June 14, 1958 on UK TV: The Black And White Minstrel Show

Black_and_White_Minstrel_Show-1958The Black and White Minstrel Show was a British light entertainment show that ran on BBC television from 1958 to 1978 and was a popular stage show. It was a weekly light entertainment and variety show presenting traditional American minstrel and country songs, as well as show and music hall numbers, usually performed in blackface, and with lavish costumes. The show was created by BBC producer George Inns working with George Mitchell.

The show began as a one-off special in 1957 called The 1957 Television Minstrels featuring the male Mitchell Minstrels (after George Mitchell, the musical director) and the female Television Toppers dancers. It was popular and soon developed into a regular 45-minute show on Saturday evening prime time television, featuring a sing-along format with both solo and minstrel pieces (often with extended segueing), some country and western and music derived from other foreign folk cultures. The male Minstrels performed in blackface; the female dancers and other supporting artists did not. The show included “comedy interludes” performed by Leslie Crowther, George Chisholm and Stan Stennett. It was initially produced by George Inns with George Mitchell. The Minstrels’ main soloists were baritone Dai Francis, tenor John Boulter, and bass Tony Mercer. During the nine years that the show was broadcast in black and white, the blackface makeup was actually red as black did not film very well.

By 1964, the show was achieving viewing figures of 21m.  At this time, the creation gained considerable international regard; in 1961 the show won a Golden Rose at Montreux for best light entertainment programme and the first three albums of songs (1960–1962) all did extremely well, the first two being long-running #1 albums in the UK Albums Chart. The first of these became the first album in UK album sales history to pass 100,000 sales.

While it started off being broadcast in black and white, the show was one of the very first to be shown in colour on BBC2 in 1967.

Several famous personalities guested on the show, while others started their careers there. Comedian Lenny Henry was one such star, being the first black comedian to appear, in 1975. In July 2009, Lenny Henry explained that he was contractually obliged to perform and regretted his part in the show.

The show’s premise began to be seen as offensive on account of its portrayal of blacked-up characters behaving in a stereotypical manner and a petition against it was received by the BBC in 1967. In 1969, due to continuing accusations of racism, Music Music Music, a spin-off series in which the minstrels appeared without their blackface make-up, replaced The Black and White Minstrel Show. It failed badly, was cancelled after 10 episodes and The Black and White Minstrel Show returned to win back viewers.

Since its cancellation, The Black and White Minstrel Show has come to be seen more widely as an embarrassment, despite its huge popularity at the time. [Wikipedia]

June 14, 1962 on UK TV: Steptoe And Son

Steptoe_And_Son-1962Steptoe and Son is a British sitcom written by Ray Galton and Alan Simpson about a father-and-son rag-and-bone business. They live at Oil Drum Lane, a fictional street in Shepherd’s Bush, London. Four series were broadcast by the BBC from 1962-65, followed by a second run from 1970-74. The theme tune, “Old Ned”, was composed by Ron Grainer. In 1972, a film adaptation of the series, Steptoe and Son, was released in cinemas, followed by a sequel Steptoe and Son Ride Again in 1973.

The series focused on the inter-generational conflict of father and son. Albert Steptoe, aSCOTS “dirty old man”, is an elderly rag-and-bone man, set in his grimy and grasping ways. By contrast, his 37-year-old son Harold is filled with social aspirations, not to say pretensions. The show contained elements of drama and tragedy, as Harold was continually prevented from achieving his ambitions. To this end, the show was unusual at the time for casting actors rather than comedians in its lead roles, although both actors were drawn into more comedic roles as a consequence. [Wikipedia]

Watch the opening credits to an episode from season 8 (1974) on the Nostalgic Kiwi YouTube Channel.

June: Top of the Pops 1973 & 1974

1973: Volume 31 (SHM 825)TOTP_Vol_31

Amongst the cover versions presented on this edition:

  • Hell Raiser [The Sweet]
  • Walk On The Wild Side [Lou Reed]
  • Rubber Bullets [10CC]
  • Also Sprach Zarathustra [Deodato]
  • Pork Salad Annie [Elvis Presley]
  • Can The Can [Suzi Quatro]

“Walk On The Wild Side” was sung by respected session singer Danny Street but considered one of the worst recordings in the series.  A Mojo journalist observed, “More like a newsreader reciting a shopping list than Lou Reed.” Find more information at TOTP Vol 31.

Listen to the album on Spotify.

1974: Volume 38 (SHM 865)TOTP_Vol_38

Amongst the cover versions presented on this edition:

  • Sugar Baby Love [The Rubettes]
  • I Won’t Last A Day Without You [The Carpenters]
  • Shang-A-Lang [The Bay City Rollers]
  • Waterloo [Abba]
  • Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me [Elton John]
  • This Town Ain’t Big Enough For The Both Of Us [Sparks]

Find more information at TOTP Vol 38.

This album is not on Spotify.

More Top Of the Pops next week!

June 14, 1996 in UK cinemas: Last Of The Dogmen

A SECRET LOST IN TIME FOR OVER 130 YEARS IS ABOUT TO BE DISCOVERED.”

Last_Of_The_Dogmen-1995Last of the Dogmen is a 1995 American Western adventure film written and directed by Tab Murphy, and starring Tom Berenger and Barbara Hershey. Set in the mountains of northwest Montana, near the Idaho and Canadian borders, the film is about a bounty hunter who tracks escaped convicts into a remote region and encounters an unknown band of Dog Soldiers from a tribe of Cheyenne Indians. The film was shot on location in Alberta and British Columbia, Canada, as well as in Mexico.

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The American theatrical and home video releases of this film included third-person narration by Wilford Brimley, which is absent from the UK version. [Wikipedia]

Watch the video trailer on the Video Detective YouTube Channel.

June 14, 1991 in UK cinemas: A Kiss Before Dying

“Loving him was easy, Trusting him was deadly.”

A_Kiss_Before_Dying-1991A Kiss Before Dying is a British-American neo-noir film. It was directed by James Dearden, and based on the novel by Ira Levin, whose book won the 1954 Edgar Award for “Best First Novel.” The drama features Matt Dillon, Sean Young, Max von Sydow and Diane Ladd. The story had been previously adapted under the same name in 1956. This was the last film to use the 75th Anniversary 1990s Universal Pictures logo. [Wikipedia]

Realising his secret girlfriend Dorothy’s pregnancy will sour her relations with her ultra-MSDKIBE EC001rich father, career-minded Philadelphia student Jonathan Corliss coolly murders her, making it look like suicide. He then moves to New York to woo her twin sister Ellen. All seems to go well for him, although Ellen’s continued investigations into what she is convinced was not a suicide forces him to kill again. [IMDB]

Watch the trailer on the rainking34 YouTube Channel.

June 14, 1962 in US cinemas: That Touch Of Mink

“Two of Hollywood’s most beloved stars, Cary Grant and Doris Day, sparkle in a breezy, stylish comedy that’s rich with romantic delights.”

That_Touch_Of_Mink-1962That Touch of Mink is an American Eastmancolor romantic comedy film directed by Delbert Mann starring Cary Grant, Doris Day, Gig Young and Audrey Meadows.

Cathy Timberlake, a New York City career woman, meets Philip Shayne after his Rolls Royce splashes her dress with mud while she is on her way to a job interview.

Philip proposes a romantic affair, while Cathy is holding out for marriage. Watching from the sidelines are Philip’s financial manager, Roger, who sees a therapist because he feels guilty about helping his boss with his numerous conquests, and Cathy’s roommate, Connie Emerson, who knows what Philip is after.

Philip wines and dines Cathy. He takes her to see the New York Yankees play baseball. They watch from the Yankees dugout (he owns part of the team). Cathy’s complaints about the umpire while seated alongside Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris and Yogi Berra (playing themselves) cause umpire Art Passarella to throw all of them out of the game.

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Philip’s conscience weighs on him, so he withdraws an invitation to Bermuda, which only serves to make Cathy agree to go. While in Bermuda, anxiety-ridden over the evening’s sexual implications, Cathy comes down with a nervous rash, much to her embarrassment and his frustration.

The Bermuda trip is repeated, but this time Cathy drinks to soothe her nerves and ends up drunk. While intoxicated, Cathy falls off the balcony onto an awning below. She is then carried in her pajamas through the crowded hotel lobby.

At the urging of Roger and Connie, who are convinced that Philip is in love with her, Cathy goes on a date with Beasley, whom she dislikes, to make Philip jealous. Her plan succeeds and she and Philip get married. On their honeymoon, he breaks out in a rash. [Wikipedia]

Watch the trailer on the Paramount Movies YouTube Channel.

June 14, 1973 in US cinemas: Shaft In Africa

THE Brother Man in the Motherland.  Shaft is stickin’ it…all the way.”

Shaft_In_Afica-1973Shaft in Africa is a film directed by John Guillermin and is the third film in the blaxploitation trilogy of films starring Richard Roundtree as John Shaft. Stirling Silliphant wrote the screenplay The cost went up to $2,142,000, but the gross fell to $1,458,000. MGM quickly sold the property to television, but the television series was cancelled after just seven episodes.

At home in his New York City apartment, John Shaft is drugged with a tranquilizer dart, then kidnapped and persuaded by threats of physical force, the promise of money, and the lure of a pretty tutor to travel to Africa (much of the movie was filmed in Ethiopia), assuming the identity of a native-speaking itinerant worker. His job is to help break a criminal ring that is smuggling immigrants into Europe then exploiting them. But the villains have heard that he is on his way.

Shaft must pass a test before being hired for the job; the test involves him surviving in aCinema-US-06-14-1973 small, overheated room without water, and a floor covered in deep sand, mimicking the supposed conditions of Africa. Shaft ingeniously covers himself with the sand, thereby avoiding heatstroke and winning the contract from his employer. Shaft must then embark upon a mission to infiltrate and destroy a human trafficking and slavery ring in West Africa and France. [Wikipedia]

Look out for Frank Finlay, Nadim Sawalha and Glynn Edwards (Dave the barman in Minder).

Watch the trailer on the Movieclips Trailer Vault YouTube Channel.

June 14, 1930 in UK cinemas: All Quiet On The Western Front

“At last….the motion picture!”

All_Quiet_On_The_Western_Front-1930All Quiet on the Western Front is an American epic Pre-Code war film based on the Erich Maria Remarque novel of the same name. It was directed by Lewis Milestone, and stars Louis Wolheim, Lew Ayres, John Wray, Arnold Lucy and Ben Alexander.

All Quiet on the Western Front opened to wide acclaim in the United States. Considered a realistic and harrowing account of warfare in World War I, it made the American Film Institute’s first 100 Years…100 Movies list in 1998. A decade later, after the same organization polled over 1,500 workers in the creative community, All Quiet on the Western Front was ranked the seventh-best American epic film. In 1990, the film was selected and preserved by the United States Library of Congress’ National Film Registry as being deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” The film was the first to win the Academy Awards for both Outstanding Production and Best Director.

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Its sequel, The Road Back (1937), shows members of the 2nd Company returning home after the war. [Wikipedia]

A young soldier faces profound disillusionment in the soul-destroying horror of World War I. [IMDB]

Watch the trailer on the Movieclips Trailer Vault YouTube Channel.

June 14, 1956 in UK cinemas: Forbidden Planet

“IT’S OUT OF THIS WORLD!”

Forbidden_Planet-1955Forbidden Planet (also known as Fatal Planet) is an American science fiction film from MGM, produced by Nicholas Nayfack, directed by Fred M. Wilcox and starring Walter Pidgeon, Anne Francis and Leslie Nielsen. Shot in Eastmancolor and CinemaScope, it is considered one of the great science fiction films of the 1950s, a precursor of what was to come for science fiction cinema. The characters and isolated setting have been compared to those in William Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Its plot contains certain story analogues to the play.

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Forbidden Planet is noted for pioneering several aspects of science fiction cinema. It was the first science fiction film to depict humans traveling in a faster-than-light starship of their own creation. It was also the first to be set entirely on another planet in interstellar space, far away from Earth. The Robby the Robot character is one of the first film robots that was more than just a mechanical “tin can” on legs; Robby displays a distinct personality and is an integral supporting character in the film. Outside of science fiction, the film was groundbreaking as the first of any genre to use an entirely electronic musical score, courtesy of Bebe and Louis Barron.

Forbidden Planet’s effects team was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects at the 29th Academy Awards. In 2013, the picture was entered into the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry, being deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”. [Wikipedia]

A starship crew goes to investigate the silence of a planet’s colony only to find two survivors and a deadly secret that one of them has. [IMDB]

Watch the trailer on the Movieclips Trailer Vault YouTube Channel.