Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Godzilla Vs. Flintstone! Team Bartilucci's Favorite Thanksgiving-Season Flicks

We of Team Bartilucci have our own favorite holiday movies, and Thanksgiving is no exception. However, our favorites aren’t necessarily films that represent the holidays, but rather the events in our collective family life that pleasantly remind us of the happy holiday-related circumstances in which we first saw them.

Dorian’s Pick: The Man Called Flintstone (1966)

My favorite Thanksgiving movie isn’t Plymouth Adventure or Trains, Planes, and Automobiles. It’s The Man Called Flintstone (TMCF)! That’s right, the first (and best, IMO) feature-length film starring that animated Modern Stone-Age Family happens to be my favorite Thanksgiving movie! You see, since I was a tiny tot of 3 back in 1966 when TMCF was in theaters, I didn’t discover it until the early 1970s, when our local ABC-TV affiliate began showing it yearly on Thanksgiving morning. It became my favorite thing about Turkey Day next to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and CBS’s multi-parade extravaganza (we usually channel-surfed back and forth among TMCF and the various parades). When TMCF became available on LaserDisc in the 1980s, I found I still loved it—even more so in recent years, when we discovered the Canadian TMCF DVD with about ten minutes of footage not available in previous editions! The only disappointment was that TMCF’s special Columbia Pictures logo showing Wilma Flintstone carrying the torch wasn’t included on the DVD, probably due to rights issues.

Must’ve taken Stone Age Man forever
to make skyscrapers from boulders!

Is Fred Flintstone about to plummet to his doom?
No, but his lookalike Rock Slag might!
Lovable loudmouth Fred Flintstone (voiced by Alan Reed) is recruited by spymaster Chief Boulder (Harvey Korman) to fill in for injured Fred lookalike Rock Slag, the James Bond of the Stone Age. Chief Boulder’s good-guy spies are pitted against the nefarious SMIRK organization; it’s so secret, SMIRK doesn’t even let us viewers know what the acronym stands for! Fred’s mission is to capture the megalomaniacal "Green Goose" (Paul Frees) and foil his evil plan for his prehistoric WMD, the Interrockinental Missile. Wacky hijinks ensue as Fred is chased all over Eurock by sinister yet bumbling henchmen Ali and Bobo, along with slinky glamour gals, including The Green Goose’s lieutenant Tanya (June Foray), who rocks that big picture hat/mask! By the way, these beauties are the only people in the movie who wear shoes; there’s a cute joke about that a little over 40 minutes into the movie.
“Speak up, Tanya, where’s the Green Goose? And where can I get Wilma a hat like that?”
Air travel hasn’t changed much since The Stone Age, has it?

How many of these passengers look familiar from Flintstones TV episodes?

Meanwhile, Fred’s scrambling to keep his wife Wilma (Jean Vander Pyl), and their pals the Rubbles, Betty (Gerry Johnson) and Barney (Mel Blanc), in the dark about his new "Spy-Type Guy" temp job. The secret-agent spoofery ranges from grinworthy to hilarious; indeed, the movie begins with a funny yet suspenseful action sequence that would do James Bond proud. The songs by John McCarthy and Doug Goodwin are catchy (including “Pensate Amore,” sung by one of our family favorites, Louis Prima!).

The animation is much more assured in this big-screen Flintstones adventure; indeed, the smart, snappy, Pop Art-y animation techniques used in musical numbers like “Someday” are still being used today by animators like Genndy Tartakovsky.  Nice little details, too, like the Flintstones and Rubbles flying to Eurock on Qantas (modern Stone Age product placement!), and Wilma getting a snappy new lavender dress instead of her usual white frock. I always get a kick out of the Qantas airline’s “jet propulsion” basically being a great big slingshot. According to the IMDb, TMCF was produced right after production of the original Flintstones series ended, and was meant as a swan song for the characters. Ha! Little did they know that thanks to reruns and home video, The Flintstones and so many other beloved cartoons will never die!

Secret Agent Fred!
They’ve given him a thumbprint
and taken away his name!

Never a dull moment with Ali and Bobo,
“The Goon Twins!” (Fraternal twins, perhaps?)

Vinnie notes - Team Mates is actually the first time we get to hear future-Fred Henry Corden do Fred's voice; he handled the singing parts in the film.  After Alan Reed passed in '77, he took the part on full time.

Rockhattan Murder Mystery!

Big trouble for Barney Rubble!


Vinnie’s Pick: The Thanksgiving Monster Movie Marathon!

Japan has given much to American culture, but nothing more important than the Godzilla movie.  More correctly, the kaiju eiga, or (giant) monster movie. 

Godzilla movies were an important part of my childhood, not to mention the programming schedules of New York TV stations.  Channel 11, WPIX had the best collection, and had Monster Week on their afternoon movie at least once a year, if not more.  WABC-7, the network affiliate, had the legendary 4:30 Movie, and the monster films were pretty easy to hack down to fit the 90-minute timeslot.  WPIX had most of the major Toho films, but ABC had the Gamera films, and on occasion showed stuff like Gappa the Triphibian Monster, and once in a blue moon, The Green Slime (now available on DVD from the Warner Archive, BTW). 

WOR Channel 9 had a smaller selection to choose from, and as such held back for their big splash on the Thanksgiving holiday.  But they had an ace in the hole – they had all the King Kong movies, possibly due to the fact that back in the day I believe it was owned by RKO.  So they had a bang-up two-day slate – all the Kong films on Thursday, and Godzilla on Friday.

“All the King Kong Films” pretty much meant King Kong, Son of Kong and Mighty Joe Young.  Once in a while they’d play semantics and run Toho’s King Kong Escapes on Thursday, a move that caused much debate among monster fans.  Truly, did the fact that Toho’s Kong was so different from the original make it more of a Godzilla film?  It’s a question that may never be answered to everyone’s acceptance.

Thanksgiving meant going over to Nanny’s house and sitting through a seemingly endless parade of very Italian food that I wasn’t going to put in my mouth for love or money. I was a very picky eater, and the only masculine child of my generation, and as such was pretty much spoiled rotten.  So they made me some plain roasted chicken legs, which I ate while everyone was still passing the antipasto platters, and I spent most of the day in her bedroom watching the Kong films on her cheesy black-and-white set.  The color set in the living room a) had no dial cause it broke off and you had to change the channel with pliers, and b) had a seriously burnt-out screen as a result of being left on too long during technical difficulties of a broadcast of To Kill a Mockingbird, so no matter what you were watching, the ghost of Gregory Peck looked down on the proceedings disapprovingly.  So it was the bedroom. The Kong films were in black and white anyway, so no great loss.

Kong was okay, but for me Thanksgiving was a day to be endured rather than enjoyed, as it was in the way of Godzilla.  King Kong and his stop-motion brethren were tragic figures, pulled from their homes and frightened near out of their wits, then shot at when they struck back.  I was far too young to appreciate such a subtle storyline.  Godzilla, on the other hand, was a big green force of nature.  

(No, Jack Palance was never in a Godzilla film.
That was some weird misunderstanding that crept in years ago, and was taken as gospel for decades.)

Friday was the big day.  I might go over to my friends’ houses to play, but we were never further than twenty feet or so of a TV set to Channel 9.  WOR had the later Godzilla films, the ones where they tried to solve the problems of the narrative by throwing more monsters at it. Like the later Batman and Spider-Man films, they were notoriously third-wheel-heavy. Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla featured the imponderable King Caesar on Big G’s side, its sequel, Terror of Mechagodzilla had the Titanosaurus on the side of evil, and Godzilla vs. Megalon had Jet Jaguar on the side of good and the return of Gigan.  Godzilla vs the Sea Monster had a terrible and fairly misleading title.  First time I saw it, having only given is passing attention due to the weak title, I was surprised and enraged to learn Mothra was in it, as I would have given it far greater attention.

I’ve gone on elsewhere about how different television was back in the day.  Old cartoons and movies filled a huge chunk of the schedule, and it was a great way to get a history of film.  But with video and all the competing cable channels, seeing those films on broadcast TV is all but impossible.  WABC dropped The 4:30 Movie decades ago once it was obvious that people would watch more of the news at 5 p.m.  The movie libraries fell out of the control of the local stations as the film companies drew them back into their vaults for eventual video releases.  Yes, we get far better versions of the films, uncut and even with the original Japanese versions and/or soundtracks included.  But there’s something magical about seeing a 75-and change-meter tall monster reduced to 17 inches, tromping through Tokyo in between commercial breaks.

Especially if Atticus Finch is staring him down.

Here's a Readers' Digest version of what the festival was like, commercials and all.


  1. By the way, I saw THE MAN CALLED FLINTSTONE long before I eventually saw Orson Welles's classic THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI in my teens. When I saw the house-of-mirrors finale, I remembered the Green Goose Crystal Maze and instantly thought: "So that's where Hanna-Barbera got the idea!" :-)

  2. I think I'd be more likely to go with Dorian's pick! I was a big fan of The Flintstones for a short period a couple of years ago. Then George Jetson & Co. stole me away, and I eventually got "too old" for cartoons. Did that stop me from watching Beauty & the Beast last night though? Of course not. ;D

  3. Emm, glad to hear you enjoy animation as well as classic movies! And who can resist BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, among other memorable Disney films? At one point in my life, I was unemployed for a couple of months, and I watched every episode of THE FLINTSTONES and SCOOBY-DOO, WHERE ARE YOU? Then PULP FICTION came out (I'm dating myself, I know :-)), and I began slipping its dialogue into the mouths of Hanna-Barbera characters. Luckily, I got a new job before I went totally goofy! :-)

  4. Our friend Debbie Kindred wanted to weigh in on the topic of Favorite Thanksgiving Movies. Take it away, Deb (keeping in mind our taste in movies wasn't as sophisticated then as it is now :-))!

    I am older than you and Vinnie....with that being said, I will comment on your choice of videos for Thanksgiving watching...arggh:)lol "Gone with the Wind" and "Wizard of Oz" and "Sound of Music" were some of my favorite movie memories... Enjoy Thanksgiving at Team Bartilucci headquarters :)

    Debbie Kindred:)

  5. Sorry, Dorian, but I'm watching films with Vinnie on Thanksgiving.

    And remember: Gamera is the friend of children everywhere!

  6. Michael, Vinnie, you boys should feel free to watch all the Japanese monsters movies you like! Given the choice, I'll take a TV running Godzilla and King Kong movies all day over nonstop sports any time! :-) Besides, we have 3 TV sets, so everybody can watch whatever they like. Happy Thanksgiving to you and everyone at Schloss Wolff from all of us here at Team Bartilucci H.Q.!

  7. Hey, gang, here's another of my favorite musical numbers from THE MAN CALLED FLINTSTONE, "Welcome to Paree," a hilarious piece of dark comedy consisting of villains Ali and Bobo constantly trying and hilariously failing to kill Fred, who they think is Rock Slag! Here's the link on YouTube:


  8. Dorian and Vinnie,
    This post had me in hysterics! What fun choices for Thanksgiving and I love that it's a tradition. I had never heard of this Flinstone film but your description of it was great and the screen captions had me in stitches. I love that they didn't wear shoes because I hate wearing shoes but how appropriate that the very chic Tanya does. What..A..Snob!

    Vinnie's descriptions are comedy gold and "had a seriously burnt-out screen as a result of being left on too long during technical difficulties of a broadcast of To Kill a Mockingbird, so no matter what you were watching, the ghost of Gregory Peck looked down on the proceedings disapprovingly" had me laughing so hard I lost my breath!

    You two are just too adorable for words.

    Thanks for giving us a glimpse into your turkey day traditions.

  9. I will have to check out your Thanksgiving movie picks. They both look like alot of fun.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  10. Page, we of Team Bartilucci are always delighted to hear that we "had (you) in hysterics," because that's what friends and blogs are for! :-) Besides, your hilarious snarky movie pictorials always have us laughing out loud, so we're happy to return the favor!

    We're especially glad you enjoyed our proud family tradition of quirky Thanksgiving TV/movie-viewing choices, as well as our anecdotes (Vin's account of Atticus Finch's TV "ghost" is one of our faves). So glad you got a kick out of our funny captions, too! And by golly, you're right about TMCF's turncoat Tanya: the fact that she wore shoes should've tipped us off about her true villainy from the start! :-)

    "You two are just too adorable for words. Thanks for giving us a glimpse into your turkey day traditions." Thanks and you're welcome, Page, you're a sweetie! Hope your Thanksgiving was happy, fun, and festive!

  11. Dawn, thanks for your nice feedback! We hope you'll enjoy our Thanksgiving picks if/when you come across them. Team Bartilucci hopes you and yours had a very Happy Thanksgiving, with a wonderful holiday season to come!

  12. Our dear friend and fellow blogger ClassicBecky has been having computer chaos, so I'm posting Becky's charming post below. Enjoy!

    "Delightful post, Team B! I had not seen your 2010 post (that must have been pre-history, when I didn't know you yet!) I was 13 in 1966, and turned my nose up at Fred Flintstone (that was BABY stuff to me at that ripe age!) However now I think he's hilarious. I must be returning to early childhood. The clips were so much fun to view. Dorian, my favorite caption of yours was when Fred wished he could find a hat for Wilma just like the female spy was wearing!

    Vinnie, I too am a big monster movie fan, and Godzilla is definitely a favorite. I think it makes perfect sense to give thanks for Godzilla -- he sure has brought a lot of fun to us over the years. I loved your picture of Atticus Finch staring down the monsters! LOL!

    My favorite movie to watch at this time is the original "Cheaper By The Dozen" with Clifton Webb and Myrna Loy. That wonderful family, with parents who loved each other and their kids so much, was so like mine. It's funny and sad and just reminds me of so much. And after all, nostalgia is a big part of holidays. I also like to watch any Charlie Brown shows during the Thanksgiving/Christmas season.

    Great post, guys!"

    Thanks for sharing your lovely family reminiscences, Becks, and may you and yours have a happy holiday season (and a working computer)!

  13. You can keep Godzilla, I'll take Fred Flintstone! Ha! I saw this many MANY years ago and haven't seen it since. I think that's about to change. :)

    I also remember the first Flintstones Christmas movie as being quite good. But I've never been able to find it. I'll have to try again.

    My favorite Christmas movie, first last and always is, MARCH OF THE WOODEN SOLDIERS with Laurel and Hardy. We watch it every year and sing along and speak the parts. Ha!

    A CHRISTMAS CAROL with Alastair Sim is standby as well.

    Also love the old Tom and Jerry Christmas cartoons.

    Of course, it wouldn't be Christmas without A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS and the wonderful music.

    Don't really have a favorite Thanksgiving movie, although PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES is good. And one of the few Woody Allen movies I do enjoy, HANNAH AND HER SISTERS.

    Love this time of year.

  14. Yvette, I love your holiday movie picks, even the ones that don't involve Fred Flintstone or giant monsters! :-) Of the favorites you've mentioned, I'm especially fond of Alastair Sim's take on A CHRISTMAS CAROL. Wish I could be a fly on the wall when you and your family are speaking and singing along to MARCH OF THE WOODEN SOLDIERS; it sounds like a blast!

    I was pleased to hear that HANNAH AND HER SISTERS is among your holiday favorites, too. Our friend and fellow blogger The Lady Eve did a wonderful post about it recently. I responded to it, and if you and Eve don't mind, here's my response to Eve's post:

    "Your review of HANNAH AND HER SISTERS particularly moved me because of the circumstances under which I saw it during its theatrical run. To make a long story short, it was Christmas Day with other relatives present, and my stepfather, a bullying, difficult man even when things were going well, was being particularly nasty and acid-tongued, and the nastiness was contagious. My dear mom and I finally stormed out, both of us in angry tears, and we went to see HANNAH AND HER SISTERS (at the Murray Hill Theater, if I recall correctly). The movie worked its magic on us, and by the time it was over, we were laughing and smiling. (Also, we discovered the rest of the family had deservedly ripped my stepfather a new one in our absence.) For the rest of Mom's life, she and I referred to HANNAH AND HER SISTERS as The Movie That Saved Christmas! :-)"

    If by some twist of fate you or anyone else here hasn't yet read The Lady Eve's HANNAH AND HER SISTERS post, by all means read and enjoy this link:


    Happy holidays to you and yours, Yvette!

  15. Dorian,

    A belated Happy Thanksgiving to you, Vinnie and family. Growing up in NYC, annual favorites were always on channel 9 for Thanksgiving...KING KONG, MIGHTY JOE YOUNG and MARCH OF THE WOODEN SOLDIERS. Still cannot watch any of those films without thinking of the huge Thanksgiving dinners over at one of my Aunt's where the family always gathered. More recently, I try, and did, catch MIRACLE ON 34th STREET, which was on TCM this year.


  16. John, glad to hear that your family made GODZILLA movies and KING KONG movies part of your big Thanksgiving dinner tradition, too! :-) Having grown up in New York (the Bronx and Manhattan for me, and Elmont, NY on Long Island for Vinnie), I like it that we all share the same movie-centric holiday traditions. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays overall to you and yours from all of us here at Team Bartilucci H.Q.!

  17. I used to watch The Flintstones all the time~ I loved the great Kazoo...Here we are doing our recent tradition of a good Twilight Zone marathon. Funny too, I've been thinking of watching the original Godzilla with Raymond Burr. It's been a long time...what's this myth of Palance being in one of them? Hope you're eating a lot of good food with your wonderful family, Yabba Dabba Doo!!!!!!!!!

    1. Joey, I've always felt that one of the ways to someone's heart of hearts includes the movies and cartoons we've all loved as kids; it's one of the great equalizers of life! :-) My hubby Vinnie was pleased that you're an avid Godzilla fan, too (he introduced me to all his favorite Japanese monsters when we fell for each other's particular zany quirks :-)).

      Vin can explain the "Jack Palance in GODZILLA" mix-up in his half of our Thanksgiving post. Never a dull moment here at Team Bartilucci HQ! :-) Joey, you're always welcome to drop by TotED and talk turkey and movies any time! All of us here at Team B. HQ hope you and yours have a Happy Yabba-Dabba Thanksgiving!

  18. I have to admit in my house WOR ruled on Thanksgiving weekend. A day with the gorillas (Kong, Son of Kong, and Mighty Joe Young) inevitably led to Godzilla movies on Friday. But I also love "A Man Called Flintstone." God it was good to grow up when we did!

    1. Gilby, you're a gal after our own hearts! We're delighted to hear that you also spent Thanksgiving weekend glued to WOR, as well as being a fellow fan of THE MAN CALLED FLINTSTONE! While Vinnie and I have nothing against modern times, I must agree with you that there's a lot to be said for growing up when we did. But hey, that's what fond memories are for, right? :-) Thanks for joining the conversation, and we of Team B. wish a wonderful Thanksgiving to you and David and everyone you care about!