Tag Archives: 1957

THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN STARRING GEORGE REEVES: SEASON 5-6 EPISODE GUIDE AND REVIEWS, AND THE MYSTERIOUS DEATH OF SUPERMAN

Previous installments of “The Adventures of Superman” episode guide : Season, 1, Part ISeason 1, Part II – Season 2 Seasons 3 & 4

This article originally appeared in a slightly different form at Alfred Eaker’s The Blue Mahler.

Peril in Paris (dir. George Blair) is an ignominious opener for the fifth season. Diamond thieves have plundered the City of Love in an episode which could have used Grace Kelly.

Tin Hero (dir. Blair) is a slow news day, but Daily Planet subscribers aren’t the only ones suffering from boredom.

The Town That Wasn’t (dir. Blair): Gangsters use a mobile town to catch unsuspecting motorists in speed traps. Crimes are perpetrated and the law is evaded until Superman sets things right.

Tomb of Zaharan (dir. Blair) is awfully dull going for an episode dealing with reincarnation and Egyptian queens. At least Perry White gets some enjoyment in seeing his ace reporters stripped down and humiliated.

The Man Who Made Dreams Come True (dir. Blair): Who would ever guess that superstition could be a channel to the monarchy? Lois gets gagged tied yet again, and manages to render that fetish dull.

Disappearing Lois (dir. Harry W. Gerstad): Lois goes undercover to oust Lefty the gangster in a fun episode. Spanish Fly meets French Maid.

Money to Burn (dir. Gerstad): Arsonists burn the Daily Planet. Perry White waxes suspicious before being abducted. A Super fireman comes to the rescue.  Superman with a fire hose… Ding! Turn the page! Can’t wait for the action figure set. Cool stuff.

Close Shave (dir. Gerstad): Crooked barbers. Lois gagged and tied. What more can you ask for?

The Phony Alibi (dir. Blair): Professor Pepperwinkle has invented another useless device straight out of Dr. Seuss. This one teleports people through telephone lines. Lois shows off her “come hither” pearl necklace.

The Prince Albert Coat (dir. Gerstad): Life savings accidentally given away in a coat pocket… stop the presses, this is a story! Actually, all turns out well, and we’re relieved.

The Stolen Elephant (dir. Gerstad): Poor Jimmy thinks he didn’t get anything for his birthday, but lo and behold, Mom placed an elephant in his shed. Sad to say, but bad kidnappers want the elephant too. Nail-biting suspense.

Still from "Mr. Zero" from "the Adventures of Superman"Mr. Zero (dir. Gerstad) is the nadir of the entire series, and quite possibly the most execrable thirty minutes to ever disgrace the idiot box. It’s a cardboard takeoff of a comic villain and a pain-inducing endurance test. If it borders on masochism for its viewers, one can only Continue reading THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN STARRING GEORGE REEVES: SEASON 5-6 EPISODE GUIDE AND REVIEWS, AND THE MYSTERIOUS DEATH OF SUPERMAN

155. THE SINGING RINGING TREE (1957)

Das Singende, Klingende Bäumchen

“The following program will terrify anyone who remembers how BBC Children’s TV decided bizarre East German fairy tales were good for us. But everyone else needs to know why so many are still suffering the consequences.”–2002 BBC Radio broadcast reminiscing about The Singing Ringing Tree

Recommended

DIRECTED BY: Francesco Stefani

FEATURING: Christel Bodenstein, Eckart Dux, Richard Krüger, Charles Hans Vogt

PLOT: A handsome prince journeys to a foreign kingdom to seek the hand of an arrogant princess, but she refuses his gift and demands he bring her the legendary singing ringing tree instead. The prince discovers the tree in a magical kingdom ruled over by a mischievous dwarf, who tells him he can have the tree, but it will not sing until the princess loves him. Later, an unwise wish turns the prince into a bear, and he abducts the princess and takes her to live with him.

Still from The Singing Ringing Tree (1957)

BACKGROUND:

  • Film adaptations of old folktales were a popular genre in Warsaw Pact countries during the Cold War, but the genre was seldom attempted in the West, excepting Disney-style animated films that smoothed out the rough edges of the stories. In East Germany these movies were collectively known as “Märchenfilme.”
  • The Singing Ringing Tree is clearly in the Brothers’ Grimm style but is not based on a single source. The title is similar to a Grimm tale translated as “The Singing, Springing Lark.”
  • The colorful, artificial storybook look crafted by art director Erich Zander is a huge part of the film’s success. Zander began his career working as a co-art director with in the early 1920s, before the Expressionist titan became a director and emigrated to Hollywood.
  • Das Singende, Klingende Bäumchen was the 11th highest grossing film ever made in East Germany.
  • The Singing Ringing Tree achieved international prominence when it was broadcast by the BBC in 1964 with English language voiceover narration as an installment in the series “Tales from Europe.” It became a staple of British children’s programming and was screened as late as the 1990s. The broadcasts were so memorably strange and scarring they were parodied four decades later by “The Fast Show” as “Ton Swingingen Ringingen Bingingen Plingingen Tingingen Plinkingen Plonkingen Boingingen Tree.”
  • A sound sculpture erected by architects Mike Tonkin and Anna Liu in Burnley, Lancashire, England in 2006 is named “The Singing Ringing Tree” in tribute to this movie.

INDELIBLE IMAGE: The Singing Ringing Tree offers brilliantly hued proto-psychedelic sets, a despondent prince trapped in a darling fuzzy bear suit, and an evil dwarf with arched eyebrows prancing through a magical Expressionist kingdom, but the unforgettable image has to be the giant mechanical goldfish. A half-functioning robot made out of wire and paper mâché, the goldfish looks like God’s rejected first draft of a sea monster. Eerily, only three parts of him move—his lips, his eyes, and his tail—yet, despite the fact that he was obviously birthed from a nightmare, the Princess finds him to be an adorable companion.

WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: The authentically semi-coherent fairy tale plotting, combined with art direction that’s simultaneously lush and cheesy, create a world that’s defiantly different than the one we know. It’s a rose-colored, romanticized view of the Dark Ages glimpsed through a hole in the Iron Curtain. The Singing Ringing Tree is known in former East Germany (where it was a blockbuster hit in the 1950s) and Britain (where it became a cult item through TV screenings in the 1960s), but this spectacular curiosity still needs to be brought to the attention of the rest of the world.


Clip from The Singing Ringing Tree

COMMENTS: With its obscure Teutonic magic, its timeless kingdoms and mysterious faerie folk, its poetic transformations of princes into bears Continue reading 155. THE SINGING RINGING TREE (1957)

LIST CANDIDATE: THE SEVENTH SEAL (1957)

Must See

DIRECTED BY:

FEATURING: Max von Sydow, Gunnar Björnstrand, Nils Poppe, Bengt Ekerot,

PLOT:  A disillusioned knight and his cynical squire return to a 14th century Sweden ravaged

Still from The Seventh Seal (1957)

by the Black Plague; Death comes for the knight, but he entices the Reaper to play a game of chess for his soul.

WHY IT MIGHT MAKE THE LISTThe Seventh Seal is undoubtedly a great movie, but its weirdness is in doubt.  In fact, trying to decide if this film is strange enough to make it on the List almost makes me feel like Antonius Block wondering if there’s a God out there.  As an existential allegory, the film has a significant amount of unreality in its corner; although much of the movie is a starkly realistic portrait of medieval life, Bergman often ignores logic in minor ways when necessary to make his larger metaphorical points.  He also incorporates the fantastic in one major way, by making Death a literal character in the film, a “living, breathing” character who not only plays chess but also poses as a priest and chops down a tree with his scythe.  That’s not much weirdness to go on, though, and the best external support I can find for considering the movie “weird” is the fact that it’s been (inaccurately) tagged with “surrealism” on IMDB.   I’m torn; the weird movie community will need to chime in on this one.

COMMENTS: The Seventh Seal has a big, imposing reputation as a masterpiece of world cinema, but if you haven’t seen it yet, you may be surprised to find that most of what you think you know about it is wrong.  In the first place, it’s not nearly as gloomy as you may have heard.  True, every frame of the film is suffused with the foreknowledge of death—Bergman is very in-your-face with his message that you are going to die, and it’s going to be horrible—but the grim scenes alternate with lighthearted, comic ones.  The entire dynamic between the drunken smith Plog, and his unfaithful wife Maria, and her unlucky paramour Scat, for example, has a tone of bawdy Shakespearean comedy.  The idyllic scenes where the knight enjoys a meal of milk and wild strawberries with the juggler Jof and his family have a warmth that temporarily drives away the chill—even though there is a skull peering over the Continue reading LIST CANDIDATE: THE SEVENTH SEAL (1957)

THE EXQUISITE CHAMBER WESTERNS OF BUDD BOETTICHER, PART TWO: THE TALL T (1957)

Shot in a mere twelve days, The Tall T is one of the most remarkable westerns in a decade that unquestionably belonged to the western genre.  Burt Kennedy scripted a pure, taut, and crisp script from an Elmore Leonard short story.Still from The Tall T (1957)The Tall T is an actor’s film. The first surprise lies in Maureen O’Sullivan’s performance as homely, whimpering Doretta Mims; a performance that can almost be seen as a bookend to her far different, equally superb performance as the independent, strong-willed, sensual Jane of Tarzan and his Mate (1934). Here, she is the newly married, timid wife of unsympathetic louse John Hubbard. By film’s end she emerges from self-pity’s well, dress coming off shoulder, hair loosed down and radiating a fire akin to Prometheus unbound as she is pressed up against the pure, granite-hard, phallic form of .


Scott’s character is one of his most interesting and fully developed in the Boetticher cannon. The film opens with Scott visiting  friends at the Way Station.  Upon Scott’s departure, the young , amiable, grandson of the station manager gives the laconic cowboy a penny for some rock hard candy from the town store. Naturally, the good-natured Scott promises to do so.  However, on the way back to the station, Scott, more animated than normal, loses his horse in a bet in a scene evoking archetypal good old boy western humor.  The calm before the proverbial storm.

Taking a stagecoach on the way back to the station, Scott has a bit of camaraderie with old buddy and stagecoach driver Arthur Hunnicutt (a character favorite in dozens of westerns, he typified the grizzled sidekick) who is transporting newlyweds O’ Sullivan  and her louse husband;,John Hubbard (surprisingly, a standard stock coward, nowhere near as developed as Walter Continue reading THE EXQUISITE CHAMBER WESTERNS OF BUDD BOETTICHER, PART TWO: THE TALL T (1957)