Written by Fred Patten, and published on the LASFS Rex Rotary, June 2, 1965. Intended for Apa L, Thirty-Third Distribution, LASFS Meeting no. 1451, June 3, 1965. Address: 1825 Greenfield Avenue, Los Angeles, California, 90025. Phone: GRanite 3-6321
|Long Beach in 1965!||Mondays are purple.||Salamander Press #99.|
Last Friday was the date on which those tickets to the Warner Bros.' Exhibition & tour of "The Great Race", that were auctioned off for the Building Fund, fell due. I had gotten one of the sets and sold the odd ticket to Tom Gilbert; so Friday afternoon, I met him in the Library parking lot and we set off for the Great Exhibit.
The Warner Bros. Studio lots are in Burbank, and it was hot and sunny when we arrived there about 3:30. We had a half hour to kill before the Exhibit opened, which we spent wandering around the streets of the studio community. When the gates opened, we went in, and almost immediately ran into the Pelzes, who had gotten the other set of tickets at the Building Fund auction; so we all covered the Exhibit together.
The Exhibit was quite pleasant. The main feature was inside a circus tent, and consisted of the various vehicles and sets used in the movie, which is a slapstick fantasy built around an automobile race from New York to Paris in 1908, with Tony Curtis as the Great Leslie, the noble, virtuous, dressed-in-spotless-white hero; and Jack Lemon as Prof. Hannibal Fate, the dirty, evil, mustachioed, dressed-in-basic-black villain. The main items on display were the Great Leslie's car, Prof. Fate's car, Leslie's ascension balloon, Prof. Fate's aerial bicycle, Leslie's speedboat, Prof. Fate's homing torpedo, Fate's two-man submarine (and the interior set for same), and his rocket sled. All of this in 1908 rococo, naturally. Prof Fate's custom-built Hannibal-8 was the prize of the lot, being solid black (except for his family coat-of-arms, a skull-and-crossbones), and looking like a cross between a hearse and a tank, containing such built-in extras as a small brass cannon that pops out of the hood to eliminate obstacles (like other racers), a front-mounted rotary drill that heats red-hot, automatic stilt-jacks that can lift the car about seven feet off the ground to avoid mudholes, etc., and a multicolored smokescreen-spewing device. It all comes on like a one-man Edwardian THRUSH. Besides these vehicles and sets, there were also several models used in long-distance shots, displays of the clothing and costumes worn by the heroes and heroine, various paintings of scenes from the picture, and the walls of the tent were covered with colored stills from the movie.
From this walk-through exhibit, we went into another tent where we saw a ten-minute "behind the scenes" film on the shooting of the movie, which was actually just a lengthy plug for the movie itself. (This was the free Film Preview! Announced on the ticket to the Exhibit.) After this came the "tour", which had nothing to do with "The Great Race", but was just a ten-minute quickie tram tour around the adjacent Warner Bros. Street sets. As I said, it was all quite pleasant and certainly well worth going to if you can get one of the free tickets; but the whole thing doesn't take more than half an hour to complete-- I had gotten the impression from the ticket that it would've been something more impressive lasting a couple of hours at least. So don't expect too much.
The picture does look like a "must-see", though; it's got a good cast, no expense was spared on color, costumes, and sets -- one of the scenes was short in the old Imperial Palace of the Hapsburgs in Vienna -- and it appears to be loaded with all sorts of action, including such scenes as a total-destruction brawl in a Western saloon; being cast adrift on an iceberg (while crossing the Bering Straits from America to Asia); a Graustarkian sub-plot in Europe with sword duels, impersonation of the prince, and the whole works; and a pie-fight in the royal bakery that involves either 500 people or 500 pies -- I didn't catch which -- but I think each pie has a different colored filling. From the advertising, the initial showings are going to be at the reserved-seat, $5.00-a-ticket theatres, so I won't plan on seeing it for awhile, but I certainly do intend seeing it eventually. It sounds well worth it.
Now does anybody know if there's any Great Exhibit for "Those Daring Young Men in Their Flying Machines"?
-- BEING COMMENTS ON LAST WEEK'S DISTRIBUTION
Bill Glass -- Okay, you got me. Without the help of others, such as in the group guessing session we had in the collating room last week, I've only been able to identify or confirm one less than 50% of these -- two less if "Death and Destruction!" isn't from Heinlein's The Puppet Masters, which I'm pretty sure it is but I don't have the hardbound version around to check it. You've got a fine range of authors and stories here; without using any lines or names that're too obvious, you've managed to ring in the major works of such people as Heinlein, Merritt, Burroughs, Leiber, Kuttner, Van Vogt, de Camp, Jones Tolkien, Smith, Hubbard, Farmer, Clarke, and other basic authors. If you'll give us the answers to these, I think we can guarantee to use it in the Best from Apa L anthology.
Bruce Pelz -- Of course, it did hurt me terribly to not be included in the Apa L 31.5, and I might actually have been persuaded to drive home and run off a zine real quick if I hadn't been having so much fun watching Gilbert dithering about unsuccessfully. As to why I tore off my paragraph contribution, I decided that I didn't want to be included so badly as to put in sheer crud under my name -- the sort of thing that Gilbert has in this week's regular Distribution. Putting in a virtually blank sheet of paper just for the sake of "being a contributor" seems pointless to me; if I don't have time to produce something I think other people will at least moderately enjoy reading, the heck with it. But I do like Tom's suggestion (made at the Great Exhibit last Friday) to organize an official LASFS outing to the Universal-International studio tours, which are supposed to be considerably more elaborate than Warner's free show; so that we can watch you & Dian trying to assemble a F/Dist'n on a moving tram car. A carrousel outing could also be fun, particularly if we could get a cooperative operator (possibly the one at Balboa Park?) who wouldn't mind us working on the moving machine. ## Sorry about the lack of more information as to the meeting place of the Picnic, but I've never been to the Arroyo Seco Park before at all, and I just drew out the directions that Al suggested to me. I didn't realize that some people would automatically assume we'd be meeting in a different area than the one that Al had picked out; I figured that anyone who didn't read the instructions in Apa L would contact me or someone else who knew where we'd be, rather than setting off blindly and just hunting around. I did say, "Ask me for instructions if you need them."
Ed Meskys -- No, I don't feel that the mere fact that something is being parodied in MAD means that the editors disapprove of it. However, when the parody takes the general tone of the "Man from A.U.N.T.I.E." one -- "Boy, isn't this a sickeningly idiotic show; what completely ridiculous, banal, overused cliché should we use next?" -- I do get the impression that the editors don't think much of the quality content of the subject. In comparison, James Bond came off quite favorably in the musical comedy version ("007") they did of that series of novels/movies.