“The Golden Seal, 1983”

“Men who owe money have souls that float face down.”

The Golden Seal, 1983 (Steve Railsback), The Samuel Goldwyn Company

Steve Railsback is a creepy guy! I can’t get past his chilling portrayal of Charles Manson in the 1976 television mini-series, Helter Skelter, nor his turn as Duane Barry in two memorable X-Files episodes, and even the comparatively sweet, sentimental charms of a “family” movie like The Golden Seal do little to assuage my anxiety. He’s a fiery, dynamic presence – always memorable – in every role he plays. Here, he’s salmon fisherman Jim Lee, who lives quietly with his young wife (Penelope Milford) and their son, Eric ( (Torquil Campbell) on the Aleutian Islands off the treacherous coasts of Alaska.

Times are tough. Jim’s getting pennies on-the-dollar for his hard-fought bounty. Salmon fishing is rough. His peers give him a hard time for not retreating to “the city (whatever that is).” For years, he’s heard stories about a mythic “golden seal” (not golden, according to my wife, who chimed in many times as we watched the movie). It is golden, when roaming the sea, and when the sun hits it just right. Jim swears to have seen one of these beauties seven years before. During a particularly intense, frightening storm, Eric is separated from his father (who persists in calling him, “Boy,” which is unusual) and spots the creature, which is a pregnant female. He offers it shelter, feeds it, and assists it in giving birth to a pup.

When the kid returns home with stories of the golden seal, Jim’s eyes light up (for reasons that are not explained until the climax of the second act). Meanwhile, Michael Beck’s shifty Crawford enters the camp on the pretense of losing his boat in the storm. While our initial impression is that he’s simply another rooster in the hen-house (given his come-ons to Penelope), we quickly realize he’s out there to find the golden seal. Their pelts apparently fetch a pretty penny. Eric shows the seal and her pup to Jim, who tries to shoot them. The child protects and defends the seals. You just don’t get it, Kid! Times are tough!

Pretty, pretty seal!

The third act sets up a revelatory conflict. When Beck grabs his own gun on a mission to assasinate a couple of golden seals (apparently Olivia Newton-John did nothing for him), Jim must protect his son by protecting the seals. He must eschew his bloodlust for the seals and their pricey pelts, and beat the crap out of Michael Beck (he could use a muse right about now), and this is when your “traditional” Railsback performance kicks into gear. He may be a loving, sweet father and husband to his family, but if you piss him off, Charlie and Duane better watch out! The Golden Seal is a well-made, beautifully shot movie that takes it’s time setting up a story.

Our first cable box was a non-descript metal contraption with a rotary dial and unlimited potential (with no brand name – weird). We flipped it on, and the first thing we noticed was that the reception was crystal-clear; no ghosting, no snow, no fuzzy images. We had the premium package: HBO, Cinemax, The Movie Channel, MTV, Nickelodeon, CNN, The Disney Channel, and the local network affiliates. About $25-$30 a month.  Each week (and sometimes twice a week!), “Vintage Cable Box” explores the wonderful world of premium Cable TV of the early eighties.

WGC – An Interview with Alison Arngrim

Episode 15 – An Interview with Alison Arngrim


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Mark and Susan tricked Alison Arngrim into an interview!

Actually, Alison was kind enough to agree to come onto Walnut GroveCast and discuss Little House on the Prairie as well as all of the projects she is involved in.  Alison spoke about her role on the award winning web series, “Life Interrupted” and the possibility of being awarded an Emmy for her role, an amazing and exclusive tour of Hollywood with “Nasty Nellie” and Dearly Departed Tours and a speaking engagement for The Indomitable Spirit June 24, 2017  CLICK TO GET TICKETS

Everything you need to know about Alison is here – On her Website!
http://bonnetheads.com/

Check out Alison’s web series – Life Interrupted
https://www.youtube.com/c/LifeInterruptedSeries

The Indomitable Spirit Event!

Nastie Nellie Oleson Tour

 

 

The opening song “Albert” is written and performed by the amazing Norwegian band, Project Brundlefly and is used with permission.
Check them out at:
https://www.facebook.com/ProjectBrundlefly

“Richard Pryor: Live In Concert, 1979”

“What-choo takin’ my picture for? Who you gonna show it too? ‘I got a picture of Richard Pryor!’ ‘Who gives a fuck?’ Sit yo ass down! Motherfucker, sit down! You know you ain’t got no film in the camera. You just bullshittin’ just flashin’, ain’t nothin’ flashing. Sit yo ugly ass down!”

Richard Pryor: Live In Concert, 1979 (Richard Pryor), Special Event Entertainment

Comedians (Jon Stewart among them) have long made reference to a “holy trinity” of stand-up comedy, Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor, and George Carlin, who had paved the way for modern comedians to practice their particular skill. The stand-up comedian tells a story, transforms the story into a joke, and waits for his or her audience to respond, often with laughter. Lenny Bruce is a bit before my time, so I understand the variations of Bruce and the evolution of his humor with Carlin. Carlin’s emphasis in his performance was in the machinations and manipulations of our common language. Bruce, from what I’ve seen and heard, placed his emphasis in shocking the audience; much like the way modern comedians shock their audiences. Richard Pryor’s considerable talents are invested in heartbreak, isolation, and anguish.

To say I was shocked, or floored into submission to Pryor’s incredible brand of levity upon first seeing Richard Pryor: Live In Concert would be a dramatic understatement. I had never, ever seen anything like this before, and most likely, will never see it again; even as more and more comedians attempt to shock and inspire us. Louis C.K. came close, but, compared to Pryor, he is a pale imitation, and a pretender (as talented as he is) to that specific throne. When I say I was floored, I mean (upon first viewing) I was on the floor, laughing so hard it hurt. This is the funniest (hence the greatest) stand-up comedy film I have ever seen. The film is a moody, unpretentious, raucous journey through the life and personal turmoil of a man with failings; either in his personal life, or in his difficulties as a husband, and a father, or professional foibles as an entertainer. Yet, he can make you think, and make you feel good about yourself.

The Terrace Theater in conservative, predominantly white Long Beach, California sets the stage for the invasion of Pryor. He even makes fun of his predicament; to see a swarm of his black fans among his white fans shows that comedy can bring us all together. To see whites laughing alongside blacks (with no virtue signalling or judgments being made from either party) makes me feel good. It gives me hope. Language being more elastic in 1978 as opposed to these heady times, he makes repeated and unrepentant use of the “n” word, and despite what Ice Cube thinks about the subject, no one person or group can own a word, and to take that word away is to take away our understanding and appreciation of the word, as delivered with the master craftsmanship of Richard Pryor. Pryor would recant somewhat in later years for his liberal use of the word, but he railed against censorship, even when it was self-imposed. These words belong to all of us. It’s just that some people are better at using them. Pryor’s humor was rooted in his danger, his capacity for self-deprecation, and his emotional and chemical dependencies.

Pryor tells stories about his family; growing up the child of an extended poor family in Peoria, the tutilege and discipline (“Go get me something to beat yo ass with!”) of his grandmother, the bizarre wisdom of his father, and his various brushes with death. He speaks of an experience where he had suffered a heart attack, and thought he had died. In the hospital room, he opens his eyes and sees a bunch of concerned white faces looking down at him and he thinks, “Ain’t this a bitch. I done died and wound up in the wrong motherfuckin’ heaven.” In this new age of heckling and overly-sensitive, unoriginal comedians, Pryor works with ease, talks to the crowd; even when interrupted by his adoring fans, he engages them and you feel that there is no wall between him and the people in the seats. He completely owns the Terrace Theater. Comedy seems to be such an incredibly subjective art (horror movies are the same – they live or die based on our direct, subjective impressions of either what’s funny or what is terrifying to us) that everybody’s top ten lists on the subject will be different person to person, but Richard Pryor: Live in Concert is always on everyone’s list.

Our first cable box was a non-descript metal contraption with a rotary dial and unlimited potential (with no brand name – weird). We flipped it on, and the first thing we noticed was that the reception was crystal-clear; no ghosting, no snow, no fuzzy images. We had the premium package: HBO, Cinemax, The Movie Channel, MTV, Nickelodeon, CNN, The Disney Channel, and the local network affiliates. About $25-$30 a month.  Each week (and sometimes twice a week!), “Vintage Cable Box” explores the wonderful world of premium Cable TV of the early eighties.

WGC – Here Come the Brides

Here Come the Brides – Season 4 Episode 12


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For this episode of Walnut GroveCast I am joined by the amazing Susan King!

Bare-foot bumpkin Luke Sims and his hunky dad Adam, arrive in Walnut Grove. Adam is a pig farmer, (and according to Willie, “he raises hogs too”…. as will be evident at the Olson’s dinner table when Luke joins them for a meal) Adam and son stop by the schoolhouse so that Luke can get some book learnin’ and have a “women’s touch” in his life. We discover Adam is a widower and Miss Beadle instantaneously has the hots for him. Not knowing her history, Luke takes a shine to Nellie and their relationship progresses. Harriet catches them out late one night and seeks Miss Beadle’s help in stopping their romance as it is effecting Nellie’s school work. Miss Beadle protests at first but quickly realizes this is a great opportunity to see hunky Adam again Luke decides to buy Nellie a ring for her birthday, using Mary to assist him, misunderstandings galore occur with Nellie angry telling her mother to “SHUT UP” as she explains to Nellie that “ Luke bought a ring for Mary and men are fickle as weather vanes”. Luke shows up at the door on her birthday with presents in tow and the misunderstanding is cleared up. Luke, Nellie, Adam and Miss Eva Beadle spend time together picnicking, etc. and Adam proposes to Eva. She wants to think about it because of her age and school responsibilities. While pondering Adams proposal, Nellie asks Ms. Beadle about marriage (Age etc.) Miss B thinks she is talking about her, but in reality, she is contemplating Luke’s proposal to her. Both Nellie and Eva decide to wed the Sims men, Eva telling Adam in a sweet moment at his house, Nellie, and Luke grabbing a suitcase, hopping on the Oleson’s buckboard and driving to sleepy-eye to elope. Hilarity ensues as Adam, Ms. Beadle and the Oleson’s (with a rifle in tow) track them down to a hotel. Harriet’s request? “Nels, make her a widow!” They all go back to the JP and Nellie and Luke get “unmarried”. While Adam and Ms. Beadle are there at the JP, they decide to marry….and with the exception of the JP and his wife who have been continuously awoken all night long…they live happily ever after.

The opening song “Albert” is written and performed by the amazing Norwegian band, Project Brundlefly and is used with permission.
Check them out at:
https://www.facebook.com/ProjectBrundlefly

“48 Hrs., 1982”

“We ain’t partners. We ain’t brothers. And we ain’t friends. I’m puttin’ you down and keepin’ you down until Ganz is locked up or dead. And if Ganz gets away, you’re gonna be sorry YOU ever MET me!”

48 Hrs., 1982 (Nick Nolte), Paramount Pictures 

They call it a “buddy picture,” but these two are not buddies. Psycho James Remar (from director Walter Hill’s The Warriors) gets sprung from a prison chain gang by his cohort. After killing a couple of cops, they set about looking for their lost loot and a guy named Luther, who helped them steal a half a million bucks. The lone survivor of the shoot-out, embittered Inspector Jack Cates (perpetually intense tough guy Nick Nolte), arranges to have a member of Remar’s running crew, Reggie Hammond (electric Eddie Murphy, in his career-making debut), released from prison for 48 hours to help him track down Remar and his boys.

With Murphy, it’s just one complaint after another. He rails against Nolte’s mistreatment of him. He complains endlessly about his need for “female companionship.” As a result, Murphy’s character is extremely annoying and irritating. They test each other with constant games of machismo. The movie has a refreshing (if off-putting) streak of misogyny running throughout. Nolte sends him into a cowboy bar so he can masquerade as a cop (without a gun) to get information on Remar. He causes a scene, insults the patrons, and exits with a John Wayne-style swagger. Nolte and Murphy play off with each other with an explosive chemistry, which is more dangerous than dynamic. Nolte is your typical Dirty Harry; gravel-voiced and stormy. Murphy is a con-man, spared of any ethical quandry. While the characters bond, it’s only a temporary bond, and both parties will return to their respective roles at film’s end.

Nolte’s Cates is at his wit’s end in his dealings with Hammond.  It’s obvious Hammond is leaving out crucial information with regard to his association with Remar.  Nolte sucker-punches him and they have a good-old-fashioned street-fight.  It’s interesting to me watching Murphy hold his own (even though it makes no sense, Nolte is twice his size), but Hammond comes clean.  The missing money is in the trunk of his car.  They stake out the parking lot and see Luther (David Patrick Kelly, also from The Warriors) make off with Hammond’s car.  Luther takes off with the money.  Cates and Hammond give chase, which leads them into the subway system, where Remar is waiting.  This is a great, suspenseful set-piece.

On the hunt for … “female companionship.”

Unfortunately, so much time is spent developing Nolte and Murphy’s characters that very little running time is left to explore Remar, his twisted Indian cohort, Luther, or even Nolte’s girlfriend, Elaine (the gorgeous Annette O’Toole). My guess is Hill knew he had lightning-in-a-bottle with the two leads, therefore he ripped out whole chunks of the otherwise excellent script (credited to Hill, Roger Spottiswoode, Steven E. de Souza, and Larry Gross) and put the emphasis on their story. Because of that, 48 Hrs. feels strangely unbalanced. Despite this serious flaw, 48 Hrs. was extremely influential for action movies in the ’80s. The polished graphic violence and gun-shot explosions recall Sam Peckinpah (for whom Hill wrote The Getaway).

Our first cable box was a non-descript metal contraption with a rotary dial and unlimited potential (with no brand name – weird). We flipped it on, and the first thing we noticed was that the reception was crystal-clear; no ghosting, no snow, no fuzzy images. We had the premium package: HBO, Cinemax, The Movie Channel, MTV, Nickelodeon, CNN, The Disney Channel, and the local network affiliates. About $25-$30 a month.  Each week (and sometimes twice a week!), “Vintage Cable Box” explores the wonderful world of premium Cable TV of the early eighties.

“Mr. Mom, 1983”

“My brain is like oatmeal! I yelled at Kenny today for coloring outside the lines! Megan and I are starting to watch the same TV shows, and I’m liking them! I’m losing it.”

Mr. Mom, 1983 (Michael Keaton), 20th Century Fox

The central thesis of Mr. Mom originates from a completely chauvinistic or sexist premise: that either a woman cannot make money in a man’s world, or a man cannot adapt to the accepted (for the time) functions of a housewife in a small suburban community. Michael Keaton’s character, Jack Butler, even makes a bet with his wife Caroline (Teri Garr), after he is laid off, that he can get a job before she can. He loses the bet, and in-between looking for jobs, he has to take care of their three children and their home in suburban Detroit.

As Keaton’s character sinks further into his rut-inspired domestic depression, Caroline’s career soars at an advertising agency where she applies her acquired “home-making” skills to market products like Schooner Tuna. Jack soon learns he must sacrifice a portion of his life and ambition to keep the house and the children efficient. At a company picnic, he allows Caroline’s boss (Martin Mull) to win a race to protect her position at the firm. Caroline’s job requires her to take trips and log extended hours at the office, and the increasingly neurotic Jack starts to resent her. Sensing this impending acrimony, Caroline’s “frenemy,” Joan (Ann Jillian) starts making moves on Jack.

As Jack has to fend off the advances of his (admittedly) hot neighbor, Caroline has to deal with Martin Mull’s lechery; strange how their predicaments mirror each other. Jack is required to do the laundry, do the shopping, take the kids to school (negotiating the strange demarcations of the parkway in the process), contact neurotic exterminators, and TV repairwomen, as well as facing off with the feared vacuum cleaner nicknamed “Jaws.” The moral of the story appears to be a one-way street: Jack learns a valuable lesson about the difficulties of being a homemaker and the drudgery of suburban life. What does Caroline learn?

Michael “Oatmeal Brain” Keaton: “I am NOT Batman!”

What could’ve been nothing more than a high-concept slapstick comedy with a television pilot narrative is made into something special; a very funny movie with enormously talented people both in front of, and behind the camera. Michael Keaton and Teri Garr play off each other with comedic brilliance. John Hughes’ autobiographical screenplay hits all the marks, and though Roger Ebert criticized the movie’s deliberately lightweight consistency (he doesn’t seem to get that the movie was made for the whole family), Mr. Mom does raise some interesting questions. The success of Mr. Mom precipitated Universal Pictures’ signing of Hughes for a three-picture deal in 1984.

How the times have changed! I’m a bit of a “Mr. Mom” myself. My wife works. I take care of our daughter. Take care of the house. I do the shopping. I pick up my daughter from school. I cook the food. I go outside and see dads pushing strollers around while their partners are out making the money in the hot city. I took to it immediately. She brings home the bacon, and I fry it up in a pan. Apparently John Hughes had a disastrous time taking care of his kids and was inspired to write a script based on his misadventures.

Our first cable box was a non-descript metal contraption with a rotary dial and unlimited potential (with no brand name – weird). We flipped it on, and the first thing we noticed was that the reception was crystal-clear; no ghosting, no snow, no fuzzy images. We had the premium package: HBO, Cinemax, The Movie Channel, MTV, Nickelodeon, CNN, The Disney Channel, and the local network affiliates. About $25-$30 a month.  Each week (and sometimes twice a week!), “Vintage Cable Box” explores the wonderful world of premium Cable TV of the early eighties.

Casino (1995)

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Season 6 Episode 9
Casino (1995)

Mark and Chris discuss the groundshattering 1995 film Casino! Sharon Stone never looked better (In Mark’s opinion) This continues our #Scorsesepalooza and shows no signs of letting up!