Saturday, February 25, 2017

Alan Hale's Lobster Barrel Restaurant

"The first thing I'll do when I get back is sink my teeth into a nice juicy steak." Skipper - 1965

After Gilligan's Island was canceled in 1966, Alan Hale Jr. ( "Skipper" ) continued guest starring on numerous television series ( he even starred with Bob Denver in the short-lived series "The Good Guys" in 1969  ), but he ventured into other fields as well.....including opening his own restaurant. This venue was entitled Skipper Alan Hale's Lobster Barrel, and it became a very popular seafood restaurant along N. La Cienega, Hollywood's restaurant row, throughout the 1970s and 1980s.

For fifteen years the Skipper bade welcome to guests eager to sink their teeth in a nice juicy lobster ( steaks were always available too ). Hale loved being associated with his character "The Skipper" from Gilligan's Island and till his death in 1990 he wore the famous seaman's hat and blue-topped deck shoes. New visitors to the Lobster Barrel were often given a hearty table-side greeting by Hale, who always made time to chat with his guests or sign autographs. 

Inside, the restaurant was decked out in wood with palms for decor, resembling a typical seafood house. There was even a tropical bar....Mr. Howell would have appreciated that. 
The Lobster Barrel menu was quite large and offered a wonderful selection of fresh seafood, as well as some rarer specialties such as Bouillabaisse Marseillaise, Paella Valenciana, and Escargot. Soups and salads included the Mariner Salad with Bay Shrimp, French Onion, Lobster Bisque, and Boston Clam Chowder soups. The Skippers Galley featured all the surf-and-turf selections that the Skipper himself would devour : King Crablegs and Steak, Stuffed Shrimp and Steak, Salmon Alfredo, and even Lobster Tail with Steak priced at $17.95. Yes, this was no roadside diner establishment. The menu prices of the 1970s match most major franchise restaurant prices of today, so one can imagine what a high-end restaurant this was. Take the Shrimp and Lobster Newburg, for example, at $15.95, it is the equivalent of $69 in today's money. That's quite a dish of fish! 
In 1982, Alan Hale no longer participated in active ownership of the restaurant, but it continued on as Alan Hale's Lobster Barrel until it closed its doors in 1990. Hale tried his hand at other ventures then, including owning a travel agency ( Anyone want to take a three-hour boat tour? ). He also appeared in several commercials, such as this Ensign Chrysler Plymouth ad in 1986. 

This post is a part of our latest series entitled "Did You Know?".....sometimes we just feel like sharing interesting fragments of television and movie history and now we have a place to do just that. If you have a hot tip that you would like us to share on Silver Scenes, drop us a line!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters ( 1963 )

"By riverboat and wagon train, Old Doc McPheeters crossed the plains, 
And told his son, keep moving on there's gold in old California, 
Go westward ho, young Jaimie-O, and you'll find fortune and fame." 

With these words began The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters, a short-lived, but very entertaining, western series that aired on Sunday nights on ABC in 1963. It was geared towards adventure-seeking young teenage boys just like Jaimie. 

Kurt Russell, who had guest-starred in a number of television series, was given the titular role in this hour-long show when he was but 12 years old. Jaimie is the son of Sardius "Doc" McPheeters ( Dan O'Herlihy ) , a scalawag gambler who is lured to the West by the prospect of dazzling gold ( and the opportunity to escape his creditors ). Together they head out from Kentucky to California, encountering rampaging Indians, thieves, stampeding buffalo, and sundry other adventures along the wagon trail route. Mid-way through the series we are introduced to rugged wagon master Linc Murdock ( Charles Bronson ) who becomes a friend and a surrogate father to Jaimie boy.  Also cast in the series was Mark Allen and Meg Wyllie as Mr. and Mrs. Kissel, a God-fearing couple who are heading out to the sunshine state along with their singing sons, played by four of the Osmond brothers. 
Jaimie also featured a female lead in the personage of pretty Jenny ( Donna Anderson ), a 17-year old orphan. Each episode of this juvenile variation of Wagon Train cast a slew of veteran actors and up-and-coming players such as Leif Erickson, Mariette Hartley, Lloyd "Crash" Corrigan, Susan Oliver, Kathy Garver, Ruta Lee, David McCallum, Keenan Wynn, and Slim Pickens. 

The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters was based upon the Pulitzer prize-winning book of the same name by Robert Lewis-Taylor. The series had a easy-going quality about it, reminiscent of a Mark Twain story, with Russell providing first-person narration of all the sights and sounds he was beholding for the first time....the preparation of the wagon train, meeting Indians up close, and encountering unsavory characters at every corner. Jaimie may have initially thought that heading out West would be fun, but along the way he grows into a stronger lad from all the lessons he learns about people. 
Television writer John Gay was the story editor of the series and, like the book, he kept the savagery of the new frontier real in each of the scripts. This sense of danger kept the series exciting and engrossing for young boys. 

The premise for The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters was quite good and the series was very well made, but the time-slot it was given just didn't enable the show to take off. When you have a choice between The Ed Sullivan Show, My Favorite Martian, and Disney's Wonderful World of Color, would you watch a western? Parents didn't, but many children did, however, and today they fondly recall this series as well as its catchy theme song ( the Bee-Gees released a single from this theme ). It was also popular enough to have a few product tie-ins, including a Gold Key comic book release, and an Ideal boardgame. 
After the series was canceled, MGM produced Guns of Diablo ( 1964 ), a color feature film based upon the final episode "The Day of the Reckoning". For this film, Charles Bronson and Kurt Russell reprised their characters from the series. 

The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters has not yet been released on DVD, but it was circulating on television twenty years ago, so surviving copies of the show can be found. Until then, young Jaimie-O's fortune and fame must wait. 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Nugget Reviews - 22

Follow the Boys! ( 1963 )  Elct. 


Three women follow their Navy husbands and boyfriends to their next port of call in the French Riveria where romantic entanglements ensue. Connie Francis, Janis Paige, Dany Robin, Russ Tamblyn, Richard Long. MGM Pictures. Directed by Richard Thorpe.

After the success of Where the Boys Are ( 1961 ), Connie Francis was re-teamed with Paula Prentiss in this Navy-themed escapade in France and Italy. It was a good story idea, but unfortunately, the script was a dud and the film dragged more than a 3-ton anchor. Two redeeming features : the opening title theme song and the beautiful location footage. 

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The Courtship of Andy Hardy ( 1942 ) 14k


Andy Hardy nearly finds himself in court after accidentally "stealing" an automobile. He also has to help his father, Judge Hardy, with a case involving his drippy schoolmate Melodie Nesbit. Mickey Rooney, Donna Reed, Lewis Stone,Cecilia Parker. MGM Pictures. Directed by George B. Seitz.

Andy Hardy never intends to get himself into a jam, but he always ends up in a bigger tangle than he can unwind. In this particular installment of the Andy Hardy series, it is Judge Hardy who shoulders some of the blame. As sister Marian, Cecilia Parker gets a side story of her own involving her changed attitude towards small-town life. Like all the Andy Hardy films, sprinkles of old-fashioned wisdom are interspersed between the comedy and drama. 

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The Glass Slipper ( 1955 ) Elct.


The rebellious "Ella" falls in love with a cook's son, not realizing that he is actually the Duke's son....her very own Prince Charming. Leslie Caron, Michael Wilding, Elsa Lanchester, Keenan Wynn, Amanda Blake. MGM Pictures. Directed by Charles Walters. 

This was another case of MGM thinking they could replicate a success ( 1953's Lili ) by following it up with a similarly themed film. Helen Deutsch, who had written the screenplay to Lili, penned this rather silly re-telling of the Cinderella fairy tale. The elements that made the original fairy tale so endearing were removed. Cinderella is no longer a sweet-natured woman who bears her toilsome life with patience. Instead, she is "Ella", a tomboyish waif who sulks around wishing she were dead. No doubt Deutsch intended to add a touch of 1950s realism ( and teenage rebel behavior ) to the character, but in doing so she made the romance that springs between her and Prince Charming completely unbelievable. 

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Journey for Margaret ( 1942 ) 18k


After a foreign war correspondent's wife loses her baby during a Blitz, he decides to adopt two children to bring home with him to the States to raise as their own. Robert Young, Laraine Day, Fay Bainter, Margaret O'Brien, William Severn. MGM Pictures. Directed by W.S. Van Dyke.

Margaret O'Brien was such a talented child, having more acting chops than many adult actors. Her range of emotions in Journey for Margaret is especially impressive. William Severn and Margaret O'Brien both portray orphaned children raised during the Blitz. Naturally, they develop social problems as well as nightmarish fears after living through the horrors of the war...but once they meet the kindly Mr. Davis ( Robert Young ) they begin to have hope that they will have a father - and a new family again. Like Mrs. Miniver, Journey for Margaret doesn't whitewash the brutality of war but gives audiences a heart-tugging ( and tear-inducing ) slice of realism. This was legendary director Major W.S. Van Dyke's final film. 

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Callaway Went Thataway ( 1952 ) 14k


An advertising agency recycles old "Smoky Callaway" westerns for broadcast on television. When the movies become a smash hit with kids across America, they find a lookalike cowboy to take the place of the old Smoky Callaway.....since in reality, Callaway is a drinking womanizer! Howard Keel, Dorothy McGuire, Fred MacMurray, Jesse White. MGM Pictures. Directed by Norman Panama.

In Callaway Went Thataway, Keel tackles two parts, playing the wild drinking Smoky Callaway as well as Stretch Barnes, his honest good-hearted lookalike. Howard Keel looked and acted like a real-life cowboy, and whenever he made films that cast him as one, it suited him to a tee. However, in this film, all his usual cowboy-ish Texan behavior is gone. Keel is wasted in a role that doesn't suit his personality nor showcase his magnificent voice. Dorothy McGuire is also cast against type as a tough-talking city gal ( Diana Lynn could have done wonders with this part! ), leaving only Fred MacMurray to provide us with a meaty role....and, unfortunately, he is cast as a money-hungry publicity agent, so he is not very lovable either. There are some great cameos mid-way through the film, however! 

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Condorman ( 1981 )

Cartoonist Woody Wilkins ( Michael Crawford ) strives for realism when creating his comic books and would never write an adventure that he, himself, did not experience. So, when his friend Harry ( James Hampton ) gives him the opportunity to act as a courier for a CIA assignment, Woody jumps at the chance to try something new for his best-selling superhero comic, "Condorman". This simple task of passing papers tumbles into a full-blown mission when the beautiful agent ( Barbara Carerra ) he is expected to meet requests his help in defecting from Russia. 

"Come on, Woody, it's just a simple defection...." - Harry

"Simple defection for you, maybe! I just delivered some *simple* papers to Istanbul! Nearly got shish-ka-bobbed by three Turkish behemoths!"  - Woody

Walt Disney Productions really knew how to create fun family films and, in Condorman, they captured all the features you would want to see in a comic adventure : non-stop action, diabolic villains, a little romance and humor, and loads of gadgets and explosions. The movie is based upon Robert Sheckley's "The Game of X" and was filmed in beautiful locales all over France, Monaco, and Switzerland. Henry Mancini composed a gloriously campy opening theme for the film, as well as some wonderful background music. 
British-actor Michael Crawford ( of The Phantom of the Opera fame ) obviously had a blast playing the All-American Woody Wilkins. He gave Woody plenty of fool-hardy spunk and that "Zowie!" attitude that you would imagine a comic book creator to have. Crawford also performed all of his own stunts ( impressive! ), nearly drowning himself, too, when he fell into the river Seine after jumping off of the Eiffel Tower. The strength of the water current was miscalculated and he was dragged five to ten feet underwater before lifeguards came to his rescue in the nick of time. 

Barbara Carrerra looked stunning as Natalia, the Russian spy whom Woody must rescue from the clutches of Krokov ( portrayed by the Great Ham - Oliver Reed ). She looked like the ideal Bond girl and comic book heroine rolled into one. Incidentally, this part led to Carerra being cast as "Fatima Blush" in the unofficial Bond film Never Say Never Again ( 1983 ). 
Like most of the Disney films made prior to 1990, the "crooks" are not bumbling idiots but dangerous men bent on destroying our hero. It is only Woody who enjoys the entire defection process, heedless of the life-threatening danger he is involved in. Foolish confidence can accomplish wonders! 

Krokov goes to great lengths to bring back his prize KGB agent but time and again he is foiled by the cartoonist's wild assortment of gadgets, taken straight from his very own Condorman comics. Academy Award winning special effects artist Colin Shilvers created these comic book inventions which include a wild-firing machine gun/walking stick, laser cannon, floating car, jet rods to ride the cable on the Matterhorn, and those unreliable Condorman wings. 
Condorman also gives us a little peek at the life of a comic book artist. In one scene in particular, Woody does a marvelous sketch of his newest creation, Laser Lady, based upon Natalia. 

Disney was expecting a huge box-office success with Condorman and so they pulled out all the stops and spared no expense in its production. It is almost painful to see the amount of machines they destroyed for this film.... Porsches and Rolls Royces were exploded or thrown into the water as though they were plastic models, a fleet of stealth speedboats were wrecked with abandon, and helicopters were bombed in mid-air. 
Unfortunately, Condorman also bombed upon its release. Who knows what was capturing kids' attention during the summer of 1981, but they obviously did not enjoy this all-out superhero spoof. The few fans of the film have now become Condormanologists, collecting memorabilia from the movie at comic-cons, introducing the film to their children, and waiting for the day when this film will receive its blu-ray release. 

Friday, February 10, 2017

From the Archives : The Men in Her Life ( 1941 )


Loretta Young and a handsome John Shepperd catch a moment to discuss matters, whatever those matters be, before their morning ride in this scene from The Men in Her Life ( 1941 ). For a few years Shepperd Strudwick was being promoted as "John Shepperd", but he quickly ditched that moniker and kept his own ( unusual as that name was ) and found greater success as an actor with it. Strudwick was a busy leading man and supporting player, but unfortunately, today he hides among the I-know-the-face-but-not-the-name actors. 

From the Archives is our latest series of posts where we share photos from the Silverbanks Pictures collection. Some of these may have been sold in the past, and others may still be available for purchase at our eBay store : http://stores.ebay.com/Silverbanks-Pictures

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

In Memoriam : Sara Brideson

Sara Brideson ( February 4, 1990 - January 23, 2017 ) 

On January 23rd, 2017, Sara Brideson, a very dear friend of mine and an extremely talented author, passed away suddenly. Sara was a sensitive and sweet-natured young woman who was graced with the gift of writing. Along with her twin sister, Cynthia, Sara authored a number of fine books relating to one of her passions - classic films. 

Also Starring : Forty Autobiographical Essays on the Greatest Character Actors of Hollywood's Golden Era, 1930-1965 was their first collaboration. This book stemmed from essays these sisters had written for Turner Classic Movies' Classic Film Union and features a wonderful selection of character actor biographies : Elsa Lancaster, Frank Morgan, Edna May Oliver, Eric Blore, Agnes Moorehead, Harry Davenport, and Marjorie Main to name just a few. Sara's favorite actress was the delightful Billie Burke ( Glinda the Good Witch in The Wizard of Oz ) who is also one of the actresses profiled in this book. 

Sara also loved the films of Judy Garland ( Meet Me in St. Louis ), Gene Kelly ( Summer Stock ), Hayley Mills ( That Darn Cat and Summer Magic ), and Harold Lloyd. In addition to writing, she loved to draw and often sketched her favorite stars. 



Sara and Cynthia's second book was the highly acclaimed Ziegfeld and His Follies : A Biography of Broadway's Greatest Producer ( 2015 ) which was nominated for the Theatre Library Association's Freedley Award ( check out Liz Smith's rave review of the book here ).

"Theater-loving sisters Cynthia and Sara Brideson shine fresh and stimulating light on the genius of one of Broadway's greatest impresarios. Rich in research and broad in perspective, the Bridesons' book frames the classic revue era of the New York stage with a reverential but honest approach to Florenz Ziegfeld's extraordinary personality and career."―Examiner.com


Shortly after completing this book, Sara and Cynthia plunged into writing He's Got Rhythm : The Life and Career of Gene Kelly, a biography that took two years to complete. This book had several setbacks and has only recently become available for pre-order with a release date scheduled for May 2017. 

I miss Sara a lot, and some day I hope that I can learn to write as well as she did and in some small way pay homage to my most talented friend. However, right now I hope He's Got Rhythm becomes the smashing best-seller it deserves to be. Sara would be so proud! 

Friday, February 3, 2017

Henry Mancini - Composer

Henry Mancini ( April 16, 1924 - June 14, 1994 )

Henry Mancini was one of the most prolific film composers - and certainly the most famous - in Hollywood throughout the 1960s and 1970s. His popularity outside of the film community was due in no small part to the numerous albums he released as an independent artist ( 90 albums to be precise ). Mancini had a particular knack for jazz and some of his greatest film scores ( Breakfast at Tiffany's, Days of Wine and Roses, The Pink Panther ) combined lilting jazz with his signature smooth string arrangements. During his lifetime he was nominated for 72 Grammy Awards, 18 Academy Awards, and two Emmy Awards. Impressive indeed! 

Mancini was born in Cleveland, Ohio and took up music arranging at the young age of 12 years old having been introduced to music by his father, a flutist. After serving overseas in the Air Force during World War II, he joined up with the Glenn Miller-Tex Beneke Orchestra as a pianist/arranger, which is also where he met his wife, Ginny O'Connor, one of the original members of Mel Torme's Mel-Tones. 

In 1952, he was given a two-week assignment to work on the Abbott and Costello vehicle Lost in Alaska at Universal Pictures and ended up staying for six years, working uncredited on background music to numerous comedies and dramas for the studio. It was his scoring of the television series Peter Gunn ( 1958 ) that launched Mancini to musical stardom. This hard-core rock and roll jazz beat earned him an Emmy award and two Grammys, as well as a 30-year collaboration with writer/producer Blake Edwards.

Throughout the 1960s, Henry Mancini was one of the most sought-after composers of comedy films, working on such classics as The Great Imposter ( 1960 ), Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation ( 1962 ), The Pink Panther ( 1963 ), Man's Favorite Sport ( 1964 ), The Great Race ( 1965 ), and The Party ( 1968 ), as well as dramas like Breakfast at Tiffany's ( 1961 ), Experiment in Terror ( 1962 ), Charade ( 1963 ), Dear Heart ( 1964 ), and Two for the Road ( 1967 ). 

He continued his success throughout the 1970s and 1980s, tackling both film ( The Molly McGuires, Darling Lili, Oklahoma Crude, The Great Waldo Pepper, Victor/Victoria ) as well as television ( The Moneychangers, What's Happening!, The Thorn Birds ) while touring around the world giving concert performances. Mancini passed away in 1994 of complications arising from pancreatic cancer, but, today, his three children continue his legacy with their own music ( daughter Monica is a singer, son Chris is a composer ) and through concert tours performing the music of their father. 

Signature Style

Mancini's musical arrangements are vibrant, different, and downright fun. He infused jazz into traditional film music scoring, creating themes that were catchy as well as lush and beautiful. Many of his songs feature marimbas, xylophones, and saxophones...instruments not often heard in traditional movie music. When Mancini turned the romance on high he often utilized slow strings, tinkling piano keys, and gentle choral background singing. He was a maestro of every style. 


The Noteworthy Five 

Of all the composers that will be featured in our Behind-the-Screen series, Mancini is probably the most difficult composer to select just five scores from, since he made so many marvelous ones...and it's tempting to pick personal favorites!  Peter Gunn and The Thorn Birds should be included but since they were written for television we have omitted them. 

1. The Pink Panther ( 1963 ) Undoubtedly, Henry Mancini's most famous piece...and it is one of the few tunes that can be recognized just by hearing two notes! Mancini's theme perfectly captured the slow stealth motions of the film's cat burglar, the "Phantom", infused with that iconic sassy brass.

2. Charade ( 1963 ) - Mancini set the tone for the film from the first few minutes : Getting chased by criminals is serious business, but when you have Cary Grant as an ally, running hard and fast can be fun. 

3. The Sweetheart Tree from The Great Race ( 1965 ) - Natalie Wood sings this beautiful love song in a sequence in The Great Race, but the original version - the player-piano styling - can be heard in the background throughout the film. It's a touching tribute to a bygone era. 

4. Moon River from Breakfast at Tiffany's ( 1961 ) - Another one of Mancini's enduring legacies. This is probably the most romantic  song to appear in a motion picture and it is certainly one of the most covered tunes of the 20th century. Andy Williams made "Moon River" a personal chart-topping hit in 1962. 

5. The Days of Wine and Roses ( 1962 ) - This theme features some gorgeous lyrics by Johnny Mercer, who had a long and fruitful collaboration with Mancini for years. You can hear Mancini's lovely chorus in this piece too. 


Highlights of his Discography


  • The Glenn Miller Story ( 1953 )
  • Peter Gunn ( 1958 ) 
  • Mr. Lucky ( 1959 )
  • The Great Imposter ( 1960 ) 
  • "Baby Elephant Walk" from Hatari! ( 1962 ) 
  • Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation ( 1962 ) 
  • Dear Heart ( 1964 ) 
  • Man's Favorite Sport? ( 1964 )
  • The Great Race ( 1965 ) 
  • The Thorn Birds ( 198
  • Mommie Dearest ( 1981 )
  • The Great Mouse Detective ( 1986 )



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