Oh hai, Andi and Tracy!
Go to 3:45 in
We’re all going on a summer holiday
The Socey family has several different signs that the summer is over. Until last year, it was the final day of the summer theatre camp my wife and I directed (that’s another story for another time). Then it was when our daughter Emma’s first day of the school year, followed by my college teaching wife’s first day of classes. The final sign was when WFYI radio would host a live broadcast from the Penrod Arts Fair.
The summer of 2006 brought a new Socey family tradition which is also a sign that summer is almost over. The day before Emma has to go back to school, the Socey family watches the 1963 musical Summer Holiday, starring pop singer Cliff Richard. First, a little about Cliff Richard and the film.
The film is a musical trifle about Cliff and three other lads who are going to take a double decker bus from London to Greece. Along the way they meet three pretty girls, a female singer disguised as a boy (Lauri Peters), a mime troupe headed by Ron (Fagan from Oliver) Moody, a pitchfork wedding, the singer’s overbearing mother and several background roles played by Richard’s backing band and one of my favorite 60s rock bands The Shadows.
Richard was being pushed as the English Elvis. Knighted and beyond famous in Europe, he hardly gets a mention in the U.S. He has three singles American radio listeners in their 40s or older might know. “Devil Woman” from 1976, “We Don’t Talk Anymore” from 1979 and the 1980 duet with Olivia Newton-John “Suddenly” from the godawful musical Xanadu. I know some folks love this film. Fine, you can have it.
OK, back to 1963. Richard made an impression in his first two films Serious Charge and Expresso Bongo. Then he starred in musical comedy The Young Ones (Cliff saves a youth center from closing!) in 1961, which was a hit in the U.K. This lead to Summer Holiday, another hit in the U.K. The same year this was happening in England, Elvis cranked out It Happened at the World’s Fair and Fun In Acapulco. The same year the first Frankie & Annette film Beach Party was released.
There were two people involved with Summer Holiday that made the film rise above the other films mentioned in the last paragraph. The director was Peter Yates, in his directing debut. He had already established himself as an assistant director on films like The Guns Of Navarone, The Entertainer and The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone. After Summer Holiday, some of the films he directed included Bullitt, The Friends of Eddie Coyle, Mother, Jugs & Speed (thanks, Raquel Welch), The Deep (thanks, Jacqueline Bisset), Breaking Away (film in Bloomington) and The Dresser, one of my favorite films from 1983, an important year for me as a filmmaker, but that’s another story.
The gentleman in charge of choreography and musical numbers director. He worked on a number of films and television as a choreographer before making his directing debut in 1969 with Goodbye Mr. Chips, a music starring Peter O’Toole (who “sang” and earned a Best Actor nomination) and Petula Clark. Other Ross directed films included The Owl and the Pussycat, Play It Again Sam, Funny Lady, The Sunshine Boys, The Severn Per-Cent Solution, The Turning Point, The Goodbye Girl, California Suite, Pennie From Heaven, Footloose and Steel Magnolias.
The point is that having Yates and Ross involved, this was more than just 90 minutes of kids twisting at the discotheque. There was actual dancing and camera movement that made it about the average Elvis and Frankie & Annette film. Between this and someone watching his 40 years later appreciated the innocent charm of this film.
OK, back to 2006. WFYI has a very popular British Telly Club. This particular summer, we decided to reward our telly club supporters with an English summer films series. One Sunday afternoon in June, July and August we would show an English film in our television studio. That summer we started with Summer Holiday, followed by Saving Grace (Brenda Blethyn, Craig Ferguson) and Mrs. Brown (Judi Dench, Billy Connelly).
The afternoon we showed Summer Holiday, I brought along my daughter who was 5 years-old at the time. We stayed in the back of the studio as to not distract the regular audience in case daughter gets fussy, potty break, etc. By the time the number “Let Us Take You For a Ride” is performed in the film, Emma is moving along to the choreography as best she could. Once the film was over, Emma said something many five years ask after such a cinematic experience…”Can we buy this , Daddy?”
Yes, I did.
The next time we did a Telly Club Summer Film Series a couple years later, we did show The Young Ones, the film of which the name of the great British sitcom was inspired. I’ll always remember an elderly woman half way through the film leaning over to me and saying about Richard “he’s not a very good actor, is he?” I have screened The Young Ones and Swingers Paradise for my family over the years, but Summer Holiday has been an end of the summer Socey family tradition and it will stay that way…unless Emma gets really moody in her teen years. We’ll see.
Thanks, Sammy Terry
Back in the 1950-70s, every major and many minor cities had a local horror show host on television. Growing up in Flint, Michigan, I had Sir Graves Ghastly in Channel 2 out of Detroit. Chicago had Svengoolie, played by Jerry G. Bishop and later passed on to Rich Koz, who is still on the air today.
Indianapolis had Sammy Terry. Its creator Bob Carter, died on Sunday at the age of 83.
The local horror show host is a lost art, like the drive-in. I remember Entertainment Tonight in the mid 80s doing a piece about the local horror show hosts across the country. Part of the opening montage was Sammy and his laugh. Thanks to the Internet, now one can find out who scared and entertained the masses in Boston, Seattle, etc. Prior to that, it was a matter of being in that town on the night a show was on. Visiting my grandparents in Trenton, New Jersey, I tried not to miss Chiller Theatre (WPIX, New York) or Dr. Shock (WPHL, Philadelphia).
I was a freshman at Ball State University in 1988-89, which turned out to be his final season on the air. Instead of going out on Friday nights, doing what college knuckleheads do on Friday nights, I would watch Sammy and George. As a kid, watching Sir Graves Ghastly, he scared me as I watched between fingers. As a teenager, I could respect the impact a horror show host like Sir Graves of Sammy had on an audience. Plus these shows introduced me to a slew of scary films from the classic Universal titles of the 1930s and 1940s to The Horror of Party Beach and other cheap D-Movies, pre-Mystery Science Theatre 3000. Not award winners at Cannes, but fun for a couple of hours on a Friday or Saturday night.
Fast forward many years later and I had the honor of interviewing Bob Carter for the WFYI program The Art of the Matter, back in our old building at 14th and Meridian. He was promoting a television appearance on WTTV 4 and after a few days of playing phone tag, I finally got Bob on the phone. When I asked for an interview, Bob asked “Do you want to talk to me or to Sammy?’ I turned into a child inside, but kept him hidden. I asked if Sammy could make a cameo. “Sure. No problem.” I told myself I would not ask him to do his bread and butter, but I did and with the end results, I’m really glad I did.
Word spread quickly that Sammy Terry would be visiting WFYI. When Bob arrived at the lobby, we shook hands and there were three co-workers were looming around, waiting to meet him. Finally getting him inside the recording studio, I told him we would talk about his career and then I’ll give an obvious cue for Sammy to show up, like I needed to direct this man on how to do something has mastered for decades.
We chat for about 20 minutes. I take a pause and saying thank you for your time and then “Hey, who turned out the lights?” Then came The Laugh. I asked Sammy a few questions, which were interrupted with “Why do you look so scared, Matthew?”
“I’m not scared,” I replied, losing 25 years of my life.
The final question was “What do you know about Bob Carter?”
“Oh, he’s a nut!” followed by joyous laughter.
The interview was over and I asked Bob if he would like a tour of our radio and television buildings which he was happy to do. As we toured both buildings, everyone wanted to meet him. From maintenance to vice presidents, everyone wanted to meet him and they all said a variation of the same thing…”you scared the hell out of me as a child.” Which he absolutely loved, often reacting with The Laugh.
Watching his special a week later, I was reminded that the man could shoot out some creepy monologue for five minutes without a cutaway, on a single take. It was beyond impressive.
Fast forward several years later, where I was doing film reviews on Abdul in the Morning on WXNT. One morning, Sammy was making an appearance on sister station WZPL to promote a live appearance. We were able to get Sammy in studio for a few minutes after the WZPL chat. I remember Bob having difficulty getting in and out of his chair. However, once the microphone was on, he was on. This might have been one of Bob’s last stints as Sammy. Soon after, Bob’s son Mark took over the character with his dad’s blessing. Go to sammyterrynightmares.com and you can see a son’s tribute to a father that’s just perfect.
I am proud to say I have passed on the legacy of Sammy Terry to my own daughter, who is 11. Talking to fans my age, some remember just being flat out scared at the character and some remember the shtick. My daughter, being of her generation, is well aware of the balance and can appreciate the character. When she was younger, I often told her about keeping people and ideas in your head and your heart. Sammy Terry is in both.
While Matthew’s out of town, here’s a review…
AT ANY PRICE - I walked in with the wrong idea of what this farmland drama was all about. Farmer Dennis Quaid has two sons that he could pass the land onto. The land has been this family’s for several generations, you know. The one practical son is out of the picture travelling the world which leads the other son (Zac Efron) who just wants to drive fast, raise hell, drink beer and mash with his girlfriend.
OK, dad and son not getting along in the corn fields. I thought at first this film was bucking for a Truly Moving Picture award. Boy, was I wrong. Within the first half-hour we have a few choices words and boy/girl scenes in cars that corrected my original idea. As the film continues, we learn Quaid is having an affair with a younger woman (Heather Graham) and he has questionable business practices.
Without giving away too much, the film goes down a dark path in the final third of the film. We’re talking MYSTIC RIVER dark. Not saying it’s at the level of MYSITC RIVER, but it has the feeling of a Shakespearian tragedy. Much to the film’s credit, it doesn’t let go of it’s dark grip in the final scene. The film isn’t perfect (a couple subplots are unfulfilling) This film will upset long-time Zac Efron fans (he’s got a away to go as an actor, but at least this isn’t 17 AGAIN) and it’s not the most uplifting film in the world. However, I have to give it major kudos for sticking to its guns and not letting up. So far, the biggest surprise of the film year.
The Film Yap’s 2013 Summer Movie Preview
Y’all love it- it’s the Film Yap’s 2013 Summer Movie Preview with Christopher Lloyd joined by special guests Richard Propes, Bob Bloom, Matthew Socey and Edward Johnson-Ott
WHAT DID MATT WATCH THIS WEEK?
CRUMB (1995) – Out of respect to Roger Ebert. One of the few films he provided commentary for, an excellent documentary about artist R. Crumb, his work and his family. A valentine to alternative art and a film that makes you feel better about your own family. We hope.
HOWARDS END (1992) – Out of respect for screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, who died last week. One of the best of the Merchant-Ivory films, a complex drama of two families from two different sides of the tracks whose paths cross intentionally and unintentionally. Well-deserved Oscars for Emma Thompson (Best Actress) and Jhabvala for her screenplay adaptation. If one is a fan of DOWNTON ABBEY and hasn’t seen this film, get on it. Look out, Coby.
JAI ETE AU BAL (1989) – Out of respect for documentary filmmaker Les Blank, who died last week. Fascinating, insightful documentary about the history of Cajun and Zydeco music and its culture in Louisiana. Excellent music footage. Makes me want to punch Adam Sandler’s Cajun Man even harder.
PETULA (1968) – Very good drama with George C. Scott (divorced doctor) and Julie Christie (socialite married to cad Richard Chamberlin) and a non-linear look at their relationship. Directed by Richard Lester, cinematographer Nicholas Roeg capture late 60s San Francisco unlike any other film. Fans of non-linear films (PULP FICTION, ANNIE HALL) should check this out.