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Saturday, July 2, 2016

The Writer's Life 7/2 - Pedigrees

When I was a kid way back in the 50's and 60's, one of the most notorious films mentioned in our discussions was High School Confidential! (1958), which somehow I, a movie buff, had never seen. I finally caught up to it last night, courtesy of Netflix. It was not as bad as I'd feared and different from what I'd expected. I thought it would be episodic, a lurid series of incidents. While it was that to an extent, it's major focus was the growing drug usage among teenagers. Most of the action in the second half occurs outside the school. Of course, the hipster dialogue seems silly in retrospect, and describing marijuana as addictive and a gateway drug is passe or, at least, debatable. It's always amusing to see actors well into their 20's playing teenagers. That's the way it was at the time. The talent pool of the very young wasn't as large as it is now. I was never bored, the running time less than 90 minutes. Was it sincere in its cautionary theme or simply exploitation? A little of both, in my view. Although it is always fun to see the bodacious Mamie Van Doren fill the screen, her part as Russ Tamblyn's "auntie" was ridiculous, superfluous. Both of those stalwarts are still alive and kicking. Tamblyn will appear in the reboot of Twin Peaks, which is in post production. He is the father of Amber Tamblyn, who is in the midst of a successful career, 47 credits listed under her name at IMDb. His brother Larry was a founding member of the Standells, whose Dirty Water peaked at #11 on the Billboard Chart in '66. Van Doren, 85, has been married five times. She was known as The Blond Bombshell and wrote an autobiography, Playing the Field. Since 1962 she has been married to Randy Starks, a founding member of The New Christy Minstrels. The most interesting common denominator of High School Confidential! is the pedigree of its cast. The late Jackie Coogan, the major villain, known to baby boomers as Uncle Festus of The Addams Family, made his first silver screen appearance in 1917, and his career lasted until 1984. His cohort in the flick, Lyle Talbot, amassed 332 credits in his long run. John Drew Barrymore, the son of the great John Barrymore, is the father of Drew Barrymore. He was rebellious, his career derailed by drug use. He wound up living in isolation in a mountain cabin, and dying at 72, his daughter paying his medical bills. Given the long, amusing soliloquy on Columbus he delivered in HSC!, he was talented and not simply trading on his family name. Charles Chaplin Jr., who had a minor role, had an even tougher act to follow -- son of the most famous, beloved man in the world. He has only 14 credits. He died at 43. Jan Sterling, who played a teacher, always garnered glowing reviews but fell short of entering the top tier among her peers. She was a descendant of John and John Quincy Adams. Michael Landon played a clean cut member of the football team. Jerry Lee Lewis appeared, belting out a couple of songs. The men behind the scenes also had successful careers. Jack Arnold, a master of the B movie, directed. He was at the helm of Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) and Revenge of the Creature (1955), as well other horror classics. Robert Blees and Lewis Meltzer received writing credit. Meltzer, who has 34 credits under his name, wrote the screenplay for another drug addiction story, The Man with the Golden Arm (1955), which starred Frank Sinatra and Kim Novak. Blees has 45 credits, many in TV, among them Colombo, Airwolf and Flamingo Road . I love this stuff.

The Knicks continued what looks like a very successful off-season, signing Center Joakim Noah, a former running mate on the Bulls of the recently acquired Derrick Rose. He is the type of feisty, high energy player whom fans will love. I doubt this is a championship roster, but I'll be surprised if the team doesn't make the playoffs, barring injuries.

Last night Mets rookie Brandon Nimmo, recently promoted from the minors, hit his first major league homer against the Cubs, who the Amazin's seem to have the number of. If the young outfielder has a long career in the Big Apple, he may one day be Captain Nimmo. Sorry, couldn't resist. After all, this blog has literary pretensions.

My thanks to Jack of Chase, who bought a thriller by Carl Hiaasen, to the woman who bought 

Personhood: The Art of Being Fully Human by Dr. Leo Buscaglia, and author Bill Brown (Words and Guitar, A History of Lou Reed's Music), who bought a collection of Mark Twain short stories. Last week he bought Michael Crichton's The Terminal Man, which led him to research the author, who was a skeptic on global warming. Bill has become a convert. Welcome aboard, sir. 

Vic's Short Works:
Vic's 5th Novel:'s 4th novel:
Vic's 3rd Novel:
Vic's Short Story on Kindle:
Vic's Short Story Collection:
Vic's 2nd Novel: Kindle:
Vic's 1st Novel:

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