The legendary Berwyn/Chicago-based monster/horror film host will present his big broadcast showcase of “The Evil of Frankenstein” (1964), this Sat., Aug. 3 at 8 p.m. Eastern/7 p.m. Central on Me-TV.
The 1964 Universal-Hammer “Frankenstein” monster entry was directed by veteran cinematographer-turned-director Freddie Francis. Francis later worked on the latter Warner Bros.-Hammer “Dracula” screen entry with Hammer horror film legend Christopher Lee, “Dracula Has Risen from the Grave” (1968, released in the United States in 1969).
The screenplay for “The Evil of Frankenstein” was written by veteran Hammer screenwriter Anthony Hinds, who received screen credit under the pseudonym of John Elder; according to IMDB.
This will mark Sven’s fourth coast-to-coast big broadcast of Francis’ 1964 Universal-Hammer “Frankenstein” monster entry on Me-TV. He previously showcased “The Evil of Frankenstein” back in Nov. 2013, June 2014 and March 2015.
The legendary Berwyn/Chicago-based sci-fi/thriller film host will present his big broadcast of “Dr. Cyclops” (1940), this Sat., March 23 at 8 p.m. Eastern/7 p.m. Central on Me-TV.
The 1940 Paramount sci-fi fantasy-adventure thriller was directed by veteran director Ernest B. Schoedsack and was produced by veteran producers Merian C. Cooper (who was uncredited in the 1940 production) and Dale Van Every. Seven years earlier, Schoedsack and Cooper worked on their own successful monster classic for RKO Radio Pictures, “King Kong” (1933) and the sequel, “Son of Kong” (1933).
The legendary Chicago/Berwyn-based horror film host will present his big broadcast showcase of “Munster, Go Home!” (1966); this Sat., July 28 at 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT on Me-TV.
The Munsters’ full-length Technicolor Universal feature was directed by Earl Bellamy, who directed several episodes of “The Munsters” TV series. The film was produced by veteran television producers Joe Connelly and Bob Mosher (who also produced “The Munsters” from 1964-66 and the duo’s earlier television series for MCA, “Leave It to Beaver” from 1957-63).
Universal Studios released “Munster, Go Home” to theaters on June 15, 1966; one month after “The Munsters” TV series concluded on the CBS television network (according to details from IMDB).
This will mark Sven’s fifth showcase of “Munster, Go Home!” (1966) on Me-TV. He previously showcased the legendary Universal TV monster family’s full-length feature comedy back in July 2013, May 2014, Nov. 2015 and April 2017.
The legendary Berwyn/Chicago horror film host will present his showcase of “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken” (1966), this Sat., July 14 at 8 p.m. Eastern/7 p.m. Central on Me-TV.
The 1966 Universal comedy feature was directed by veteran television director Alan Rafkin. Veteran television writers Jim Fritzell and Everett Greenbaum wrote the screenplay for “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken.”
This will mark Sven’s sixth broadcast of “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken” (1966) on Me-TV. He had previously featured Rafkin’s spook comedy on his coast-to-coast showcase back in Nov. 2011, July 2012, Nov. 2014, April 2015 and Oct. 2017.
The legendary Berwyn/Chicago-based horror/sci-fi film host will showcase “Dr. Cyclops” (1940), this Sat., Dec. 30 at 8 p.m. Eastern/7 p.m. Central on Me-TV.
“Dr. Cyclops” was directed by Ernest B. Schoedsack. Merian C. Cooper served as one of the co-producers of the film with Dale Van Every (Cooper did not receive screen credit for the 1940 Technicolor sci-fi fantasy-thriller). Both Cooper and Schoedsack were known for their wildly successful 1933 monster hit for RKO Radio Pictures, “King Kong.”
Cross-promotion was nothing new for the major studios and their motion picture newsreels. Up until the time of television (and prior to the 1948 “Paramount” anti-trust consent decree), the major studios usually had their newsreel units cover Hollywood or New York premieres of their parent studio’s motion pictures, or in the form of one-reel publicity short subjects.
The interesting fact is that the artist’s recording label, the company that manufactured the instrument (that the artist is using during the recording session) and the studio that filmed the newsreel have some sort of connection to each other. And that ties in to the category of “cross-promotion.”
Vinnie Bell, then a recording artist for Decca, showcases his Coral Electric Sitar, in a piece for the September 9th, 1967 edition of Universal Studios’ Universal Newsreel. Eventually, this was a cross-promotion piece for parent company MCA, and its divisions (Universal, Decca and Coral/Danelectro).
1967: By this time, the motion picture newsreel was winding down in production, and there were only two newsreels in circulation: Universal Studios‘ “Universal Newsreel”and Hearst’s “News of the Day” (formerly known as “Hearst Metrotone News,” as it was released for theatrical exhibition by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer).
In the edition of Universal’s newsreel (narrated by longtime newsreel announcer Ed Herlihy) that was released on Sept. 9, 1967; the story was on Decca recording artist Vincent “Vinnie” Bell, showcasing and playing his new Coral “electric sitar” instrument. The song that Bell played during the newsreel was a rendition of the Bert Kaempfert song, “That Happy Feeling.”
Ironically, Decca handled North American distribution rights of the original Kaempfert recording in 1962.
What does this have to do with Cross-Promotion?
In 1962, the Music Corporation of America (MCA), the leading talent agency and television syndication/production company (headed by Lew Wasserman), acquired American Decca Records. Along with Decca and its subsidiary labels, MCA also acquired Universal Pictures as part of the package (four years earlier, the company acquired the Universal Studios lot in Universal City, California- primarily for production of the company’s television shows).
This did not sit well with the Justice Department, so to avoid any anti-trust concerns, MCA divested its talent business, and decided to focus on motion pictures, television production/syndication and recorded music.
In 1966, the entertainment conglomerate decided to expand into the field of musical instruments, by acquiring the Danelectro Corporation, which was founded in 1947 by Nathan I. “Nat” Daniel (1912-1994).
Danelectro was known for manufacturing electric guitars not only under their own name, but for catalog department stores including Sears, Roebuck & Company (under the “Silvertone” name) and Montgomery Ward (under the “Airline” name).
According to the May 1967 press release in Billboard, the MCA subsidiary introduced the first electric sitar on the market, along with the research and development of both Vinnie Bell and and Nat Daniel. The instrument was introduced to the public at the Chicago Music Show that same year.
When this instrument was put into production, the electric sitar did not bear the “Danelectro” name. It was made under the “Coral” name, as Coral was a former sister label to Decca, only re-purposed by MCA for the production of musical instruments during this time, to compliment the entertainment conglomerate’s music and home entertainment subsidiaries (including a line of “Decca Musical Instruments”).
Yet, the relationship between MCA and Nat Daniel would not last long, as the entertainment conglomerate shuttered the musical instrument division, due in part to lackluster sales.
WITH ALL THAT ASIDE:
Not only is this an interesting look at cross-promotion, but this is a unique look at Bell and his “electric sitar.”
At the end of 1967, Universal Studios decided to end their newsreel operation, while competitor Hearst decided to focus on their existing “Screen News Digest” series for exhibition in the classroom.
Now presented from a new high-definition transfer from the National Archives and Records Administration (with other select Universal Newsreels on their YouTube channel), one can finally see the clarity of Vincent Bell, hard at work with Decca recording engineers recording his rendition of “That Happy Feeling,”
This was interesting piece of cross-promotion between Universal’s then-parent firm (MCA), showcasing their recording artist (on Decca Records) with the latest innovation in the field of electric musical instruments (the Coral Electric Sitar) at the time.