Yet Another Journal

Nostalgia, DVDs, old movies, television, OTR, fandom, good news and bad, picks, pans,
cute budgie stories, cute terrier stories, and anything else I can think of.

 Contact me at theyoungfamily (at) earthlink (dot) net

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» Thursday, March 10, 2005
DVD Transfer Diary
Lassie: "The Disappearance" -- This was the five part story that introduced Corey Stuart as Forest Ranger Corey Stuart, who rescues Lassie from a lake where she has been swept overboard after a storm. The version I have is a two-hour movie which clipped about 25 minutes out of the story. (Ironically, there was once also a 90-minute movie version which included about half of the edited scenes; had I taped that as well, I'd have almost the whole story!)

National Geographic Specials: "In the Shadow of Vesuvius" and "Mysteries of Mankind." -- The former is my favorite of the NG specials. My maternal grandparents grew up on the island of Ischia, off the coast of Naples, in sight of Vesuvius. In 1883 there was a huge earthquake in the area caused by rumblings from deep in the bowels of Vesuvius. During the earthquake a rock landed on the chest of my grandfather's mother as she was trying to protect her baby (my grandpa's younger brother) and seriously injured her. She died a year later, having never really recovered. Poor Grandpa got stuck with the stepmother-from-Hell after his dad remarried.

If you asked as a trivia question "Name something you're interested in that most people don't know about," I'd have to say anthropology and archaeology. I have several books on the subject and still regret I didn't buy the big coffee table anthropological book that was on sale in BJ's during Christmas of 2003. In junior high one of the books I repeatedly took out of the school library was The Morning of Mankind. Louis and Mary Leakey are literary friends and Olduvai Gorge and Lascaux are as familiar to me as Westminster Street and Pontiac Avenue. So "Mysteries of Mankind" was a natural.

Lassie the Voyager: -- Again, the movie version; since we're fitting a seven-part story in a two hour movie, lots went bye-bye. I have loved Lassie all my life, but as the series went on you had to do a lot of stretching to believe "Lassie" as she was portrayed actually existed. She went from a "smart dog" in the Jeff Miller era to something a little bit smarter but still just a dog in the Timmy era to this "angel in disguise" in the color era, a savant who instinctually cared for the helpless, brought together the lonely, and guarded the forest. (Best example: in an early Jeff episode Lassie isn't hungry because, they surmise, she killed and ate a rabbit earlier in the day; one couldn't imagine the later Lassie doing a real dog thing like hunting a rabbit, she was too "nice.")

Voyager has Lassie separated from Corey after she breaks away from where she is being cared for to search for him (he's loading the last of a shipment of erosion-stopping trees on a ship headed for Hawaii before a hurricane strikes the Florida coast) and boards the wrong freighter. She escapes the freighter off the Virginia coast, swims to shore, and proceeds to head west, presumably for California which is Corey's home base. Corey is always one step behind her after getting different reports of her location. Some of these stretch the bounds of incredulity: he finds out she's in Williamsburg, Virginia, for example, by seeing a front page story in the Jacksonville paper about a dog on trial for her life (not on the front page of the features section or a section devoted to law, but on the front page). So let's get this straight: Jacksonville just got hit by a hurricane and their front page above-the-fold story is about a dog almost 1000 miles away? Such were the vagaries of the color period. The dog was gorgeous, though.

Remember When: "On the Air" and "Page One" -- This was a nostalgia series HBO did; not sure how many episodes--I have seven of them. To prove how good they were, I even taped the one about sports! Dick Cavett hosted the show with a light but not joking touch and one of the gimmicks was working him into the background of a photo taken in the period. For instance, in "On the Air" Cavett is dressed in a White Star Line officer's uniform and, projected in black and white, "walks" down the deck of the Titanic. It worked pretty well; you might almost think he was there. "On the Air" is and "Page One" is about newsgathering, with an emphasis on newspapers, newsreels, and radio broadcasters.

Whatever happened to Dick Cavett, anyway? On the list of things I wish to God I had on video, like NBC: the First Fifty Years (much better than the crummy 75th anniversary bash they did more recently) and CBS: On the Air (the weeklong 50th anniversary retrospective), was a 90-minute interview either Dick Cavett or David Frost did with Don Adams and Don Rickles.

Finally, some Disney animal shorts: my absolute favorite of all of them, Run, Appaloosa, Run!, and also The Little Shepherd Dog of Catalina, which concerns a champion Shetland Sheepdog who is stranded on Santa Catalina Island after he falls off his master's boat.

Today, although a few words are no longer P.C. and some of the dialog is stiff, 1966's Run, Appaloosa, Run! is still a super story about a young woman who breaks out of a conventional mold to follow her talents. Mary Blackfeather is a talented Nez Perce equestrian who is already violating the male-oriented rules of her tribe by doing a trick riding routine with her palomino horse and her Australian Sheepdog, Silver. She has a great talent with horses and raises an orphaned Appaloosa colt that the tribe names "Holy Smoke." The horse is sold when grown, but comes back to Mary through a circuituous route. Each year in Washington State there is a race called the Hell's Mountain Suicide Race, which the Nez Perce originally instituted to test the stamina of their Appaloosa horses. For years all the winners have been white men, but Mary feels that Holy Smoke is the horse that will bring the award back to the Native tribes. She and the horse are so good that the tribal elders give her leave to enter the race. The final segment is a fast-paced free-for-all in which Mary and Holy Smoke must negotiate jumps over rough country, a ride down a 210-foot tall, 62° slope into the Okanogan River, and then swim the river to win. Mary is a super heroine, the dog and the horse are wonderful, the featurette includes some exciting incidental music to accompany the race, and the entire story is framed with "The Ballad of the Appaloosa" sung by Bobby Wayne, a song you will be humming long after the story is through.