Remembering Tony Curtis

Operation PetticoatImage via Wikipedia 

One of the quintessential movie stars of my childhood has passed. In addition to being an enjoyable personality, Tony Curtis represented that manly, brilliant handsomeness I sought, but was never able to achieve in design. Few among us could and, anyhow, we probably wouldn't have been able to match his legendary sexual prowess. I'd need salves, lip splints, personal trainers, Wet Naps, Bufferin — I know that.

Tony Curtis was born to play comedy and shared attributes with his hero, Cary Grant, who he so nicely mimicked in the golden farce "Some Like It Hot" (1959) and appeared alongside in the popular pink submarine adventure "Operation Petticoat" (1959).

Tony Curtis, Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon, Joe E. Brown in "Some Like It Hot" via YouTube

Although the studio system and the business dealt Curtis more than his fair quota of dud projects, he always appeared to give them his best. He was a fine dramatic actor, too, when allowed the chance, "Sweet Smell of Success" (1957) being the first choice of these.

My favorite Tony Curtis moment is a single second of face time. It is his introduction in the mammoth road comedy, "The Great Race" (1965), seen in the clip below after the opening title sequence. He's presented, looking straight into the camera, fully in bloom with that bright, dazzling smile. So much so, a flashing twinkle of white light emanates from his teeth. While this bit is obviously animation-enhanced (and has been much copied), it aptly illustrates his screen power, humor, and willingness to laugh at himself.

"The Great Race" Main Title and Tony Curtis via YouTube

Add up all of the screenings and I find I've spent full days of my life in the dark with Tony Curtis, maybe more, and I will continue to revisit the good memories he's left behind to glisten again.

Now, who wants pie?*

Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, Natalie Wood in "The Great Race:" via YouTube

*With apologies to Dennis Miller


What the Heck Was I Thinking?

Actual Messages I Wrote, Forgot, Then Found While Cleaning Out My Correspondence Folders 


She was surprised to see you, too. I hear there's lip balm coming. 


Nice foot.


Heartwarming. Please tell me you didn't send it.


Okay, I've been quiet. I've been patient. I've been waiting for something to be said.


So, don't get mad, but I can stand it no longer. WHAT'S THE DEAL WITH THE POTATO CHIPS?!!


I open next week with my partner, George Burns. My fan dance will kill!!


Love to you and all the mites,



It would be my pleasure. My penis works weekends as balloon animals.


Big Weekend

Big weekend, but no one told me I rock. 

I did get one "You scissors." 


Cartoon Carnival: Porky Pig's Dueling Do-Dos in Wackyland

An interesting video places the Wackyland sequences from two classic animated cartoons side by side. Wikipedia gives some background....

Bob Clampett's Looney Tunes Porky Pig intro in...    Image via Wikipedia
Hey, it's the weekend! I'm slacking.

"Porky in Wackyland" is a 1938 animated short film, directed by Robert Clampett for Leon Schlesinger Productions as part of Warner Bros.' Looney Tunes series.

In this film, Porky Pig goes hunting through a Salvador DalĂ­-esque landscape to find the Do-Do Bird for a very large bounty. In 1994, it was voted #8 of The 50 Greatest Cartoons of all time by members of the animation field and in 2000 was deemed "culturally significant" by the United States Library of Congress, who has selected the short for preservation in the National Film Registry.


A color remake of "Porky in Wackyland" was supervised by Friz Freleng in 1948. Re-titled as "Dough for the Do-Do," the remake was released in 1949. The films were nearly identical, in many cases appearing to match frame-by-frame in certain details, albeit with Porky's appearance updated and the voices having evolved, and many of the backgrounds being different.

Here is the comparison video, followed by the original cartoons in their appropriate Wackylands.

"Porky in Wackyland X Dough for the Do-Do" via YouTube

"Porky in Wackyland" (1938, Robert Clampett) via Revver

"Dough for the Do-Do" (1949, Friz Freleng) via Revver



Actual Letters to Mike Durrett
A radio legend and mukluk putterer, Bob Walker of My 93-1, Hutchinson, Kansas, writes:

Hey Mike,

We had a baby born in the parking lot at the Kansas State Fair. I asked callers for Fair Baby Names. I got Freakshow Fannie, Funnel Cake Jake, Himalaya Micayla, Cotton Candy Sandy.

Do you possibly actually have additional names?????


Little Bo Geek
Deep Fried Yahoo
Three Car Monty
Drooling Banjo
Tater Tot
Baby Bearded Fat Lady
Free Balloons for the Kid
Live Skunk in the Middle of the Road
Gravel Gertie
Don't Tread on Meatloaf
Parking Lotta
Fairy (At Least I'm Not Wal-Mark)

A radio legend and mukluk putterer, Bob Walker of My 93-1, Hutchinson, Kansas, writes:

(Nah! It couldn't possibly be the same one.)

Bob shares New Fall TV Shows That Probably Aren't Going to Make It, including "America's Got a Cold" and "How I Met Your Plumber."

He adds:

I bet you have more spewing from your gizzards.

Oh, a few:

"Survivor: Tainted Food Court Meat Samples on a Toothpick"
"Leave It to Bieber"
"Pimp My Aunt Bea"
"Wincing With the Slurs"
"Family Gut"

And, finally, a radio legend and mukluk putterer, Bob Walker of My 93-1, Hutchinson, Kansas, writes:

(Huh? Who? Huh? What?)

Anyway, he wants to know if I have Telltale Signs the Mosquitoes Are Bad.


They have a tattoo of you with a clot.

They get their stingers pierced.

Just before hitting your blister, you hear teensy voices holler, 'HOT TUB!!" ... And, "Come on in, the sucking's fine!"

They refer to you as Skeeter Cola.

Li'l surfboards wash up in your nose bleed.


Double Feature Kitties: 'Cat Roulette' and 'Kitten Freaks Himself Out'

Morty at the Movies with Morty the CatWith the fall TV season underway, Morty is fancying himself as the feline Tom Bergeron, hosting videos on my computer with the occasional wise-meow and a casual pullover sweater. 

Here are his latest clips for "America's Funniest Home Kitty-Os," and then he needs to go clean his room.

"Cat Roulette" via YouTube

"Kitten Freaks Himself Out" via YouTube&



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My Recent Confessions and Observations on Twitter

Jamie Lee Curtis is in my kitchen, eating yogurt. What is that woman doing here? When is she going to leave? Sheesh. I've got things to do..

I appreciate how BURN NOTICE gives detailed instructions on how to be a spy. I'm rethinking the cape.

Ugh. I hate the 3rd Sat. in Sept. It's the day in my Cartoon Clubhouse when I have to climb up to the 26th floor with the new falling anvil.

The Love Police make me nervous with the fur cuffs and the cruiser siren wailing STOP IN THE NAME OF OFFICER FRISKY.

I walked by the television as the announcer said, "EZ Cracker." I yelled back, "Up yours, Smurf!"

@WH2H_Radio - Thank you for the nice words! I am humbled! I am standing proud! --Uh, drat. I am with open fly. I am blushing. I am moronic..

Headline: "New records set at Bog Snorkelling Championships" Oh, thank Heaven! I was hoping! Phew. Sleepless nights...

Making a Smoothie for my cat. Whitefish and crab. In a saucer. Pounce sprinkles on top. Little Topo Gigio with umbrella...

Headline: "Dog eats 12 large bras, sick for 3 months." That's 168 in dog breasts or something I could say about Tiger Woods.

Hey, we guys don't want to taste Activia, Jamie. Have a donut. Get out of my house. Go watch CHRISTMAS WITH THE KRANKS. Go!

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Big Weekend

Big weekend, consulting the Cartecay River Mud Meter. 

O brother, where art clamdiggers mine? 


Cartoon Carnival of the Weird!

I finally made it to one of the recurring "Bizarro Saturday Morning" programs at the Plaza Theatre in Atlanta. The shows are compiled by Cartoon Network animator and voice artist C. Martin Croker, who may be best known as the villainous throats of Moltar and Zorak on "Space Ghost Coast to Coast."

As you might imagine, cartoons were the core attraction, but live-action kiddie TV commercials of the '70s and footage pretending to be animated were also featured, along with my first-ever episode of "Ultraman." Good heavens, that's bad stuff. Any self-respecting guy in a rubber Godzilla suit would not be caught dead in this series. Nope, much too sophisticated for the ruin.

The picture party was billed as "Weirdest of the Weird!! ... An Oddball mash-up of Nostalgia and bits of Weird-o Coolness" in meh, medium-tech 16mm.

I've located several of the high points to share with you, although the nap I enjoyed during the Ludwig Von Drake material I am keeping all to myself.

The first video is "Coffee Shop," one episode in the abysmal 1960 made-for-TV Popeye package dumped on cute little kids like me. At eight, I recognized these shorts were lifeless and would have had to aspire to reach up to awful. Nevertheless, this particular film has gained some sarcastic attraction on my end after a half century.

Olive Oyl and Brutus morph into newly disheveled beatniks much to establishment Popeye's bewilderment. They are so unintentionally uncool that they have become cool. Cool.

Popeye the Sailor in "Coffee House" (1960, Jack Kinney) via YouTube

Next, "How to Catch a Cold" is A-level animation, full-tilt from Walt Disney Productions, but it is a thinly veiled commercial for Kleenex Tissues, hidden within a lecture on germ warfare, juiced with plenty of cartoon slobber and snot. Cool. Cool.

"How to Catch a Cold" (1951) via Google Video

Ahead, the Warner Bros. Looney Tunes production team won an Oscar for "Best Documentary Short Subject" in this government propaganda slurping the Public Health Service. The resulting puddle of hyperbole could use some Kleenex.

"So Much for So Little" (1949, Chuck Jones) via YouTube


Acorn Hat Update!

The Pope is wearing an acorn hat today. 

Meanwhile, Miss Donna Butterworth is 54 and hasn't worked in the business of show since 1967.

Authentic, revered, and noted film historian Frank Thompson adds some perspective.

"Have you ever considered that Miss Donna Butterworth is actually the Pope? Hmm? Ever seen them in the same room? Ever seen Miss Donna Butterworth s**t in the woods? Well then, it's something to ponder, isn't it?"

The Susquehanna Hat Company was unavailable for comment.


Off the Wall: The Lou Costello Dilemma

Saving Facebook: 

Friend Ray Taylor asks:

Would Lou Costello be better off not saying "Niagara Falls" or not wanting to get directions to the "Susquehanna Hat Company"?

My response:

Thank you for your question. You see, sir, I wasn't always a dirty, filthy, scurvy bum like you.

I have invested as much as six minutes to ponder and curse your inquiry. It is in no minor state of regret from which I acknowledge Mr. Costello finds himself in a dire predicament or a "pickle," as the young-uns so voice and devastate our unofficial language.

Fortunately, the gentleman's proclivities to attract riotous conflict, immense hostility, and h-h-harming have been significantly diminished in the recent decades, several in sequence, with a steep decline in popularity of the hatted.

On the other appendage, it is deemed unfortunate a certain head gear manufacturer has relocated said business to the controversial shores of the nefarious Niagara love nest.

To decide your inquiry directly, I cannot, but as a recent devotee of the cervical collar, I would prescribe Mr. Costello to acquire one, maybe five.

He must employ the silent treatment at any and all times the side-stepping of hammy character actors may not be possible.

Furthermore, I advise him to consult on the matter with his kindly partner, Mr. Abbott.

At the Help Desk

P.S. Eat lemons.

"The Abbott and Costello Show (1951): Niagara Falls" via YouTube

"In Society (1943): Susquehanna Hat Company" via YouTube



Cat photos: Where's Morty?

Morty's on Hummingbird Watch. 

Meh. So much for that. 


Big Weekend

Big weekend, doing the carpal tunnel. 

I'm beginning to think I may need to replace my Events Coordinator.


Trailer Reel: Behind the Scenes With Alfred Hitchcock and Jerry Lewis

Writing about Jerry Lewis' "The Bellboy" ("The Sell, Boy," and "The Swell 'Boy'"), I was reminded of the other box office monster and shiny new classic film of the summer of 1960, Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho." Both projects were the centerpieces of nervous Paramount Pictures' schedule, released back-to-back during June and July.

In the preceding months, studio executives had refused to become financially involved in either "quickie" movie. The star-producer-directors were forced to arrange funding elsewhere. Paramount believed Jerry was helming an ill-conceived silent comedy and Hitch's venture was too taboo to risk investment. The failure to support these filmmakers led to decisions the company should regret to this day. Both "Psycho" and "The Bellboy" were mammoth hits and cash cows for their investors, primarily Mr. Hitchcock and Mr. Lewis.

Another odd coincidence between these shows can be seen in their unusual coming attractions trailers. Historically, the overwhelming majority of theatre-screened advertisements have been comprised exclusively of actual footage selected from the features, although not so with "Psycho" or "The Bellboy." The two men shot and appeared in special entertainment material relying heavily on their personalities, including spoof elements and strolls around the productions.

I've shared "the fabulous" Alfred's six-minute movie sets tour previously, but here it is again, alongside Jerry's sound stage introductions to his fellow creative conspirators. It's a trailer reel you may have seen in the dark, a half century ago.

"Psycho" Trailer with Alfred Hitchcock via YouTube

"The Bellboy" Trailer with Jerry Lewis via YouTube

One more thing. What if Jerry Lewis had been the bellboy at the Bates Motel?

While I envision a deliciously surreal film with him in the role of Norman, I guess that would not have been possible due to the violence necessary for the character.

However, Jerry could certainly go to work at the motel, schlepping around into various misadventures. It might have been another weird, comic reimagining of terror icons on the model of "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein."

"Ohh, Missus Bay-ates! Time to change your shee-eats!"


From Here to 'Eternity'

From Here to Eternity movie

From here to Atlanta, we looped 170 miles to see this classic 1953 film at the Plaza, returning, from there to the shanty. 

We considered renaming our humble estate "Eternity," nevertheless Donna and I settled by secret ballot vote, continuing with the ever-popular "Cold Sore Mountain."

I prefer to call it "Portland," but we've been dieting.



Follow Mike on Twitter

My Recent Confessions and Observations on Twitter

Me and the kitties are batching it tonite. It's kind of like BONANZA, except we boys saddle up catnip rats. Why I'm not on TMZ is beyond me.

COP OUT (2010) with Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan is a numbingly bad movie, the HUDSON HAWK of its generation. Thanks, crummy pay-per-view.

My Twifficiency score is 39%. I'd like to thank Facebook and a life.

Watched SAN ANTONIO (1945) - A belated "thank you" to S.Z. "Cuddles" Sakall for taming the west. "Look! Look! Look! That horse is empty!"

I cannot get a word in edgewise. Curses, BarkOff. Where's my leash? I need a walk....

I see THE AMITYVILLE HORROR house has been sold. I could never purchase that place. I refuse to pay oozing costs.

Some social media this is. We never have a square dance or a bake sale. I want to back to my partner and swing my taw, eat donuts, and type.

Fast-breaking Q*bert discussion now happening on Twitter. My continuing education continues. Failed me again, Georgia State...

I'm toying with changing my name again. I kinda like The Revolutionary Way To Remove Tough Heavy Burned On Grease Durrett. "Buff" for short.

Headline: "Dealer selling J.D. Salinger's toilet." ... The ad copy writes itself: HOLDING CAUFIELD or CATCHER 'N' THE FLY.

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Big Weekend

Big Labor Day weekend, watching "The Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon" — and live-blogging about the show with Emulsion Compulsion. Here are some of my comments:

9:23 p.m.
Billy Gilman is still parking cars. He’ll sing for you shortly.

10:01 p.m.
Cugie, we still loathe you.

10:14 p.m.
Waiting for the Del Moore tribute….

10:18 p.m.
Okay. Roll the Mike Douglas tribute….

10:36 p.m.
We just phoned in our pledge. They gave us thanks and vouchers for Max Alexander shots.

10:39 p.m.
Someone asks: Why isn’t the Telethon being broadcast in HD?

Me: Must be planning Wayne Newton close-ups.

10:46 p.m.
[Maureen McGovern sings]

Ugh. Scat. There’s got to be a morning after…

10:47 p.m.
Waiting for Scatman Crothers tribute…

10:55 p.m.
Oh. Norm Crosby is going to be on. I thought he had been retired. Standing ovulations for everyone!!

11:04 p.m.
Local [station] cut-in.

Make it stop, Mommy.

11:31 p.m.
Oh, my god, it’s Liza!!

[Barry Manilow immersed in black sequins]

3:54 a.m.
You guys duck out? I watched a movie.

2:18 p.m.
Good morning! It’s 2:15 EDT. I woke up to Can-Can dancers. Gosh, is it 1954 already? I’m a tot. Where’s Zsa Zsa and Toulouse?

Worship me. I saw Billy Gilman during the overnight. Well, I heard him from the other room. I haven’t actually seen him, yet. He’s the youth representative. I’m afraid I’m represented by Phyllis Diller’s nanny. The lady spinning the plates while blowing Pall Mall smoke into Shecky Greene.

Gotta find Froot Loops… Gotta find Froot Loops…

No, I don’t mean the knock-off Harmonicats from the Aladdin…

2:48 p.m.
The Jersey Boys were just on. Mixed emotions. I find that squawky singing annoying, but toilet now amazingly unclogged.

Got me some nasal love…

3:03 p.m.
The Tasty Oreo Dancers?

3:15 p.m.
Waiting for Quart Glass in Jerry’s Mouth tribute…

3:48 p.m.
Thanks for dressing up, Carrot Top.

3:54 p.m.
We’ve got a world that swings!

4:19 p.m.
[Jerry concludes one of his esoteric speeches]

I give to the telethon for the Castle Films references.

4:41 p.m.
The Chaplin tribute was a little short, but nice.

4:42 p.m.
I think it’s from Castle Films.

4:44 p.m.
Waiting for the George “Foghorn” Winslow tribute…

5:01 p.m.
Giant dancing bee? Must be the guy from Univision on again.

5:37 p.m.
[Jerry exits]

Good night, everybody! Charo, start the car…


The Swell 'Boy'

Do we have a clip?

Yes, I brought some clips from "The Bellboy" (1960).

People wonder why I am such a Jerry Lewis fan. This first scene couldn't illustrate my delight more. It is pure Jerry and my spirits rise every time I see it. I laugh, also.

There is an axiom in show business for performers, "Less is more."

Not true. Not true...

"The Bellboy: The Elevator" via YouTube

Jerry could be quite magical, even while setting out some chairs. I love that a major motion picture had the courage to idle for more than two minutes to service a gag. We'd never see this today.

"The Bellboy: Chair Duty" via YouTube

Off the top of my head, this musical pantomime may be the first of its kind in Jerry's solo films. Count Basie's "Cute" in "CinderFella" was shot earlier, but released after "The Bellboy." I'm confident of having seen Jerry perform this one on television before it lived on in the film.

"The Bellboy: Stanley Conducts the Orchestra" via YouTube

"The Bellboy" newspaper ad courtesy of Emulsion Compulsion.


The Sell, Boy

In "100 Things About Me #107" and "'House of Hits,' Then and Now," I wrote about one of my hobbies.

I am fascinated by movie advertising in all of its forms, especially coming attractions trailers, print campaigns, and posters.

As early as age 8, I spent more than an hour some days analyzing the movie ads in the local newspaper.

Indeed. I remember the first of those extended sessions like it was July, although it was the July in 1960. I thumbed through "The Atlanta Constitution," spreading the entertainment section and myself across our living room floor. From the prime vantage point of elbows on the carpet and palms under my chin, my eyes landed and focused extensively on "The Bellboy."

My memory is the above advertisement was the opening "Now Showing" placement for the first-run engagement at the Fox Theatre. "The Bellboy" filled a quarter page of newsprint, a large amount of display space in the era. I was captivated by Jerry Lewis' image, of course, plus the comic illustrations and font styles, all of which made a big impression on me.

I checked the papers each subsequent day, watching the art change through various designs from the Paramount Pictures marketing department. I had to wait six weeks, perhaps, for "The Bellboy" to brighten the screen at my local theatre. These publicity diversions kept me energized during the interim.

I saw the motion picture in three different theatrical situations during the decade and have watched it umpteen times on television. I remain very fond of the film, these advertisements, and the full-color poster originals in my collection.

Before writing this piece, I had not planned to view the movie, but I found myself slipping the DVD into the machine. I settled back on the couch. The brisk 71 minutes flew by, as did the previous 50 years of fun.

"The Bellboy" has never let me down and, so, I tipped the guy.

"The Bellboy" ads courtesy of Emulsion Compulsion


Spy vs. Sly vs. Sky

My movie viewing is generally determined by informed curiosity, then scheduled days to months in advance.

That said, without warning, Donna and I do get The Call of the Drive-in. The primal urge to experience outdoor motion pictures overwhelms our artistic sensibilities and we simply must go sit under the stars, watch 24 frames per second, and meet some new bugs.

It happened again, one recent afternoon, so I went online to peruse the offerings at the 10 drive-in theatre screens we visit within 100 miles of our yearning to be flicked.

With my immense affinity for wordplay, I cannot begin to tell you how acutely difficult it was for me to not round-trip the 181 miles to attend "Vampires Suck" and "Dinner for Schmucks."

The bragging rights alone would have made me proud!

Alas, the dwindling time element before darkness precluded the excursion and its Snickers®ed snickers. We were forced to choose fare closer to home.

The least objectionable program began with "Salt."

Yes. We did have the popcorn, but I was speaking about "Salt," the film.

Sorry. It's that wordplay thang. I can't help myself, Sugar Pie Honey Bunch.

"Salt" stars Angelina Jolie as Jason Bourne, but without those pesky licensing fees.

We were happy with the show. Typical contemporary secret agent stuff, although there are sufficient twists to surprise. It is remarkable how many creeps you can kill by pummeling them with an array of linty, beer-fizzed Brad Pitt soul patches.

I can't say we enjoyed the second feature, "The Expendables." We slept through much of it -- and that's saying a lot because this one has more firepower than World War II in the Pacific or a Tyra Banks hissy.

Sylvester Stallone and a passel of action hulks "blowed things up real good," as critics Big Jim McBob and Billy Sol Hurok deduced in their review. "REAL good!"

Jason Statham, Mickey Rourke, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Steve Austin, Bruce Willis, and Arnold Schwarzenegger join the mayhem with weapon of mass destruction: Marjorie Main, wielding her frying pan.


Star Sighting

At first, I was skeptical. But, then I knew. 

It was the real Ann Coulter. 

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