Last week, Denro tipped me off to a half-price sale of Criterion videos at Barnes & Noble. I picked up the Blu-ray release of “Kiss Me Deadly” for twenty bucks. It’s based on a Mike Hammer story by Joe Sinnott’s longtime buddy, Mickey Spillane. Mickey was supposedly not happy with the ending, where director Robert Aldrich managed to bring the Cold War into the story, but I think this quirky and murky movie is both entertaining and fascinating. The whole thing is on YouTube, for now anyway, and I suggest kicking it up to full screen mode at 720p and kicking back.
Jacques Urbont, aka Jack Urbont, is an old-school composer in the Tin Pan Alley tradition. With Bruce “Mission Impossible” Geller he wrote the Broadway musical “All In Love,” but most of Urbont’s credits are for television.
The music Urbont composed that is familiar to me was for the syndicated 1966 cartoon series, “The Marvel Super Heroes.” The introduction and closing for the show are found on a FlexiDisc called “Scream Along With MARVEL,” that came with the 1967 membership kit for the Merry Marvel Marching Society. I posted the record back in 2007.
The DVD of last year’s PBS documentary, “Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle” includes a marvelous extra feature with Urbont, who explains and performs each of the intros and themes he wrote for the Marvel Super Heroes cartoons. (Note that “Superheroes” is today spelled as a single word.)
I assume Stan Lee’s assistant that Urbont mentions was Roy Thomas, but I don’t know that for certain. Urbont exudes an infectious enthusiasm that is quite similar to Stan’s own effusive personality. Urbont’s lyrics capture the spirit of the Marvel characters perfectly, and I love seeing how proud he is of this material. I just wish that Disney, which now owns Marvel, would release a complete DVD set of the cartoons. A few years ago they were supposed to be made available for streaming on Netflix, but that didn’t happen.
Joe Sinnott hasn’t been feeling well lately, and he even pressed his son Mark into service finishing the inking job on the latest Sunday installment of the Spider-Man syndicated comic strip for Stan Lee. Although Joe checked out fine on Monday he’s suddenly come down with a case of pneumonia and he’ll be at a hospital for a couple of days. Mark’s wife Belinda says that Joe should be okay, dehydration is his biggest problem, and I’m looking forward to hearing that he’s home again and resting and back as his drawing table.
Morris — This is Philip Seymour Hoffman, circa 1987, in his New York University dorm, Weinstein Hall, room 729. Contents of the room include a Playbill, Spin Magazine (from Tower Records), a copy of Vanity Fair, and two Amazing Spider-Man comic books.
Silver Age comic book fans are familiar with Superman’s visits with JFK at the White House, but when LBJ was President, and needed some super help, he picked up the Bat Phone.
I had lots of fun calibrating the video projector. Assuming my consumer-grade colorimeter is reasonably accurate, the test numbers indicate that the picture is now just about perfect. Fifteen years ago, when I bought the Sony 32XBR100 TV, which is still working fine by the way, after first adjusting it I watched the then newly-restored “Vertigo” on LaserDisc. I watched it again today, but streaming from Amazon.
“Vertigo” is now at the top of some lists as the greatest movie of all time, beating out longtime champ “Citizen Kane,” and I have to agree with that assessment, on the basis of the premise that a man’s obsession with a woman is inherently more interesting than a man who is obsessed with himself. At the more trivial end of what makes “Vertigo” interesting is a magazine in Jimmy Stewart’s apartment. There’s a copy of Swank, which was one of the many periodicals published by Martin Goodman, Stan Lee’s boss at Marvel (then Atlas) Comics.
By coincidence I happen to be reading an excellent book, “The Secret History of Marvel Comics: Jack Kirby and the Moonlighting Artists at Martin Goodman’s Empire” by Blake Bell and Dr. Michael J. Vassallo, which goes into detail about the creation of Swank to compete with Esquire, only to fail in competition with Playboy.
Follow-up: The authors of “Secret History of Marvel Comics” tell me that the magazine does not appear to be a legitimate issue of Swank — “The cover doesn’t match up to either any of the Martin Goodman issues, nor any of the earlier incarnations. So it seems it was a mock-up for the movie.”