Episode 87: Forbidden Planet (1956)

Welcome to our late-night double-feature picture show! We’ve got androids fighting Brad and Janet, as well as Anne Francis stars in “Forbidden Planet”! It’s exactly like that, except it’s not a double-feature, and we have no Brad, no Janet, and no androids (yes, there’s a robot but a robot is not the same as an android, as Data tells us). In this, our final entry in the series “When We Wuz Kids,” Mike has chosen one of his favorite childhood (and adulthood) cinematic memories: 1956’s “Forbidden Planet,” starring (besides Ms. Francis), Walter Pidgeon, Leslie Nielsen (his first movie) and the legendary Eaaaarrrrl Holimannnn (best known for “Police Woman” and not much else).  This movie is alleged to be a science-fiction interpretation of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest.  In fact, the filmmakers were so into that idea that they list ol’ Bill as a co-writer.  Shakespeare. As a CO-writer. Yeah, we’ll get to that.  But we also have amazing sets, animation by a Disney animator, and the first appearance of Robby the Robot (who was supposed to have been a TOTAL DIVA on set. Very hard to work with. Even today, Twiki and the Daleks won’t speak to him. No one really knows why; we’re waiting for Twiki’s tell-all autobiography).  So strap on your simple blaster, down a shot of rocket fuel bourbon and monitor this episode!

Episode 86: The Phantom Tollbooth (1970)

Hello again to our listeners, both young and young at heart! Things in the real world are a tad . . . dramatic these days, so who among us isn’t fantasizing about hopping into a toy car, driving through a simulated highway fee collection station and traveling through a land of obvious puns, all animated by Chuck Jones?  . . . No one? Just me? Well, fine. I don’t care.  You’re all a bunch of dopey-heads. Because this week in our “When We Wuz Kids,” we’re taking a look back at an animated and (a little) live action adaptation of the beloved children’s book “The Phantom Tollbooth, written by Norton Juster and illustrated by Jules Pfeiffer (although you wouldn’t know that last bit if you watch this movie).  This is also one of the VERY few non-Bugs Bunny pieces directed by legendary animator Chuck Jones.  And it stars Butch Patrick! Man, how did they ever get Butch Patrick for this? Can you believe it? Butch Patrick!! Ok, for those (all) of you scratching your chins (stop that! No face-touching!) and wondering where you’ve heard that name, he was Eddie Munster on “The Munsters” and, perhaps more infamously, the main character in the Sid and Marty Kroft drug-trip of a Saturday morning show “Liddsville,” a show about sentient hats.  No, that’s not a typo.  Anyway, we’ve also got some voice acting royalty in this one: Mel Blanc! Daws Butler! June Foray! Hans Conreid! So, should you check out this movie or just read the book? Give a listen and find out for yourself! Insert linguistic or numerical pun here!

Episode 85: The Time Machine (1960)

Welcome, time travelers, to the year 2525 (assuming man is still alive). No, I’m just messing with you, it’s still 2020 and this is still Max, Mike; Movies with our series “When We Wuz Kids.” At these current spatio-temporal coordinates, we bring you one of Mike’s childhood cinematic influences: the 1960 film adaptation of H.G. Wells’ “The Time Machine.” This movie has it all: time travel! Explosions! Eloi! Morlocks! . . . and that’s about it, really.  So let’s . . . huh.  That’s odd.  Some guy who looks just like me just appeared in my office; he claims to be me from the future and he’s warning me about posting this episode! If I do, some great cataclysm will . . . hang on, there’s another version of me now who is arguing with the first version, claiming that by interfering with the timeline, he/I’m just making things worse.  Aaaand now there are forty-five versions of me in the office (hard to move now), all arguing about causality and what should happen now.  Wow, they just won’t shut up. Geez, I’m really of long-winded! I never realized . . . Whoops, one of the distant future-me’s just said something about the release of “Cats 17: This Time It’s Purrsonal” so to hell with all of me and let’s get this episode up.  Give a listen and see if this episode has doomed us all.

Episode 84: The Great Race (1965)

Greetings, sports fans, and welcome back to “Max, Mike; Movies!” series “When We Wuz Kids.” This week we delve into a cinematic semi-precious gem that is solidly wedged into the psyche of one Max. This Max, to be more specific.  Yes, by golly we’re taking on “The Great Race,” a zany comedy from the mind of Blake “The Pink Panther” Edwards, involving a turn-of-the-twentieth-century automobile race (those dang horseless carriages will never catch on) from New York to Paris. Yes, I know. Try not to think about the geography too much.  But never mind geography! We’ve got Tony Curtis as the always well-coifed Great Leslie and his arch-nemesis Professor Fate, played with scenery-chewing relish by Jack Lemmon, as well as the stunning Natalie Wood as a plucky suffragette/journalist/damsel in distress. As a kid, I remember this being a great deal of fun, rather like a live-action cartoon (and it did end up being the inspiration for “The Wacky Races”).  Does it remain joyfully chucklesome? Or has it aged poorly, like mayonnaise left out overnight? Mmmm . . . overnight mayonnaise . . . Join us and find out! Click the link, Max!

Episode 83: Captain Nemo and the Underwater City (1969)

Welcome back to our collective trip down memory lane in our series “When We Wuz Kids,” where we jabber about the motion pictures that had an impact on us as wee tykes (some of them were even those new-fangled “talkies”!). This week sinks us into the Marianas Trench that is Mike’s formative years, when he loved him some “Captain Nemo and the Underwater City”, a . . . sequel? to the well-known “20,000 Leagues Under The Sea,” the popular Disney version of the Jules Verne story. And do any of the Disney stars reprise their roles? Do we get James Mason? Kirk Douglas? Peter Lorre? Well . . . no. Not as such.  But we do get Chuck “The Rifleman” Connors! That’s pretty much the same thing, right? And did “20,000 Leagues” have a giant underwater kaiju named Mobula? I think not! So, we got that goin’ for us.  So how does this one hold up to Mike’s rose-colored glasses of youthful memory? Is it a delight for the entire family? A marvel of ahead-of-its-time steampunk? A hard-hitting documentary about the degeneration of coral reef’s world-wide? A small pile of jello cubes with a bowler hat perched on top? Tune in and find out what’s wrong with me! I mean, what we think of this movie.  Yes.  That’s what I mean.

Episode 82: Oliver! (1968)

Ahh, 1968! Was there ever a better year for kids movies? Well, yes, of course there was, but for some reason all three of the movies in our “When We Wuz Kids” series seem to come from that year.  Was this accidental? Hah! Mike and I are professionals! You think we don’t have some clever, over-arching scheme in choosing three movies from the same year? You really think that? Really?
Well, of course you’re completely right.  It just sort of happened this way.  We were little kids around this time, so there you go.  And this week, our choice is the Oscar-winning musical “Oliver!”, a delightful song-filled romp through 1830’s London with back-breaking poverty, the systematic maltreatment of orphans and foundlings, devious men who turn children into criminals, thieves, murderers, domestic abusers . . . you know, a family movie! Yes, this is a charming musical based on Charles Dickens’ serialized children’s book.  And by children’s book, I mean it was a savage condemnation of England’s lack of child labor laws and the criminalization of poverty. So, yeah, that just screams “family movie musical,” doesn’t it? I really liked this movie when I was a kid; how does it hold up, after years of aging and a brief career as a Dickens scholar? Tune in and hear what we think!

Episode 81: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968)

Today we continue our journey into the twisted smoking ruin that is our childhoods . . . what? Why are you all looking at me like that? I’m fine. I’m fine. Seriously, this week we continue “When We Wuz Kids,” where we check out movies that we remember loving as kids to see how they hold up.  This week’s entry comes from Mike’s distant past: another 1968 entry, “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”, a non-Disney kids’ musical with songs from the team that brought you “Mary Poppins” and includes Dick Van Dyke who wisely chose to forgo any sort of British accent in this movie (which makes it a little odd, as he’s the only one in the family without one).  This movie has it all: singing, dancing, candy, a magical car, a terrifying Child-Catcher, and several surprising connections to our last series, the one about James Bond. Seriously.  And it’s not just because the movie has a car that can float or fly. Give a listen and find out what we’re talking about!

Episode 80: Yellow Submarine (1968)

As one chapter closes, another begins . . . welcome to our new series, “When We Wuz Kids,” wherein Michael and I recall and review movies that we were enjoyed in our respective youths. Naturally, with our current level of maturity, we will be maintaining quiet dignity and a mature respect for . . . Miiiike! Quit it! Hey, Mike’s waving his hand in my face! It doesn’t MATTER if you’re not touching me, or if it’s free air, you’re still being a jerk! Oh, you are so going to get it! No, YOU are! Oh, yeah? Well, so’s your ol’ man! Quit it! Oh, you gonna cry now, big baby? You gonna cry? Gimme back my juice box!
So yes, Mike and I are regressing to childhood (yes, thank you, keep the “how far can that be” jokes to yourselves), starting with one of my favorites when I was a wee lad: the Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine.” Ok, yes, when I first saw it as a child, the Blue Meanies scared me so much I had to be taken out of the theater.  But I got over it.  Really. I did.  I’m not scared of AAAAAAHHHH! BLUE MEANIEEEEEES! *ahem* Yes, well . . . look, they’re really scary when you’re little! Shut up, Mike, they are too! Oh, you are so gonna get it at recess . . . Anyway, give a listen as we discuss the animated creation based around the Lads from Liverpool.  Enjoy, and remember: Blue Meanies never take “yes” for an answer!