Saturday, June 29, 2024

Tommy Ivo - Child Actor and Drag Racer

Tommy Ivo's name often comes up when one mentions child actors of the 1940s and 1950s, but did you know that his name is more recognized in racing circles than at film clubs? Ivo became popular as a drag strip racer in the 1960s-1990s where he was known as "TV Tommy". 

Tommy Ivo began making films when he was 7-years old and starred with some of the biggest stars in Hollywood (William Powell, Spencer Tracy, Donna Reed, etc) but, like many child stars, once he sprouted, he was no longer in demand. So, in the 1950s, Ivo turned his attention to his love of racing and floored anything with four-wheels. He raced the Twin Buick in the late 1950s which broke the speed records for a gas-powered dragster, it also won NASCAR's first National Drag Race. 

In the 1960s, he raced nitro-powered dragsters which he designed (notably "The Barnstormer" and "The Streamliner") and even toured England to promote drag racing. By the 1970s, he was one of the most popular guest performers at any drag racing event and in 2005 was inducted in the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America. 

AMT's Tommy Ivo Streamliner plastic model car kit

Today, at the age of 88, Tommy still makes rare appearances at racing events. To read more about Tommy Ivo and his career, check out his website

This entry 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!

Thursday, June 27, 2024

MeTV Toons - A New Cartoon Channel

On June 25th, 2024, MeTV debuted a new channel devoted strictly to cartoons: MeTV Toons. This was obviously in response to viewers requesting more cartoons than what was offered through MeTV's regular morning "toons" lineup on Toon in with Me

What a great selection of cartoons this new channel has to offer! In addition to Bugs Bunny, Scooby-Doo, Casper, The Jetsons, Yogi Bear and The Flintstones, there are also shows that are not as frequently shown on mainstream TV like Atom Ant, Wacky Races, The Peter Potamus Show, Marine Boy, Popeye and Pals, Inspector Gadget and The Underdog Show. Best of all is the Cartoon All-Stars Hour playing at 1pm EST and 10pm EST which features the oldies-but-goodies from the golden age of Hollywood (Warner Bros, MGM, Columbia, Fleisher and other studios). 

24-hours of toons. Sounds good to me! 

To see what channel MeTV Toons plays in your area, check out their website here. The colorful site also offers some great toon-related articles and games. 

Friday, June 21, 2024

June Bride (1948)

Hours before embarking on an assignment, magazine editor Linda Gilman (Bette Davis) has been thrust with a new reporter who happens to be her old lover, foreign correspondent Carey Jackson (Robert Montgomery). The two bickering sweethearts are heading to Indiana with a staff of workers to cover the wedding of two young lovebirds for the June issue of "Home Life".

From the onset, Linda finds herself beset with problems: the McKinley-era house needs updating to bring it into Truman-era style, the February snow outside the windows needs to be disguised to look like June sunshine but, worst of all, the bride needs to be found after she runs off with an old beau named Jim! 

This last problem Linda blames on Carey whom she believes lured Jim back with the intent to break up the wedding. Why? Because she thinks Carey sneers at old-fashioned happily-ever-after wedding stories and would rather have a fresh "angle" to an article then pen a simple straightforward love piece. 

Over the course of one busy week, Linda finds she may have misjudged Carey. 

If June Bride plays out like a filmed adaptation of a popular Broadway comedy, it is because it was a play, but one that went unproduced - "Feature for June" by Graeme Lorimer, Sarah Lorimer and Elaine Tighe. Screenwriter Ranald MacDougall adapted it but something was lost in the translation. The script is witty enough (it earned the Writers Guild of America award for Best Written American Comedy) and the players all handle their parts capably but, overall, the picture lacks In short, it falls flat. Whether this is director Bretaigne Windust's fault is difficult to determine but June Bride certainly could have been enhanced in the hands of a better director. Preston Sturges would have done wonders with this material and cast! 

Nevertheless, on its release it was a critical and box-office success and Bette Davis' contract with Warner Brothers was renewed for four more pictures (Bette only made one more film with the studio before walking out on her contract).

Bette Davis looked chic and youthful in the film and was bedecked in outfits designed by Edith Head. In spite of playing a successful single working woman, her character would be pooh-poohed by modern feminists because ultimately she chooses to "carry the bags" and walk two steps behind her man. 

Supporting roles went to Tom Tully (a fine actor in every film he made), Fay Bainter, Jerome Cowan and Mary Wickes. The younger roles were well-played by Betty Lynn (The Andy Griffith Show), Barbara Bates and Raymond Roe (The Major and the Minor).

Thursday, June 13, 2024

AI Classic Movie Art

Whether you like AI (artificial intelligence) or not, it is the wave of the future and is here to stay. Right now, it is in its burgeoning infancy but even as a mere tot, it impresses me every day. For the past year, I've been enjoying playing with Midjourney AI, a text-to-picture image generator and - almost on a daily basis - I think of "prompts" to send it off on a picture-making journey. It is unlimited to what it can output and it is always exciting to think of new keywords to try. The only downside to this app is that I cannot think of a darn thing to do with all of the pictures it creates! 

Since I "made" a number of images already, I thought it would be fun to share some of the Midjourney creations here on the blog... especially since most of them are classic movie related. Each month I will post a few pictures from a hodge-podge of topics (feel free to suggest some, too) and all of the posts will begin with the heading "Midjourney at the Movies" so you can easily find them - or avoid them, if you'd rather. I will also share some images that others created with a classic movie theme. 

Before I begin however, let's give a brief overview of what Midjourney is capable of doing. I won't go into details on how AI works because I haven't a clue how it does, but I can tell you what it can and cannot do:

The app allows you to use phrases called "prompts" that dictate what you want it to create in the picture it is building. All prompts begin with "Imagine". Here is an example "/imagine a screenshot from a 1937 MGM film starring Clark Gable and Joan Crawford, Clark Gable is wearing a white suit and is standing next to Joan Crawford, they are at a racetrack"

Thirty-seconds later this image pops up:

By default, Midjourney gives you four variations to choose from. You can re-generate your prompt and it will give you four fresh choices, or you can pick one of them and refine it. Let's get four fresh ones instead because none of these fellows look like Clark Gable or an old movie. 

/imagine a DVD screenshot from an old 1937 black-and-white MGM film starring Clark Gable and Joan Crawford, Clark Gable is wearing a white suit and is standing next to Joan Crawford, they are at a racetrack --ar 4:3 

I've added some more description and also changed the output aspect ratio to 4:3. The more details the better the output but if you add too many the machine jumbles things up (e.g. it may give Joan Crawford a Gable-like mustache). 20-seconds later here is what pops up:

Better, but they still don't look like Gable and Crawford. By default, Midjourney does not duplicate faces exactly... although sometimes it can come really close to capturing the features of a particular person. Also, you cannot prompt it to create anything indecent. Keywords like "topless" or "naked" would give you a rejection message. It abides by the Hayes Code, thank goodness. ;-)

But we can help it create faces closer to Gable and Crawford. So I will repeat the same prompt and this time provide it with image urls to Clark Gable and Joan Crawford facial portraits.  

It does a great job of smooshing hundreds of people's faces into one. These actresses all look like Hollywood stars and yet they don't look like any one actress in particular...and certainly not like Joan Crawford (although that woman in the bottom right image does have a hint of a Crawfordesque glance). 

Let's click on the Regenerate button and get four fresh shots:

I like the bottom right photo so I will upscale it (that means select it) and not only does it give you a larger resolution image but there are also more bells and whistles and magic buttons to play with then. My favorite is the Vary Region button. By clicking on this, I can lasso an area that I want to change/regenerate without affecting the rest of the image. Since the AI version of Clark Gable looks pretty good here, I just want to change Joan Crawford. 

And 30-seconds later, here is the result: 

Oops! Now how did that happen? Unfortunately, the machine can often take a turn into the Land of Bizarre on a whim. You just have to put up with its quirks. I wonder what became of the woman who didn't look like Joan Crawford?

Let's try this again. 40-seconds later: 

Oh dear. Perhaps it is past its bedtime. 

That dress with the little hands sticking out of it will never catch on. 

Anyway... you get the idea of how it works. You just have to play with the buttons. As Midjourney's own instructions state "Experiment and have fun!". Which is just what I will be doing. You can check out what I create in future posts but, for now, here are a few (better) creations from other Midjourney users as well as my own:

Here's a lovely 1940s style Kodak publicity photo of the famous redhead Lucille Ball. It did a good job of creating a 1940s-style dress and the image even looks hand-color tinted. 

This one is really neat. A user prompted "Rue McClanahan as a Southern belle" and look what Mr. Midjourney came up with. The texture of the dress and the feathers is quite amazing. 

As tempting as it is to use the generator to get an exact result, it's much more fun to "see what it comes up with". One user prompted a fictional name "Salarda de Cadenet, Hollywood actress, diva extraordinaire" and wow! what a great image. 

Martha Scott as Hera, the Ancient Greek goddess. Midjourney doesn't just make photos, it really excels at doing different textured images. This was prompted with the keywords "1960s magazine pulp art" and look how it captured the colors and the half-tone screen printing of an old magazine. 

Here's a book cover painting of "A 40-year-old John Wayne as a US Navy Seal". Clever prompt. 

A 1980s style painted movie poster with a lead character like Lee Majors. Pretty good. 

And speaking of paintings, this one is amazing: "a 1965 Rolly Crump concept illustration of Dame Judi Dench as Witch Hazel from the movie Pufnstuf". There are loads of possibilities to try with that prompt alone!

Well, I think that is enough to get started on. This "Midjourney at the Movies" series will reappear monthly or just when I feel like sharing some interesting creations... and there are a ton of them so I hope you will check out future posts in this series. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

The Impossibly Difficult Name that Movie Game

We have a doozy of a screenshot to share this month. It is obviously a scene of a lab but what kind of lab we will let you figure out... once you get that clue then you might be able to guess what movie this scene is from. ;-)

As always, if you are not familiar with the rules to the Impossibly Difficult Name that Movie game or the prize, click here!

Saturday, June 8, 2024

From the Archives: The Treasure of Lost Canyon (1952)


Three happy people... Julie Adams is looking lovely, Charles Drake is handsome as usual, and the little smiling boy is Tommy Ivo pictured here in this still from the little-known western The Treasure of Lost Canyon (1952). 

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: