Archive for George Reeves

The Death of the Arthur: Sleepy Time Galahad

Posted in FILM, Mythology with tags , , on January 20, 2023 by dcairns

Well, Galahad’s ring of invisibility proves to be a bust. When he tries to use it, he’s under attack from this Black Knight character (who has all his limbs, unlike the helmeted torso of the same name in MONTY PYTHON), who is wielding the stolen sword Excalibur. We get a noise as of radio interference and the sword glows with an animated halo effect, like Lon Chaney Jr. in MAN-MADE MONSTER, and then Galahad quite simply falls over.

Elsewhere in this episode, Merlin paves the way for another Cleese character, Tim the Enchanter, by appearing and disappearing with the aid of explosions. It’s standard panto trickery, but the PYTHON scene retroactively makes it comical. The Pythons rendered quite a few things hard to take seriously, from Arthuriana to the Spanish Inquisition.

Galahad and Bors continue to get capture, escape, and get captured again. Bors is untiringly supportive of Galahad, and Galahad never misses a chance to fat-shame his chunky sidekick. It’s a vivid reminder of how obnoxiousness was the norm in the middle ages nineteen-forties.

The rewriting of Merlin as a baddie is an atrocity of course. It may be a result of postwar conservatism in the US, resulting in a suspicion of intellectuals and other wizards, bearded men generally. Or, it may be that this is all a trick, Merlin testing the young Galahad with a series of Herculean feats the young would-be knight and future Superman must perform.

Check out the stellar sound work in this exciting battle. They’ve got, I think, some genuine clashing swords FX produced on the day of filming by the stunties whacking at each other, and they’ve enhanced it I think with a library record of general purpose aggressive ironmongery. But at a certain point someone’s discovered they need more than just blade striking blade — these are knights in armour, after all (though it’s mostly chainmail). So they’ve got a bunch of pots and pans and are sort of randomly clattering them about, perhaps on a blanket they make a kind of hand-held trampoline out of. Once you notice it, you can’t unnotice it.

Here’s a GREAT bit of slapstick magic from later in the same Donnybrook:

If only the serial had more of this fine stuff.

As a cliffhanger goes, you can’t beat quicksand (well, you can’t beat hanging off an actual cliff, but if the scenery falls short of mountainous, quicksand is a decent fallback option). This might be oatmeal or something rather than quicksand proper, but is that really any more desirable if you’re wearing full armour?

One hour of this muck to go. I WILL finish it soon!

The Death of the Arthur: The Sword in the Stooge

Posted in FILM, Mythology with tags , , , , on January 11, 2023 by dcairns

Still sick. My cough has developed nicely, though, which is a sign things are at least moving. Congestion and sneezing have been added to the mix, along with a couple of other symptoms too unpleasant to go into.

Part Four of THE ADVENTURES OF SIR GALAHAD has no amusing elements at all, unless you count the running joke that is King Ulric’s beard. The closest thing to inadvertent entertainment is the siege of Camelot. All the battles between the Round Table guys and Ulric’s Saxons are limited to about ten a side, which is more sad than funny. A major plot point, however, deals with whether Arthur should concentrate his defenses on the east wall or the south. The treacherous Merlin (!) is giving him bad advice. When the battle commences, it turns out said “wall” is a cliff face. Knights on top of the rock try to stop ground-level knights from scaling it. We’ve seen wide shots of Camelot (a painting) so we know it isn’t one-half natural landscape features.

The cliffhanger this time is Galahad being pitchforked backwards on a ladder so as to arc backwards to earth with a smash. Well, similar mishaps didn’t kill Basil Fawlty or Bluto Blutarsky, so I’m sure he;ll be fine.

The Three Stooges short SQUAREHEADS OF THE ROUND TABLE is misnamed, since there’s no round table in it and no Arthur etc. Lots of clanging with suits of armour though. The “romantic” lead is the improbably-named Jacques O’Mahoney, who would rationalise himself into Jock Mahoney and become a Tarzan.

Period detail is weak. Suits of armour are used as decoration, as in SIR G. The “dungeon” is transparently a western jailhouse, and the Good Princess Elaine sends tools baked inside a loaf to help our heroes escape, not a particularly Arthurian trope.

The Death of the Arthur: Hex Calibre

Posted in FILM, literature, Mythology, Television with tags , , , , , , , on January 10, 2023 by dcairns

Happy Valley‘s back, the best BBC show in years and years, so we’re watching that. If you’ve never watched, start at the beginning, you have a treat in store. Sarah Lancashire’s sarcastic cop is a worthy companion to Donald Pleasence’s in DEATHLINE, the highest praise I can muster from a prone position.

Not been watching too much else, but been alternating between Rex Stout, Margery Allingham and Charles Stross. CS is an Edinburgh-based writer I’d like to meet. His Laundry Files series posits a shabby British spy agency designed to deal with transdimensional occult manifestations — so it’s HP Lovecraft’s cosmology filtered through Len Deighton’s view of the bureaucracy of espionage. The books are amusing from the start, and keep getting better. The tone becomes more controlled, the writing gets more skilled, and Bob, our disgruntled operative, gets more appealing.

My own second novel is nearly ready to make its appearance, in Kindle and paperback from, on Amazon. I’ll keep you posted. It was my lockdown project, which may be why it’s so claustrophobic: nearly everything takes place indoors, at night, or at the earth’s core.

And I’ve just belatedly discovered ventriloquist Nina Conti’s own lockdown project, Nina and Monkey’s Bedtime. Don’t attempt to eat while watching this, especially if, like me, you have a cough. I wish I’d known about this during lockdown.

I watched another episode of THE ADVENTURES OF SIR GALAHAD. It still had a couple of funny things in it.

#1 The stolen sword Excalibur is brought to baddie Ulrics tent. Merlin has it placed on a small table and magics it into place, saying it will now be safe from theft. He’s done a basic sword-in-the-stone spell on it, only this time it’s The Sword on the Table. Moments after M and U leave, Galahad lets himself in by slashing one side of the tent open, and tries his heroic best to nick back the sacred sword, but it won’t budge. I thought it would be amusing if he’d then picked up the entire table and carried it off. That’s what I’d do, if I wasn’t flat on my back.

An amusing thing that does happen: Ulric returns to the royal tent, but doesn’t seem to notice the gaping slash Galahad has made in it as a back door.

#2 Galahad gets caught and the baddies tie him to a flimsy pole embedded loosely in the soil, and then set up a massive ballista — one of those giant crossbow things — as his firing squad. I don’t know why the idea of using a siege machine for a solo execution job is so funny, but it is. I’m willing to bet that it never, ever happened. Although one can imagine a bunch of bored soldiers trying it for laughs. It’s very much “sledgehammer to kill a fly” material, but funnier. All while George Reeves stands there, sweating in his woollen chainmail, looking mildly concerned.

TWANG!

Now THAT’S a cliffhanger, And the brief “NEXT INSTALLMENT” montage (is two shots a montage?) doesn’t feature any footage of Galahad, boldly keeping up the pretense that he at least MIGHT be dead, and the next three hours + of THE ADVENTURES OF SIR GALAHAD will have to somehow get along without him.