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Random Baseball Card Of The Day: Kellogg’s 1972 All-Time 3D Greats – Babe Ruth May 30, 2017

Posted by Jim Berkin in 1970s, Baseball, Baseball Cards.
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I’m not sure how many boxes of Kellogg’s Danish Go-Rounds I snarfed down to get the all-time great 3D card in every box. But it must have been a lot.

Thanks, mom, for buying them! Never mind my teeth and the sugar high, I guess as long as it kept this then-little bastard full and happy, it meant keeping it on the weekly grocery list for Almacs!

And with my mouth stuffed with pastry, I couldn’t talk. Certainly a win for mom.

I’ve got a lot of the cards, but some of ’em might have come in trades for other 3D cards, or more likely, assorted traditional Topps cards.

I prized this one the most. I also agree with it.

They had greatest cards for every position – Greatest First Baseman (Gehrig, if you’re curious), Greatest Shortstop (Wagner), Greatest Right Hand Pitcher (Walter Johnson) along with some runners-up like George Sisler and Eddie Collins. The backs were manna for this baseball history geek – lifetime stats & a bio, along with some basic analysis justifying the ranking.

Before the internet, that kind of writing was hard to find!

You kids and your damn fancy interwebs, by cracky, get off my lawn….

Every now and then I look on ebay for cards to complete my set of these. They’re not too expensive, although I don’t get 1970s pre-high fructose corn syrup sugary breakfast pablum with ’em.

And which ones are out of date? Has anyone come along since 1972 to assume the BEST at any position? I’d certainly argue for Derek Jeter at shortstop. And I’d add a “Best Relief Pitcher Ever” card for Mariano Rivera. It’s the Yankee fan in me, I guess.

I vividly remember the endless arguments I’d have with my baseball card collecting friends back then over this card. Ruth? Greatest ever? C’MON! You gotta be kidding! EVERYONE knows Ted Williams was a better hitter and woulda put up numbers like Ruth if he hadn’t missed those years in military service! NO, WRONG! EVERYONE knows Mantle was better, since if he hadn’t blown out his knee stepping on that sprinkler in 1951 he’d’ve outdone the numbers AND WHAT ABOUT HANK AARON and….

No.

Just…. NO!

Ruth is the best ever.

His hitting stats are on par with the best hitters of the game. Is he the best hitter ever? Well, I’ll conceded that’s arguable… but NONE of those other hitters – Aaron, Mays, Williams, Griffey Jr., Bernie Carbo…

Okay, maybe not Bernie Carbo. But I always liked the guy.

Anyway, NONE of them could PITCH.

Ruth was one of the best pitchers in the American League for the Red Sox. He set records that held for 80 years or more. If he had continued pitching, he’d’ve been mentioned in the same comparison pieces as Christy Mathewson and Walter Johnson, instead of being compared to Gehrig, Williams, Foxx, and every other slugger IN THE ENTIRE FUCKING HISTORY OF THE GOD DAMN GAME.

AND he got more hookers than ALL OF THEM COMBINED!

GREATEST EVER!

CASE CLOSED!

I don’t think Kellogg’s listed the hookers on the back of the card (or their stats), however. Despite the 3D, there just wasn’t enough room.

I’d like to think the immortal babe ate Danish Go-Rounds off naked hookers bodies. It’s the Yankee fan in me.

 

 

Random Football Cards Of The Day, Yardsale Edition December 1, 2012

Posted by Jim Berkin in 1970s, Football.
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One of the few sales I managed to get to today in between sale-destroyin’ rain showers had advertised 1970s era sports cards, so I drove over, hoping against hope I’d find some desperate crack addict willing to sell me his entire shoebox of ’70s era cards for twenty bucks or so… but alas, it was not to be.

Instead, I found what is to be expected nowadays – someone who offers lesser material at only a slight discount from the prices they research online. The internet has destroyed the odds of finding real treasures at garage sales. At least it makes up for that in a karmic fashion by providing endless porn.

But I digress.

Anyway, this old guy had a stack of old Life & Look magazines at high prices, including a couple I remember from my childhood, like the “Liz Taylor is 40!” cover or another about the JFK assassination. He had an odd collection of movie lobby posters for too much money (although The Day of The Locust was tempting even if Karen Black is horribly miscast in it… I could pass on the Johnny Whittaker Tom Sawyer poster.)

And in the CHEAP BARGAIN BOX…. some old ’70s football cards for a buck a pop. So, I rifled through ’em and came up with the following:

74JPlunkett There he is, Jim Plunkett, the Pats big hope back in the early ’70s, the #1 pick in the draft, before they gave up on him and went with Steve Grogan. Plunkett did decently for the Pats, along with his former Stanford teammate receiver Randy Vataha, but the team was going nowhere fast. When they traded him to the Niners for some draft picks & went with Grogan as the starter, they made the playoffs a few times and gave all of us lots of false hope. Plunkett wound up winning a Superbowl for the Raiders after coming off the bench to finish the season when Dan Pastorini broke his leg. Grogan provided the only highlights when the Pats went to the Superbowl and got destroyed by the Bears.

I have a vague memory of my dad happily touting Plunkett & Vataha’s possibilities at the dinner table one night… I feel bad that he didn’t live long enough to see Tom Brady come along. The Pats, much like the Red Sox in baseball, were the reliable losers year after year all the time I was growing up, and it’s easy to forget that once you spend more than a decade as a powerful dynasty (although the Sox had a shorter run at it once they finally shook the curse from their backs). Funny… years later, the Pats got the #1 pick overall in the draft and took Quarterback Drew Bledsoe, who led them to a Superbowl & wound up giving Brady the chance to start by separating his shoulder.

Bledsoe’s draft made all of us think how the Pats would rise from the 1-15 doldrums, back in the day when one of the few highlights on the team was this guy, coincidentally ANOTHER all-around #1 draft pick for the Pats – 90ScoreIFryar

Irving Fryar, a great receiver who provided far too much off-field drama, but when your team is 1-15, maybe that’s all you got.

This was one of the few other Pats cards in the dollar box, and since the first thing I thought of when looking at it was the time Fryar missed a game due to cuts on his hands after a knife fight with his wife, it made me smile & cough up another dollar.

Fryar had a lot of great moments with the Pats though.. he scored the only touchdown for them in that debacle against the Bears in the Superbowl, and remained a dependable receiver for years.

And has he redeemed himself from the days of knife fights with the little woman? You bet! He’s earned a Doctorate in Theology & is currently the President of the Burlington County College of Theology!

Not too shabby.

The last card I bought simply because it caught my eye for a particular reason:

John Hicks, a decent lineman for the Giants back in the ’70s who had a great college career. And he’s doing quite well these days as well, thank you very much.

77JHicks

But I LOVE this card!

What is he drinking?

He must be really thirsty.

Is it Gatorade & Topps airbrushed it out?

Or is it something else? A soda? A gin ‘n’ tonic? Maybe a Harvey Wallbanger, after all, it WAS 1977.

In any case, I looked at this card, immediately thought of that Laugh-In bit where Alan Sues walks up to the dirty western bar and says “I’ll have a banana daquiri!” and took out another dollar for it.

And I’m not sorry. Not one bit!

In fact, I think I’LL have a drink too.

God’ll Get You For That, Wagstaff November 20, 2012

Posted by Jim Berkin in 1970s, Television.
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Thanks to the absence of baseball & a reshuffling of the Antenna TV schedule, my dinner-preparing 5pm hour is now populated by reruns of Maude. The only other programming choice at that time is Bill O’Reilly, and I guess if I want someone spouting polemics interspersed with one-liners, I’ll go with Bea Arthur since she has more hair.

Maude was regularly watched by my family back in the day, along with most of the other forward ‘n’ edgy sitcoms of the ’70s, like All In The Family, M*A*S*H, as well as the ones that hold up far better artistically to the present day, like The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Odd Couple, The Bob Newhart Show, and Barney Miller.

Well, the first several seasons of M*A*S*H hold up. But that’s a l o n g blog post for a later time.

Along with possible musings on how well WKRP & Soap have held up. Antenna TV is a marvelous fountain of time travel.

Anyway, I’d forgotten how much shouting took place on Maude. It seems every episode features people arguing & fighting, and not over politics or issues of the day like we got on All In The Family during its first few seasons, until along came baby Joey & Meathead moved next door and what was essentially a late 1960s show became a mid 1970s one on a cultural level. Same deal with M*A*S*H, really.

Maude’s arguments & shoutfests, however, reflect interestingly on the changing morality of the ’70s much more than All In The Family or other Norman Lear polemicoms of the era ever did, except perhaps for One Day At A Time, which depicted permissive parenting at an entirely new & maudlin level. Maude & Walter’s affluent upper-middle class existence features very lax, open-minded attitudes towards adultery and divorce in numerous episodes, and pushed the envelope the furthest in the first-season “Maude’s Dilemma” two parter where, pre Roe v. Wade, Maude discovers she’s pregnant at age 47 and decides to get an abortion (thankfully off-camera, although the prospect of casting someone like Foster Brooks or Professor Irwin Corey as the wacky abortionist was clearly a wasted opportunity).

You can’t really top that one, but Maude would try – Walter’s alcoholism would lead to an episode where he confronts his drinking problem after punching Maude in the face (with HILARIOUS consequences! Well… maybe not) or if you want something REALLY funny, there’s Walter’s suicide attempt after his business goes bad. Or his near-fatal heart attack. Or the series of episodes opening Season 4 where Maude & Walter’s marriage nearly breaks up over her decision to run for State Senate against Walter’s wishes.

That’s right… I grew up in an era when this was considered comedy. Jack Benny, George Burns, Phil Silvers, Don Adams…. PIKERS! None of them ever got abortions or attempted suicide, although Frank Nelson as the cop trying to talk Jack Benny off a window ledge would have been hysterical, as well as Gracie Allen forgetting why she went to the abortionist once the operation got going.

Listen to my comedy gold!!! Someone, give me a series!!! Network people must be reading this blog! C’mon!

Anyway, I’m fascinated daily as I refresh my memory with the run of Maude. A lot of episodes I remembered as very funny as a kid are so-so upon recent viewings, although as the series goes, they stand out. I categorize these as the “farce” episodes, the ones without the messages and with plotlines built purely around the characters’ foibles and interactions, as well as some ridiculous situation. (In other words, what sitcoms ought to be instead of lectures or morality plays).  I remembered episodes like “Speed Trap” and “Arthur’s Medical Convention,” both stories where Walter & Arthur find themselves in trouble & hijinks while out of town, as being a lot funnier than they were upon a recent viewing. “Walter’s Stigma” was another I remembered fondly, where Walter is mistakenly arrested for flashing, but only the first half of it still had any solid laughs. On the other hand, the 6th season premiere, “Maude’s Guilt Trip,” still my favorite episode of the series, holds up very well – a wonderful back &  forth of selfishness and false morality as Maude secretly & guiltily delights over the prospect of her hateful Aunt Tinky getting killed in a plane crash while on her way to visit. Another episode that held up was the “Rashomon” style “The Case Of The Broken Punch Bowl,” especially since it gave the cast so many different comic ways to play the same scenes. And I still like “Maude Meets The Duke” even if it doesn’t give guest star John Wayne enough to do.

What makes the show watchable to me? Easily the performers – Bea Arthur & Bill Macy are both great. The line delivery & timing is always sharp, and their sense of stage presence is clear – Arthur’s broadway manner in carrying herself and Macy’s burlesque comedian vibe. (Evidently he had this in real life, according to a great story from Artie Lange – in the late ’90s, Macy did a guest shot on the Norm McDonald show and when introduced to costar Nikki Cox said “Nikki COX? Well I’m Bill Pussy!” and evidently she was not amused. I still am.) Conrad Bain & Rue McClanahan are both good – McClanahan plays the innocent well (it’s the reason she got to play the slut later on Golden Girls), and Bain delivers his self-effacing material along the lines of Larry Linville on M*A*S*H, only not as silly.

And Adrienne Barbeau has the best body in the history of television. No contest.

AHA! THAT’S why I’m watching! “Adrienne Barbeau? Well, I’m Professor Pussy!”

Yeah, I know. God’ll get me for that.

Was This Really THIRTY FOUR YEARS AGO Today??? Oy Vey! October 2, 2012

Posted by Jim Berkin in 1970s, Baseball.
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It just seems a lot more recent.

Even after the Sox finally got their century-long revenge against the Yankees in 2004.

We’re gonna get a 1 game playoff by design this year, between the wild cards in each league. I’m not crazy about the idea since the entire baseball season is based on winning series of games between teams. It ought to be a 3 game series with a shortened season, perhaps back to 154 games.

Someday they’ll figure it out & get their precious TV revenue, but in the meantime, an entire season for someone will come down to some random moment like Bucky Dent’s unlikely homerun in that October 2, 1978 playoff.

I thought it was great when I watched it live when I was a kid. Now…. I gotta admit, I think it ought to be a 3 game series.

As long as the Yanks win it, of course!

Here’s to October baseball!

Not-So-Random Baseball Card Of The Day: 1978 Ron Guidry September 13, 2012

Posted by Jim Berkin in 1970s, Baseball, Baseball Cards.
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In witnessing what’s looking more and more like the Great Yankee Collapse of September 2012 (The Mayans predicted it, right?), I keep thinking back to 1978, the great long march comeback from 14 1/2 games behind in July, the Red Sox implosion of August, and the amazing reliability of Ron Guidry that season to go out and win game after game.

Guidry’s career season of 1978 remains phenomenal. 25 wins, 3 losses. A great number of those wins came after Yankee losses. A lot of them ended Yankee losing streaks. He won 13 games in a row before losing one in July.

The guy was virtually unbeatable. I don’t think any pitcher has dominated the league as much since Guidry’s ’78 season, something that evoked the way Bob Gibson totally shut down his opposition in 1968, even forcing a rule change about pitcher’s mound height.

I got to see part of it in person when he 2-hit shutout the Red Sox about this time in ’78, after the Yankees had caught them and moved ahead in the standings.  Got to sit a few rows right behind the dugout on the first base line, thanks to my friend’s Providence cop dad gonnections for primo tickets in the middle of a pennant race. The Sox battled back throughout September, forcing the legendary playoff game that led up to that fateful Bucky Dent-enforces-the-bambino’s-curse at-bat. You know the rest.

They never would have been there without Guidry. My favorite player from that late ’70s Yankee team. They gave him the Cy Young, but not the MVP he deserved. Jim Rice got that, sorta like when Scorcese finally won his Oscar but for the wrong movie.

And where is that kind of performance on the 2012 Yankees? Well, it’s either left on base during any number of failed non-rallies inbetween make-or-break home runs, or it’s on what’s been a large revolving door of a disabled list all season, one that’s catching up with them down the homestretch where they’ll be battling the Rays and the (WTF?) Orioles for a playoff berth. And even if they make the post-season, their season-long inability to win games without hitting a ton of homeruns will, I think, be the killer.

There’s no stopper on the mound. No go-to victory guy. Kuroda and Sabathia have both tried as the workhorses, but it’s falling short. I have a strong feeling that my October will be mostly football this year.

Random Baseball Card Of The Day: 1972 Sparky Lyle August 16, 2012

Posted by Jim Berkin in 1970s, Baseball, Baseball Cards.
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Ah, the final card of Sparky on the Red Sox leapt out at me just now as I took a random tour of the early ’70s shoebox assortment.

He’d been traded before the start of the 1972 season to the New York Yankees, in one of the more lopsided trades in modern times. Topps clearly went to press with the first half of the ’72 set before spring training, so Lyle gets a Red Sox card for the ’72 season. The Sox got Danny Cater and eventually Mario Guerrero, and the Yanks got a premier closer who’d be a reliable lights-out from the bullpen a few years down the line, after Steinbrenner bought the team and then bought every player in sight and Lyle became a major star of the pennant winning teams of 1976 & 1977.

He also won the Cy Young in 1977, rare for a reliever. Other than Therman Munson and Roy White, he’s pretty much the only member of the 1972 Yankees to be around for those late ’70s World Series runs.

He slowed down after ’77, and Steinbrenner being Steinbrenner got nervous and overcompensated in ’78 by obtaining both Rich Gossage and Rawly Eastwick as potential closers. Gossage eventually got the job, and Lyle would be traded after the ’78 season to the Texas Rangers for mostly a bunch of journeymen, but included in the package for the Yankees was the then-minor league pitcher Dave Righetti, who’d eventually become the Yankee closer in the mid to late ’80s after a run as a starter. I still remember listening to him via radio broadcast  no-hit the Sox on July 4, 1983 at my Sox-fan-friend’s swimming pool. It was the first Yankee no hitter since Don Larsen’s perfect World Series game in 1956.

The ’72 Red Sox are often forgotten in the lore of the lovable-loser-Sox that existed prior to their karmic revenge of 2004. BoSox fans would lament Aaron Boone’s homer in 2003 that sank them, or Bucky Dent’s in ’78, or Bill Buckner’s error in ’86 (although I’d lay the blame squarely on manager John McNamara for blowing the ’86 series with a bunch of really stupid decisions, especially in Game 6), or Game 7 in 1975… but somehow, the 1972 disappointment gets lost in the shuffle.

In addition to the horrible Lyle trade, they also dealt Jim Lonborg & George Scott (and others) to Milwaukee for Tommy Harper & Marty Pattin (among others) and came out on the short end. And then a players’ strike shortened the season by its first week, prompting Commissioner Bowie Kuhn to wipe those games out, leaving an uneven schedule where teams didn’t all play the same number of games. So what happened? The Red Sox lost their division by 1/2 to the Tigers by playing in one less game.

I can still hear my dad’s voice in my head whenever I think about these kinds of things: “Those Red Sox STINK!

Maybe. But not as much as a birthday cake after Sparky Lyle got through with it. Talk about a weird fetish. As a fan of the game, I miss guys like Lyle who’d be dependable for clubhouse pranksterism, but I don’t think I’d want to be on the same team with a guy who insisted on sneaking into the cubhouse & sitting bare-assed on the birthday cakes prepared for other players, or who one one occasion whipped out his schvantz and ran it down a table of cold cuts. Want more? Read his memoir, The Bronx Zoo.

Maybe THAT’S what the Red Sox needed! It was only 1/2 game, fer Chrissakes!

Random Baseball Card Of The Day: 1973 Wilbur Wood August 5, 2012

Posted by Jim Berkin in 1970s, Baseball, Baseball Cards.
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They don’t grow ’em like this guy anymore.

Wilbur Wood was a knuckleball throwing pitching machine who’d regularly lead the league in games started and innings pitched, back in an era when a lot of hard-throwing starters like Nolan Ryan and the like would throw 200 pitches in a game. This was MAN baseball, back in the days before this current era of push-button managing, of “7th inning specialist” relievers and pitch count limits of 100-110, even for workhorse ironmen like CC Sabathia.

We are in an age of WIMPS, PEOPLE!!!!

Wood’s knuckleball gave him the endurance, for certain. Nowadays when a 20 game winning pitcher is more and more of a rarity, Wood managed to win AND lose 20 games in the same season, the last AL pitcher to do so, and after fellow knuckler Phil Niekro went 21-20 in ’79 for the Braves, it’s never happened and will never happen again, most likely.

He’d regularly start more than 40 games a season – 49 in ’73, the year he went 24-20. He pitched 379 innings that year.

Last year, Justin Verlander topped the majors with 251.

Even modern day knucklers like RA Dickey or the recently retired Tim Wakefield fall short of Wood’s sheer production. Wood once started both games of a double header, something I also doubt we’ll ever see again. In a way, he was the last remnant of the way baseball had been played decades earlier, even back to the “smallball” era of the early 1900s. He had a seventeen year career in the majors which is actually short by knuckleballer standards. If his knee hadn’t been shattered by a Ron LeFlore line drive, he may have lasted longer like other knucklers.

Well, at least Ron LeFlore was portrayed by Geordi LaForge once.

Knucklers are unpredictable and usually erratic – when they get into a groove, they are unhittable (the way Dickey has pretty much been all season, although he’s using the knuckler differently than others – he’s mixing speeds with it, managing location, and as one opposing coach put it “he’s PITCHING with the damn thing!” If others learn to do this, we may see an aspect of the game transformed). A lot of knucklers can go through cold spells, however, and wind up throwing easily hit meatballs. Hence, the 24-20 record. They’re fun to watch.

I also think that if any major league team ever tries to break the gender barrier & have a woman player out there in an attempt to sell tickets, that woman will be an American league knuckleball pitcher. She won’t have to bat & upper body strength won’t be a factor. Maybe it’ll be this kid someday.

Or maybe, the way things are going with fewer and fewer innings, lower pitch counts and inning by inning specialist nonsense, we’ll eventually have entire baseball teams made up of Bea Arthur doing musicals as Darth Maude.

I need a beer. Bah.

Random Baseball Card Of The Day: 1978 Lenny Randle July 28, 2012

Posted by Jim Berkin in 1970s, Baseball, Baseball Cards.
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  “Tag me again, but this time harder! I’ve been a very naughty baseball player…”

So what do you think? Is the ball even in the baseman’s glove, or is Lenny at a loss to remember that the safety word is “Tim McCarver?”

And to think I rummaged through a shoebox of ’78 Topps cards looking for the likes of Ron Guidry or Jim Rice or Steve Garvey… and this is the one that leapt out at me.

I always wonder about cards like this – did someone high up the ladder at Topps dislike the guy? Did he give the photographers a bad time? Or did Randle want his card to look like this? With Lenny Randle, that just might be the case.

I remember Randle very well – a journeyman player who often bounced between the minors & majors as he made his way across several teams.  He had an interesting personality, to say the least.

He punched out his manager, Frank Lucchesi, and broke his cheek. That got him a big ol’ suspension, but he returned to the game and went to another team.

I’ll always remember him for when Amos Otis bunted down the 3rd base line & Randle got down on all fours and actually blew the slow roller across the foul line.  The umpires got together & awarded Otis first base.

Then when a friend of mine was studying abroad in Italy, he wrote to me about the baseball they had there – and by then, 1983, Randle was playing in Italy, the first American player to do so. He clearly outclassed the Italian players and hit .477.

Ah yes, where are they now dep’t – as you may have guessed, Randle runs sports camps for kids. And according to his bio, he’s going for a masters in special ed for physical education.

Good for him! He’s EARNING that sexy pat on the ass after all these years.

Some New Hollywood Era Hardboiled: Point Blank (1967), The Outfit (1973) & Charley Varrick (1973) July 25, 2012

Posted by Jim Berkin in 1960s, 1970s, Movies.
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These three films overlap a lot for me – they’re all pretty much from the same era & have similar plots – our protagonist is a small-time criminal who runs afoul of some big invisible (and non-ethnic) criminal syndicate and must fight back somehow.

They’re also all well worth seeing and indicative of a gritty hardboiled style (or self-conscious overstyle in the case of Point Blank) that you unfortunately don’t see made anymore.

Both Point Blank & The Outfit come from the “Parker” series of crime novels by Donald E. Westlake writing as Richard Stark. Parker is a machine-like criminal, plowing through the crime syndicate known as “the outfit” methodically & most often dispassionately, only interested in whatever money they owe him.

In Point Blank (based on The Hunter), Parker becomes Lee Marvin as Walker, left for dead at Alcatraz – shot by his girlfriend who has run off with his criminal cohort. Walker wants the money from that particular job as well as revenge, and works his way up the criminal ladder of the organization, beating the crap out of everyone as only Lee Marvin can. What makes Point Blank even greater than it would have been if it had been simply shot as a straight fist-puncher shoot ’em up with Marvin fighting suit ‘n’ tie corporate style Los Angeles mobsters is how director John Boorman basically turned it into his resumé film for Hollywood.

Boorman throws everything he has at the thing – the entire movie is framed in a way to leave us guessing as to whether it really happened, or if it’s Lee Marvin’s dying fantasy, or if he is some sort of avenging ghost. We get flashback, flashforward, intercutting with continuous sound, cuts that signify time passing without seeing time pass, and an overall surreal feel. There’s wonderful stark & sharply bright photography of 1967 LA, as well as interesting use of color – each character often has a color theme, reflected by their clothing and then, in turn, those colors are used in surrounding objects or lighting to symbolize plot themes.

Offhand, the only other movie I can think of that does this is Russ Meyer’s Beneath The Valley Of The Ultravixens,  – a very different movie, although the first 20 minutes and the last 15 or so are absolutely hilarious & I think Lee Marvin would have enjoyed co-starring.

But I digress.

For example – in Point Blank, there’s one scene where Angie Dickinson must get into John Vernon’s penthouse bachelor love nest to help Lee Marvin gain entrance stealthily. She’s clad all in yellow, Vernon goes from orange to red as he gets hornier (and bloodier). Previously, Marvin had used a bright yellow telescope to case the place. As he enters, we see bright yellow flashing police lights & bright yellow garage pillars. After he’s done the job and exits, both police lights and garage pillars are bright red.

If you want an example from Beneath The Valley Of The Ultravixens, you’re on your own – but if you can avert your eyes from Kitten Natividad’s fantabulous winnebagoes long enough to look at the furniture & walls, you’ll know what I mean. I highly recommend this article which compares it to Soviet film montage.

Are you back from that one? Told you it was worth your while.

Anyway, besides being a solid crime film, Point Blank‘s art house stylings and ambiguous realities elevate the material to something far more interesting.  It’s got a great cast, too – besides Marvin, Dickinson and Vernon (in his film debut), we also have Keenan Wynn, Lloyd Bochner and Carol O’Connor. And from Star Trek, Michael Strong! And from Hill Street Blues, James B. Sikking!

The Outfit follows a similar plotline from a later Parker novel – this time Robert Duvall plays the relentless criminal bent on revenge against “the outfit” after they kill his brother & try to kill him as payback for a past bank robbery at an outfit front. Duvall teams with the third member of his former gang, Joe Don Baker, to commit a series of robberies at other outfit operations until syndicate chief Robert Ryan pays him off. Unlike Point Blank, this one is directed in straightforward gritty-early-70s fashion, without the mysticism or art house touches – but it’s still a solid film with a good cast. Duvall & Ryan are great as always (I’ve lost count of how many times Robert Ryan has played the angry barking head of a crime syndicate), and the supporting cast includes numerous familiar faces in small roles, such as Sheree North as a horny wife.

Sheree North – did she ever play anything other than a floozy? I can remember her as an ex-hooker on Mannix, a sleazy lounge singer girlfriend for Lou Grant on Mary Tyler Moore, a hooker on Archie Bunker’s Place… jeez! I guess that’s how you get typecast when you basically look like the Peggy Lee dog from Lady & The Tramp.

The Outfit reminded me a lot of an admittedly better film with a similar plot – Charley Varrick. In this one, Walter Matthau plays the leader of a group of thieves who mistakenly rob a syndicate front bank, only to incur their wrath and get hunted down. This time Joe Don Baker is the bad guy, doing his familiar redneck schtick as before, hunting down Matthau (who plays the action hero against type very well here) who has a zillion con man tricks up his sleeve. Don Siegel’s direction is tight & economical, more of that early ’70s gritty feel.  Sheree North, another overlapping cast member from The Outfit, appears, along with Andy Robinson (everyone’s favorite psycho from Dirty Harry) as a member of Matthau’s gang.  Charley Varrick is a fast moving con game of a movie, right up to the very end, a real underrated gem from the early ’70s.

It’s nice to watch action movies where there is no need of huge explosions, CGI, or 360-rotation through slo-mo martial arts BS. It kinda makes you pay more attention to… GASP! Character and story! Combine that with solid cast members and you have a sure winner. I’ll watch Lee Marvin beat the crap out of people any old time.

In the immortal words of Homer Simpson, “Here comes Lee Marvin! Oh, thank God! He’s always drunk and violent!” Only this time, he’s sober & REALLY violent! Yay!

Random Baseball Card Of The Day: Frank Taveras (1975) July 23, 2012

Posted by Jim Berkin in 1970s, Baseball, Baseball Cards.
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Today was the day! I rearranged the boxes in my storage closet & dug out my original shoebox of cards to provide more material for this particular blog feature.

When I opened the lid, this card sat right on top of the various grouped-by-team assortments from the early ’60s to the late ’70s.

Tavares was known mostly as a base stealer, one of the guys along with Lou Brock and Davey Lopes that drove pitchers to distraction in the ’70s era of mostly power hitting. He led the NL with 70 steals one year, but slowed down as the ’70s went on and unfortunately was traded to the then lowly Mets early in ’79, which turned out to be a World Championship year for the Pirates.

But I love his expression on this card – he’s too cool for the room, all right – not just a ballplayer but the kind of man who reads Playboy, I suppose.

In fact, his projection of cool swagger on this card can’t help but remind of this other notable icon of the late 1970s:

Seriously – separated at birth?

Someone tell Les Nessman.

I dug deeper into the shoebox… I’d forgotten all the cards I have since they’ve been boxed up for so long. I also forgot about the phase I went through in the early ’90s when I added to the collection via some yardsale finds.

Anyone want a box of 200 Brady Andersons? Jeesh… what was I thinking?