants, and will form a nice nest-egg for the boy whose M-G-M contract is bringing him his first real money. 

He bought it because he wants to experience the turn of the seasons, the bleak spareness of real winter, which is never felt in California. He says he would like to live the way Robinson Jeffers, the poet, lives in his stone house looking over the sea at Carmel. He goes up to Carmel and drives 'round and 'round the Jeffers place and he sits and looks at it — because there lives a great poet who is a god to the Eric Lindens of the world. 


You might get the idea that Eric was arty (perish the thought), if he wasn't so blessedly sincere about it. He is the best-read young man with whom I have had the pleasure of conversing with in Hollywood. He would like to be remote and contemplate life, to be a great hermit, perhaps, but a lot of living seems to be going on all the time, and he doesn't want to miss it. Thinks he won't be a hermit until next year. 

He says he came back to Hollywood enjoying things, and wants to keep on. He likes Hollywood better now because he isn't too analytical about it any more. He is making up his week of seven days, and living them, until the next seven days. No more glooming into the future. 

He may have the soul of a poet, but he is a right good trencherman at the table, too. Right now, Eric is up at Lake Arrowhead building himself a sturdy log cabin, where he is going to practice, at odd moments between pictures, being a hermit. I can almost hear his hammer ringing on the nails, and almost see the waiter, wherever Eric takes his dinner tonight, rushing out for double orders. 

Because Eric has his health back, he's located his lost perspective, and, barring a little girl-trouble that may crop up here and there, it's all clear sailing from now on!

By Ruth Rankin

Magazine writers were so optimistic in the 1930s! Eric Linden did indeed make a comeback but it was a short-lived one, and by 1939 he was playing an uncredited bit role once again...as a "soldier with gangrene leg" in Gone with the Wind. Linden then went into theatre work, joined the Armed Forces for WWII, and finally settled in Laguna Beach, where he wed and had three children. Later in life he divorced and worked for the County of Orange in California. 

This post is a part of our Movie Magazine Articles series and was originally published in the June 1936 issue of Modern Screen magazine. Click here to view the full article in its original context. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty ( 1947 )

Shadows & Satin and Speakeasy are hosting The 1947 Blogathon featuring posts on some of the greatest films that were released in 1947. Be sure to head on over to their sites to read about all the great '47 films. But don't hurry there just yet! First, read our review on Danny Kaye's best post-war comedy The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

We all have moments when we daydream. A spoken word, an image, a song, launches us into a realm of fantasy where we place ourselves center stage in the drama. Timid magazine proofreader Walter Mitty ( Danny Kaye ) has these dreams too. As an ace pilot gunning down Nazis; a sea captain battling a fierce storm; a riverboat gambler exposing a cheat; or a square-jawed gunslinger, Mitty is always the hero with the beautiful blonde clinging to his side. With the steady thumping of "ta-pockita ta-pockita" he uses his overripe imagination to escape from his humdrum reality and his henpecking mother ( Fay Bainter ).However, Mitty finds it difficult to distinguish fantasy from reality when the beautiful damsel from his dreams ( Virginia Mayo ) appears before him in real life and pleads for his aid in a dangerous situation involving spies. The clumsy milquetoast also realizes he may not have the backbone to face the adventure he has always been seeking. 

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty was based upon a short story by James Thurber ( The Male Animal ) originally published in The New Yorker magazine in 1939 which featured Walter married to a nagging wife.


Ken Englund and Everett Freeman's took Thurber's story and rewrote Mitty as a bachelor, tied to his mother's apron-strings, and engaged to a pretty but obnoxious young woman ( Ann Rutherford ). They also reworked the story into a clever blend of comedy and intrigue centering around the theft of a little black book containing the whereabouts to priceless Dutch art treasures hidden from the Nazis. Danny Kaye is given ample opportunity to display his comedic antics and particularly shines in the non-dream sequences. While there are many highly amusing moments in the film, there are also some missed opportunities. Parts of the script are inconsistent with one scene apparently missing/cut and Walter's transformation at the end of the film seemed too sudden. Kaye's famous sing-song number "Symphony for Unstrung Tongue " ( penned by his wife Sylvia ) is too zany for our taste and halts the momentum of the picture but his second silly song "Anatole of Paris" is quite entertaining, especially since it takes place within an Irene Sharaff fashion sequence starring the Goldwyn girls. 

It's no wonder Mitty thinks he has imagined these crooks...just look at them!

 "Perhaps you are mistaking me for someone else." Dr. Hollingshead ( Boris Karloff )
 "Oh no. No one looks as much like you do as you do." Walter Mitty

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty was released on September 1, 1947 and received much praise from critics and audiences alike. It seems like the only person not amused by the film was its author. James Thurber did not enjoy seeing his story rewritten in such a slapstick Hollywood fashion and even refused to attend the premiere. He felt that Samuel Goldwyn had discarded his work and used only the basis of it as a vehicle for Danny Kaye's shenanigans, dubbing the film The Private Life of Danny Kaye. In fact, after reading the final script, Thurber offered Goldwyn $10,000 not to film his story! 

The stiff in the cab.
  "Walter, what's that awful smell?" Gertrude Griswold
 "It's that cologne you gave me for Christmas." Walter 
 "It's lovely, isn't it?" Gertrude Griswold

An interesting aspect of Englund and Freeman's screen adaptation is that while Walter Mitty often dreamed of becoming the hero who aids a woman in distress, when the opportunity arose in real life he refused to accept it; not once, but three times. In the first instance, while they are in a taxi cab, Virginia Mayo asks him for his assistance in helping retrieve the "little black book" and Mitty refuses because he is late for work. 


Then, when she asks him to assist her in helping an old man and loading the luggage in the cab, he refuses again because he is late but succumbs when she tells him that they will drop him off at work to save time. Finally, when he tells her that he hid the book in a corset, she asks if he will help her retrieve it and he refuses once more...not wanting anything to do with her or her involvement with danger. But once again, he changes his mind when he sees her tears of frustration. Walter certainly needed plenty of egging to take up the gauntlet and become a knight in shining armor to the helpless lady!

Director Norman Z. McLeod, who had filmed numerous comedies of the 1930s ( Monkey Business, Topper, It's a Gift ) took the helm and did a marvelous job directing this brisk-paced comedy. Special mention should go to art director Perry Ferguson who created a wonderful contrast between the colorful settings of Walter's dream sequences and his dark and old-fashioned home. 


The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is highly entertaining escapism and - in spite of its inconsistencies - showcases Danny Kaye at his chaotic best. The Technicolor is stunning and the film boasts a great cast of supporting players including Boris Karloff, Thurston Hall, Florence Bates, Gordon Jones, Reginald Denny, and Konstantin Shayne. 

Monday, July 13, 2015

Journey to the Unknown

This planet and all its wonders are not enough to satisfy man's unending quest to discover the unknown. To go where man has never gone before; to reach the unfathomable; to see the unseen; these desires have been etched in his soul from the beginning of Creation. 

" Why does man freeze to death to try and reach the North Pole? Why does man drive himself to suffer the steam and heat to discover the Amazon? Why does he stagger his mind with the math of the sky? Once a question arises in the human brain the answer must be found, whether it takes a hundred years or a thousand years. " 

These were the words of Alec McEwen in Journey to the Center of the Earth

The ultimate aim of all Science is to penetrate the unknown. And that's what the following films featured - daring men willing to stake their lives and undertake a perilous journey to reach this pinnacle of achievement for the future of Science and Mankind. And these "unknowns" are still a mystery to us today.


JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH ( 1959 )

Scientists spent years exploring the many features of the Earth's surface but who has penetrated its depths? Arne Soknesson has! ....or so this movie claims. The 15th century explorer was ridiculed for his preposterous attempt to reach the Earth's core, but 400 years later, Professor Oliver Lindenbrook ( James Mason ) stumbles upon evidence that proves he did just that, and ventures forth to go there himself. Of course, by the time he leaves, the party has grown to five members : a student of his at the University of Edinburgh ( Pat Boone ), the widow of a fellow explorer ( Arlene Dahl ), a burly Norwegian ( Thayer David ), and his pet duck Gertrude ( herself ). Spending a year beneath the surface, they encounter a cavern of luminescent crystals, large deposits of salt, an ocean, the lost city of Atlantis, and even another explorer...bent on making sure his own name goes down in history as the first man to reach the center of the Earth! 


FIRST MEN IN THE MOON ( 1964 )

The year is 1899 and Professor Cavor ( Lionel Jeffries ) is busy working in his country home, perfecting Cavorite, a paste that, when applied to any object, renders it ineffectual to the force of gravity. Whoosh! upwards it will travel unless something blocks its path or a shield is placed over the Cavorite. What possible commercial value could Cavorite have? It could send a ship to the Moon of course, where unheard of deposits of rare minerals, gems, and gold could be just sitting on the surface! And that could make them rich, rich, rich! At least that's what Cavor and Arnold Bedford ( Edward Judd ) think. Arnold's fiancee Kate ( Martha Hyer ) accidentally comes along for the ride, but venturing inside the moon was not apart of their plan. Neither was an encounter with the Selenites - the insect-like creatures of the Moon.


THE TIME MACHINE ( 1960 )

Time - the cause of eternal bewilderment to man. It travels always onward, oblivious of events occurring within its domain, continually venturing forward into unexplored territory, ever unchanging and unstoppable. But scientists continue to explore this intangible mystery of our existence. Could altering the Past affect the Future? ( there is a good Outer Limits episode about that topic ); Could a journey into the Future help us make better decisions for Today? Well, these questions bothered George Wells ( Rod Taylor ) too. And besides, he felt like he never belonged in the era he was living ( that's nothing new ). So he constructs a time machine and after fiddling with the dials a bit, propels himself to the year 802,701 A.D. A blond-haired, blue-eyed race of humans called Eloi populate the Earth eating giant veggies and fruits, lounging around with no work to be done, and dashing off at sundown when the terrible mutants known as the Morlocks come out of their caverns to ....eek!...eat them. 

Our intrepid explorers have traveled to the center of the Earth, the inside of the Moon, and through the Ages of Time, and so what unknown territory is left?..... The Fourth Dimension. 


THE 4-D MAN ( 1959 )

Tony Nelson ( James Congdon ), a research scientist, is experimenting with a means to separate particles of matter from each other with an amplifier and, in doing so, discovers a way that one can "pass through" any object. His brother Scott ( Robert Lansing ) becomes jealous of his newfound knowledge - he's also sore because Tony stole his fiancee Linda ( Lee Merriwether in her first film ) - and steals this amplifier unit from him. But what he doesn't know is that every time he passes through an object, he ages! And even worse than that ( yes... there is something worse than aging ) touching another human causes instant death to them, but gives him renewed youth..... I'll let the movie explain the details of that phenomenon. 

___________________________________________________

Well, there you have it. As happy viewers munching on our popcorn, we can sit back and enjoy these explorations to the unknown, heartily cheering on our daring heroes while they endanger their lives for the benefit of our entertainment. And who knows? Maybe someday Man will take a hurdling leap into the Future and find our descendants, 350 years from now, enjoying these very same films.
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