Lost in the Movies: The video introduction to Fairie Tale Theatre

The video introduction to Fairie Tale Theatre

Eventually I'll return to this blog with a full-fledged piece; I have quite a few ideas brewing but they'll take a little while to pull together. For the time being, take a look at this - it's certainly a childhood flashback for me, and I'm wondering if it brings back memories for anyone else. When I was in preschool, I rented all the videos in this series (originally a 1980s HBO show hosted by Shelley Duvall and featuring stars from Robin Williams to Mick Jagger, a sort of kiddie "Masterpiece Theatre"). They served as my introductions to the classic stories, which I became obsessed with for years. I even "wrote" a book - dictating the stories to my parents and then illustrating every page myself. (I also forced the members of my family to concoct their own versions, for which they were all game. My aunt's favorite was my father's interpretation of "The Emperor's New Clothes" which featured the nude monarch strutting his stuff in the street while a couple cynics lampooned him from a balcony, sneering, "What a pompous buffoon!".)

Both Elliot Gould's giant in "Jack and the Beanstalk" and especially Joan Collins' witch in "Hansel & Gretel" gave me nightmares - in fact, I was so traumatized by Collins' scenery-chewing I refused to include "Hansel & Gretel" in my own book and suffered from a severe phobia of cannibalistic old women for years. Anyway, here's the promo which opened each videocassette. It brings back more fond memories than the episodes themselves, which are available on instant Netflix and You Tube but seem a little rusty (though I suspect "Hansel & Gretel," of which I've only re-watched a few moments - in order to capture that still-terrifying picture above - will hold up). As I said, I hope to deliver some more ambitious posts later this fall, and if you want to follow my writing on a more regular basis, I'm keeping up a steady stream on the Examiner, including a lengthy (and timely) piece on Roman Polanski, an upcoming review of the fascinating if shaky Baader-Meinhof Complex (about the left-wing German terrorists of the 1970s), and the twice-a-day, every-day short review approach which should be starting in the next week or two. Meanwhile, enjoy (after the jump):


Sam Juliano said...

Yes I do know this series Joel, though I have seen less than half of the trailers in this video. Yes, at that impressionable age, some would be terrifying. My favorite of this batch is definitely HANSEL AND GRETEL, which remains the crowning jewel from the Brothers Grimn. But so many others here do bring back fond memories. You remind me of a child prodigy, relating your interaction with your parents and aunts on this!

Joel Bocko said...

I was wondering if you were familiar with it, particularly as an elementary school/jr. high teacher. I remember watching Hansel & Gretel in an elementary class years after it terrified me...though I would never have admitted it to my classmates, I think I was still skittish about re-watching...

And very generous, Sam, but you have not seen the products of said prodigy which may dispel visions of an infant Mozart (my friends and I like to watch the movies we made as 9-year-old, they are literally, and I mean literally, indicipherable to anyone not in the "know"!).

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