Stories and insight in the world of showbiz and beyond.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007


I’m ashamed to say that I don’t watch a lot of shows on television. For a guy who spent over 50 years in the “biz” (thousands of TV shows), that is a shameful confession. On the other hand, I did one (ONLY ONE?) movie (The Patsy), and feature films became my favorite visual entertainment. I remember the first time I ever saw a feature film on TV, I was mesmerized. It was so unbelievable that one could actually sit at home and WATCH AN ENTIRE MOVIE.

Here’s something that will blow your movie watching mind. In the early days of TV, the promise of seeing an “entire” movie was not always true. Movies, with their widely different running times, created problems for local television programming staffs. For example, what does one do with a movie that has a running time of 1 hour and 30-minutes and it has to fit into a 1 hour and 30-minute program slot with 12 1-minutes commercial breaks? You won’t believe this, but some stations just KEPT THE MOVIE RUNNING while the commercials were playing. Made the movie fit in perfectly.


I said you wouldn't believe it. In the late 50s I was staff announcer at KCOP-TV in Los Angeles and I will swear to the fact that this was a very common practice. But, you know what was the most unbelievable part? The audience never seemed to figure it out. Many did suspect that the movie was leaving out some important points, like the time where the star was killed and everyone wondered what happened to him, but, they watched anyway. People were so hungry for TV programming in those days, they would watch the test pattern (if you're too young to remember test patterns, let me tell you they were really neat to watch).

I got on this subject of watching movies on TV because I think I have invented a new movie surfing technique that I call the “TV Movie Roulette Wheel.” It works like this. After dinner I go into the den and turn on the set. I take my remote and start at the bottom of the movie channel listing. I just start spinning the wheel (clicking the remote). When I find a movie that interests me (Criteria for "interests me:" A great movie I’ve already seen many times), I stop, settle back, and watch it to the end. I don’t have to see the beginning because I already know it by heart. Now, of course to make this work, you have to have a very long list of favorite movies so you are never disappointed in finding just the right one. A movie you know so well you can lip-sync the dialogue along with the actors.

Example. A few nights ago I hit the jackpot when the wheel stopped at Absolute Power, with Clint Eastwood. This is a real thriller and I never tire of watching it. After I had watched about ten minutes, my wife Barbara came in to the room and said, Absolute Power? When did it start?” I said “Who cares?” Barbara sat down and we watched it to the end (for about the tenth time). Great film.

But, my all time roulette movie favorite is Casablanca. If I land on that movie, there is no way I can possibly turn it off. I know every line. At the end of the movie when Claude Reins walks through the fog with Humphrey Bogart, I can't help lip-syncing "Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."


Speaking of Bogey. Our unbelievably wonderful parakeet says so clearly, “Here’s looking at you kid.” Then he says, "My name is Humphrey Bogart." What do we call our little fine feathered person? "Bogey.”


The original Die Hard is also a must-stay-with-it-to-the-end favorite. I remember seeing that movie with Barbara at a screening on the 20th Century-Fox movie lot before it was released. After watching the skyscraper in the film almost completely destroyed, we left the lot, turned the corner, and there it was ... the same building; still standing right there in Century City. And, without a dent in sight. As we drove by I couldn't help but imagine machine gun fire coming from the top. I think of the movie every time I drive by that building. Hooray for Hollywood!

I admit that coming in at the middle of a movie dates me a bit. Back when I was a kid in Toledo, Ohio and went to movies with my parents or my buddies, we never (EVER) planned on coming in at the beginning of a movie. You went to a movie when you went to a movie and just walked in and sat down. You would see the movie to the end and then wait through a newsreel, a cartoon, the coming attractions and sometimes a Flash Gordon serial, AND, a second FULL feature, before the original movie came back on. You watched that movie until someone in the group said, “This is where we came in.” You stood up, excused yourself, and left. Does any one remember doing that? Does anyone ever say, “This is where we came in” anymore.” Man! Am I getting nostalgic, or what?

Hey! While I'm on the subject, remember the Drive In Theater? Ever drive away and pull off the speaker ? (CLICK HERE FOR THE USUAL WARNING).

I should do a blog on the drive-in theater. Got some great stories. Later, perhaps.


I’m ashamed to say that I don’t watch a lot of television shows …

"This is where we came in."

Stay tuned.



Blogger Gary said...

I may be a few years younger than you, Uncle Lloyd, but I remember everything you mentioned! The local stations here used to keep the movies playing thru the commercials and it would drive my parents crazy! Didn't bother me none....I was just a kid.
And I also remember going to the movies while "the show" was playing and staying until it came on again and watching until "this is where we came in". Ahhh, yes...the good old days. I remember my parents giving us kids $1 each......the bus was 15 cents one way, movie ticket was 25 cents, candy bars were 5 cents (even in the theater), soda pop was 10 or 15 cents, popcorn about the same.....and there was change left and we better give it back to mom or pop when we got home, too, because they want the change back!
I believe the first movie I ever saw in the theaters was Elvis' BLUE HAWAII......yep, I was 5 when I got to tag along with my brother and the neighbors. I also remember seeing GET YOURSELF A COLLEGE GIRL with the Animals and Dave Clark Five (and Mary Ann Mobley....purrrrrrrrr), HORROR OF PARTY BEACH (I had nightmares forever!), and others. Now THOSE were classics!! HA HA HA
How about the other cliquers....what are your stories as a kid and movies?

7:27 PM

Blogger Lauren said...

I don't remember movies playing through commercial breaks. I guess I grew up in the time when the idea was to stretch the movie out and stuff it with as many commercials as possible. Often they were the 2 minute variety to sell you a Ronco Veg-a-matic. Made it hard to get engrossed in a movie. Sometimes they were good ones like LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN or DAVID COPPERFIELD...I once saw Bob Costas on his old late night talk show. He had Siskel and Ebert on and asked them if they had a 'guilty pleasure' movie. This would be a not so good movie, but it was a movie that if you came upon it, no matter how late at night you were absolutely compelled to watch it to the end! I don't remember if they had an answer, but I remember Bob's! His was CHAMPAGNE FOR CAESAR!! Here I thought I was the only one who really loved that film. It's worth it to see Vincent Price in a scene chewing comic role...
Anyhow Lloyd, that's a little like your Movie Roulette. Anyone have a movie like that?
Mine is THE GAUNTLET another from Clint Eastwood.


9:16 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Lloyd,
My Friends and I always enjoyed the double features especially on Saturdays when the theater had drawings for door prizes handed out to the lucky kids between the movies!

I was one of the group from Long Beach that enjoyed dancing on your show several times all those years ago. We would pile into a few cars and head up to Channel 13, dance, laugh then head for the Big Boy for dinner. I even won a pair of shoes! What great memories for all of us to have for more than 40 years!Can't wait for the DVD!

7:39 AM

Blogger Jake Hollywood said...

All the classics are great, but when you find yourself watching Tokyo Joe or Key Largo when they come on the tube and mouthing the dialog for every character in every scene, then you know you have issues.

And don't even get me started on watching classic western serials or I'm liable to go to my closet and whip out my Jock Mahoney Range Rider six-shooter and blast ya.

2:02 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gary you and I share alot of thesame movies ..My first movie was'nt Blue Hawaii but another Elvis flick " It Happened The Worlds Fair " .....I think Blue Hawaii had beter songs ....but I remember walking in during the middle of the movie ....I remember those movie Marathons like all the Bond films or Our Man Flint films to date.....the candy like Flickas .....or those hot dogs in the silver wrapper.....TERRIBLE movies like WILD ANGELS or DONT MAKE WAVES .......but most of all I remember the fun times when your entire neighborhood would show up .......It seemed like one got alot for .50 back then.......and come to think about it YOU DID !!!!

9:19 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Right on, Lloyd.

3:52 PM

Blogger serial catowner said...

OMG I have actually watched the test pattern! But not as bad as the guy who smoked some pot, and then kept telling us we had to come see this really great show on tv- that's right, it was the test pattern.

My movie roulette involves finding two or three shows and then changing the channel every time a commercial comes on. Pays double on every hour watched without seeing a commercial.

But it doesn't work for The Music Man because my favorite number in that show is the opening scene on the train. Finally had to buy a dvd.

6:20 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too cannot wait for the DVD Lloyd. Looking forward to it.


12:02 PM

Blogger Mike Barer said...

Here in Seattle area, there is one Drive-in still open in the South King County town of Auburn. You listen on your car radio instead of a drive-in speaker. Deb and I try to go to at least one movie every summer. It's always good to pick a bad movie to watch.

11:06 PM

Blogger daniel said...

I don't even have my TV hooked up to cable anymore...I was paying 50 bucks a month to not watch it...I figured i could do just as well by paying zero bucks to not watch it...All that's on seems to be reality TV and shows that show how the killer done it...I don't know which is more disturbing....Watching the unreality of reality TV unfold...Or watching a television show give great "how to" lessons to our nations future killers and mayhem makers.

5:25 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Daniel:

It's too bad you didn't get hung up on my favorite channel,TMC, Turner Movie Classics - a really classic act (pun intended). This one channel alone makes spending the money worthwhile.

But, then again, I'm an old-movie junkie (I break into my wife's piggy bank to support my habit).


8:47 AM

Blogger Jake Hollywood said...

And like you Lloyd, I'm a big fan of TMC and AMC , which also does classic movies every weekend. I'd take an old movie over most new ones any day. I guess that's the romantic in me.

3:15 PM


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