Thursday, July 31, 2008
Posted by Buckles at 7/31/2008 10:31:00 AM
In the fall of 1937, Frank Buck went to Hollywood to appear in JUNGLE MENACE, Columbia Pictures’ first serial. Compared to Republic’s first serial DARKEST AFRICA, JUNGLE MENACE was an elaborate production with a large cast and (for a serial) a fairly intelligent script. (The producers might have been targeting it at an audience that included adults as well as children.) The action takes place in the fictional province of Seemang, located “where the Bay of Bengal meets the dangerous jungle.” The plot has to do with river pirates who are trying to take over a rubber plantation owned by Charlotte Henry. The leader of the pirates is seemingly upright citizen Robert Banning, played by distinguished character actor Richard Tucker. His headquarters is a swanky nightclub run by Duncan Renaldo (best remembered as TV’s Cisco Kid.”) Most of the serial involves efforts by the local police to infiltrate the gang, or attempts by gang members to double cross their leader and/or each other. Frank Buck plays a wild animal trapper named Frank Hardy who becomes involved in helping the authorities bring the pirates to justice. (Always the astute businessman, Buck chose not to appear under his own name as Clyde Beatty had done in DARKEST AFRICA and THE LOST JUNGLE.) Recognizing that Buck was not an action hero like Clyde Beatty, the scriptwriters gave him surprisingly little to do until the final chapters, when he undertakes to recapture a cargo of wild animals that had escaped during a typhoon. Seen today, the serial’s greatest appeal comes from the appearances of many familiar character actors from Hollywood’s “golden era.”
Posted by Buckles at 7/31/2008 06:39:00 AM
In addition to Frank Buck, JUNGLE MENACE boasted another real life hero in the cast: Sasha Siemel (1890-1970) who was known as “the tiger man” from having hunted jaguars in South America armed only with a spear. (He was also a famous South American guide and travelogue lecturer.) In the serial, Siemel plays a member of the river pirate gang. He later breaks with them and goes over to the side of law and order. As was the case with Frank Buck, the scriptwriters chose not to use Siemel to full advantage.
Posted by Buckles at 7/31/2008 06:37:00 AM
Frank Buck with Charlotte Henry and Clarence Muse. Unlike the character of “Hambone” in DARKEST AFRICA, Clarence Muse’s role was surprisingly free of the typical black stereotype dialogue and comedy business that was the norm back then. In one scene set in a waterfront dive, he is seen at the bar, enjoying a beer along with the white patrons. Later in the serial, while a prisoner of unfriendly natives, he produces a pair of dice, teaches his captors how to shoot craps, and ends up owning everything in the village. (His dialogue during this sequence might almost have come from a modern-day Eddie Murphy comedy.)
Posted by Buckles at 7/31/2008 06:35:00 AM
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Posted by Buckles at 7/30/2008 11:07:00 AM
I feel the need to comment on the ridiculous “Kelly Miller Circus Animal Abuse” video now on YouTube. Not a single word of what this “reporter” claims to have seen during our setup in Greenville, PA is true. Not a word. Most of his misstatements are easily refuted by simple facts. The reporter claims that animals are transported in unventilated trailers. His own video clearly shows the many windows in the animal transports. He claims that the ride ponies stood for hours in their own feces. His video shows me moving a pony that was tied to the side of a truck for less than twenty minutes while a picket line was setup in a grassy field. He refers to our lot boss as “slave labor.” He calls Armando Loyal, the elephant manager a “smelly circus worker” In point of fact he threatened to “call immigration” after having worlds with Armando. Then when Armando noted that he was born in Oklahoma he threatened violence. He states that all of our workers are “illegal aliens.” That the INS "confirmed" that. All of our guest workers have H-2B visas. He claims that an observer from the Cleveland Zoo was on hand. The young man with the zoo patches on his shirt was mentally challenged. He was a fan of zoos and circuses and attended the show with his mother. He wasn’t employed by the zoo, he bought the patches in their gift shop. He implies that I may have shoved him. It never happened. And for all of his claims of animal and human abuse, he shows nothing even remotely abusive.
Posted by Buckles at 7/30/2008 11:01:00 AM
The Pawnee Bill circus wagon will be one of 52 elaborately-carved and colorful wagons that will go to Milwaukee for the Great Circus Parade next summer.
Posted by Buckles at 7/30/2008 09:15:00 AM
Posted by Buckles at 7/30/2008 06:48:00 AM
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Have just spotted two clips of a Barnum & Bailey 1899 British parade on 'You Tube' plus 'Acephalemagic.blogspot' I can't easily transfer them to you as I use my local liibraries computer - perhaps you may be interested in them for your site? They are labelled Barnum & Bailey Parade (1899). Clips 1 & Clip 2 and show a reasonable amount of a UK parade from the shows 2nd year of touring here. They are from a "British Movietone News" film that was once thought lost though I'm not sure of town (I have details somewhere!). Clip 1 (just over 2 minutes) is best and, considering how old it is, quality is not bad. Clip 2 has a lovely shot of just how spectacular the 40-horse set looked, but after about 1½ minutes the film is really of the post parade crowd & vehicles following it to the lot, crowds wondering if more is to come, etc.
Posted by Buckles at 7/29/2008 11:10:00 AM
All of today's stuff was saved by my mother. She sewed the pages together after cutting the article from the magazine, you may notice the tiny pin holes down the center of the page.
Posted by Buckles at 7/29/2008 06:36:00 AM
Monday, July 28, 2008
This is a very important message. If you know Lit Droguett I am begging you to please write a letter about him and what kind of man he was. His ex wife's arraignment is on
Posted by Buckles at 7/28/2008 01:30:00 PM
You never get too old to learn.
Posted by Buckles at 7/28/2008 12:36:00 PM
Pat was a lot of fun to be around, never a dull moment. He had a nice home in Riverview not far from here, his wife was also named Pat and when you called and asked for Pat, she would always ask, "Which one?".
Posted by Buckles at 7/28/2008 06:21:00 AM
Circus Maximus was an indoor show bank-rolled by the owners of the Harlem Globetrotters and featured a lot of big name acts.
Posted by Buckles at 7/28/2008 05:47:00 AM