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Category Archives: Video

Everybody Loves a Clown

Here’s an interesting New York Times article on the Internet-age rediscovery of 1969 short Winter of the Witch and obscure elementary school-screened shorts of long ago. I posted this on my Facebook profile yesterday and it prompted some good discussion — which led me to seek out my ‘Winter of the Witch’ equivalent, a short I saw in the first or second grade about a boy who loses his dog. The film was screened for multiple classes at an assembly, so we knew it was important. I remembered that it had no dialogue, seemed vaguely European, and had an ending so monumentally sad and puzzling that it left me crying for the rest of the day!

Well, some brief snooping around has located the identity of that long lost film memory: Clown, a 1968 French short written and directed by Richard Balducci. The ending still pisses me off, but on the whole it’s a charming little bit of melancholy filled with some great scenery of Montmartre in the springtime. Those French really know how to manipulate, don’t they (sniff, sniff)?

Here and Now

Today’s video is the 1991 short film Here, based on the Richard McGuire comic first published in Raw Vol. 2, No. 1 in 1989. McGuire’s influential comic explores a home’s various occupants while staying focused on one living room corner. It jumps around in time (often multiple times within a single panel), depicting the various, sometimes banal events that happen in that space. The film nicely captures some of the poignancy of the graphic version. Color me gobsmacked that somebody attempted filming it in the first place! Via Robot 6, who gives more background on the original comic’s awesomeness.

The No. 1 Song in Heaven

Spent the last few days getting reacquainted with a great ’80s album, Savage by the Eurythmics. This one blew me away when it came out in 1987, then my CD copy got stolen by a family member in the Great Theft of 1993. Hearing it now, I’ve noticed the disc does contain a few mediocre tracks (“Wide Eyed Girl” is just annoying), but it’s never been topped as a vehicle for the fabulous pipes of Annie Lennox. She’s in peak form here, assured but not yet the overly-stylized diva she’d become during the solo years. Savage also about a hundred times more risky than what came before (the shrill Revenge) or after (the slick/commercial We Too Are One). I can see why Eurythmics fans treasure this particular album.

One of the most interesting aspects of Savage is the fact that Lennox and Dave Stewart teamed with director Sophie Muller (and a few others) to film videos for all dozen of the album’s tracks. The resulting video album was one of the earliest examples of its type. The clip below, “Heaven,” is one of my favorites. I could totally picture it being played on the runway at a swanky ’80s fashion show:

Wrath of Kahn

Today’s video comes via The Obscurity Factor: a rare pilot for a 1986 sitcom starring Madeline Kahn. Chameleon has a lovely looking Kahn playing a wacky lady who can mimic her way out of any situation. It’s a talent which annoys her nagging mother (Nina Foch), but seems to impress a TV station manager (Henry Jones) into giving her a spot assisting a blowhard TV host (George Wyner). Fluffy as all get out, but Kahn is a joy to watch. She’s better cast here than in Oh Madeline, the 1983-84 sitcom which (from what I dimly recall) unsuccessfully tried to mold Kahn into Lucille Ball-like slapstick. Chameleon aired on ABC in the summer, as part of a series that burned off TV pilots which the network didn’t pick up. For lost ’80s sitcom fans, it’s a treat.

While we’re celebrating the fabboo Ms. Kahn, why not enjoy her performing “Getting Married Today” from Company? This was from a 1993 Sondheim tribute that aired on PBS.

It’s a Mod, Mod World

Just a note to say that I’ve posted my little piece at Joyce Compton News & Notes about the Marian Marsh/Warren William Pre-Code flick Under 18 and Joyce’s brief appearance in it. Please check it out!

Today’s video comes via The Video Beat, an online retailer of offbeat ’50s and ’60s video. This is French Ye-Ye singer Sylvie Vartan in a Japanese commercial for a mod clothing purveyor called Renown. Dig that groovy Op Art:

Think Different

Earlier today I watched the 1970 Syd and Marty Krofft opus Pufnstuf, the theatrical feature based on their psychedelic Saturday morning show. I vaguely remember seeing this movie a long, long time ago. The story revolves around a boy named Jimmy (Jack Wild) as he journeys to Living Island, a land of talking animals, trees, clocks and other objects presided over by the Southern-accented dragon named H.R. Pufnstuf. The characters spend most of the time evading the evil Witchiepoo (wonderfully hyper Billie Hayes) as she attempts to steal Jimmy’s talking flute, Freddy. This is about as weird as you’d expect, shrill and directed in a jumpy, disjointed manner that doesn’t hold up too well. It is worth a look for the wild production and costume design, however. Probably the most impressive part of the film is Charles Fox and Norman Gimbel’s groovy music, a highlight of which comes when Cass Elliot (as a witch) lends her soaring alto to an ode to individuality called “Different.” It’s a strangely touching moment in a film that otherwise goes down like two dozen boxes of Lucky Charms.

Another thing I noticed — Trey Parker and Matt Stone totally based South Park‘s Towlie on Freddy the Flute. Even the voices are the same! Onward to our musical entertainment: