Beginning with Charlie Chaplin’s Shoulder Arms, released in America near the end of World War I, the military comedy film has been one of Hollywood’s most durable genres. This generously illustrated history examines over 225 Army, Navy and Marine–related comedies produced between 1918 and 2009, including the abundance of laughspinners released during World War II in the wake of Abbott and Costello’s phenomenally successful Buck Privates (1941), and the many lighthearted service films of the immediate postwar era, among them Mister Roberts (1955) and No Time for Sergeants (1958). Also included are discussions of such subgenres as silent films (The General), military-academy farces (Brother Rat), women in uniform (Private Benjamin), misfits making good (Stripes), anti-war comedies (MASH), and fact-based films (The Men Who Stare at Goats). A closing filmography is included in this richly detailed volume.
Since the first baseball movie (Little Sunset) in 1915, Hollywood has had an on-again, off-again affair with the sport, releasing more than 100 films through 2001. This is a filmography of those films. Each entry contains full cast and credits, a synopsis, and a critique of the movie. Behind-the-scenes and background information is included, and two sections cover baseball shorts and depictions of the game in non-baseball films. An extensive bibliography completes the work.
Most film buffs know that Citizen Kane was based on the life of publisher William Randolph Hearst. But few are aware that key characters in films like Double Indemnity, Cool Hand Luke, Jaws, Rain Man, A Few Good Men and Zero Dark Thirty were inspired by actual persons. This survey of à clef characters covers a selection of fictionalized personalities, beginning with the Silent Era. The landmark lawsuit surrounding Rasputin and the Empress (1932) introduced disclaimers in film credits, assuring audiences that characters were not based on real people—even when they were. Entries cover screen incarnations of Wyatt Earp, Al Capone, Bing Crosby, Amelia Earhart, Buster Keaton, Howard Hughes, Janis Joplin and Richard Nixon, along with the inspirations behind perennial favorites like Charlie Chan and Indiana Jones.
H.R. Pufnstuf, Lidsville, Sigmund and the Sea Monsters, Land of the Lost: For a generation of children growing up in the late sixties and early seventies, these were some of the most memorable shows on Saturday morning television. At a time when television cartoons had lost some of their luster, two puppeteers named Sid and Marty Krofft put together a series of shows that captivated children. Using colorful sets and mysterious lands full of characters that had boundless energy, the Kroffts created a new form of children’s television, rooted in the medium’s earliest shows but nevertheless original in its concept. This work first provides a history of the Kroffts’ pretelevision career, then offers discussions of their 11 Saturday morning shows. Complete cast and credit information is enhanced by interviews with many of the actors and actresses, behind-the-scenes information, print reviews of the series, and plot listings of the individual episodes. The H.R. Pufnstuf feature film, the brothers’ other television work, and their short-lived indoor theme park are also detailed.
There was a time when “American popular entertainment” referred only to radio and motion pictures. With the coming of talking pictures, Hollywood cashed in on the success of big-time network radio by bringing several of the public’s favorite broadcast personalities and programs to the screen. The results, though occasionally successful, often proved conclusively that some things are better heard than seen. Concentrating primarily on radio’s Golden Age (1926–1962), this lively history discusses the cinematic efforts of airwave stars Rudy Vallee, Amos ’n’ Andy, Fred Allen, Joe Penner, Fibber McGee & Molly, Edgar Bergen, Lum & Abner, and many more. Also analyzed are the movie versions of such radio series as The Shadow, Dr. Christian and The Life of Riley. In addition, two recent films starring contemporary radio headliners Howard Stern and Garrison Keillor are given their due.