Sunday, December 27, 2020

Beyond Tomorrow

Beyond Tomorrow

Directed by
A. Edward Sutherland
Written by Adele Comandini (screenplay & story), Mildred Cramm (story)
Starring Harry Carey, C. Aubrey Smith, Charles Winninger, Maria Ouspenskaya, Richard Carlson, Jean Parker, Helen Vinson
IMDB Entry

In the 1940s, there was a small boomlet in a subgenre of dead people coming back to life, often in order to help others.The general explanation of their popularity is that, with people losing loved ones to the war, it was comforting to see an afterlife where the dead could still interact.* But one of this genre predates America’s entry into the war, but still has the theme:  Beyond Tomorrow.

Wealthy engineers George Melton (Harry Carey), Alan Chadwick (C. Aubrey Smith) and Michael O’Brien (Charles Winninger) are spending Christmas together in George’s mansion, joined by Madam Tanya (Maria Ouspenskaya). With nothing to do, the decide on a game:  each one throws a wallet with ten dollars and their business card on the street and see what happens. The result is that two people show up at the house:  James Houston (Richard Carlson) and Jean Lawrence (Jean Parker). James and Jean are attracted to each other and fall in love.

The three men go to fly to another city, despite Madam Tanya’s warnings that the trip is unsafe. Tanya is correct, and the three die, just before Jean and James come over to announce their engagement.  It throws a damper on it, but the two follow through on it, even getting some money in one of the men’s will.

Meanwhile, the three ghosts show up at the mansion to help out the young lovers. You see, James has become attracted to a golddigging actress (Helen Vinson) and it’s breaking up the marriage.

The movie really has two parts. The first half is a charming romantic comedy, but the second half falls into melodrama with ghosts trying to fix thing. The three ghosts have echoes of “A Christmas Carol,” though they don’t interact with the romantic leads.

The older actors are all long-time Hollywood veterans and show why as they never were wanting for work.  Richard Carlson had a long career in TV and movies, but his TV works was in guest star roles. Jean Parker also continued to work in movies until the mid-60s. Director Eddie Sullivan had directed W. C. Fields along with the comedy-horror The Invisible Woman.


*Given 2020, I wonder if it might be revived.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Cruisin’ (Music)

Cruisin' 1956


Created by Ron Jacobs
Tribute Page

Nowadays, when you have your pick of oldies channels on SiriusXM, and when oldies stations have been a part of terrestrial radio for decades, it’s hard to understand what the situation was back in the 1960s. Oldies were considered disposable; top 40 radio rarely played anything more than a year old.* But in 1970, record producer Ron Jacobs figured the way to market them:  the Cruising series.

Jacobs grew up in Hawaii and started working in radio at the age of 15. By 1962, he was working as a DJ and program director, eventually working his way up to KHJ in Los Angeles and was noted for pushing his stations to number one in the market. After that, he moved on to produce American Top 40 with Casey Kasem and began the dream project of Crusin’ in 1970.

The concept was as brilliant as it was simple. Jacobs chose the top singles from a particular year and  put them on a disk with the voice of well-know DJs of the era, as well as advertisements, so it was just like listening to a radio show. The first entry Cruising 1956 was typical. Robin Seymour, who was working in 1956, was the DJ:

Robin Seymour Theme -- The Four Lads
Roll Over Beethoven -- Chuck Berry
Recommended Record Stores
Eddie My Love -- The Teen Queens
Faygo Root Beer commercial
Why Do Fools Fall In Love -- Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers
Robin Seymour's Original Rock 'n' Roll Review
Tonite Tonite -- The Mello Kings
Dog Pound (remote) announcement
Fever -- Little Willie John
1956 Ford Commercial -- The Four Lads
The Great Pretender -- The Platters
WKMH station ID
WKMH sports headlines -- Van Patrick
Tutti Frutti -- Little Richard (
Sunday Show Promo
Stranded in the Jungle -- The Cadets
Merchants Green Stamp commercial
Speedo -- The Cadillacs
WKMH jingle
Gee -- The Crows
Budweiser® commercial -- The Crew Cuts
In the Still of the Night -- The Five Satins
Detroit Times commercial
Honky Tonk -- Bill Doggett

As you can see, it was clearly a radio show of the time. Some songs that are classics, but also a few that have faded from memory, even at the time the records were release.

Jacobs continued with the series over the next few years, each record advancing a year and with a different DJ.

Cruisin' 1960

One of the charms of the series were their covers. Done in comic book style, they showed scenes from the lives of Peg and Eddie. The two would age and change (Hairstyles especially) as time went on.

The series continued to several years. The first series (1956-1962) was successful enough that Cruisin 1955 and Cruisin’ 63 were produced a year and a half later. and in 1973 four other volumes were produced, taking things to 1967. Later volumes were added in the late 80s and early 90s.

*I was amazed when a friend of mine recognized “Come Go With Me” from the Del-Vikings from an oldies collection I had, since I had never heard of it before.