Saturday, January 21, 2012

***EXTRA***Movies I Saw in 1974--Part One

I saw a total of 59 movies in theaters in 1974, even though I didn't catch my first one until halfway through February. In 2012 dollars, that would be more than 700 smackers but in 1975, when movies were still a buck if you caught them at the right time--and only 2 or 3 when you didn't--it was probably less than 100 dollars! 

Here, in the first of six installments, is the full list of films I paid to see last year. Even in a perfect world where I had plenty of money, I doubt there were more than a dozen films I would have wanted to see in 2011. I actually saw only two last year...and someone else paid for one of those. 

1--MAGNUM FORCE--Feb 18th, Times Towne Cinema--I became a big Eastwood fan after my Dad and I saw a re-release of DIRTY HARRY the year before so we were both naturally excited to see the first sequel MAGNUM FORCE. We went on my Dad's 64th birthday! If anything, I think it's an even better film. 

2--BLACK BELT JONES--March 16th, RKO Albee--ENTER THE DRAGON had been my favorite film the year before and with Bruce Lee dead it was presumed co-star Jim Kelly would carry on his film hero legacy. Sadly, he couldn't act and  BLACK BELT JONES was no ENTER THE DRAGON. 

3--ZARDOZ--March 23rd, Madison--Sean Connery's infamous diaper-wearing, post-apocalyptic caveman aside, this was a pretty thoughtful sci-fi flick. Since it was rated R, I had to get my Mom to take me. She didn't get it.

4--THE STING--April 13th, the Skywalk--My favorite film of the year and still one of my all-time favorite movies! Newman and Redford, Scott Joplin music, a fun plot, a great ending and a great cast. It would go on to win the Oscar. I went to see it with my friend Arthur. It was the only pic I ever went to see with Arthur for some reason.

5--STORMY--April 19th, Madison--Wow. I have no memories of this at all nor can I find it listed on IMDB. It says it's about a horse. I'm wondering if it might be the sequel to MISTY OF CHINCOTEAQUE, a book I had enjoyed  a few year's earlier. There was a 1930's horse film called STORMY but that wasn't it. No clues, though. Anyone?

6--ALICE IN WONDERLAND--April 19th, Madison--This was the Disney film. It had been a favorite the first time I saw it as a kid so I was anxious to see it again. It remains a Disney favorite to thus day and probably my favorite version of one of my favorite stories.

7--McQ--April 21st, Ludlow--John Wayne was a favorite of my dad's so we saw a lot of his pictures on television when I was growing up  and he became a favorite of mine. also. Wayne had reportedly turned down the role of DIRTY HARRY but then surprisingly took this lower-budget cop actioner that looks like a bit of a rip-off of the Eastwood film character.

8--THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE--April 27th, RKO International '70--This was a re-release when I caught it here for the first time. As disaster films go, it's one of the best...period. The top-notch cast set the standard for these all-star disaster pictures. 

9--CHOSEN SURVIVORS--May 26th, Times Towne Cinema--This played more like a TV movie, complete with TV movie cast and a plot about a post-nuclear survival facility plagued by an unplanned for infestation of bats. It was okay...or would have been if it had been a TV movie. On the big screen, it didn't work so much for me.

10--SERPICO--May 26th, RKO International '70--I had no intention of seeing this one--seemed too "adult" for my interest. But Al Pacino's charisma came through in the TV commercials and I decided to take a chance. I was surprised how much i enjoyed it!

Monday, January 21st, 1974

Another schoolday. Mr. Arnzen is still in the hospital.

Today I was inspired to work on my D.M. story. I was inspired so much, in fact, that I took the pages to school with me even though I ended up NOT having any time to do anything with them!

NOTES: Remember how I said I had always wanted to be  a writer? Well, I may have still been getting the hang of non-fiction with this journal but I had been writing detective stories for a year or two already! D. M. was a detective character I created. The thing that made him unique was that he was a man who awoke one morning in a strange town where no one knew him and he had no memory of who he was. His pockets had been stripped of all info except for a small, folded piece of paper on which was written the initials, "D" and "M." 

In case those of you reading this are too young to remember it, this was in essence the backstory of a short-lived 1967 TV series entitled CORONET BLUE. I recall watching that series but I don't remember if I consciously or unconsciously lifted the idea for my own stories. I wrote--or at least plotted and/or started quite a few of them, though. I found the following list this evening:


1--The Beginning--Jewel Robbery

2--The Mark of Capricorn

3--Arrows of Death

4--The Spawn of Hitler

5--Mystery of the Supermen

6--The Horrible Dr. Dare

7--A Turn For the Worse

8--On the Trail of Dr. Dare

9--The Egyptian Connection

10--Angie Dawn

11--The Doll House

12--A Death in the Family

13--The Millionaire

14--Rock and Roll Revenge

15--The Death Corporation

16--The Executioner

17--Killer On the Loose

18--Stranger in My Mind

19--The Suicide Conspiracy

20--The Genocide Formula

21--Z For Zoo


23--Return to Lifetime

24--Professional Death

25--Last Dance Together

26--A Trace of Identity

Looks like a full season of TV episodes, doesn't it? Reading my notes, though, 9 were left completely unwritten, 5 unfinished and 6 in need of revision. I wrote about DM from about 1971 or '72 until 1975. During that time, i also spun off a couple of his supporting characters into their own stories--Angie Dawn and Rick Trace--as well as teamed DM up with my pulpish, two-gunned masked avenger, Nightmare. 

I still have most if not all of the DM episodes that I actually finished...and they aren't one bit as interesting as all of the above might make them seem! I had a LOT to learn about writing.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Sunday, January 20th, 1974

Well, this month's almost over already. Today I was going to write some letters but i didn't get a chance to. Terry came over and we went down to Pasquale's for a pizza. Then we made a neat radio tape.

Tonight I saw Clint Eastwood in FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE.

I did IT again. I've read that it's actually physically harmless but that it can cause emotional harm or even addiction!

NOTES: Okay, now this is odd. My favorite pizza of all time is LaRosa's from here in Cincinnati but when I was growing up, we always got Pasquale's. In fact, the very first prize I ever won was a $5.00 gift certificate from Pasquale's Pizza. They were thin and greasy but tasty. The odd part is that the closet one I remember was at 18th and Madison (a stone's throw from where I'm sitting right now but sadly long gone these several decades). The way this sounds, it was somewhere close enough to walk easily from my house. Hmmm.... I'll have to check with Terry. 

Every town seems to have a Pasquale's by the way, none of them related to the other. The image above is at least the same little guy from "MY" Pasquale's.

Ahhh...the radio tapes! I was always fascinated with my cassette recorder. Sometimes when he would come over, I'd put in a 90 minute cassette and we'd basically adlib a radio DJ program complete with a drunken disk jockey (his idea), a straight-laced newsman (me), commercials, bits of records from my collection, sound effects, weather, traffic, guests, etc. We must have done dozens of them but for some reason I only kept one...which I still have. There's no exact date so I don't know but it might be the one we recorded on this date!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Saturday, January 19th, 1974

Well I got about six Gazettes. I may order the others at some point. I'm going to have to order something, soon. I really like to get books in the mail!

I spent all afternoon reading and then all evening watching television. I watched Stefanie and Bobby on the ABC Suspense Movie and it was marvelous.

NOTES: I went through a period of hating to get mail in recent years as so much of it consisted of bills and late notices but I have to admit I still get a thrill when I get a book--mostly review copies these days--brought right to my door.

The movie that aired that night really wasn't that memorable in the long run but it was called SKYWAY TO DEATH. Basically a TV disaster movie, it was highly touted by ABC and then just faded away. "Stefanie" was Stefanie Powers, the first celebrity I ever got an autograph from and "Bobby" was Bobby Sherman, the Justin Bieber of 1970, here in the last moments of his 15 minutes of fame. I had all his records and always enjoyed seeing him on television but after his recording and acting careers dried up for some reason (after about ten years since he started on SHINDIG and guest-starred on shows like HONEY WEST), he became an EMT and a trivia question.  

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Friday, January 18th, 1974

Mr. Arnzen is in the hospital.

Terry says that a couple of the Gazettes are gone already so maybe I can afford what's left tomorrow.

The week's over already, only to be followed by an all-too short weekend and then we start all over again.

NOTES: Mr. Arnzen would turn out to have some major health problems. Not sure if I go into it here in the Journal but let's just say that he sadly doesn't make it out of the school year alive.

I guess during this period where I disliked school, weekends took on an extra meaning to me. Earlier, I loved the weekdays just as much and later on, as an adult, I actually worked nearly every Saturday and many Sundays for about a decade. These days, they're still nothing special but, for a time in the seventies, I loved my Saturdays!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Thursday, January 17th, 1974

Two days into the second semester and already the Health teacher is absent! Not that I really cared. Gave me a chance to finish my Algebra and also my book report.

My biggest problem right now seems to be that there are 11 issues of THE GAZETTE at Kidd's that at the moment I can't afford. I sure hope something turns up soon in that area before I miss them.

Doug called again tonight. Since he was released from the hospital last Friday, he's called almost every night. Just like old times. I'm glad he's all right.

NOTES: This was Algebra 1 I had this year and I loved it. I had never been big n Math but I really liked Algebra. Later, in high school, Algebra 2 would not be as simple to me.  Luckily, my son is a math expert all around. He took online calculus classes last summer...for fun.

I dearly loved THE MENOMONEE FALLS GAZETTE  (a whole newspaper of nothing but comic strips!) but the issues were nightmarish to store after they started building up. In the latter days of my 1976 Journal, it was these issues that I was cutting comic strips from! 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Wednesday, January 16th, 1974

Today I found out Health class is not gonna be as easy as I thought because they teach you--very frankly--about sex! And that's the one subject I really don't want to get any more interested in!

Terry came over about 5 and showed me some more Golden Age comics he bought over the river. Then we almost got into a fight but everything turned out okay, I guess.

All in all, today wasn't a very good day except for the weather which, for a change, was quite good.

NOTES: The main reason, of course, that I was against sex was that I wasn't having any. I was absolutely fascinated by it on the one hand (no pun intended) and yet so afraid it would never apply to me. Not sure why a sex ed class made me nervous at this point as we had sort of had one two years earlier. It was called "Safety"class and we had it twice a week, alternating with PE on the other days. The gym teacher taught it, it was all guys and it was, frank language and all, a sex education class. In fact, it's where I actually learned the meaning of the dreaded "F" word. I was, by that point, familiar with the act but had never made the connection with the term!

****EXTRA****January, 1974 Number One Songs

The following songs topped the BILLBOARD charts during the first month of 1974:


A beautiful ballad from Jim Croce, the artist originally known more for his novelty numbers such as BAD, BAD LEROY BROWN and YOU DON'T MESS AROUND WITH JIM. Sadly, this was one of several posthumous singles, released only months after the singer's late Summer, '73 death in a  plane crash.

THE JOKER-The Steve Miller Band

The Steve Miller band had been around for a number of years by this point but I had never heard of them. Thus the fact that this is a pretentious, self-referential number had no impact on me at all. Just seemed egotistical from someone who, to me, was a nobody. That said, as Mr. Miller and his band developed an impressive array of hits throughout the remainder of the seventies, I did eventually become a fan...but still not of this song.


Wilson had had a minor hit with THE SNAKE in 1968, a song I heard often on the radio in those days but didn't like. This song, SHOW AND TELL, had originally been recorded by Johnny Mathis but it was Al's version that became a hit and still is heard today from time to time. He never duplicated its success. Al Wilson died in 2008.


A single off Mr. Starkey's sorta-kinda Beatles reunion album, RINGO, this catchy number had been a hit back in 1960 for Johnny Burnette. Written by Disney's favorite songwriters, the Sherman Brothers, the recording featured vocals by Ringo and Harry Nilsson (with McCartney on kazoo!). Here in 2012, it remains a staple of Ringo's concerts but comes across as more than a little weird to have a seventy one year old singing about his underage sweetheart!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Tuesday, January 15th, 1974

I answered my pen-pal letter this evening.

Earlier in the day, I started Health class at school, the first day of the second semester.

Today seemed like early Spring to me and that got me thinking about Debbie, again.

I read THE SANDY DUNCAN STORY today for my English book report.

NOTES: My pen-pal was relatively recent at this point, a Japanese girl my age named Yoshiko. We would correspond for about 5 years.

Sandy Duncan is sadly pretty much a trivia question, today, but she was a fun actress/comedienne in the early seventies whose rising star was shot down by surgery that left her blind in one eye and caused her hit sitcom, FUNNY FACE,  to be put on hold. When it returned, it was completely revamped but never quite as popular. She stayed in the public eye for the remainder of the decade, her most notable role being as PETER PAN onstage. The book I read was found on the shelf in English class and was by  Rochelle Reed. Seen above, should you be interested, copies can be had for a penny via Amazon.