Friday, November 27, 2009

Anatomy of a Seduction (1979)

Network: CBS
Original Air Date: May 8th, 1979

1979 was a great year for romance. Or so they tell me, cuz, you know, I was 9 and stuff. Some great love stories played the small screen, such as the incredible tale of underage lust known as Sooner or Later, a little ditty about older people who find love and tragedy called Valentine and the epic time travel love story The Two Worlds of Jenny Logan. Love was in the air, in the wood paneling and floating inside the bottoms of our bells…

Sexiness is just about to ensue...

I’m just going to put it out there - I detest the term Cougar. I hate the phrase MILF almost as much, but find some slight humor in it, so I’ll let it slide (lucky you, MILF). I remember a time when women chose to be dignified rather than all out skanks. Yeah, I said skanks (that’s a word I like!), and you know sometimes they actually dated younger men… and it seemed OK. Tawdry, sure. But tawdry is alright, I mean, who doesn’t love tawdry? Let me pick a random year - Oh, say 1979 and let’s pick a movie. I dunno… Oh, how about Anatomy of a Seduction, where the filmmakers throw a little decorum into the Spring/Fall scenario, and up the hot factor with one Jameson Parker as the young stud in question.

Susan Flannery is Maggie, a divorced woman with a teenage son working at an architecture firm. It seems everyone around her is divorced and on the make. Her best friend is Nina (Rita Moreno who owns the show), another divorcee who is content with Mr. Right Now. Nina’s son Ed (Jameson Parker who was 32 but played a 20 year old, and quite well), comes home for the summer. He’s a Princeton student of architecture, so Nina fixes him up with Maggie. Of course, Nina only meant as an intern, but one thing leads to another and before you know it Ed and Maggie are hot to trot.


At the beginning of the film, Maggie is an extremely dignified, but rather uptight, career woman. When Ed begins to impact her life, she starts doing things she long put behind her, like going on amusement park rides and roller skating. Ed also takes her to the ballet and to plays and is sophisticated enough to appreciate the things the wiser Maggie enjoys. Of course, all good TV-movie-things must blow up in someone’s face, and boy does it ever! When Maggie’s son and Nina learn about the illicit affair, it gets real ugly and Moreno has the scene of her life just emoting the hell out of it! God, I love that woman!

Eventually, Maggie has to take the reins of the situation and determine not only what she wants but also what is best for Ed.

I admit it, I loved every second of this movie. It’s a great little romance flick with wonderful acting, a sweet story and roller skating! What’s not to love? Flannery is great as the sophisticated Maggie. The character commands respect and Flannery delivers. She makes Maggie relatable while also playing her as a bit of a super woman. She never flounders, always knows what to say and can handle any situation. Parker is also really good. He was so adorable in this movie, he made me want to giggle. I loved the slow development of their relationship and watching his schoolboy crush turn into something far more powerful… and believable. Maybe I was just up for a little romance, as I have been known to be, but this really fit the bill.

You can watch Anatomy of a Seduction online at Hulu.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Paul Wendkos 1922 - 2009

I just got the sad news that prolific television and film director Paul Wendkos has passed away. Wendkos was no stranger to the world of made for television movies, having directed several outstanding films.

Currently, you can watch Cocaine: One Man's Seduction on Fancast.

Here's a list of his TV movies from the 70s (with some stills of his credits in the movie):

Fear No Evil (1969)
The Brotherhood of the Bell (1970)
Travis Logan, D.A. (1971)
A Tattered Web (1971)
A Little Game (1971)
A Death of Innocence (1971)
The Delphi Bureau (1972)
The Family Rico (1972)
Haunts of the Very Rich (1972)
Footsteps (1972)
The Strangers in 7A (1972):

Honor Thy Father (1973)
Terror on the Beach (1973)
The Underground Man (1974)
The Legend of Lizzie Borden (1975):

Death Among Friends (1975)
The Death of Ritchie (1977):

Secrets (1977)
Good Against Evil (1977)
Harold Robbins' 79 Park Avenue (1977)
Betrayal (1978)
A Woman Called Moses (1978)
The Ordeal of Patty Hearst (1979)

His prolific TV movie career went into the 80s where he made the following:

A Cry for Love (1980)
The Five of Me (1980)
Cocaine: One Man's Seduction (1983)
Intimate Agony (1983)
The Awakening of Candra (1983) name but a few!

Of course, Wendkos is best known for making The Legend of Lizzie Borden starring Elizabeth Montgomery. It was the movie that shot her out of the sitcom world like a rocket. Wendkos seemed rather comfortable handling genre work such as Borden, and he proved he had a deft hand with esoteric themes when he made The Haunts of the Very Rich, which boasts one of Robert Reed's best performances.

He was only nominated once for an Emmy for directing The Taking of Flight 847: The Uli Derickson Story (1988). I find it a little hard to believe that he wasn't nominated for more stuff. He made some incredible movies. Again, proving how sadly underrated the made for television genre is, even by its peers.

I found this short obituary about Wendkos that is worth checking out if you are unfamiliar with his work.

What a truly sad loss. I am a big fan of his films.

Thanks to Marty at Johnny LaRue's Crane Shot for letting me know about this.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

TV Trivia: It's Deadly!

Did you know...

...that someone died on the Dick Cavett Show?!?

It was June 8th, 1971 and respected playwright Jerome Irving Rodale (aka JI Rodale), who was a staunch advocate of living green and eating healthy, had a heart attack only moments after telling Dick, "I'm so healthy, I expect to live on and on."

The episode never aired, but the whole thing was caught on tape. Currently, that footage (including the paramedics rushing the stage) remains in Dick Cavett's custody.

You can read all about that night on Dick Cavett's blog for the New York Times.

The Dick Cavett Show was amazing. The following clip is a segment of Dick interviewing John Cassavettes, Peter Falk and Ben Gazzara. Peter Falk is adorable, btw (in case you didn't pick that up from some of my other blog posts!).

Watch Ben, John, Peter and Dick here:

Friday, November 13, 2009

Vega$ on DVD!

OK kids, before we go too crazy, this release of Vega$ on DVD is just Volume One of Season One. I can't say I'm really hip on this new version of releasing TV shows on DVD, but I've been waiting for Vega$ to become available in some format for about as long as I can remember.

The show, which ran three seasons holds a special place in my heart. Being a kid in 70s Vegas, I remember the hubbub over this show and grew up hearing my schoolmates say things like, "Yesterday Dan Tana drove past us on the freeway!" It was no less than awesome.

The show itself I hardly remember, except to say the cast was uniformly great, Greg Morris is a babe equal to Urich and Bart Braverman is the shizz-nit.

I did a cursory search to see if maybe this was available for streaming, but alas, you have to Netflix or buy. It's worth it though. It's one of the great late 70s cop shows. One that hardly gets the note it deserves and it's an excellent chance to remember both Morris and Urich, two wonderful men who left us way to soon.

Piece of trivia: Greg Morris apparently loved living in Vegas because he stayed there until his death in the 90s.

The thing about Vegas is that it's a city that is ever-changing, and with the release of this long-awaited DVD, I feel like I can actually go home again.

TV Trivia: Condominium (1980)

Did you know...

... that the miniseries Condominium was produced for syndication but aired on HBO six months before it was able to play on any syndicated channels?

Condominium was produced by Operation Prime Time, which was a company who made original television movies for independent stations. It was actually partially bankrolled by these various channels meaning they weren't allowed to air their own film which they paid to have made! What a tangled web we weave OPT...

Anyway, it's a pretty awesome movie. You can read my review of Condominium here.

And here's a fancy-schmancy picture gallery:

And one more for good measure:

Uber hawtness is in the room!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Must See Streaming Movie of the Week: Pleasure Palace (1980)

You just have to love all the glamour that is Netflix. Streaming movies just got a little more lush with this fancy-schmancy tele-flick called Pleasure Palace, which originally aired on NBC on October 22nd, 1980.

Here's the synopsis (courtesy of Netflix):

A professional gambler (Omar Sharif) puts his skills and sophistication to the test under the watchful eye of a mysterious woman (Victoria Principal), all to help the owner of Caesar's Palace (Hope Lange) hang on to her assets. In the end, a high-stakes card game will decide the casino's fate: Will its ownership remain unchanged, or will it be snatched up by the wealthy businessman (J.D. Cannon) waiting in the wings?

And here are five reasons it's glamorous:

1) Omar Shariff plays a guy named Louie Lefevre

2) He has a friggin man servant!

You rang?

3) It's got gamblers who wear tuxedos - no chinsy leisure suits here

4) Hope Lange is just as lovely as Victoria Principal

5) And location, location, location. It just looks so good

I'm in love!

Monday, November 9, 2009

More Trivia! Columbo Style!

Did you know...

...that Lt. Columbo was originally played by another actor? Whoa. How could anyone besides our beloved Peter Falk fill those wonderfully quirky shoes (or rather trenchcoat)?

I guess we all think of Columbo as a pretty happening late 60s/early 70s kind of dude, but he actually made his mark all the way back in 1960 on a series called The Chevy Mystery Show which featured unique conundrums every week (not completely unlike the NBC Mystery Wheel concept Columbo was made famous on. Every week was a total stand alone episode, featuring only one or two main characters who rotated during the season). An actor named Bert Freed got the distinguished honor of giving this guy life.

I won't pretend to know more than that, but check out this Columbo fansite where they pretty much give you all the goods you could ever want to get on the subject.

Now I have to ask, is this the man I fell in love with?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

More TV Movies on DVD!

Egads! Warner Home Archive is at it again:

The Stranger Within: Definitely one of the creepiest made for television movies ever, this features Barbara Eden carrying a baby under the strangest of circumstances. You can read my full review HERE.

The Deliberate Stranger: Fantastic and eerie mini-series about Ted Bundy, featuring Mark Harmon in one of his best roles. This is a must see.

Nutcracker: Money, Madness and Murder: Yet another true crime mini-series about a socialite who plots to kill dear old stinking rich dad. I had never heard of this one, but it looks pretty incredible. Plus, you know, Lee Remick. Gotta love her. Oh yeah, and it was nominated for NINE Emmys including Best Actress and Director. Wow. This is a neat little find!

TV Movie Trivia!

Got no Tunes, but here's the 'n Trivia... Did you know...

... that according to Alvin H. Marill in his book Movies Made for Television (aka My Bible), The Smugglers was pre-empted by the Apollo 8 landing on Christmas Eve in 1968 and was never re-aired on the network (NBC) again?

The Smugglers would end up being Shirley's one and only made for television movie.

Surprise, surprise. This little potboiler, which co-stars Carol Lynley about a mother and daughter wrongly accused of smuggling and murder is not available.

Poor, poor Shirley.

Here's Shirley watching in horror as her movie is pre-empted!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Schtuff I Have Going On...

So, I haven't had much going on in the Made for TV world, although I've been watching a lot of it... I just don't have much time to write about anything! I have decided that during the winter break I will do some themed weeks and hopefully get my TV Movie groove on. Stella and I need it!

But I do have a couple of other things to tell ya'll about... If you come across the newest issue of Fantastique Magazine (New Moon is on the cover), please check out the Nerds of the Roundtable article where I discuss why the unfairly obscure supernatural slasher The Slayer should be remade. I also have a copy-editing credit, so if you see a typo, look the other way!

Meet Tony. He's in Blood Lake and I'm in love with him!

Over at Retro Slashers, you can check out my latest look at the world of 80s Shot on Video. This time it's the ultra-obscure Blood Lake, which I kind of loved, but am semi-ashamed to admit it!