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Some of Mister Boomer’s Favorites of 2016

It’s the New Year, traditionally a time to look back in reflection and ahead with hope. In that spirit, please enjoy some of Mister B’s hand-picked favorites from 2016.

Boomers and Torn Jeans: The Evolution from Time-to-Replace to High Fashion
Our mothers fretted over our torn “dungarees” only to find a decade later that torn jeans were part of the fashion scene.

Boomers Twisted the Night Away
Mister Boomer explored the origin of the Twist.

Boomers Loved Gene Pitney Songs
Early to mid-boomers probably count Gene Pitney among their favorite singers of the ’60s.

Boomers Heard the Quotes of Their History
We were there, man!

Boomers Benefited from Space Products
Are you aware of space technology in your everyday lives?

Boomers Will Recall 1966
Fifty years ago from the year that just passed, the times they were a’-changin’.

Boomer Comparison: Drug Stores Then and Now
The local pharmacy sure has changed since we were boomer kids. Here is a comparison.

Boomers and Bikinis Just Went Together
The role of the bikini in boomer-era movies is iconic and undeniably modern for the time.

Boomers Have Lived Through Many Eves of Destruction
The song reverberates even today.

Boomers Gladly Went Where No One Had Gone Before
2016 marked the fiftieth anniversary of the original Star Trek on TV.

Boomers’ Diets Have Changed Over 50 Years
Boomers watched the era of convenience foods enter the picture, and the American diet.

Boomers Saw Their Lives in “The Flintstones”
The technology employed in The Flintstones mimicked the space-age devices that were common in boomer households. The major difference was instead of electrically-powered devices, the action of the devices was powered by animals.

Here’s to another great year, and hoping your 2017 is boomer-ific!

posted by Mister B in Fashion,Film & Movies,Food & Beverage,Fun,Getting Older,Music,Pop Culture History,Space,TV,Uncategorized and have Comments Off on Some of Mister Boomer’s Favorites of 2016

Boomers Loved Troll Dolls

If you are a mid- to late-boomer, you probably remember troll dolls, the weird-faced creatures with crazy hair that stood up. They were around in the mid-60s and reappeared each decade after until the 1990s. The story is, though, the original maker was copied and most of the imitators commandeered the eighties and nineties. It was boomers who had the best access to the originals.

Now Disney has decided to take up the troll doll banner and will be releasing a Trolls movie this coming week. You can already see the blitz of toys and collateral merchandise growing on TV commercials in anticipation of what they must believe will be a blockbuster franchise.

As early as the 1930s, Thomas Dam, a Danish fisherman and former bricklayer and baker, created the doll for his daughter one Christmas because he couldn’t afford a present. He fashioned the doll from his imagination, carving the face and body out of wood, with inset glass eyes and sheep skin pieces for hair. Clothes were sewn for the doll, increasing its already unique qualities. Other people saw the doll and asked Dam to make one for their children. By 1959, the doll was being manufactured by the Dam Things Company and sold in Europe. It was made from rubber filled with wood shavings, but retained the original sheep skin hair.

Trolls originated in Norse mythology hundreds of years ago. They became part of the legends of Scandinavia and Northern Europe. Trolls were a non-human race that have been depicted as everything from human-like dwarves to., more often, giants. They resided in caves and dark places near stones, and were known for their skillful work with stone and metal. They sometimes have magical powers attributed to them, and could be oafish and evil or cunning and devious, but rarely were they ever helpful to humans. In most stories, trolls would turn to stone if exposed to sunlight.

The troll doll, called a Dam Doll, made its way to the U.S. in the fall of 1963 and was an instant success. Called Good Luck Trolls, they were produced by the millions in a wide range of sizes, from three inches high to more than a foot tall. The body was made of plastic and the hair, now a synthetic product, was dyed a variety of colors, most often bright orange or blue. The dolls appeared clothed in a variety of outfits or could be sans apparel. Boomer girls would brush the troll’s hair like they did with their Barbie dolls. To the best of Mister Boomer’s recollection, his sister did not have a troll doll. Nor did Mister B have any incarnation of troll paraphernalia.

Mister Boomer recalls seeing them everywhere, from the small ones inside gum machines to the popular six inch models (which did not include another four or five inches of hair) at the discount stores. Whole mythologies grew around the dolls, from assigning them sinister properties to calling them good luck charms. Older boomers had them hanging from keychains and car rearview mirrors.

Many companies copied the troll and sold them in a vast array of products, from coloring books to comics; dolls to TV shows. There was an attempt to bring back trolls in the 1990s, but it failed to catch the interest of the public. In 2005 Dam Things reclaimed control of the copyright and shut down the operation of its many imitators. In 2013 Dam sold the rights to use the troll image and name to Dreamworks, which was later purchased by Disney, paving the way for the upcoming movie.

Did you or someone on your family jump on the troll doll fad, boomers? Did you find them cute or ugly?

posted by Mister B in Film & Movies,Fun,Getting Older,Pop Culture History,Toys and have Comment (1)

Boomer Movie History in the Making — 1966

We all live through historic moments every day, yet it can be difficult to make that realization at the time. We boomers have lived through so many historic events that it’s difficult for us to NOT see our connection to the history as it was being made. For example, there is probably not a person who was living on the planet at the time who does not remember where they were when the Big Bopper’s plane went down; John Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy were shot; or when Neil Armstrong first set foot on the moon.

So it came as a bit of a surprise to Mister Boomer that he was not all that aware of the historical and cultural significance the motion picture industry was making during the 1960s, and especially fifty years ago, in 1966.

The industry has always been subjected to the same laws as any other person or industry, but in addition, has self-regulated in terms of moral values. The Motion Picture Code of 1930 (Hays Code) was put together and adopted by The Association of Motion Picture Producers, Inc. and The Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America, Inc. It detailed what would be deemed acceptable in movies from signing members. It strived to assure movies would not “lower the moral standards of those who see it,” nor would their films ridicule the law, justify revenge (in modern times) or glorify brutality, among other things. Films were already subject to the decency laws of the time.

These standards were in effect until 1966, when they were revised. Instead of explicitly banning certain types of actions, the new code suggested restraint. The pursuit of virtue and rejection of sin was still encouraged. It eliminated the outright prohibition of kissing that could be deemed “lustful,” and ultimately recommended a label of “suggested for mature audiences” be attached to certain films to let parents know a film may not be proper for their children — or for themselves, for that matter.

The first 1966 film tagged with the Mature Audiences label was Georgy Girl, only a month after the new revisions were adopted. Nowadays the film would probably be labelled a PG-13, but at the time the adult story line was considered bold and raised more than a few eyebrows. The plot tells of a young woman living with a promiscuous — and pregnant — friend. Georgy is a bit of a regular type, and doesn’t get much male attention until a friend of her father’s — a much older man than she — offers to set her up in an apartment in exchange for becoming his mistress. At the same time, the young man responsible for impregnating her roommate marries the girl and moves into their apartment. Soon he shows an interest in Georgy, too, since she is more interested in the soon-to-arrive baby than her roommate. Georgy is left with all sorts of moral reckoning. The title song of the film is probably recognizable to most boomers. The movie was nominated for four Academy Awards, and Lynn Redgrave won the Oscar for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical. The song Georgy Girl was nominated for an Oscar, but lost to Born Free. It was released as a single by The Seekers in 1967.

Another groundbreaking film of 1966 was Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow Up. Industry standard bearers demanded the director make cuts, but Antonioni refused. The film was released by MGM but did not have the industry seal of approval. Consequently, it was the first American film to display full-frontal female nudity.

That same year, Whose Afraid of Virginia Woolf? was the first American film release to contain profane expletives and frank sexual content. Meanwhile, Gulf & Western purchased Paramount Studios, making it the first of many multi-national conglomerates to take over a Hollywood studio.

When Otto Preminger’s Anatomy of a Murder (1959) was purchased for distribution on television in 1966, Preminger sought an injunction against Columbia Pictures Corporation and Screen Gems, Inc. to prevent them from editing the film to inject commercial air time. The court ruled that the producer had the rights to final cut and editing for theatrical releases only, and had therefore no say in the editing of a television airing.

Mister Boomer was an early teen, but nonetheless saw some of these films. His father took the kids to the drive-in movies at least once a month, when his mother had her club meetings. He completely recalls seeing Georgy Girl, but admits that at the time had no idea what was going on.

He went on to see many memorable films of 1966, both in theaters and at the drive-in. Among them:

The Silencers, the first Dean Martin James Bond spy spoof. Mister B went on to see all three of the Matt Helm films with Brother Boomer.

Batman: the Movie, where Adam West took the zaniness of the TV show to the movies. How could a boomer who loved the TV show not see this one?

Fantastic Voyage and One Million Years B.C., where Rachel Welch left an indelible mark on young Mister B’s life.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, which was directed by the same Richard Lester who had earlier done A Hard Day’s Night. It made Mister B a lifelong fan of Zero Mostel and Jack Gifford.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly with Eli Wallach immediately became among Mister B’s favorite westerns of all time, and still is.

The Sand Pebbles and Nevada Smith, both starring Steve McQueen, became instant classics in Mister B’s mind. He still recalls scenes and dialogue from those movies he saw at the local drive-in.

There were many more memorable films of 1966, including:

Born Free
Alfie
A Man for All Seasons
Fahrenheit 451
Torn Curtain
The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming!
What’s Up Tiger Lily?
The Fortune Cookie
The Glass Bottom Boat
Is Paris Burning?
Our Man Flint
Modesty Blaise

… among others

Imagine what movies might be like today were it not for these pioneering films of fifty years ago. What are your favorite movies of 1966, boomers?

posted by Mister B in Film & Movies and have Comments Off on Boomer Movie History in the Making — 1966

Boomers and Bikinis Just Went Together

July 5th marks the 70th anniversary of the introduction of the modern bikini. Though mosaics and wall paintings reveal that women wore two-piece costumes in Roman times around 300 A.D., and as far back as 1600 B.C. in Minoa, it is Louis Reard who is considered the father of the modern bikini.

The French engineer introduced his “bikini” on July 5, 1946. He named it after the atomic test of the Bikini atoll in the Marshall Islands because he expected it would generate a burst of excitement equal to the atomic test. Little did he know bikinis would play a starring role in many movies of the Boomer Generation. Many are part of the classic moments of film from the era. Here are just a few:

Brigitte Bardo: The Girl in the Bikini (1952); And God Created Woman (1956); et al
When the bikini was introduced in 1946, it did not receive a warm welcome in the fashion world, especially in the United States. Some say it was the image of Brigitte Bardo wearing bikinis in various movies through the 1950s and ’60s that changed a few minds. Although the actress took on many types of roles that showcased her acting range, she was the Sports Illustrated swimsuit model before there were SI swimsuit issues. Many boomer boys spied their first bikini as worn by Brigitte Bardo in movie magazines borrowed from their fathers’ collections.

Ursula Andress: Dr. No (1962)
When James Bond (Sean Connery) sees Ursula Andress rise from the ocean in a white bikini with a diving knife strapped to her hip, even he had to pause. The scene became so iconic that it has been repeated and parodied ever since, including Halle Berry’s reinterpretation of the scene, rising out of the ocean in an orange bikini in Die Another Day (2002).

Annette Funicello: Beach Party (1963); Bikini Beach (1964); How to Stuff a Wild Bikini (1965); et al
Beach movies hit the boomer scene from 1963 to 1968. Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon, previously of Mouseketeer fame, were recruited to play a teenage version of the Doris Day/Rock Hudson movies … on the beach. Annette Funicello’s bikini was a two piece in name only. It was stipulated by contract with Walt Disney that she not be allowed to show her belly button, so some would say her swimwear in the movies was downright matronly. The fun thing for boomers, though, was there were no such stipulations on the other girls on the beach.

Raquel Welch: One Million Years B.C. (1967)
Technically, beauty queen Raquel Welch isn’t wearing swimwear in this movie. Rather, it was a furry animal skin two-piece that became so iconic that the still publicity shot for the movie became a best-selling poster. Mister Boomer has to admit, he was among the boys who taped the poster to his wall. The role was originally offered to Ursula Andress, but by then her salary requirements were too much for the producers.

Jane Fonda: Barbarella (1968)
Directed by  Roger Vadim, Jane Fonda’s husband at the time, Barbarella was a campy movie trip to outer space fantasyland via hallucinogenic imagery, so naturally, bikinis would would have to play a part. Mister Boomer first heard about the movie when a neighbor returning from his stint in Vietnam talked about it. It was years later when Mister B first saw the film, but Brother Boomer saw it much sooner.

Shocking to many in its day, the bikini now is commonplace poolside and on beaches around the world. It has even been named the official athletic wear for women’s professional beach volleyball. Monsieur Reard used a grand total of 30 square inches of fabric for his original creation, while today’s versions run the gamut from modernly modest to barely there. Many movies featured memorable bikini-clad women throughout the boomer years. What is your favorite bikini movie moment, boomers?

posted by Mister B in Fashion,Film & Movies,Pop Culture History,Uncategorized and have Comments Off on Boomers and Bikinis Just Went Together

Mister Boomer Turns Six

It’s our anniversary! We’re starting our sixth year of talkin’ ’bout our generation at misterboomer.com. A look back at the posts that marked the beginning of each of our new years reveals our mission to explore the personal connections we boomers had to the historical revolution that was the post-war years. This week, click the title of these previous postings and recall where you were when …

2010: The Sweet Taste of Success
Remember when we were young, and sugar was a good thing? Companies, in fact, thought so much of sugar that they could openly advertise their products as made with the real deal. No one advertised with more gusto than the cereal companies, and of course, we all remember those classic commercials for Sugar Pops, Sugar Frosted Flakes and Sugar Smacks.

2011: Boomers’ Cars Breezed Along … Without Air Conditioning
Yes, we are old enough to remember when air conditioning first began to be popular in new cars.

2012: Boomers and Pens: A Nib and a Click
Boomers lived directly in the path of the changeover from fountain pen to ballpoint pen and on to disposable pen.

2013: Boomers Said: “A Penny for Your Shoes”
Legend has it placing a “lucky penny” in a shoe was derived from the practice of putting a penny in a bride’s shoe on her wedding day to give the couple good luck and wealth. The penny loafer became a big deal for early boomers when Ivy League students began wearing them with their khakis.

2014: Boomers Said, “Let’s All Go to the Movies!”
Going to the movies was a real event for Baby Boomers. Movies and matinees and drive-ins … oh my!

2015: The Boomer Era Had Its Scandals
It’s hard to see any media these days without running into some sort of corruption and scandal. Yet we tend to forget that this is nothing new; the boomer era had its share of political, corporate and personal scandals as well. Two of the most famous involve the entertainment industry: the Quiz Show Scandal and the Payola Scandal.

Keep coming back to misterboomer.com each week for a look back at the way we were, how we grew, and who we became because of it all. Subscribe to the RSS feed and get notification whenever a new post is published. And, tell all your friends and neighbors to drop in through the Facebook link, too! Thank you for five memory-packed years!

posted by Mister B in Cars,Fashion,Film & Movies,Fun,Getting Older,Pop Culture History and have Comments Off on Mister Boomer Turns Six

Qapla’! Boomers Were the First to See Klingons, Not Speak the Language

Klingons, aliens from the planet of the same name, appeared in the first season of the original Star Trek TV series in 1968. However, Klingon characters spoke only English in the TV series. Klingon, the language spoken by these aliens in the Star Trek universe (first referred to as Klingonese in the TV series), made its debut in Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979). In the movie, the actors improvised and wrote their own guttural sounds that were later “translated” into subtitles to let the movie audience in on the conversation.

In the third Star Trek movie (Star Trek: The Search for Spock, 1984), Paramount Pictures decided to make the language more formal, to add realism to the dialogue. The producers enlisted the services of Dr. Marc Okrand, a professional linguist, to create speech that sounded more like a real language. Okrand had assisted Paramount in the second Star Trek movie by coming up with a few lines lines of Vulcan dialogue for a scene between Captain Spock (Leonard Nimoy) and Saavik (Robin Curtis). The good doctor honed the sounds of Klingon to match mispronunciations by the actors, and in 1985, published The Klingon Dictionary. A second edition of The Klingon Dictionary was published in 1992. Okrand has remained active in updating grammar for fan groups that have adapted the language into Internet conversations. Aficionados of the language have gone so far as to translate classic literature into Klingon, including Hamlet, The Epic of Gilgamesh and a Klingon adaptation of A Christmas Carol. There have even been live performances of Hamlet in Klingon.

Now we see a lawsuit is making its way through the courts that may decide if Klingon can be classified as an official language — and as such cannot be copyrighted — or remains the intellectual property of Paramount Pictures. Paramount sued Axner Productions, Inc. in December of 2015 for “innumerable copyright violations” when the company produced a crowd-funded, unauthorized Star Trek-like movie. The suit was amended in March 2016 to specifically name people, places, planets, props and other copyrighted items, including the Klingon language. Axner’s attorneys have claimed that the language has taken on a life of its own, separate from the movies, and is therefore available for use by anyone.

Sure to appear in the upcoming court battles on the usefulness of the language in the real world is the fact that in May 2003, a hospital providing mental health services in Portland, Oregon, advertised for an interpreter fluent in Klingon. A hospital spokesperson remarked that the county had an obligation to provide services in all the languages spoken by the population they serve.

Also sure to appear is the fact that true users of the Klingon language rely on Marc Okrand to answer all questions of grammar and usage, and will only accept changes to the language by its creator. This is in direct conflict to the formation of real-world languages, which are constantly being shaped by its users over time.

At stake are the potential uses of other fictionally-created languages, including those of the Harry Potter series, Avatar and TV’s Game of Thrones.

Mister Boomer has been a Star Trek fan since the original series aired. He has enjoyed watching the evolution of Klingons from the TV series through the Paramount movies. Though Mister B has never spoken Klingon, he believes this ongoing court struggle is shaping up to be a battle worthy of a Klingon warrior.

How many words of Klingon do you speak, boomers?

posted by Mister B in Film & Movies,Pop Culture History,TV and have Comments Off on Qapla’! Boomers Were the First to See Klingons, Not Speak the Language