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Sunday, April 30, 2006





Old Movies In The Classroom

Anybody recognize this little magazine? We got them every week at school when I was in the eighth grade. This issue came across my iron maiden of a bubble-gum encrusted desk the week after my fourteenth birthday, and I’ve kept it close to my bosom ever since. It was the first time in my memory that movies were sanctified by the educational establishment. Oh yes, we’d watched Paramount’s Williamsburg – The Story Of A Patriot in the sixth grade, but this was reading of which my stern-visaged teacher/sadist would approve, and there was even a class discussion on the subject! Scholastic Scope was generally a crashing bore of a "news" weekly for adolescents --- often as not it would focus upon the Suez Canal, curing molasses, stuff like that. For the sake of context, I’ve included this Kellogg’s ad from the inside cover (what other possible reason could I have for featuring The Monkees at the Greenbriar?). I wonder if the winner of the contest got to be on that episode Lon Chaney, Jr. did? Anyway, The Story Of Movies is standard issue pabulum best left, I suspect, to the kids who were making their second or third go-round through the eighth grade. Just read these sample paragraphs under the "Standard Corny Cast" header and see what I mean. That’s pretty much the tenor of the article as a whole. So few books were available on the subject at that time --- sadly it was this sort of thing that people relied upon for their film history. We may have global warming now, but at least we’ve also got TCM. Recognize those "Famous Lines from the Movies"? Neither do I, but we took them for the truth then. By the way, Bill Everson once said, rightly I suspect, that the most oft-used line in westerns was not either of these, but the simple "Let’s get out of here!" which was spoken (eventually) in virtually every horse opera they ever made. Scholastic Scope also featured a helpful letters column in each issue, "What’s On Your Mind?" and in this particular number, there was a spirited debate as to a "disgusting" article which had been previously published on hippies. The writer suggested that he could not face a society that refused to embrace them (he should have been here this past weekend for our big annual music festival --- hippies were everywhere! --- possibly the same ones he was referring to). Another scribe lamented the criticism of boys with long hair. After all, he said, George Washington and Abe Lincoln had long hair (Abe did? I’d never noticed!). Anyway, having preserved the magazine for going on forty years, it seemed appropriate that I share the enrichment with Greenbriar readers, and I welcome comments from other Scholastic Scope readers and collectors.

6 Comments:

Blogger Michael J. Hayde said...

Aaaaahhhhh! How well I remember Scholastic Scope! I especially liked the ads that showed some kid engaged in some frivolous activity (i.e., listening to a stereo on headphones), then as you read the copy you learn that there's more depth to this kid than you thought (i.e., he assembled and wired the entire stereo setup from scratch). Then the tag: "Chances are, doing the things you like can lead to a job you'll like."

The two specific issues I remember most: one with Johnny Cash and Kirk Douglas on the cover (a brief "novelization" of their upcoming film A Gunfight); and a history of television from around 1973, with a photo and caption from every #1-rated series from Uncle Miltie to All in the Family.

I've still got that one. Doggone, now I'll have to post that to "Better Living Through Television." What would I do without your inspiration?

11:41 AM  
Blogger Michael J. Hayde said...

Oh, yeah, one other thing: About that Monkees Grand Prize cameo on the TV show - nobody could have won it. The entries had to be postmarked by May 5, 1968. By that time, the second (and final) season had ceased production.

Maybe the winner wound up in Head....

11:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who is the moron who wrote the article on the history of film and famous lines from movies? About 1% of it is correct!

3:58 PM  
Anonymous Laughing Gravy said...

Well, the Monkees did a TV Special for NBC after their show was cancelled ("33 1/3 Revolutions per Monkee") so let's just give the Kellogg's folks the benefit of the doubt and say they slapped the winner into that thing. As I recall, Jerry Lee Lewis was a guest on that program, so maybe HE was the winner. Good for him. Wonder if he still has that GTO?

7:53 PM  
Blogger Michael J. Hayde said...

laughing g:

That's just it - the series wasn't "cancelled." NBC wanted a 3rd season and I'm sure Kellogg's would've been happy to sponsor it. The Monkees refused to do it - they now had serious aspirations to rock stardom. (Probably that visit with the Beatles during the recording of Sergeant Pepper helped turn their heads.) 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee was simply the burial of a coffin that had been nailed shut by Head.

In a way, the Monkees were the Harry Langdon of '60's rock & roll. They existed solely in reference to other groups, they were skillfully guided into their niche by learned professionals, and they understood neither their limitations nor that they weren't the best masters of their destiny. Once they assumed control of their career, everything went down the tubes.

10:49 AM  
Anonymous Laughing Gravy said...

Well, I have to differ with ya, there, fella. The Monkees were NOT a rock & roll group by any definition of that term; they were four actors PLAYING a rock & roll group. All well and good. Eventually, they got aspirations to be a REAL rock & roll band, and the first two albums they made "calling the shots" -- HEADQUARTERS and PISCES CAPRICORN, AQUARIOUS & JONES, LTD. are their two best albums. After that, they drifted apart and the group died a pretty quick death. Obviously, writing their own stuff wasn't as hit-making as having Neil Diamond, Carole King, and others of that talent writing for them, but as Mike Nesmith said, as long as we're on TV our records sales are going to be tremendous, and once we're off TV they won't be, and that's exactly what happened.

8:21 PM  

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