Monday, August 6, 2007

Goodwill hunting - Dora Hall and Just Call Me Old

Stopped by Goodwill today and made two little discoveries.

First off, I found two VHS tapes of Dora Hall tv specials, "Dora's World" and "Secret Sleuth".

If you do any web search on Dora, you can find out more than you ever wanted to know about her. She was born about 1900 and was always fascinated with show business. Her husband, owner of the Solo Cup company, financed recordings of her albums which were given away with proofs of purchase from Solo Cup products. He also paid for some elaborate tv specials starring Dora in the 1970s and these were also available as Solo Cup premiums. (Here's a web version of a great TV Guide article from 1971 about the first tv show she did, "Once Upon a Tour".)

My fellow lp fanatic and musician friend Carman gifted me a couple of Dora's lps, featuring her remarkable song stylings on tunes like "Hang On Sloopy" and the Rolling Stones's "Satisfaction". The tv specials are a very different level of Dora Hall artistry.

The specials are the absolute cheesiest of 70's musical variety shows, compressed into a swift half-hour. In "Secret Sleuth", Dora owns a newstand and the plot has something to do with a mysterious man and a briefcase; it's just an excuse for Dora to perform songs like "Secret Agent Man" and "King of the Road". "Dora's World" has Dora playing a show-biz vet grandmother that annoys her daughter in law by performing numbers for the kids all the time. She does "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" sitting on a motorcyle surrounded by gyrating dancers dressed in bell bottoms and 70's glitter and guys in kung fu outfits (don't ask). Oh, and she serves them milk and cookies. (Again, don't ask.)

My second discovery at Goodwill?

At the checkout, the clerk, after ringing up my tapes asked, "Senior citizens discount?"

Since I'm only 43 and the clerk looked to be well over sixty, I'm not sure why she thought I knew the secret AARP handshake that gets me discount coffee at McDonald's.

Was it the way I look?

Or was it because I bought two Dora Hall videotapes?

Friday, August 3, 2007

RIP Bergman, soap commercial king

Slate has a short video that takes a look at a neglected aspect of Ingmar Bergman's film career - soap commercials.

Bergman produced the commercials in the 1950s to pick up extra money during a studio shutdown and they're rather clever, combining aspects of theater and film. One is a parody of the 3D movie craze.

video at