Saturday, April 25, 2015

Autograph Hound

The future arrived in the 1970s: not yet in handheld computing/communications but socially. The cultural revolution that that finally succeeded (philosophically at least) in the US and elsewhere in the 60s was running freely in the 70s – it actually backtracked somewhat in the 80s. The shift in standards left many people dazed and confused (to borrow a phrase from the movie and the Led Zeppelin song). The off-beat soap “Mary Hartman Mary Hartman” chronicling one woman’s course to a nervous breakdown (on the air on The David Susskind Show) is about as good a portrait of the era as any. Yet it isn’t stuck in the 70s; the issues Mary faces with regard to sex, work, marriage, drugs, and so on are the very ones with which we still grapple today. The list of what is and isn’t politically correct is unchanged since then, as are the objections to that list. Despite the big hair and funny clothes, the show feels contemporary.

Louise Lasser was perfectly cast in the title role. Also, I’ve always liked the quirkiness she brings to all her TV and movie roles. She is nearby my home this weekend at the Chiller Theater convention (I suppose the movie Frankenhooker would be the “chiller” connection), so naturally I stopped by to say hello. I mentioned that my favorite break-up scene in comedy is the one with her and Woody Allen in Bananas. She told me that it was mostly unscripted – the script called for a break-up fight – but the impromptu dialogue worked. Good to know. Most of us can relate to that scene. “I can’t receive either,” I said.

Ann-Margret is at the convention, too, but therein lies another tale.

Bananas (1971) – Break-up


  1. Wow, Ann Margret that almost seems to be below her standards. I was never a fan of her particularly, but always thought she was attractive and talented. She started in show biz really young. I've never watched Mary Hartman on a continuous basis. I should give it another whirl. I didn't know Louise Lasser was in Frankenhooker (I've never seen the movie), I assume she was friendly. How cool to get her autograph.

    I've never been to a horror convention and don't know much about the Chiller event--I assume Chiller was a program more local to your area. How was it? They have a similar horror hosted show here on Saturday nights that shows B films, mostly horror or SF, hosted by a guy that goes by the name of Svengoolie. I'll watch it from time to time if the movie they are playing interest me.

    1. Chiller Theater was little more than a time slot during which scifi and horror films aired (many of them later revisited by MST3K). It didn't have a host, though it did have an opening intro: Locally it ran on WPIX for decades, though it also aired in other markets, mostly on independent channels. I grew up on on its fare, which is probably what prompted my parents to buy a second TV: "Go watch it in the rec room!"

      The conventions do a big business and get some surprising celebrity guests -- along with some not so surprising, such as supporting actors in indie horror flicks whose characters got stabbed in the first reel. Parsippany NJ may seem like an odd location, but it is accessible to the NY market without the expense of an NYC venue.