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The Joy of 1970s Movie Musicals

The 1970s brought an extraordinary slate of movie musicals that covered diverse musical genres and human emotions. On this episode of “The Online Movie Show,” we celebrate the decade’s most innovative musicals – and even give a good word to some its odd failures – with guest Lee Gambin, author of “We Can Be Who We Are: Movie Musicals from the 1970s.”

The episode can be heard here.

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Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In: The Complete Series (DVD)

Few television programs hit the airwaves with the impact of “Rowan & Martin Laugh-In.” With its rapid-fire skein of zany sketches, topical humor, hipster catch phrases, go-go dancing, and zeitgeist-hugging mod fashions and pop-art production design, the program defined the spirit the free-wheeling and often chaotic late 1960s and early 1970s.
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The Bootleg Files: The Carpenters…Space Encounters

BOOTLEG FILES 761: “The Carpenters…Space Encounters” (1978 television variety special).

LAST SEEN: On YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: Music clearance rights are probably at the root of the problem.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Not likely.

When it comes to kitsch, nothing beats the television variety specials of the 1970s. Between the none-too-special guest stars performing musical numbers for which they were ill-suited, the flashy polyester costuming, the overbaked choreography and the manic need to appear hip, these productions often represent the best of the worst elements from the decade that good taste forgot.
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Harvey Korman: Number 1 Second Banana

Harvey Korman was one of the funniest supporting comedy actors of all time, brightening up the big and small screen with his memorable performances. On this episode of “The Online Movie Show,” the funnyman’s son and biographer Chris Korman discusses his father’s career and off-camera life.

The episode can be heard here.

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The Bootleg Files: The Euell Gibbons Grape Nuts Commercials

BOOTLEG FILES 760: “The Euell Gibbons Grape Nuts Commercials” (series of 1970s television advertisements).

LAST SEEN: On YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: No perceived commercial value for a DVD full of old breakfast cereal commercials.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Not likely.

If you were watching American television in the early 1970s, you probably remember Euell Gibbons and the series of commercials he did for the Grape Nuts breakfast cereal brand. If so, you might recall the bizarre line that turned Gibbons into one of the most unlikely figures of pop culture in the decade that good taste forgot.
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The Bootleg Files: Diana

BOOTLEG FILES 739: “Diana” (1973-74 sitcom starring Diana Rigg).

LAST SEEN: One episode is on YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: Unavailable for many years.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Unlikely.

Yesterday brought the sad news of the passing of Dame Diana Rigg at the age of 82, and there were countless tributes to her glory days as Emma Peel on the cult television series “The Avengers” along with her performances in film classics “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” and “Theater of Blood” and her late-career success in “Game of Thrones.” Much less attention was paid to one of Rigg’s more curious endeavors: an American sitcom called “Diana” that ran for 15 episodes in the 1973-74 television season. In a career that was rich with artistic and commercial successes, “Diana” was a very rare misfire for the gifted actress.
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The Bootleg Files: Dolly

BOOTLEG FILES 734: “Dolly” (1976-77 television variety series starring Dolly Parton).

LAST SEEN: On YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: Six of the 26 episodes were released on DVD.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: Difficulties in clearing music and performance rights, along with the star’s lack of enthusiasm for the endeavor.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: It seems unlikely that the full series will get a release.

Most Americans got their first look at Dolly Parton in her appearances on “The Porter Wagoner Show,” a syndicated TV variety series. Parton joined the program in 1966, two years into its run, and left in 1974 when her star was beginning to rise as she sought to broaden her appeal from a country music fanbase to a wider mainstream audience.
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The Bootleg Files: Salute to Sir Lew – The Master Showman

BOOTLEG FILES 732: “Salute to Sir Lew – The Master Showman” (1975 TV special with John Lennon, Tom Jones, Peter Sellers and Julie Andrews).

LAST SEEN: On YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: Music clearance issues are keeping it out of release.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Not likely.

John Lennon fans know that the ex-Beatle’s last live performance took place in a 1975 television special honoring Sir Lew Grade, the British television executive. Oddly, Lennon’s time on stage seemed strangely out of place in a show that offered an overripe line-up of 1970s kitsch.
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