Category Archives: Movies

Sidekicks

Paul Fitzpatrick: London, June 2021

The Lone Ranger, Sherlock Holmes, Batman, Dorothy… fictional characters I grant you, but all universally feted and admired.

But they didn’t do it alone, and although we all know who their sidekicks were, no one talks much about them, because at the end of the day, they’re the flunky’s, and who’s really interested in the support act? Unless its Queen supporting Mott the Hoople at the Apollo…. and that was nearly 50 years ago!

The sidekick’s are the perennial betas to the main event’s alpha’s… the show-stoppers who always seem to have greater powers, more charisma, and most importantly, bigger ego’s, than the supporting cast.
Like a beloved pet the sidekick’s greatest attributes are typically noted as being devotion and loyalty.

Spare a thought then for the Tonto’s, Doctor Watson’s, Robin boy wonder’s and Scarecrow’s. In other words, the Diddy Kong’s of the world…..

There’s an old (and now probably, un-PC) saying that ‘behind every great man there’s a great woman’ and the same can be said with sidekick’s, think about it for a second…. as great as he was, would Bowie have been as good and as cocksure in the Ziggy era without Mick Ronson?
Likewise, would Ricardo Montalban’s, Mr Roarke have been as suave and sophisticated without Herve Villechaize’s Tattoo ringing the bell tower whilst bellowing “The Plane, The Plane!” in Fantasy Island?  

As this is predominantly a 70s blog the aim of the exercise is to identify the most impressive 70s sidekick, fictional or otherwise, so I’ve listed 5 nominees below which you can vote for on our Facebook page as well as putting forward any of your own nominations…..
https://www.facebook.com/groups/onceuponatimeinthe70s

1) Kenickie Murdoch (Jeff Conaway) Grease, (sidekick to Danny Zuko)

In Grease, the movie, Kenickie was played by Jeff Conaway of Taxi fame and was part of the original Broadway cast of Grease – where incidentally he played the lead role of Danny Zuko whilst his good mate Travolta played Doody, one of the putzy T-Birds.

Although Kenickie was cast as the sidekick it could be argued that he was cooler than Zuko… borne by the fact that not only was he the proud owner of Greased Lightnin’, but he also didn’t mope about a kids swing-park greeting about getting chucked by someone who must have repeated 4th year 5 times!

Plus with a name like Murdoch he obviously came from good Scottish stock! 

2) Igor (Marty Feldman) Young Frankenstein (sidekick to Dr Frederick Von Frankenstein)

Played by the brilliant Marty Feldman, Igor was the hunchbacked, bug-eyed servant who when asked by the good doctor why his hump kept changing sides, answered “what hump?”.

‘Eye-gore’ as he liked to be known was Dr ‘Fronkenshteen’s’ hapless assistant and was responsible for the mayhem that ensued by collecting a brain labelled ‘Abnormal’ rather than the brain of the revered and brilliant historian, he was sent to secure.

If his star turn in one of the funniest movies of the 70s wasn’t enough, Feldman’s further claim to fame was that his ‘Walk this way’ line from the film was adopted by Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, who saw the movie, went back to the studio and wrote a song…. the rest as they say is history.

The Movie
The Song

3) John Oates Singer/musician in Hall & Oates (sidekick to Daryl Hall)

Hall & Oates were often described as…..
‘the tall, blonde, good looking one with the unbelievable vocal range and the wee guy with the curly hair and moustache’.

There’s no doubt then that Oates played second fiddle to Daryl Hall, but as sidekick’s go it was a pretty decent fiddle.
 
Oates wrote or co-wrote many of the pairs big hits including She’s Gone, Sara Smile, You Make my Dreams and I Can’t Go for That, and whilst he didn’t have Hall’s vocal range or stage presence, his harmonies, co-vocals and guitar playing were key to the band’s success (see clip below).

Hall & Oates may not have been equals in terms of talent and their partnership wasn’t as egalitarian as Lennon & McCartney, but Oates was certainly no Art Garfunkel.


4) Dennis Waterman Perennial sidekick: to Jack Regan in The Sweeney and Arthur Daley in Minder.

A seasoned thespian who performed with the Royal Shakespeare Company at 13. Waterman was 27 when he appeared in The Sweeney as Detective George Carter, the hard-drinking, brawling, womanising, good-cop to John Thaw’s caustic Regan.

Waterman’s next big role in Minder, as a brawling, womanising ex-con who becomes a personal bodyguard wasn’t too much of a stretch then.

In a cruel twist of fate, Minder was actually devised post-Sweeney as a star vehicle for Waterman who relished the chance to shine after three seasons of playing the sidekick in The Sweeney.
Cole’s part as Arthur Daly was meant to be a secondary/supporting role, however after a few episodes it was evident that Daly’s character was playing big with the audience, so the scripts and storylines were revised, leaving poor Dennis to fall back into his customary role as a sidekick once again.

5) Chewbacca Wookie (sidekick to Han Solo)   

Enforcer, body guard and loyal soldier, Chewie is Han Solo’s co-pilot and best buddy.

The character was inspired by George Lucas’ dog so it’s no surprise that one of Chewie’s greatest attributes is the talent most associated with sidekick’s – loyalty.
Although he enjoys bringing the cocksure Solo down a peg or two every now and then, prompting the “Laugh it up fuzzball” retort, he is a faithful companion and would lay down his life for Solo…. a true sidekick!

Why are there no female sidekicks on the list??
I tried really hard to think of some but in almost all cases…. Sonny & Cher, Ike & Tina Turner, The Krankies, it was the bloke who was the sidekick!

I did think of one….. Peter Pan’s Tinker Bell but that was made in 1924.

A Little Knowledge Is A Dangerous Fang

Paul Fitzpatrick: Transylvania, May 1897

I remember the evening like it was 50 years ago…. an evening that would change my life….

My Dad had just brought home a film projector….
A slice of Hollywood was coming to our humble suburban abode and life, surely, would never be the same again.

I had visions of Mum serving up choc ices and Kia-ora as I sat on the family sofa with my chums watching all the new releases… Planet of the Apes, The Graduate, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid…. there would be a blockbuster every week.

Deveron Road was about to turn into Hollywood Boulevard… all we needed was a red carpet and a popcorn machine.

Setting the contraption up, my Dad explained that he’d got it from a friend who had kindly included a couple of reels of film to get us started.

The first reel was a home movie featuring the family who’d previously owned the projector, frolicking in the Clyde at Wemyss Bay where they lived.
Not exactly The Poseiden Adventure but we had to start somewhere and at least it helped us to get all the settings aligned.

We sat in eager anticipation as he set up the next reel and to give us a clue he mentioned that the upcoming feature was a ‘classic black & white movie’.

“Laurel & Hardy?” I suggested…. “It’s a Wonderful Life?” my Mum volunteered….

I’m sure I spotted a wee smirk on his face as he turned the lights off and pressed start.

The room and the screen were in complete darkness before the title appeared, accompanied by the eeriest church organ music known to man……

The opening title

WTF….

I repeat….

WTAF!!

There were to be no kind-hearted Angels earning their wings in this horrendous feature….
Nosferatu, was a terrifying German-Expressionist horror movie, made in 1922….. the first film ever in fact, to be based on Bram Stoker’s Dracula novel.

Nosferatu – Count Orlok

The protagonist, Count Orlok wasn’t your run of the mill, tall-dark & handsome gigolo of a vampire with slicked back hair either…. ala Christopher Lee or Vincent Price… he was the spookiest, creepiest, most chilling looking dude I’d ever laid eyes on in my young life.

I was transfixed with fear…. I didn’t want to watch it, but I wasn’t going upstairs to bed on my own either… lying there in the dark, listening to that horrific organ music, allowing my vivid imagination to run amok!

I always thought of myself as a pretty robust kid….
True, the Singing Ringing Tree (SRT) had given me a few sleepless nights when I was 7 or 8 but this was a whole new ball game…. the SRT was like Andy Pandy compared to this carnage!

I don’t recall getting much sleep that night.

In fact for what seemed like the next couple of years, I had a pathological and (admittedly) illogical fear of vampires.

Vampires were supposed to be a myth, but not to me… and I went to extreme lengths to protect myself from them… I wasn’t taking any chances.

I kept a bible on my bedside table.
I ‘borrowed’ a silver Cross from my Mum’s jewellery box, that I wore at night.
I ‘borrowed’ a little vassal of holy water from an Aunt which I kept under my pillow.
And the piece d’resistance…….
A wooden stake (carved then ‘borrowed’ from the school woodwork lab) kept under my bed, in case I had to go full Van Helsing on the Count’s ass.

I should also add that I tried my best to acquire some garlic but every time I added it to the weekly shopping list, I got the strangest looks.

I know it sounds ridiculous, but I dreaded night time… daybreak just couldn’t come fast enough.

Looking back, I fully related to George Clooney’s character in the excellent From Dusk till Dawn when he said….

And I don’t want to hear anything about not believing in vampires.
Because I don’t f***ing believe in vampires!
But I believe in my own two eyes!
And what I saw is f***ing vampires!

(it’s funnier when he says it, watch clip below)

George Clooney Scene

If there was a Hammer House of Horror movie on, (and there seemed to be one every Friday night) I’d creep downstairs and covertly sit on the bottom step of the landing, to listen to it.
I knew I was tormenting myself, but at least I wasn’t upstairs on my own, thinking the worst.

My Dad, (a non-believer!) thought this was all a big joke so one Friday night when I’d been chased from the bottom step back up to my room, he thought that it would be a jolly jape to throw pebbles up at my bedroom window from the back garden.

Thinking, quite reasonably, that it was a Vampire (in the form of a bat) trying to get into my room I jumped out of bed, ran downstairs quicker than you could say “I have crossed oceans of time to find you“, only to find my Dad pissing himself laughing and my Mum chastising him…
you’ll give the poor lad a heart attack Joe!

Reflecting on my ‘wimpish past’… apart from the Singing Ringing Tree the only other thing that had given me the heebie- jeebies prior to this monstrosity of a movie was an episode of the ‘Alfred Hitchcock Hour’ called Final Escape, about John, a convicted bank robber.

Determined to escape his sentence, John befriends an inmate named Doc, who’s in charge of the prison infirmary.

They hatch a plan to hide John inside the coffin of the next inmate who dies.

The coffin will then be buried and dug up by Doc after the gravediggers and guards leave.

It all goes according to plan, until Doc fails to dig John up.
A terrified John learns why, when the shroud slips off the face of the corpse sharing the coffin with him: It’s Doc, who died of a heart attack the night before….Ahhhh!

I’m not sure when I ‘grew out’ of my Vampire phobia, I think it probably just got ‘trumped’ by The Exorcist which was much scarier and even more realistic.

I remember at the time you couldn’t pick up a newspaper without reading about some poor sod being possessed…. ‘an exorcism being performed in a town near you’…. or some other form of paranormal activity.

Fast forward a couple of years when the movie Jaws was breaking box office records and guess what? From nowhere, shark attacks started to be tabloid front page news with shocking regularity.
Great White seen at Helensburgh pier

Life imitating art or just a way to sell more papers?

Of course Vampires are uber cool now so no one’s stocking up on bibles, or wooden stakes anymore… instead, windows are left wide open and saucer’s of blood are left on the ledge to beckon the undead….

Yesterdays persona non grata has become today’s big poster boy.

Anyway, give me the old-school ghouls any day of the week, at least Count Orlok was a scary looking mo-fo… not like these pretty boys below!

saturday night at the movies.

(Paul Fitzpatrick: London – April 2021)

I think it was the author Ralph Waldo Emerson who said ‘life is a journey not a destination’, which is a quote that grows in relevance as the years roll on.

His quote is relatable to me in a few ways, one of them being how tastes and preferences change… take wine for instance, most of us started off thinking we were quite sophisticated when we cast aside the sweet taste of Blue Nun for the dryer more sophisticated Piesporter…. and when we started drinking Beaujolais, hell, we thought we were French!

Similar with music, similar with food, similar with books, similar with a lot of things – we grow, we evolve and our tastes develop,

Take going to the cinema as an example of changing times and tastes.

The first big transition was being able to go to the cinema on your own and for many of us I guess that meant Saturday mornings spent at the the ABC minors club.

Those weekly events were a big step towards your adolescent freedom… pure independence from the minute you left your house and hopped onto the bus or train with your mates until the minute you got back.

Minors of the ABC anthem

For those that remember, the ABC minors club was a feast of cartoons and old black and white movies like The Lone Ranger or The Three Stooges, with a few pop hits of the day thrown in at the intervals to allow you to fill your face with sugar and additives (unless they’ve changed the Kia-ora recipe?).

Jump forward a few years and the next stage of my cinematic journey involved going on dates… with chicks to the flicks.

Saturday night at eight o’clock
I know where I’m gonna go,
I’m gonna pick my baby up,
And take her to the picture show.


Saturday night at the movies,
Who cares what picture you see
When you’re huggin’ with your baby in
the last row in the balcony?

Sounds romantic doesn’t it, but it never quite worked out that way.
there was no pickin’ your baby up for a start, she was usually dropped off and collected outside The Rio cinema in Bearsden by an overprotective Dad, drawing daggers at you as you waited outside the cinema, drenched in Brut (with no charisma).


Looking back…. sitting in silence, side by side, in a large room with no lights was probably the perfect scenario for all involved, particularly when you were a 13/14-year-old monosyllabic boy with a bad haircut.

Back then, I hadn’t mastered the art of small-talk, (or banter, or bantz as it’s now called) or even basic conversation, so what could I chat to girls about when the only topics I could talk about with any authority were football and…. well actually nothing else, just football really.

It was clear therefore, that the perfect setting for this total lack of discourse was the dark silence of the local fleapit, regardless of what film was viewing.

Of course, what goes on in the back row stays in the back row so there’s going to be no juicy gossip shared here, but as most of you will remember, 75% of the film was spent contorting your arm around the shoulder of your date, 24.5% was spent fighting cramp and building up the courage to make that awkward next move…. and if you eventually overcame all your fears and anxieties, then you maybe got to share a wee snog for 90 seconds before the lights came on… realising you’d missed the conclusion to the film.

I was genuinely gutted to learn years later that General Custer did not survive the Battle of Little Bighorn, and that (spoiler alert) Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and Bonnie and Clyde also perished in the dying embers of said movies.
No wonder there were no sequels!

Where The Drifters got it spot-on however, was that when you were that young it genuinely didn’t matter what film was on… the event was everything.

Within a couple of years however, it was a different story, you started to become a bit more discerning about the movies you wanted to see, and it’s at this stage X rated movies came onto the radar.

In your mid-teens gaining admission to an (18) was a badge of honour but as things transpired some of the best features at that time just happened to be X-rated.  

As an example, five of the best movies of that period were all (18) X-rated……

A Clockwork Orange, The Exorcist, Enter the Dragon The Godfather 2 and One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.

A Clockwork Orange was a strange one, it was probably my least favourite of the five, but culturally it had a huge impact on us back then.

Within a couple of weeks of seeing it the impressionable ones amongst us were wearing Crombie coats, white sta-prest trousers and nicking our Dad’s umbrellas so we could be suede-heads and strut about like Malcolm McDowall’s character, even in the rare days that the sun was splitting the sky…
We must have looked like the numpties we undoubtedly were.

The cinematic landscape has changed a lot since then.



I can think of six cinemas that I used to go to regularly in that period, only one, The Grosvenor in Hillhead, remains open as a cinema, the rest are flats or in the case of The Salon, also in Hillhead, a trendy bar (Hillhead Bookclub) where patrons play ping-pong and drink concoctions called coconut firecrackers.

I have mixed emotions when I go there now, trying to work out where I used to sit, and remember who with.

It’s nostalgic to see the remnants of the great old cinema, but it’s also poignant to think of all the fantastic movies, the nervy first dates and the collective memories that the grand old building harbours.


Who knows what the old playhouse will be transformed into next but at least we still have access to it today…. which is a blessing.

Inside the Hillhead Book Club, Glasgow. Formerly the Salon cinema.

We all seem to be time-challenged these days but if you needed to kill 4 or 5 hours in the 70s there used to be some great double bills available to see…. a couple I remember with relish were Blazing Saddles + Monty Python & the Holy Grail and Midnight Express + Taxi Driver.

Thinking back… including intermissions each of those double bills accounted for approximately 5 hours’ worth of entertainment…. even the 70’s adverts were hilarious.

Is it any wonder then, that these old cinemas went out of business? Nowadays a blockbuster will be shown on a loop, five or six times a day on one screen in a multiplex that has 10 separate screens…. so up to 60 showings a day.
Compare this to two showings a day on one screen in the old style cinemas and do the maths…

I guess it’s just another example of changing and developing tastes…. we start off as impressionable kids thinking that nothing can beat these grainy old black and white movies on a Saturday morning…. that our local cinema is the most exotic place in the world, and before you know it, we’re watching computer animation in a 10-screen multiplex with queues a mile long waiting to buy rubber hotdogs, cardboard popcorn and a gallon of carbonated liquid for a small ransom…..

Sometimes, the ‘journey’ doesn’t always take you to a better destination!

For anyone who’s interested, here’s my top ten 70’s movies in no particular order, based on repeat viewings over the years…

  1. The Godfather
  2. The Godfather 2
  3. Blazing Saddles
  4. Monty Pythons The Life of Brian
  5. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
  6. Young Frankenstein
  7. The Sting
  8. The Jerk
  9. Rocky
  10. Saturday Night Fever

As a p.s. here’s some of those classic cinema ads from the 70’s, they don’t make ’em like this anymore….

Pearl & Dean
Taste of India
Kiaora Leonard Rossiter ad.
Babycham ad

you’re (not) gonna need a bigger quote.

(Post by George Cheyne of Glasgow – April 2021)

Ever sat and watched a new movie, heard a line of dialogue and said to yourself: Bet they’re still saying that in 40-50 years time.

Thought not. Well, you wouldn’t have much reason to, would you?

You’d be far more likely to be caught up with the visuals and plot when watching a film for the first time.

And yet, as the years roll by, there are certain quotes or phrases which become synonymous with movies. It’s as if they’re joined at the hip.

If I offer up: “Here’s looking at you, kid”…“I coulda been a contender”…“Bond. James Bond”…“I feel the need, the need for speed” and “I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti”, the chances are you’d be able to identify Casablanca (1942), On The Waterfront (1954), Dr No (1962), Top Gun (1986) and The Silence of the Lambs (1991).

Two things about these examples. Firstly, there are no representatives from the 1970s – be patient, we’ll come to that – and there is nothing from the 21st Century.

That was deliberate on my part. I feel you have to let these things evolve over time, let them weave their way into the fabric of popular culture and then – and only then – will they be considered classic lines of film dialogue.

The 1970s wasn’t too shabby when it came to marrying up blockbuster movies with killer lines, so here’s my top 10 quotable quotes from that era:

“May the Force be with you.”

Star Wars (1977)

The line by Harrison Ford’s Han Solo character – in a conversation with Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) – has inspired generations of kids wielding toy light-sabers ever since the film came out.

And it has been adopted by fans all over the world who celebrate May the fourth as their official Star Wars day.

“You talkin’ to me?”

Taxi Driver (1976)

No matter how many times you’ve seen the clip, it still has the ability to send a chill down your spine as Travis Bickle – played by Robert de Niro – talks to himself in the mirror.

He’s rehearsing for a big confrontation and the iconic scene leaves you in no doubt just what he’s capable of.

“I must be crazy to be in a loony bin like this.”

One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)

This was a groundbreaking movie of the time and it gave us a groundbreaking performance by Jack Nicholson as asylum inmate Randle P McMurphy.

His memorable one-liner comes near the end when he’s planning a boozy last hurrah for everyone before making his escape from the institution.

“I love the smell of napalm in the morning.”

Apocalypse Now (1979)

There’s no getting away from this quote from Robert Duvall’s Vietnam War officer – it’s been ingrained in the public’s psyche for 40-odd years.

The full 12-inch disco remix version goes like this: “I love the smell of napalm in the morning. You know, one time we had a hill bombed for 12 hours. When it was all over I walked up. We didn’t find one of ’em, not one stinkin’ dink body. The smell, you know that gasoline smell, the whole hill…smelled like victory.”

“You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”

Jaws (1975)

Roy Schneider delivers the line after his Chief Brody character gets up close and personal with the giant shark for the first time.

Movie fact: The phrase you still hear over and over again to this day was an ad-lib from Schneider as part of a production crew in-joke.

“I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse.”

The Godfather (1972)

Despite the cotton wool filling his cheeks, Marlon Brando manages to sound calm and menacing at the same time when he says this.

It’s Don Corleone assuring godson Johnny Fontane he will win the race to land a part in a big Hollywood movie. And he does win it..by a horse’s head!

“Toga, toga!”

National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978)

More of a chant than a phrase, but it’s still one of the endearing moments from the movie depicting the ups and downs of the Deltas fraternity house.

John Belushi – as manic Bluto – starts it off to lift the spirits of his frat brothers and it turns into a full-blown raucous drink-fuelled bash. Paaaarty!

“You gotta ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do ya…punk?”

Dirty Harry (1971)

This one comes after Clint Eastwood’s edgy cop corners the baddie at a disused quarry – and you just know the showdown can only end one way.

Tough-talking Clint gives him the spiel about how he can’t remember if he’s fired five shots or six, allowing his crazed perp the chance to go for his gun…and, well, I’m sure you can guess the rest.

“I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this any more.”

Network (1976)

When newscasters go off script with a rant like this, they have the ability to make the news themselves.

Peter Finch’s Howard Beale character, resplendent in trench coat and striped pyjamas, is at the centre of the outburst when he urges his viewers to rise up and howl at the moon.

“What have the Romans ever done for us?”

Life of Brian (1979)

The Monty Python crew nailed it with this scene when John Cleese’s leader of the People’s Front of Judea tries to whip up some agitation against the Romans.

By the time he’s finished, his watered-down diatribe becomes: “All right, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, a fresh water system and public health..what have the Romans ever done for us?” Genius!

So what have the screenwriters ever done for us? Well, for a start, these unsung heroes of the movie business have given us a legacy that will last forever.

And in doing so they have debunked the myth that a picture is worth a thousand words. Turns out all you need is a handful of well-crafted memorable ones.

the way we were (Part 1)

Paul Fitzpatrick: April 2021 London.

According to the Harvard professor and cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker, mankind’s never had it so good.

He reasons that by almost every metric of human wellbeing, the world is getting better —everything from war, violence, and poverty (all declining) to health, wealth, happiness, and equality (all improving).

I’m not about to argue against the Prof or his logic but despite the obvious progress there are still a few things from the 70s that I’m sure we all miss.

I don’t mean major things, like – loved ones or youth or waistlines, they’re a given of course, however, I’m not talking about superfluous things either, like Golden Cups or Sea Monkeys.

I readily admit that my choices are all minor in the grand scheme of things but they’re particular to me….

1) Jukeboxes:
I know we can stream music from a grain of sand nowadays and Spotify can provide us with 70 million downloadable songs at the touch of a button, and really, I’m grateful for that, it’s progress, it really is.

But I do miss a great jukebox in a pub, because it’s the way it should be, it’s democracy at its finest, everyone has a choice and if the proprietors are smart and curate the best of each genre then it doesn’t matter if you’re a Rock fan and the jukebox is playing Dock of the Bay by Otis Redding or Wichita Lineman by Glen Campbell, the chances are you’ll still appreciate best in class.  

The alternative is generally hit or miss and usually in the hands of a disinterested staff member who’s happy to put on anything for a bit of background noise.

I’ve left pubs before because the music was so banal.

In my local they have an online jukebox system called Secret DJ where you can log-in using the pubs Wi-Fi and make your own choices (everyone that logs in has 3 free choices before you have to pay), there’s not a great selection to choose from to be honest but there’s a bit of Steely Dan & The Doobie Brothers & Al Green and of course Wichita Lineman & Dock of the Bay…

It’s not as good as a finely curated jukebox of course but it’s better than listening to Adele on a loop.

2) Robert Halpern:

In the late 70s one of the best nights out for me was a visit to The Pavilion in Glasgow to see a stage hypnotist called Robert Halpern.

I must have seen the guy 20 times at least, and over the course of a few years I dragged along everyone I knew to see his act… mainly for the show but also to witness their reactions, which were usually hysterical.

The premise of the show was pretty simple and never really changed.

He would hypnotise about 40 people every night.
Most of them hypnotised within the first 10 minutes of the show, unknowingly put under, whilst sitting in their seats.

He’d then home-in on about 12 principal characters (usually the mouthy ones) who would become the stars of the show.

I took a friend who on attending the show for the first time got hypnotised, and I watched it all unfold.

One minute he was sat beside me saying it was all claptrap the next he was trudging up to the stage like a zombie with his fingers clasped so tightly that his hands and arms were shaking.

At the end of the show my mate vehemently denied that he had been hypnotised and insisted that he’d been fully aware of everything that had gone on.

I so wished I had a camera phone back then to show him his ‘awareness’ at work.

He didn’t think it was strange at all, that…
He was up on stage in front of 1,500 people… Or that he was eating raw onions that supposedly tasted like sweet apples…. Or that he would start taking all his clothes off when he heard a certain song… Or that he was stuck to a chair that he couldn’t get out of for 10 minutes…. Or that he was trying to feed a carrot to a wooden horse…. Or that he believed the number 3 didn’t exist so when he counted his fingers, he had 11 digits… despite him working for a bank!

He said he was just performing for the benefit of the show, which I guess on some level is how ‘response to suggestion’ works… which is at the core of hypnotism.

Anyway, as you can probably guess, the star of the show every night as always, was the great Glasgow public.

There was always a gallus wee punter telling the hypnotist to ‘f*ck off ya clown!’ or a schemie laying into him with ‘do ya think I’m buttoned up the back, ya dobber!’.

At the height of his popularity this dobber was earning £25,000 per week, had added a Bengal tiger a set of gallows and a spaceship to his act and was swanning about in a Rolls Royce.

Halpern and baby tiger

Things didn’t end well for Halpern though.
A girl hypnotised by him marched off the front of the stage into the orchestra pit, when as part of the act he’d convinced her she needed a pee and was desperate for the bathroom.
She broke her leg, damaged her back and sued.

Halpern, a regular at the casinos, was by now allegedly bankrupt.

Even though I knew the drill I miss those shows, they were funny, chaotic, very live and obviously spontaneous.

One of my favourite parts was the wooden horse routine –

“when you wake up you will see a beautiful stallion, a Grand National winner, you love that horse and no one else is allowed to go near it, if anyone touches your horse you will be livid…. 1-2-3 Wake Up!”

Cue wee Glasgow punter when he wakes up and sees another wee Glasgow punter sitting on the wooden horse – “hey you, ya thieving b*stard, get aff my f*cking horse!!!”

3) Laugh out loud movies:

I never laughed so much in the cinema as I did in the 70s – Blazing Saddles, Life of Brian, Kentucky Fried Movie, Young Frankenstein, The Jerk, *Caddyshack, *Airplane, etc…

(*the last two were actually released early in 1980 but were devised & written in the 70s and filmed in 79, so I’m claiming them for the 70s)

Don’t get me wrong there have been some great comedies in subsequent decades – Borat, Step Brothers, In Bruges, In the Loop, etc, but nothing quite as hilarious as Mel Brooks and The Pythons at their best.

The depressing thing about a lot of those 70s movies however is that none of them would get made in todays ‘cancel culture’.

Don’t get me wrong, if something is genuinely offensive then it shouldn’t see the light of day, but nowadays a big section of society gets offended by everything and being outraged seems to give some people the right to take the moral high ground and say ‘I’m offended therefore I’m principled’…. permitting them to jump on whatever bandwagon is rolling through social media that week.

Creatively, this leads to a culture of fear and reduces risk taking, which in turn stymies talent and imagination.

Take Blazing Saddles as an example.. as brilliant as it is, that screenplay would never be pitched to studio execs today.

It’s mistakenly referred to as a racist movie by some, when in fact it’s actually one of the greatest anti-racist movies of all time…

Co-written by Richard Pryor, who also advised on the language, the films original title was Tex X: it was planned to be an homage to Malcolm X, and was conceived from the outset as an unflinching attack on racism

True, it requires a modicum of critical thinking to work out who the butt of the satire, sarcasm and absurdity is aimed at, but surely we can trust the general public to work that out for themselves without the need for a ‘3-minute racism warning message’ recently added to the start of Blazing Saddles (and Gone With the Wind) on HBO in America.

Likewise, was The Life of Brian really blasphemous or was Brian just “A very naughty boy” who happened to be born next door and on the same day as Jesus?

On reflection, maybe I’m using Movies as a means of bitching about todays ‘woke culture’, so I best stop there before I get cancelled!