CineSavant Column

Tuesday November 10, 2020


 Um, I guess I have no choice but to admit that this is Halloween material I couldn’t get to in the general rush a week ago. Gary Teetzel sent me a link to a vintage TV variety show on YouTube, that was pointed out last week by Bob Furmanek. Previously seen but apparently never in color, it’s a 1968 Red Skelton Show. At about 8:50 in begins a skit called He Who Steals My Robot Steals Trash, with none other than Boris Karloff and Vincent Price (who show up at about 13 minutes in). It’s great just seeing Karloff up and about, even if his legs look more bowed than ever. Don’t expect it to be funny, just nostalgic. Gary:

“To put it kindly, the comedy sketches have not aged well at all; they’re fairly excruciating. Karloff plays his part more or less straight. Price hams it up outrageously even by his standards, bravely compensating for the feeble script. I was slightly surprised to see Karloff doing so much walking in the sketch, considering his poor health. He allegedly rehearsed in a wheelchair, but was afraid audiences would feel sorry for him. I only feel sorry for him because of the script.”

The pair sing afterwards, which isn’t good either. But hey, it’s Karloff and Price. An earlier dance number gives us ‘Do You Know the Way to San Jose?’ in complete Bob Fosse style … sort of.

  Gary also sends along a B&W Red Skelton episode from 1965 with guest star Fred Gwynne in character as Herman Munster. Skelton is naturally funny, but these awful jokes are not. Red calls Fred “a reject from the Twilight Zone” at one point. The show also features Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas: Red Skelton Hour with Fred Gwynne. The skit ‘Ta-Ra-Ra-Bum Today’ begins at about eleven minutes in, but don’t miss those deadly musical dance numbers.


We also offer a link to a soon-to-begin online Noir City: International film festival. Yes, thanks to a certain worldwide public health debacle that has made us all unpaid extras in a bad re-run of Contagion, this year’s traveling Noir City exhibition was rudely interrupted. In fact, the last public event I attended, just before the lockdown axe fell in March, was a Los Angeles showing of an Argentinian noir at Noir City. The news about Covid was just sinking in. When we saw the packed crowd at the reception we went straight home, skipping the free margaritas being offered. Yes, it was that serious.

The explanatory page makes participating fairly simple. Instead of being limited to a few urban venues, the festival will be accessible to aspiring noir fans everywhere within reach of the Internet. Many more people will have access to the rare and special films being shown.

The dates are from November 23 to 29, just three days away by my (faulty) calculations. It works something like the big theater version — you buy a full pass or tickets to individual pictures.

And in case I missed something, take a look at the other ‘noir’- related activities at the main Film Noir Foundation Page.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson