Tuesday, April 05, 2011


Cartoonist and children's author Ted Key is best remembered today for creating the Mister Peabody & Sherman characters for Bullwinkle & Rocky as well as the long-running Hazel comic strip (which itself was the inspiration for a successful TV series), but the TOS crew first encountered his name during the 1970s when he wrote a trio of live-action animal comedies for Walt Disney Productions: THE MILLION DOLLAR DUCK (1971), GUS (1976), and THE CAT FROM OUTER SPACE (1978). A big fan of the first two movies, Po-Man was an age-appropriate Disney die-hard when he saw the third during its theatrical run, and even then found it as lackluster and formulaic as its title, despite a cast of familiar faces and old pros (Ken Berry, Sandy Duncan, Harry Morgan, Roddy McDowall, McLean Stevenson, Jesse White, Alan Young, Hans Conried, James Hampton, Howard Platt, William Prince, Hank Jones, Rick Hurst, Sorrell Booke, and Ronnie Schell, who has an onscreen role and provides the voice of the titular feline). That still didn't stop him from buying the Pocket Books novelization -- also penned by Key -- or this neat View-Master packet, which is more enjoyable than the movie itself thanks to brevity and 3 reels of eye-popping 3D images. As for the booklet, which has been scanned and posted below for your amusement, please note that top-liners Berry, Duncan, and the darn cat are nowhere to be found in any of the photos.


Andy Maroney said...

As a child I somehow acquired the paperback that was published to accompany the film. Don't know how or why...probably picked up at a garage sale. Years later I got the video from my local library and watched it just for fun. It was very silly but Sandy Duncan was such a hottie!

Temple of Schlock said...

To be honest, we've been meaning to revisit this one. We didn't remember being too fond of THE APPLE DUMPLING GANG RIDES AGAIN either when we caught that at the drive-in with CANDLESHOE (another stiff, as we recall) but we gave it a recent viewing and not only fell out of our chairs a couple of times but actually prefer it to the original, thanks to the single-minded focus on Knotts-Conway stupidity instead of trivial things like cute little kids, Bill Bixby romance and, y'know, plot.

venoms5 said...

Cool! I used to have a view master and it was one of my favorite toys. I also had this one thing whose name escapes me. It was a projector that you would insert these rectangular yellow cartridges into the side. You'd turn the projector on and it would show on any wall like a movie projector. You'd turn this crank on the side and watch the cartoon(s) on the cartridge. I wish I could remember the name of that toy.

Tog said...

@Venoms5: Quite probably the Kenner Easy-Show Projector, similar to the Kenner Movie Viewer. Google Images and YouTube have a lot of coverage.

Viewmaster! Oddly, I've recently been on an eBay rampage snatching these things up, at least the ones I grew up with. The Peanuts and Bugs Bunny/Road Runner ones, which were accomplished with Hummel figurine-like physical models and sets rather than drawings, are wonderful. Of course, there's the Adam West Batman episode with Catwoman, couldn't pass that up...and I was astounded to learn there was a Poseidon Adventure set! Oh, and the 1976 King Kong, hell yeah.

I picked up a Meteor set out of curiosity and it was awful. Rather than simple images from the film, each frame is made up of multiple images cut together with exclamation-point-abusing text. Most obnoxious example: Connery and Wood inside a heart-shaped cut-out at the very end. Consequently I'm afraid to even consider the set for Disney's The Black Hole. On the other hand, I have to wonder what other movies--BAD ones--would have been like on VM reels. Can you imagine The Swarm as a Viewmaster set?

I'd love the Secret of NIMH Viewmaster set--but not for a hundred bucks. Psh!

venoms5 said...

Hey, cool, thanks for the heads up, but checking out those images, it's not it. This thing was a square shaped contraption. From the front, the view screen looked like a small television set. It had a crank on the side that you'd turn to make the images move fast, slow, what have you. You'd insert these rectangular cartridges in the side of the machine. You could see the mini film strips in a small window on the cartridges. Damn, I'm gonna get obsessed about this now, lol.