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 few rare wardrobe test photos of JK (this first one reminds me of his wardrobe tests from Cult of the Cobra):

Another goofy shot:

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. Dapo also appeared with JK in the Kraft Suspense Theater episode "Four Into Zero".
  • 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! :>)