Leslie Nielsen gone :-(

Leslie Nielsen gone :-(

Nat
Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

November 30th, 2010, 4:12 am #1

Well I lost one of my favorite actors today. I first became familiar with Leslie Nielsen as a kid when I saw him as the captain in "Forbidden Planet"- still one of my favorite Sci-fi movies. For many years he played "serious" roles so he seemed like a odd choice to play the Doctor in the 1980 spoof movie "Airplane". But when I saw him I thought he was ideal for this- nobody was better at saying hysterical things with a perfect deadpan expression. And he knew it too because from then on all he did was spoof movies like the "Naked Gun" series. I've always like "intelligent" spoof movies. But alas this reminds me that just about every TV and movie star I knew during my early years is gone now. But at least Leslie made it to 84 and went out in a good way. If you gotta go- that's the way to do it.

. . . . .
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Bob
Bob

November 30th, 2010, 7:56 pm #2

I also thought of Neilsen as too strait-laced and serious-looking to play some of the roles he played, but he pulled it off. As you said, that dead-pan expression when he said those goofy lines . . he obviously had a sense of humor and didn't mind looking a bit absurd in its pursuit.

I thought of Neilsen in a similar way as Jack Webb, the Dragnet guy. So serious-looking, and the way his character Sgt Friday reeled off the long spiels about crimes and offenders . . I first thought he was spoofing too, but I think Webb was really serious about it!

What takes the cake for me was Peter Graves line in an Airline! movie. He is the pilot, and agrees to a young boy's request to see the cockpit. Graves and the boy are talking about the plane and flying, and then Graves said, "Billy, have you ever seen a grown man naked?" I didn't know wherther to cringe or laugh! It was creepy in a way -- I couldn't believe that someone like Peter Graves (the leader from the Mission Impossible TV series) would say something like that.
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Nat
Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

November 30th, 2010, 10:19 pm #3

Well the problem with satire is that you are always walking on the edge of going too far and offending someone. In fact, when these movies are shown on regular TV they lose much of their punch because the funniest stuff gets censored out. Like "Blazing Saddles" was a riot in the theater- but when ABC showed it on TV- all the funny stuff was gone and the movie didn't even make sense to those who hadn't seen it before. In fact I read that ABC had cut out so much out they had to used studio outtakes to pad out the time slot. If you're going to butcher a film that much to make it "TV-PC"- best not show it at all.

As for Webb, I didn't care for the '60s version of Dragnet at all. First his new side-kick Harry Morgan just wasn't right for the job. He was just the opposite of Neilsen in that he had always played comedy roles- but the switch going the other way didn't work for him. But the main problem was Webb became so "preachy" in the later Dragnet with his constant lectures about drugs, sex, crime, etc that it seem more like one of those corny propaganda films they use to show you in school that we all made fun of.
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Bob
Bob

December 1st, 2010, 1:38 pm #4

A funny part of that show for me was the ending, when Sgt Joe would summarize what happened to the people: "Janet Clark was convicted of forgery and drug possesion and was sentenced to 15 years in the Bakersfield Reformitory for Women." (face-shot video of her included dark circles under her eyes, straggled hair, and a smug look that seemed to say, "Yeah, and I would kick your ass if I get outta here!"). "Clark's illegitimate and neglected children were placed (rescued) with the California Department of Child Welfare." (The kids were similarly unkept, never smiling/grinning and maybe even had some obvious disability, like crossed eyes --- just to show what can happen when you give birth out of wedlock!) My siblings and I used to make up our own spiels about the people, and funny faces to show how a life of crime and depravity can really screw a person up! I couldn't take that show seriously.
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Joined: May 9th, 2005, 12:05 pm

December 1st, 2010, 2:17 pm #5

Well the problem with satire is that you are always walking on the edge of going too far and offending someone. In fact, when these movies are shown on regular TV they lose much of their punch because the funniest stuff gets censored out. Like "Blazing Saddles" was a riot in the theater- but when ABC showed it on TV- all the funny stuff was gone and the movie didn't even make sense to those who hadn't seen it before. In fact I read that ABC had cut out so much out they had to used studio outtakes to pad out the time slot. If you're going to butcher a film that much to make it "TV-PC"- best not show it at all.

As for Webb, I didn't care for the '60s version of Dragnet at all. First his new side-kick Harry Morgan just wasn't right for the job. He was just the opposite of Neilsen in that he had always played comedy roles- but the switch going the other way didn't work for him. But the main problem was Webb became so "preachy" in the later Dragnet with his constant lectures about drugs, sex, crime, etc that it seem more like one of those corny propaganda films they use to show you in school that we all made fun of.
I agree with you about Dragnet (!!!). There was some humor in the earlier series, mostly on the part of his partner and usually earlier in the episode. I have some DVDs of the earlier ones but not the later ones. Some of his other productions had the same sort of mild situation humor between characters at the beginning of the episode but it certainly was brief. Overall, there wasn't that much variety between the episodes but the concept and format was limiting, though no more so that recent shows like Law and Order, for example.

Some of the longer running shows that I watched, like Bonanza and Gunsmoke, changed a lot over the years, which shouldn't be surprising, but they had a fair amount of variety in some of their episodes and some had a lot of humor, if not comedy.
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Bob
Bob

December 1st, 2010, 6:31 pm #6

Johnny Carson did a very funny skit regarding theft of clappers that are attached to bells. He is reporting the theft to Jack Webb, and each recites an increasingly long littany of words that all begin with the letter C (the "Clapper Caper", Webb called it). Webb held his own vs. Carson and the whole thing was hilarious.
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Bob
Bob

December 1st, 2010, 6:42 pm #7

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Nat
Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

December 1st, 2010, 7:25 pm #8

Yes I remember seeing that. They often repeated it on their "best of" shows. Dragnet was an obvious target for spoofing so its not surprisingly there were a lot of parodies of it. "Dr.Demento" was a DJ back in the 1980s who had a weekly syndicated radio show that specialized in funny novelty songs and parody bits. He played several different ones spoofing Dragnet and they were all good. Wish I could hear them again.
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Bob
Bob

December 1st, 2010, 7:44 pm #9

Dan Akroyd played Joe Friday in the movie. I thought it would be funnier, but Akroyd did that rapid-fire Webb-talk and also referred to people by their unsavory habits, e.g., "the prostitute, Jenny Quail". She could reform her ways, but years later Sgt Joe wouild still refer to her that way.

How would you like to always have your name identified with your least shining moment? Bob, the Klutz . . Bob, Woman Repellant . . Bob, the athletic zero . . lol
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Nat
Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

December 1st, 2010, 10:00 pm #10

Yes I remember running across that movie on cable some years ago and I was also disappointed that it was not better- given the potential of the material. Webb's monotone deliveries were so corny they seemed almost a parody to start with.

I love good parody movies but they are never very successful at the box office because most movie goers are the younger generation who don't find them funny because they haven't seen the movies or events being parodied and don't get the joke.
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