Friday, 16 January 2009

The Beginnings of a Writer

It has been said the formative years of a person are the most important, and the same would hold true for writers. Those films, television programs and books have an impact on how writers perceive their creation of fiction stories.

When I watched television during my formative years, the programs were adventure, police, western, historical, or a combination of horror and science fiction. Following is a partial selection of the programs I watched, often with one or more of my brothers, learning in the process what amused or interested them:

The Cisco Kid which ran from 1950-56 was based on the fictional Western character created by O. Henry in his short story "The Caballero's Way", published in 1907 in the collection Heart of the West. Films and television depicted the Cisco Kid as a heroic Mexican caballero, although in O. Henry's original story, he was a non-Hispanic character and a cruel outlaw. Excerpt here

Dragnet, also known as L.A. Dragnet and syndicated as Badge 714, was a long-running radio and television crime drama about the cases of a dedicated Los Angeles police detective, Sergeant Joe Friday, and his partners.
In this 1954 partial episode a young Leonard Nimoy makes an appearance. Excerpt here

The Adventures of Robin Hood was a popular British television series comprising 143 half-hour, black and white episodes starring Richard Greene as the outlaw Robin Hood and Alan Wheatley as his nemesis the Sheriff of Nottingham. The show aired between 1955 and 1960 on ITV in the UK, and between 1955 and 1959 on CBS in the US. The show followed the legendary character Robin Hood and his band of merry men in Sherwood Forest and the surrounding vicinity. A partial episode from 1955 is here .

The Rebel with Nick Adams is about the adventures of a young Confederate Army veteran Johnny Yuma. Haunted by his memories of the war, Yuma roams the American West in search of inner peace. Yuma keeps a journal of his adventures and fights justice where he finds it with the help of a double-barreled shotgun having a sawed-off stock and barrel. Excerpt here.

The Rawhide series ran from 1959-66 was the continuing saga of ranch hands from Texas taking a herd of 3,000 head of cattle north to market. The show starred Eric Fleming and launched the career of Clint Eastwood. Excerpt here.

Thierry La Fronde (1960s) (a French Robin Hood during the Hundred Years War in France ), it was dubbed in English. Excerpt here.

Stingray was the first Supermarionation show to be filmed in colour, and also the first in which marionettes had interchangeable heads with different facial expressions in 1964. Excerpt here.

The Rat Patrol aired on ABC during the 1966-1968 seasons. The show followed the exploits of four (three American and one British) Allied soldiers who were part of a long range desert patrol group in the North African campaign during World War II. Their mission: "to attack, harass and wreak havoc on Field Marshal Rommel's vaunted Afrika Korps". Excerpt here.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E.’s creation was contributed to by Ian Fleming. The book The James Bond Films reveals that Fleming's TV concept had two characters: Napoleon Solo and April Dancer (The Girl from U.N.C.L.E.). ("Mr. Solo" was originally the name of a crime boss in Fleming's Goldfinger.) The trailer is here.

Robert Culp earned an international reputation for his role as Kelly Robinson on I Spy (1965-1968), the espionage series, where he and co-star Bill Cosby played a pair of secret agents (Cosby played the role of Alexander Scott.) An excerpt here.

The Avengers was a British television series featuring secret agent storylines with science fiction elements. The 1965-68 season had Diana Rigg, of which the excerpt is from.


MTA said...

Barbara, the idea of this post is excellent.
Robin hood is part of my childhoot, and both Thierry la fronde and like many I have a real affection and admiration foe Clint Eastwood.
Good day for you.

Raph G. Neckmann said...

These look interesting, Barbara! I'll try and watch the excerpts later - been having Interneck connection problems, so unable to load pics etc for a while!

I just read your comment at Thatchwick - maybe I should take the plunge and watch Narnia and Lord of the Rings on film! My inner concept of those books is so precious I haven't wanted to have other images superimposed. (Oh dear - maybe 'preciousssss' was the wrong word to use there!!)

Gary's third pottery blog said...

Oh, I know, the Avengers was totally hot stuff, and I heard Clint interviewed the other day about how much he enjoyed Rawhide and learning more about horses. Did you ever see The Saint, with a young Roger Moore? Those programs were better, I think, than his performances later as Bond.

Charles Gramlich said...

I watched Dragnet and sometimes Rawhide, a little bit of Rat Patrol.

My main TV shows as a kid were Gunsmoke, Bonanza, The Big Valley, and some comedies like The Beverly Hillbillies and Gilligan's Island.

Leah Braemel said...

Wow, blasts from the past. For me it was Star Trek, The Man from U.N.C.L.E, The Avengers (both on your list), and strangely enough Bonanza. I loved the family element I guess.

BernardL said...

We certainly watched many of the same shows growing up, Barbara. The Cisco Kid was the first actual adventure we were able to get on our new fangled black and white set, but it was all in reruns by the time we had a TV. I wrote a novel where my main character (a Navy seal) had a Cisco/Pauncho relationship with a Mexican national, who worked for the CIA. :)

Barbara Martin said...

Maria, very nice to hear from you again.

Raph, I have only seen the first Narnia movie, so can only comment on that. The Lord of the Rings met my 'picky' approval. If you buy the boxed set of DVDs for LOTR the additional bits of behind the scenes, etc. will entertain too.

Barbara Martin said...

Gary, I saw The Saint and loved it, as I did Ivanhoe.

Charles, I watched all the western shows religiously because there were HORSES. A big draw on Saturday nights was Wagon Train. Another horse show was "Fury" with Peter Graves.

Barbara Martin said...

Leah, other shows I liked were The Waltons and Little House on the Prairie.

Bernard, my family got a TV in 1954 when programming began in Edmonton. Neighbours we barely knew would come, knock on the door to see what all the fuss was about regarding television.

On Saturday mornings there were no cartoons, just three hours of opera (probably where my love of it came from). Before the day's programming began there was the national anthem and a film of the different sights across the breadth of Canada, 'from sea to shining sea'.

David Cranmer said...

Barbara, We had the same childhood for the most part. I never watched the Robin Hood show but everything else was part of my early education. I am getting ready to watch the Diana Rigg episodes of The Avengers for the umpteenth time.

Shelley Munro said...

Only a few of these are familiar to me. We didn't have a TV until I was about 7 or 8. I find I watch a lot of crime/sci-fi/paranormal programs these days and my writing runs along these lines, too. Interesting post.

Cloudia said...

Man from Uncle
I forgot about Johnny Yuma, the Rebel.
I posted about Patrick McGoohan (the Prisoner) passing today.
synchronicity! Aloha-

RuneE said...

We didn't have all those in Norway - at least not at the time. The main reason for that was of course that we didn't get regular television until 1961...

We did, however get some of them later on, like Robin Hood and The man from U.N.C.L.E. (I think). That, of course, meant more cinema and books. And I don't regret it - especially books.

laughingwolf said...

thx barbara, i watched all but the french one... plus hundreds more

Raph G. Neckmann said...

I've really enjoyed watching some of these, Barbara, now my Interneck connection is working again. Particularly Robin Hood - I read books about him when I was young, but didn't see any of these TV programmes as we had no TV for a long time. My childhood was very bookish and countryside loving, and I can see how this has formed the person I am.

I shall return to more of these excerpts again - I'm enjoying this!

Steve Malley said...

I always thought 'The Rebel Johnny Yuma' was just another fine Johnny Cash song.

Was Mr Yuma indeed panther-quick and leather-tough?

Barbara Martin said...

David, I have the first season of Kojak that I watch once a year for old times sake.

Shelley, I had looked for videos on 'The Flying Doctor' series that I had watched in the late 50s. They had been filmed in Australia in the outback.

Cloudia, I had thought about Patrick McGoohan for the post, although I remember him more for his part in the movie 'Thomasina'.

Barbara Martin said...

RuneE, my mother found having the TV in our home was an inconvenience as neighbours (some from three blocks over) would just come for a visit to see what the new phenomena "television" was supposed to be. They would come Saturdays in the afternoon or early evening, and this brought the inevitable coffee/tea with cake treats.

We still received our regular supply of books from relatives in England who thought we lived in the colonies which remained in some peoples' eyes as being backward.

Barbara Martin said...

Tony, I know once you get onto the YouTube site there are dozens more waiting in the sidelines with 'pick me' signs.

Raph, Richard Greene who played Robin Hood has a connection of sorts with me. My second cousin married a cousin of Richard Greene. Mr. Greene had introduced Ann to his cousin after working on stage with her in London.

I remember the best books I read as a child were from England. One that sticks out in my mind was called "The Flying Fish Adventure" set along the coast of England.

Barbara Martin said...

Steve, Johnny Yuma was the creation of A.J. Fenaday. A nice story about filming the pilot episode of The Rebel can be found here:

pattinase (abbott) said...

Rat Patrol is on one of our cable channels. Have to give it a try. Most of these were my favorites too.

Barbara Martin said...

Patti, I'm certain you won't be disappointed. Hans Gudegast now known as Eric Braeden (soaps)played Dietrich, an understanding German. The series was filmed in Spain.