Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween Checklist, 2010

Something Old…

Something New…

Something Borrowed…

And Something Blue…

Checklist complete!

As a little bonus, here’s a recent acquisition to my collection; another view of the “Opening Soon” sign that sat outside the Haunted Mansion for years before it was ever open. Today’s view is from April 1968:

Happy Halloween everyone!

See more Disneyland Haunted Mansion photos at my main website.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Screen Gem Saturdays: Halloween Eve with The Addams Family

Although I prefer “The Munsters,” the TV show based on cartoonist Charles Adams’ creepy characters is still a lot of fun. As Morticia, Carolyn Jones was one of the hottest goth chicks to ever fill the screen; it was no surprise that she had Gomez (John Astin) wrapped around her finger. The kids were fairly obnoxious, but perfectly cast (Lisa Loring and Ken Weatherwax). Ted Cassidy as Lurch was brilliant; there is no way that anybody could ever compare to him. Sadly, Uncle Fester (Jackie Coogan) and Thing are missing from this publicity well as the music of Vic Mizzy. Can you imagine watching this show without his musical contributions?

It really is odd to see the cast in color. Here’s the whole gang (minus the kids): Uncle Fester (Jackie Coogan), Grandmama (Blossom Rock), Gomez (John Astin), Morticia (Carolyn Jones), and Lurch (Ted Cassidy). Who was the casting genius on this show?

Although it only ran for 2 seasons (1964–1966), this show is still much loved and watched today, over 40 years after its release.

See more Hollywood Movie & TV photos at my main website.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Bertha Mari/Bertha Mae

“Davy Crockett's Keelboat Race” aired on November 16, 1955. It was the fourth of five episodes and told the tale of Davy Crockett and Georgie and the self-proclaimed "King of the River", Mike Fink. This production photo shows The Bertha Mari Keelboat. What? That’s right...when you zoom in, you can see that the name is distinctly “Bertha Mari.”

The sequence shown in this photo was actually filmed on the Ohio River and depicts the legendary race down river from Maysville, Kentucky, to New Orleans.

And here is a shot of The Bertha Mae at Disneyland. Why the name was changed is unknown to me; you’ll also note that she is really gussied-up compared to how she looked on TV!

The Keelboat that sits outside of Mike Fink’s cabin is more accurate to what the Keelboats on the TV show looked like. Fink’s Keelboat was known as The Gullywhumper.

View more Disneyland Keelboat photos at my main website.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Traveling Thursdays: Evolution of a Story, Savannah-Style

This photo from 1912 shows the Savannah Cotton Exchange on Bay Street. Shrouded by the vines is a terra cotta statue of a winged lion, a symbol of Mark the Evangelist, that had been in this location since 1889. I took this photo of the same building on my first trip to this historic city back in 2005. Note the growth of the two palms on either side.

I have also included a closeup of the statue:

On a trip to Savannah in October 2008, I noticed something was missing as I walked by the Cotton Exchange on Bay Street. This is what I saw:

The rough look on the claws of the lion alerted me to the fact that the statue hadn't been removed for a restoration. Storing it away in my brain, I figured I'd eventually find out what happened.

In Savannah, the residents don't just give you the facts...they give you a story. At the next instance I was able to talk to one of my friends (a Savannah local), I asked her about the statue. "Oh, my Lord! You'll never believe it! Some lady was drunk, driving down Drayton Street in her Lexus...she wanted to kill herself. She was going over 100 mph, and somehow got airborn, took out the Gryffon statue, and landed on top of the Cotton Exchange! The statue was over 140 years old and was a gift from France." What a story! As my jaw dropped in amazement, all I could say was, "Only in Savannah."

Later in the week, I was walking by the area again and looked at the top of the Cotton Exchange. How the hell did a car get all the way up there? Standing nearby was a group of locals discussing the tragedy. I decided to be nosy and ask them what happened, feigning ignorance (it comes easily to me!). They told me that the lady was most likely medicated, had taken out the Lion (not Gryffon), which was a gift from Philadelphia (not France), and then ran smack dab into the front doors of the Exchange...not the roof. They told me that the city was on the lookout for another statue to replace it, but that they weren't having much luck.

A day later, I was on an architectural tour. Intrigued, I decided to ask this person's take on the lion, especially since he prided himself on his accuracy and knowledge. When I related to him what I had heard, he chuckled and let me know it wasn't a Lexus, it was a Toyota Corolla, and that most likely the lady had had a seizure. He also told me that SCAD was involved in trying to find a replacement, even looking into a more permanent solution such as limestone, since the original was made of an extremely fragile terra cotta. When I let my original source know of what I'd found, she told me, "I like my story much better!" And you know what? I agree! Let the urban legend begin.

Two restorers examined the debris and developed game plans to return the historic lion and the surrounding ornamental wrought iron to downtown Savannah. Restoration specialists from an Ohio-based firm were confident that they could use the terra cotta pieces to create a copy of the lion. "I realize it looks like a pile of rubble, but once we get the base parts and the haunches in place, it will be easier from there," said Tom Podnar, a conservator with McKay Lodge Conservation Lab in Oberlin, Ohio. What had cost $173 back in 1889 would now easily cost $60,000 or more to replace.

As I reported in a previous post, I was happy to discover on my last trip to Savannah that a copy of the lion was back in its original spot.

The driver that crashed into the statue & the building, Donna Haddock, pleaded guilty to a charge of driving under the influence. She was sentenced to 12 months on probation, ordered to pay a $500 fine, served 24 hours in jail, and was ordered to complete 40 hours of community service. She also was ordered to attend a victim impact panel and a risk reduction program.

See more Savannah photos at my main website.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Disneyland 1963 BW Negatives, Pt. 3

Finishing out this series with a great group from Frontierland. I am happy to report that the canoes are still functioning and a popular attraction to guests of the 21st century! Zooming in, you can see the construction walls for New Orleans Square; hard to believe a time that my favorite area of the park wasn’t in existence!

Castle Rock on Tom Sawyer’s Island is also packin’ in the guests:

Please don’t show this photo to Disney legal!

They might have to construct a fence or some other kind of device to protect the morons of the 21st Century. Oops...too late, they already did! So much for “less is more.”

Back to 1963: life is never dull at the Indian Settlement on the Rivers of America:

Back on dry land, you can be entertained by the Gonzalez Trio:

Please take note of their show times; you don’t want to miss this talented musical trio. Note to Disney: a musical group modeled after the Gonzalez’s would be a nice touch to Frontierland today.

Winding this post up with a trio of the Mark Twain returning home to the dock:

In Blu-ray/DVD News—More from Toy Story 3 (available November 2): Enjoy this Tom Hanks (voice of Woody) interview:

Q: The “Toy Story” films are beloved by audiences worldwide. What makes these films classics?
A: The “Toy Story” films accomplish what timeless classics aim for – innocent characters who face an endless trail of adventures. We all know the likes of Woody and Buzz. We wonder who we would be if we were toys. There’s this great logic that John Lasseter and Lee [Unkrich—The Director, pictured below with Hanks] and Darla [K. Anderson], and all the writers adhere to that makes moviegoers just kind of relax and let themselves be transported to this magical place and time. When you can do that with a movie, it’s amazing. With ‘Toy Story 3,’ you come back to a lovely, familiar and happy place.

Q: Disney-Pixar is renowned for creating story-driven films with a heart. What can audiences expect from “Toy Story 3”?
A: “Toy Story 3” is a big massive adventure that has you constantly on the edge of your seat. It’s part “Great Escape,” with the same kind of excitement as Dorothy escaping from the Wicked Witch of the West. And yet they take those elements and turn them into something that is very emotional. We’re talking about toy dinosaurs and Mr. Potato Head, and yet you feel for them and don’t want them to get recycled or stuck with the bratty kids. You want them to be together and played with at the end of the movie. You’re worried for their essence. The filmmakers at Pixar always manage to get you right in the heart. The story is as simple as growing up and having a guy go off to college, but it is so profoundly emotional that you can’t help but have tears in your eyes.

Q: This will be your third time playing the pull-string cowboy sheriff Woody. After all these years, how would you describe Woody’s character and what makes him so lovable?
A: Woody is a passionate guy who throws himself into every action. As soon as he has an instinctive thought like “I have to help them,” or “I have to run away,” he does it with 100-percent commitment. You gotta love that about anybody. What’s great is that I get credit for the way the character and the humor come off. I have kids that are now in college come up to me and say, “when you told that neighbor kid to play nice, that really meant a lot to me.”

Q: How has Woody’s relationship with Buzz evolved over the course of these three films?
A: I love the way the relationship between Woody and Buzz has grown. They started off as pure adversaries and learned how to accept each other’s strengths, forgive each other’s failures, and respect each other as individuals. Opposites definitely attract in this case.

Q: What are some of the obstacles that Woody must face in “Toy Story 3”?
A: There is a huge ground shift in the lives of these toys. In one scene, Woody must watch his buddies get inadvertently thrown in the garbage. It is heart-wrenching for him. Another challenge he must face is when he chooses to walk away from his toy friends because of a temporary difference of perceptions. It is a big, tough decision for him. Without giving too much away, there is this tremendous life-shattering and life-saving adventure.

Q: What other character would you like to play if you could not be Woody?
A: Wow, that’s a very, very good question. Quite frankly, I am of the Slinky dog persuasion. I think Slinky can go places other toys can’t go and he can do things other toys can’t do because of his ability to stretch. I think that would be fun.

Q: “Toy Story” was released in 1995. What are some changes to the animation process that you have experienced over the years?
A: For the first one, we were shown the movie through storyboards mounted on walls. So you walked into a building and about a quarter mile later you understood the movie because they literally walked you through every sequence. This time they did this brilliant thing where they just showed us the entire animatic. An animatic is a process where every voice and every sound effect is added to rough animated drawings and it lasts exactly as long as the final movie. So you actually get to go into a screening room with the rest of the cast and you get to see it all at the same time.

Q: Describe the process of working on animated films.
A: I have been working on a Pixar movie on and off for a long time. It astounds me every time that it takes about four years to create these films. It seems like every two weeks they call you in to record, but it turns out to be about every six months. When I started doing the first “Toy Story” film, I had two kids; I now have four kids. [LAUGHS]

Q: Disney-Pixar has an amazing track record of creating animated films that achieve critical acclaim. What is the secret to Pixar’s success?
A: The Pixar people continuously amaze me. They come up with something that actually looks as though it takes place in this happy, real-world. Every plot line is not just plausible, but oddly authentic. The stories are full of adventure, "humor" and love. The characters are written with great human dimension. I don’t know how they do it but they astound me.

Q: What do you think of the technological advances in live-action and animated filmmaking?
A: Motion pictures are just beginning to live up to their true potential of being this immersive experience—going from beyond black and white flickering images to fully immersive 3D color high-definition. You don’t even know where the real world starts and the fake world begins. And yet, none of that’s going to matter unless the story and the emotions that they allow us to become invested in are something that we can recognize. Pixar is able to do this in ways that almost defies speculation. And isn’t it grand that the “Toy Story” films are such a great example of this power to deeply connect with an audience?

View more Disneyland Frontierland photos at my main website.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Disneyland 1963 BW Negatives, Pt. 2

Hop aboard the Skyway for a birds-eye view of Storybook Land! Zooming in for a closeup, we can pull a Gladys Kravitz and check out the guests who are touring in a boat marked “Registered at Denham.” Naturally, I know what that means; doesn’t everyone?

The Fantasyland Skyway Station is just within reach! I can’t say that I really miss the Skyway itself (although it is a cool way to go between Fantasyland and Tomorrowland), but I do wish the Imagineers could come up with some kind of adaptive reuse of the Fantasyland Skyway Station that has sat vacant at the top of the hill all these years.

Casey Junior is chugging by Cinderella’s Castle:

Not quite sure what the construction is, visible in this closeup; perhaps it is the lost city of Denham!

The Black Swans and Ducks are living a carefree life of luxury in the Sleeping Beauty Castle moat:

A few shots of Vesey Walker leading the band in the Carnation Gardens Bandstand:

C’mon folks; put your drinks down and give this guy a standing ovation!

View more Disneyland Fantasyland photos at my main website.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Disneyland 1963 BW Negatives, Pt. 1

Last week we saw some 1960 construction photos showing the “plusing” of Nature’s Wonderland. Today, we’ll see this attraction in full-swing, thanks to a great batch of September 1963 negatives. First up, we see 2 views of the Mine Train circling Cascade Peak, captured from a guest on The Mark Twain.

Zooming in for a closeup of the cab and a lucky young boy who got to sit there!

Although they might have been a little rough, the Pack Mules provided one of the best ways to get a scenic overview of Rainbow Ridge:

Time for the little Mine Train to return home:

Meanwhile, back at the ranch: A Daveland reader requested some info on a patch that he recently acquired at a garage sale where he was told by the seller that it was her late husband's who worked for Disney. Anyone able to identify this patch and possibly give it a year?

View more Disneyland Nature’s Wonderland photos at my main website.