Wednesday, August 15, 2018

The Retiring Mr. Redford :)


Robert Redford recently announced that he's retiring from acting. It turns out his first television role was a small part ("Jimmy Coleman") in the "Iron Hand" episode of Maverick opposite Jack Kelly in 1960. MeTV took note of this and posted an interesting article on their website:

Redford's first big scene came while sitting around the campfire during a cattle drive with Bart Maverick:

Of course, Redford later went onto big screen stardom in films such as The Sting which was apparently partially inspired by the Maverick episode "Shady Deal at Sunny Acres". 

Please stay tuned for more about JK in TDS! :)

Monday, August 13, 2018

Freedom and JK - Pt. IV


Wrapping up our look at Jack Kelly in Freedom and You, here's another fabulous candid photo from Mike Road's personal collection which was snapped in April 1962 during the making of the film:

MR, Andrew Duggan, JK and Don Johnson (not the actor, but the WB studio barber, according to MR's note on the back of the photo) all appear to be pointing the finger of doom at a lovely lady who is identified as "Margene" the WB make-up department secretary.

And, here's a 1962 photo from an Illinois newspaper showing JK and Robert Conrad with actor/musician Breland Rice, who portrayed one of the machinists working alongside "Jerry Donovan":  

For some reason, Wikipedia and some other sources insist that Freedom and You was made in 1957 but not released until 1962. However, the dates on the preceding photos, plus the 1960's cars clearly visible in the film, prove this wasn't the case.  

Now, here are a couple of rare wardrobe test photos of JK (this one reminds me of his wardrobe tests from Cult of the Cobra):

This is one of my favorite pics of JK (no, he didn't grow an extra leg, that's a crew member partially visible behind him ;>):

A close-up:

Some trivia about Freedom and You:

  • Carol Nicholson and Ronnie Dapo also portrayed JK's children (Patricia and Tommy Callahan) in the 1961 feature film A Fever in the Blood.
  • Freedom and You (Armed Forces Information Film #120) was produced "Under the Personal Supervision" of Jack L. Warner. The "Conelrad" website quotes the film's writer, Vincent Forte: "Jack Warner was very gung-ho in that area (anti-Communism). He wanted the message spelled out in very blunt terms. He wanted us to hit ‘em over the head with it." And, indeed, they did.

  • The original target audience for Freedom and You was members of the US military. It was later shown (both in its original format and as Red Nightmare) throughout the 1960s in schools, churches and other civic settings. For instance, a search of newspaper archives reveals that in February 1966, students at Haven High School in Schuylkill Haven, Pennsylvania, who didn't have to make up mid-term tests had the choice of going to study hall or watching Freedom and You (the newspaper article doesn't reveal how many students chose to watch the film).
  • Although Freedom and You was still being shown without irony on military bases and in women's clubs in the early 1970s, by that time it was (especially in its Red Nightmare format) also being screened as "camp" entertainment on college campuses.  A 1970 newspaper story reported that government productions such as Freedom and You appealed to college kids because the films were available free of charge, usually with no waiting list, and had high production values.
  • Also in the early 1970's, scenes from Freedom and You appeared in a controversial CBS News documentary titled The Selling of the Pentagon, which sought to expose the Pentagon's multi-million dollar pro-military propaganda machine. 
  • In 1987, Red Nightmare was released by Rhino Home Video under the title The Commies Are Coming! The Commies Are Coming! Linda Alexander reported in her biography of Jack Kelly that JK was mortified when his daughter, Nicole, told him she had viewed this version of the movie in a college film studies class. JK answered that he thought the original film had been "buried" and that he only appeared in it because he was contractually bound by Warner Bros. to do so.
  • However, that wasn't the end of the bizarre afterlife of this film. In 2014, the movie Inherent Vice starring Joaquin Phoenix featured a character named "Burke Stodger", a staunchly anti-Communist actor whose propaganda films are continuously screened for inmates of a mysterious asylum. Instead of having a contemporary actor portray the character, scenes of JK in Freedom and You were edited into Inherent Vice to represent Burke Stodger and his films. JK is even listed in the credits as Stodger! (This may be the first time a long-deceased actor played two completely different characters at the same time in one film?!)
While Freedom and You a.k.a. Red Nightmare a.k.a. The Commies Are Coming! The Commies Are Coming! is certainly no cinematic masterpiece, it doesn't deserve to be dismissed as complete schlock. It's a product of its time. Of course, no one seriously believed that skipping a PTA meeting would lead to Communist domination of the US. But, in the real world the Cold War was underway. The discovery of Soviet-made nuclear missiles in Cuba in October 1962 led to the tense stand-off now known as the Cuban Missile Crisis
In its heavy-handed way, Freedom and You reminds us that the real enemy, even today, is complacency. Complacency and taking things for granted can kill relationships, families, careers and dreams. It can also kill, literally. I work in an industry where some jobs are inherently dangerous. One second of complacency can lead to disaster. In fact, two lives were tragically lost on the job recently because the victims apparently neglected to ensure that safety precautions were in place before starting to work.
Well, here is Freedom and You:
And, Red Nightmare:
    And, a bonus video with scenes set to "Twilight Zone" by Golden Earring:
    Although its merits as education or even entertainment are debatable, the fact remains that Freedom and You is a must-see for Jack Kelly fans. As "Jerry Donovan" JK goes from being an average guy content to flow along with the status quo to someone who comes to realize what's really important in his life and how much he's taken it for granted. And, he looks great doing it. ;)

Please stay tuned--you never know what's coming up next in TDS (but I promise it won't be as long as this post! :>)

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Freedom and JK - Pt. III

Part III of "Freedom and JK"...

Jerry is put on trial by the State after being arrested at the museum:

The prosecutor (Mike Road) reads off the charges against Jerry: "Subversion, deviationism, and treason". He offers Jerry a chance to confess his crimes, but Jerry asks where the proof is that he committed any crimes at all. The prosecutor answers that it's up to Jerry to prove his innocence.

Jerry asks how he can prove his innocence if he doesn't know what he's accused of: "'Subversion' against whom? 'Deviationism' from what? 'Treason' against what government?"

The prosecutor states that Jerry was given the opportunity to confess and should now be sentenced. Jerry protests that the State is falsely accusing him of crimes while it committed actual crimes such as breaking into his home without a warrant, taking Linda away, desecrating a house of worship and turning his family against him.

He begs Helen to back him up. But, the prosecutor produces a document signed by Helen stating that Jerry tried to turn their children against the Communist State. He asks her if the statement is true:

She answers "Yes":

The prosecutor has signed accusations from other witnesses, including Bill Martin, and they each confirm that their statements are also true:

The prosecutor says that the evidence against Jerry is overwhelming and that he should be sentenced immediately. Jerry demands to read the witness statements and to speak in his own defense.

The judge (Andrew Duggan) orders him to return to the box.

He tells Jerry there's no need to examine the witness statements, because he stands condemned by his own words. The judge calls Jerry "a dangerous enemy to the proletariat, who must be treated as such, as an ugly remnant of a diseased bourgeois class, who must be eradicated before the contagion can spread". He sentences Jerry to be shot at a time and place to be decided:

Before Jerry is removed from the courtroom, he delivers an impassioned speech against Communism, saying that although the State uses big words like "proletariat", there's one word they're afraid of: freedom.

Jerry is chained to a chair by Communist soldiers. His executioner is the same officer (Peter Breck) he saw speaking in the street. The executioner offers him one last chance to confess his "crimes". Jerry refuses, but tells him that one day people will finally realize that "Communism" is just another word for "slavery":

As he utters these final words, the executioner fires a shot:

Luckily, Jack Webb shows up again and assures us that the bullet won't reach Jerry:

Jerry really wakes up to discover that it was all just a Red nightmare:

And Helen is Helen again:

Sally and Jimmy are back to being their playful selves:

And, Linda and Bill have decided to postpone their marriage until after Bill finishes his hitch in the service:

Everything's back to normal:

Except this time, as Jack Webb concludes, "Jerry knows now so he'll never forget it--responsibilities are a privilege...freedom has a price, and its price is vigilance..."

JW then launches into a patriotic salute to the US and its armed forces, which, like the end credits, was filmed in color. Too bad the rest of the film wasn't:

Well, that's the end of Freedom and You...but please stay tuned because there's more of "Freedom and JK" coming up in TDS! :)

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Freedom and JK - Pt. II

Continuing with our look at Jack Kelly in Freedom and You:

The last straw for Jerry comes when Helen announces that their two younger children are going away to a state school. He confronts his wife about choosing to send the kids away, but his youngest daughter Sally (Carol Nicholson) informs Jerry that the idea to attend the school was actually hers and Jimmy's. She explains they were told that family life doesn't encourage the collective character which the Party desires in its young people.  

Jerry is further taken aback as Jimmy accuses him of not teaching the children more about "the Party line" and instead indulging in "deviationism and bourgeois sentimentalism", which means he must be reported to the authorities:

Jerry can take no more. He says the Donovans are going to be a family again and, as a start, the children are going to Sunday School to learn the truth. He physically drags them there. But once they arrive the children tell him that there is no more Sunday School, because the church has been converted into a museum exhibiting Soviet inventions:

Jerry insists that someone has made a mistake. Inside the museum, he finds the "Russian" inventions on display include the telephone. Jerry angrily points out to the curator that the phone was invented by Alexander Graham Bell, an American.

Jerry destroys the deceitful display and the curator summons the authorities to arrest him:

Next time in TDS: Is it the end of Jerry's nightmare--or Jerry himself?! Please stay tuned for Part III of "Freedom and JK"!

Friday, July 27, 2018

Freedom and JK :)


One of Jack Kelly's most famous--or most infamous--movies is the 1962 anti-Communist educational film Freedom and You.

It's usually referred to as Red Nightmare, but that's actually a condensed version of Freedom and You:

The complete film gives a lot more background and insight into the characters. (And has a lot more scenes of JK!) Some things which are alluded to in Red Nightmare (such as the union meetings and the Cub Scout banquet) are explained in more detail in Freedom and You.

Jack Webb (who was the film's co-producer as well as its narrator) intros the film by showing scenes depicting a supposed Soviet replica of a US city set up to train Communists to infiltrate America.

Then, JK enters the picture as "Jerry Donovan", an average Joe who lives with his wife, three kids and a dog in a typical American town.

Jerry cheerfully works as a machinist on a lathe he's nicknamed "Bertha":

Pete (Robert Conrad), a co-worker, jokes with him about the upcoming bowling league championship:

 Pete also asks Jerry if he's attending the important union meeting that night. Nope, Jerry tells him, because the in-laws will be in town:

A manager, Mr. Evans (William Reynolds), also urges Jerry to attend the union meeting, but he still declines:

After a hard week's work, Jerry just wants to relax. But, his wife Helen (Jeanne Cooper) bugs him about the union, PTA and Naval Reserve meetings he's weaseled out of recently. And, it turns out his in-laws weren't coming until next week, which Jerry knew perfectly well:

Plus, much to Jerry's consternation, his teenage daughter Linda (Pat Woodell) and her college-aged beau, Bill Martin (Peter Brown), suddenly announce that they intend to marry as soon as possible (earlier scenes revealed that Bill has been drafted):

Then, Jerry goes fishing the next day and forgets to take his little boy Jimmy (Ronnie Dapo) to the father and son Cub Scouts banquet--again. (They were no-shows the year before, too.) The poor kid ends up crying in his room.

And finally, Jerry is ordered to report for two weeks' active Naval Reserve duty, which will jeopardize his bowling league's chance to win the championship.

After all this, Jerry is beat and decides to hit the hay. Maybe he'll feel better in the morning.

Or, maybe Jack Webb will show up in his front yard and wish a "Red Nightmare" upon him for being such a complacent shirker:

Jerry wakes up to discover that the "Commies" aren't just coming, they're already here. At the drugstore where he's stopped for coffee, Jerry is puzzled because, as Webb says, "Freedom has suddenly vanished":

Jerry tries to call Helen from a pay phone, but the operator informs him he needs a permit from "The Commissar" to make a personal call:

Then, a siren sounds. Jerry goes out into the street where a Communist officer (Peter Breck) exhorts his fellow "comrades" to "purge the minds of reactionary Americans" so they will "welcome the "enlightened Soviet system" and "conform without resistance to the dictatorship of the proletariat".   

Jerry returns home, relieved to find his family having dinner. But, the children are quiet and Helen's demeanor is strangely chilly. She tersely informs Jerry that he's slated to address the PTA about how the new Communist life benefits children, because he was on the debate team in high school. Helen chastises him for not revealing this fact to the Party officials.

Then, Bill Martin--now a Communist soldier--bursts into the house and announces that Linda has volunteered to join a farm collective to free herself from "the lingering bourgeois influence of family life".

Jerry protests, but is helpless to stop Linda from leaving. Comrade Martin warns Jerry that his "deviations and remarks" against the Party will be reported to the proper authorities.

Things aren't any better at work. Jerry greets his co-workers as usual but is answered with stony silence, because he and his fellow machinists are now expected to fulfill a daily quota:

Jerry finds he can't do his job because "Bertha" is broken. However, he gets no sympathy from Pete, who advises Jerry to fix the lathe immediately and work anyway (even during his lunch hour), because Comrade Commissar isn't interested in excuses:

Will Jerry's "red nightmare" ever end? Please stay tuned for Part II to find out...and stick around to see rare candid photos of JK on the set of Freedom and You coming up soon! :)

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

"Maverick" + "Bonanza"= MeTV! :)


MeTV has posted an article about the 1961 Maverick episode "Three Queens Full", the hilarious send-up of Bonanza starring Jack Kelly:

It even has an animated .gif of JK getting comically cold-cocked by "Moose Wheelwright". Enjoy! :)