Book Review: This Was Radio by Ronald Lackmann

Isn’t media wonderful? Here I am writing a post for the Internet that I will share on social media about a hardcover book which describes the early days of radio. If I could find a way to throw television in somewhere I’d have every form of media covered!

But rather than do that I will start by showing the publication in question:

11 1/2″ x 14″ Hardcover, 70 Pages

ISBN: 07413-0038-9

I love all-things vintage. And if I can find a Disney tie-in along the way more the better! This publication was published in 2000 by the Great American Audio Corporation. It was written by Ronald Lackmann with an introduction by Leonard Maltin.

The book is divided into 10 chapters which first cover the invention of radio before seguing into the different genres, such as comedy, children’s programming, and talk shows, among others. Chapter 10 provides a brief sum-up of radio’s impact on popular culture.

Here is an excerpt from the introduction:

If it’s entertainment history, it’s Leonard Maltin

I love the reporting of this man! He has done many introductions for Disney productions and is a well-known champion of entertainment history. He, like myself, feels that the shows of the past should be remembered and studied.

In the early days of radio, two companies were major competitors in setting up networks that crossed the United States. They were:

    

Other smaller companies would join the party and the government would later step in with regulations to balance out the content.

And what was in that content?

Lucille Ball’s first stint as a wife was on radio

Mr. Inka Dinka Doo got his big push on radio

And even dummies made it big!

Another Disney tie-in comes from a famous Disney star. From Chapter One: “As performers realized how many people were “tuned in” to radio broadcasts, entertainers like… vaudeville comedian Ed “The Perfect Fool” Wynn decided they might be able to increase the size of their audiences by performing “on radio” for thousands, instead of a mere hundreds of fans. Wynn was heard on one of the first important, well-publicized aired-live comedy shows… Wynn decided to broadcast on a regular basis, becoming one of radio’s first major stars (with the Ed Wynn Show, later called The Fire Chief).”

But it wasn’t all fun and game shows on radio. News broadcasters soon found that radio was a great way to spread fear and panic, er… I mean informative political and social commentary. Some of what was covered was quite chilling:

From political commentary to the bomb

So if you needed to know it back in the day, you learned of it on radio! Of course, we all know that in time television did come along to overshadow that little talking box in the corner. But it never gave up the fight and is still around today, if only for talk and musical purposes.

But if you’re like me you yearn for the days when The Lone Ranger, gangsters, monsters from outer space, funny comedians, and famous actors all ‘appeared’ over the airwaves!

Review: I’d give this book 4 out of 5 Stars. It is a very comprehensive listing of the programming from the early days of radio with a nice selection of behind-the-scenes photographs. For those not that into radio it will seem a bit like a laundry list of shows with not enough context, but as this book was written for the über fan, that hardly diminishes the books validity.

The book also contains two compact discs with a smattering of old-time radio broadcasts.

Magical Blogorail: Disney Movie Night – 1980’s Condorman

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Yellow Loop. Today we are sharing movie night ideas based on Disney movies from the 1980’s.


C O N D O R M A N

Condorman? Really? Yup, we’re starting the loop off with an old live-action superhero romp from 1981.

Condorman is an all-but forgotten Disney adventure comedy superhero film directed by Charles Jarrott, produced by Walt Disney Productions, and starring Michael Crawford, Barbara Carrera and Oliver Reed. Inspired by Robert Sheckley’s The Game of X, the movie follows comic book illustrator Woodrow Wilkins’ attempts to assist in the defection of a female Soviet KGB agent.

 

Both Super Spy and Super Hero

With Michael Crawford in the lead role (he of Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em fame) one might assume that he would fail miserably at being both! But surprisingly he does quite well, although in many unorthodox ways. Like strapping on a highly improbable glider suit and jumping off of very high places while carrying a woman on his back. Hey, you can’t call yourself ‘Condorman’ without wearing wings and flying!

It doesn’t hurt his chances for success either that he has a deep-pocketed government backing him up and creating all sorts of cool spy gadgets directly from out of his comic books. Like this super car:

Three pursuing Porsche? No problem!

The Condormobile was a modified Nova Sterling kit car. There are more gadgets, but I’ll let you be surprised when you watch the movie for yourself. On that point it may be hard to find new copies as it is out of production. It was available through the Disney Movie Club at one point (see first picture above) but not now. All is not lost however as you can get copies on eBay ($25 US/$32 CAN and up) or download it like I did from iTunes ($9.99 CAN). And forget about Blu-Ray!

Although Condorman isn’t one of Disney’s most recognized properties, you would expect an accomplished super hero to show up from time to time. And Condorman has done just that:

                   

From left to right: A Disney Infinity Glider upgrade, a silly toy, and a Vinylmation figure, just to name a few. And of course he had his own three-part comic book adaption from Whitman Comics:

    

Pictures from www.mycomicshop.com

But was the movie any good? Here is My Review: This movie plays like one of the made-for-TV movies shown on Disney’s Wonderful World of Color. Not one of the best ones, though, maybe just slightly in the middle! It offers nothing new to the spy genre and is slow in places but still offers up some truly entertaining moments.

For me the best part was watching Michael Crawford act in a semi-serious role. You may best remember him from The Phantom of the Opera but he was a major comedy star long before that. Be sure to check out this posts Fun Fact for more on Crawford.

I would give this movie 3 out of 5 Stars but still recommend it for a family movie night!

Fun Fact: Michael Crawford appeared in Wall-E by means of the video clips Wall-E played in his ‘home’. You can see him singing, dancing, and most importantly, holding hands.

For more ways to beat summer boredom, check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Yellow | Disney Movie Night | The 80’s Loop:

Book Review: Funny! (The Pixar Story Room)

Twenty-five Years of Laughter from the Pixar Story Room

Forward by John Lasseter / Intro by Jason Katz

Right out of the gate I will say this book was a disappointment. ‘Not Very Funny!’ would probably have been a more appropriate title.

The book covers the first sixteen animated movies released by Pixar up to The Good Dinosaur. It contains sketches from the story department that were used to pitch gags to the various directors of the productions. I have no doubt that it must be very funny, and fun, to work in the story department at Pixar, but no real hilarity comes across in this publication.

         

Cute, but no belly laugh

Each film is featured in a chapter with brief snippets of wit and wisdom from one of the story persons who worked on it.

OK, I would buy this in die-cast!

Some of the ideas, pictured in this post, are amusing. But I wouldn’t consider the majority of them to be ‘funny!’ at any stretch.

It took all of one hour to read through and digest the images in this book making the purchase price of $29.95 US feel a bit high. I’m glad it wasn’t priced at the much higher figures of similar books from Disney Press. Perhaps being manufactured in China by Chronicle Books brought the price down?

My expression after finishing the book

Final Review: I’m not always gushing with my praise for Disney books and I certainly rarely pan a Disney book so thoroughly! But I can only give this effort a 2 out of 5 Stars.

The potential was high but the reality ranged from boring to disturbing with only a few chuckles in-between.

Minnie Mouse Sighted in London, Ontario

Friends of mine were checking out the Masonville Mall in London, ON and came across a famous Disney personality:

How to Draw a Crowd 101

Apparently she was there with Mickey (not pictured) to help open a new Disney Store! This is good news for us as we live just over an hour away. Check out the news report here.

FUN FIND: How many Disney Store Cast Members can you see in the picture?

Pacific Presents ‘The Rocketeer’ by Dave Stevens

I love The Rocketeer even though the 1991 movie could have been better. I think Disney handled the character fairly well but if only they had used him more extensively! Can you imagine him as a walk-around character in Tomorrowland? Too awesome that would be!

Also awesome is this comic book from 1983 that I found recently:

So what do I have here? Here is a not-so brief history of The Rocketeer in comic form from Wikipedia: The Rocketeer’s first adventure appeared in 1982 as a backup feature in issues #2 and #3 of Mike Grell’s Starslayer series from Pacific Comics. Two more installments appeared in Pacific’s showcase comic Pacific Presents #1 and 2 (the issue you see above). This fourth chapter ended in a cliffhanger that was later concluded in a special Rocketeer issue released by Eclipse Comics. The story was continued in the Rocketeer Adventure Magazine. Two issues were published by Comico Comics in 1988 and 1989; the third installment was not published until 1995, six years later by Dark Horse Comics. In 1991 comics artist Russ Heath illustrated the graphic novel The Rocketeer, The Official Movie Adaptation, based on Walt Disney’s 1991 feature film The Rocketeer.

So what I have is the fourth installment of Dave Stevens original treatment of the character, printed before Disney did the movie. Now that’s cool!

Dave Stevens – 1982

Let’s have a look at the artwork:

Stevens definitely has a unique style that is fitted to the type of material. The major difference between his original version and Disney’s cleaned-up movie version is found in the depiction of Cliff Secord’s girlfriend Betty. In the comic, at least the issue I have, she is drawn completely nude in every panel. She is this way because she is in the habit of posing for ‘art photos’ to pay her way in the world. Of course, Stevens is careful not to show the naughty bits, but the images are too provocative to show here!

As was the case with the first two appearances of the Rocketeer he has to share the book with another character story, this time a weird one called The Missing Man by Steve Ditko:

         

You may remember Ditko from his ground-breaking work on the original Doctor Strange comic book. The Missing Man features his unique style of artwork but in a story and with a character so offbeat one wonders why he bothered!

The story features wife and child beating and truly horrible dialogue which just goes to show that even comic legends can produce bad content.

In conclusion, I have a rather funny bit of business to finish this post with:

A Betty Look-alike contest?

The only way to determine if a girl looked like Betty would be to compare her to the artwork in the comic. Artwork that only shows Betty… in the nude! So presumably a boyfriend would have to convince his sweetheart to strip down and pose for a photograph with ‘a clear image of the facial features’, according to the rules. I guess it was OK if her naughty bits were blurry.

I’m joking as it is obvious the publishers only wanted a head shot. Or… did they?

Finding a vintage issue of the source material for a Disney movie was a nice surprise, as I didn’t realize that the comic was that old when I bought it!