Friday, October 25, 2019

THE HONEYMOONERS BLOGATHON: Musical Moments from the Classic 39


Steve at MovieMovieBlogBlogII is at it again! This time it is The Honeymooners Blogathon and HERE is where you can join all the madcap fun.

Jackie Gleason
1916-1987

A strong sense of musicality permeates the entertainment legacy of Jackie Gleason from his alternately brash and sensitive characters to his popular orchestral albums to the enjoyable musical versions of The Honeymooners in the 1960s.

The musical moments from the classic original 39 episodes begin with Gleason's composition You're My Greatest Love, the familiar theme to The Honeymooners ("with the stars Art Carney, Audrey Meadows, and Joyce Randolph").




THE $99,000 ANSWER
Original airdate: January 28, 1956


Herb Norris (game show host): "Tell me, have you discussed this at home? Have you talked it over with your wife?"

Ralph Kramden (contestant): "Yes, I did and regardless, I am going for the $99,000 answer!"

Brooklyn bus driver Ralph Kramden's success is assured. A contestant on a television game show, The $99,000 Answer he must answer questions on the subject of popular songs that will take him over hurdles from $600 to $99,000.

If there is one thing Ralph knows, it is popular songs. He wasn't like those other bums in the neighborhood growing up, hanging around poolrooms and the corner. Every night in the week he was up in some ballroom listening to a dance band!

Alice would be very happy if Ralph came home with easy money from the easy questions offered in the first couple of hurdles. Ralph sees only his dreams coming true and leaves nothing to chance. A week of work (unpaid) is taken off for study. Tons of sheet music is purchased in advance of the winnings. Mrs. Manicotti of the apartment building tests him on songs from Italian classics. Mr. Garrity, another neighbor, doesn't murder Ralph for keeping everybody up all night. A piano is rented for his pal Ed Norton to play and test Ralph's knowledge. Of course, Norton's quirk of limbering up with the same tune annoys Ralph to excess, but that is a price that must be paid.

We hear snippets of Return to Sorrento, Shuffle Off To Buffalo, Don't Fence Me In, Melancholy Serenade and Swannee River before being treated to one of the greatest punchlines in television history.


YOUNG AT HEART
Original airdate February 11, 1956

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Ralph: "Let's face it, Alice, we've been out of the age range of roller skating since Alf Landon stopped being presidential timber."

A couple of teenagers (Suzanne Miller and Ronnie Burns) convince Alice that she and Ralph are in a rut. She wants to go out and do the things they used to do. She wants to feel young again. There is no reason why they can't go dancing and roller-skating. Ralph feels ashamed for making fun of the idea and plans to make it up to Alice. However, Ralph's ideas of what is "hip" coalesced twenty years ago, so Norton takes up the task of teaching Ralph a new dance. Kay Starr's record The Hucklebuck gives Art Carney and Jackie Gleason a chance to strut their stuff.


The elegant The Skaters Waltz poses no problems for Alice, Trixie, and Norton. However, Ralph has a dreadful time on roller-skates. His embarrassment turns to laughter as he learns the less painful lesson of staying young through memory.


MAMA LOVES MAMBO
Original airdate March 3, 1956


Ralph: "Wait a minute! If I told you once, I told you a thousand times, not to carry a heavy wash like that! Now the next time you have a heavy wash like that, make two trips!"

Ralph Kramden is a man of extreme emotions. When he hears that the new neighbor has grey hair and lives alone, his heart is filled with compassion and pity. He makes plans to visit after dinner and play a game of checkers with the old fellow. Ralph's pity turns to jealousy when he sees that Carlos Sanchez (Charles Korvin) is more silver-haired than grey and that he dances in a night club and will be home during the day with Alice. When the suave dancer teaches the ladies of the building the Mambo Ralph orders him and every ardent dance student out of the apartment.

When Carlos admonishes Ralph, Norton, and Mr. Manicotti for not treating their wives politely and kindly for all the things they do, Ralph is sincerely chastened. Of course, his efforts to be a better husband are so extravagant that Alice begs him to go back to being the old Ralph. At least, Ralph did get Carlos to teach them all the Mambo.

Carlos uses the Tito Rodriguez record Claves for Mambo to teach his neighbors the dance.




YOUNG MAN WITH A HORN
Original airdate: March 24, 1956


Ralph: "You know something? I did hit that high note once: The day I married you."
Ralph aims for the high note. "Well, that's a little piece of it, Alice."

Ralph is in a reflective mood. The lack of major success in his life is exemplified by coming across his old cornet. Ralph sees his failure in never sticking with anything long enough to become a success. He wants to hit that high note at the end of Carnival of Venice.

A visit from former tenants of the apartment, an elderly couple called the Gunthers brings it all home. Mr. Gunther had taken stock of his life forty years ago, enumerating his weak and strong points, and became a business success. Ralph tries following Mr. Gunther's example and takes a Civil Service exam in hopes of advancing his career. When he fails the exam, Alice helps Ralph to see what good has come out of his attempt to better himself.

Alice: "I like the new Ralph Kramden and I'm not gonna let you give up. And if the old Ralph Kramden ever shows his face around here again, I am gonna hit him right on top of the head with this cornet."













21 comments:

  1. Thanks for contributing this lovely summary of musical moments to the Honeymooners blogathon. I always regretted that Ralph still never reached that high note, even at episode's end ("That's just a little piece of it, Alice!")

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    1. My absolute pleasure. Thank you for hosting.

      Ralph's contrition is always so sincere that we can't help but wish the best for him.

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  2. JOYCE RANDOLPH turned 95 MONDAY Oct. 21. She is the last surviving cast member of THE HONEYMOONERS.

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    1. I actually bought myself a cupcake to celebrate "Trixie's" birthday. You can create many reasons to celebrate when you're a classic entertainment fan.

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  3. Did Gleason really write the theme song? I’ve seen the covers to some of his albums but it never really hit me that he was a musician of any kind. It’s so easy to think of him as a comedian first.

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    1. One of those guys who did it all. Composer, arranger, and singer. In 1960 he won the Tony playing Uncle Sid in Take Me Along, a musical version of Ah, Wilderness. His character had a few songs.

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  4. What a fun way to write about THE HONEYMOONERS...though you left me hanging without providing the ending for "The $99,000 Answer!" (I can guess, based on the series' premise, that poor Ralph doesn't win....)

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    1. Hardy-hardy-har-har!

      The $99,000 Answer is a favourite episode I can watch over and over again. Of course, there are many titles that can replace it in that statement. I guess I'm fickle.

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  5. Do you know JACKIE GLEASON & ART CARNEY from some of their movies? If so, what are your favorites?

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    1. It is fun to see Jackie in his early movies like Larceny, Inc., 1942. My favourites are Requiem for a Heavyweight, Papa's Delicate Condition, Gigot and The Hustler. Those four films truly highlight his versatility and strengths as an actor.

      I enjoyed Art Carney in The Late Show and House Calls. My husband shares his November 4th birthdate.

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  6. Today SHELLEY MORRISON is 83. I remember her from reruns of THE FLYING NUN. Her character was the one that mangled the English language. (That's how imdb worded it.) She later played a maid on WILL & GRACE. I didn't watch that show. Shelley was nominated for three ALMA awards for WILL & GRACE.

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  7. P.S. SHELLEY MORRISON and her husband WALTER DOMINGUEZ have been married since 1973,46 YEARS. They adopted three daughters and three sons. Shelley is a lung and breast cancer survivor.

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    1. I know Shelley Morrison to see her, but I barely remember The Flying Nun and I didn't watch Will and Grace. She sounds like a strong and wonderful woman.

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  8. IVAN REITMAN is 73 today. He produced and directed KINDERGARTEN COP which is a very good movie. One of his other movies is GHOSTBUSTERS which was a big hit. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER won a KIDS CHOICE AWARD for KINDERGARTEN COP. By the way, ARNOLD S. is the cover story for the current PARADE issue which is a newspaper supplement in lots of papers.

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    1. Happy Birthday to Ivan, my fellow Canadian Baby Boomer.

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  9. Did you see KINDERGARTEN COP? If so, did you like it? Do you know very many movies that IVAN REITMAN did? Do you know very many ARNOLD S. movies? I didn't watch any of his action movies. I saw KINDERGARTEN COP because of the comedy.

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    1. The only Arnold Schwarzenegger movie I recall seeing was True Lies. I haven't seen much of Reitman's stuff because I didn't care for Ghostbusters.

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  10. BERNADETTE WITHERS died Fri. Oct. 25. She is best known for her role as GINGER, the friend of KELLY(NINA CORCORAN) on BACHELOR FATHER that starred JOHN FORSYTHE. She was 73. I remember her from an episode of LEAVE IT TO BEAVER, her story was with WALLY(TONY DOW). She did two eps of WAGON TRAIN and one of TALES OF WELLS FARGO. She also did two eps of THE ADVENTURES OF OZZIE AND HARRIET.

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    1. I remember Bernadette's familiar face from those programs. Sorry to hear of her passing.

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  11. Back to THE HONEYMOONERS do you know AUDREY MEADOWS from very many things? I liked her in THAT TOUCH OF MINK with DORIS DAY. I didn't care for TAKE HER, SHES MINE with JIMMY STEWART and SANDRA DEE. I thought it was boring. She was also in ROSIE! with Sandra Dee. I know Ive mentioned that movie before.

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    1. That Touch of Mink was a fine role for Audrey. I really enjoyed her autobiography "Love, Alice." One of my favourite of her television guest appearances was on "Sisters" with her sister Jayne. They were cast as - you guess it - sisters.

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