Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Book: Teen Idol on the Rocks: A Tale of Second Chances by Bobby Rydell (2016)

Legendary singer Bobby Rydell stopped by our very own Library Express on Saturday, August 26th, 2017 to meet fans and sign copies of his 2016 autobiography Teen Idol on the Rocks: A Tale of Second ChancesRydell includes a reference to Scranton in the book.

Bobby Rydell had a string of hit songs in the late 1950s-early 1960s (including Volare, We Got Love, Wild One, and Forget Him).  He also starred with Ann-Margret in the 1963 film adaptation of the hit Broadway musical Bye Bye Birdie.  He continues to tour all over the world.  He was also memorialized in the 1978 movie Grease with the high school's name, Rydell High.

Rydell mentions Scranton on page 178 of his autobiography, discussing his change in management:

"Besides, I had some other big challenges that were complicating my life.  One was small; the other would take three decades to work out.

The small one was fixed in a day.  Stan Seidenberg was out.  In 1986, I performed a benefit concert in Scranton, Pennsylvania for a close friend, a priest named Father Joseph Sica.  I didn't like the way Stan handled the finances and we had a falling out.  When I fell, it was right into the arms of Dick Fox, who has been my manager for the last thirty years.  If only he knew back then what he was getting into."

Teen Idol on the Rocks: A Tale of Second Chances by Bobby Rydell is available to borrow from the Lackawanna County Library System.  Click here to place a hold.

Monday, July 03, 2017

Book: Theft By Finding: Diaries 1977-2002 by David Sedaris (2017)


October 20, 2001
Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

"Where do I start with Wilkes-Barre?My hotel is located on the town square, which is bedecked with hanging electric flags, those interspersed with regular cloth versions  the size of beach towels.  They hang from wires, lampposts, and a huge metal armature built to support the dozens of speakers used to broadcast a looped tape of patriotic songs and marches.  I arrived to 'The Battle Hymn of the republic,' which was followed by 'God Bless America,' 'America the Beautiful,' and, strangely enough, 'Dixie.'  After these came a number of marches, including the song played when the president enters the room and something I recall hearing once on a coffee commercial.  When finished, the tape returned to 'The Battle Hymn of the Republic' and started all over again.  The hotel feels like a indoctrination center.

'Our mayor is crazy,' everyone says.  'He's completely lost his mind.'  Wilkes-Barre is shut tight by six o'clock, but still the music blares, playing for an audience of no one."

Click here to place a hold.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

The Facts of Life (Season 3, Episode 16)

"The Four Musketeers" is episode 16 of the third season of the classic 1980s sitcom The Facts of Life, and it features a brief Scranton reference.

The episode revolves around Blair, Natalie, Tootie and Jo finishing up their their six month probation living with Mrs. Garrett after stealing a school van.  The four girls are finally allowed to move into the Eastland dorms.

Does anybody know Lila Oliver?

I do.  She's a junior from Scranton.  Not very pretty.  Below average intelligence.  Sloppy.


You were MADE for each other.

Monday, December 08, 2014

It Happened One Night (1934)

One of the first and best-loved "screwball comedies," Frank Capra's 1934 classic It Happened One Night features a reference to Wilkes-Barre.

Opposites attract with magnetic force in this romantic road-trip delight from Frank Capra, about a spoiled runaway socialite (Claudette Colbert) and a roguish man-of-the-people reporter (Clark Gable) who is determined to get the scoop on her scandalous disappearance.

Released in February 1934 (a mere four months before the Production Code was fully enforced), It Happens One Night was the first of only 3 motion pictures to win "big 5" at the Academy Awards (the other 2 being 1975's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and 1991's The Silence of the Lambs):  Best Picture, Best Actor (Clark Cable), Best Actress (Claudette Colbert), Best Director (Frank Capra) and Best Screenplay (Robert Riskin).

39:25 minutes into the movie, Peter (Clark Gable) and Ellie (Claudette Colbert) are staying overnight at an autolodge, due to a washed-out bridge on their bus trip.   When her father's spies approach their shared room, Peter and Ellie pretend to be a married couple in the midst of an argument:

"Yeah, yeah.  I, uh...I got a letter from Aunt Bella last week.  Uh...she said if we don't stop over to Wilkes-Barre, she'll never forgive us."

It Happened One Night is available to borrow on DVD from the Lackawanna County Library System.  You may place a hold by clicking here or clicking here.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Ghost Breakers (1940) Available To Borrow From Library; Features Scranton Reference

The 1940 horror-comedy The Ghost Breakers is now available to borrow on DVD from Scranton Public Library.  The film features a brief reference to Scranton, spoken by none other than comedy legend Bob Hope.

Directed by George Marshall (Marlene Dietrich’s “comeback” film Destry Rides Again, as well as Bob Hope and Lucille Ball in the film Fancy Pants and Ball again in episodes of her TV series Here’s Lucy) this breezy, timelessly amusing comedy re-teams Bob Hope and Paulette Goddard, who two years earlier appeared together in The Cat and the Canary.

Mary Carter (Goddard) has just inherited a castle owned by her great-great grandfather off the coast of Cuba and said to be haunted. Despite warnings and death threats, she accepts the inheritance.

She is joined by radio broadcaster Larry Lawrence (Hope) who, believing he has killed a mob boss, flees New York with his butler, Alex (Willie Best). She enables him to escape by stowing him in a trunk bound for Cuba. In return, he promises to help rid her inherited castle of the ghosts and ghoulish creatures said to inhabit it. Once on the island, the three explore the eerie castle and search for the key to the castle's treasure while being haunted by the ghosts of Mary's ancestors.

Hope proves yet again that he is the master of the one-liner. The following dialogue is spoken as Mary and Larry descend a staircase into the dungeon of the castle--the scene takes place at the 1:21:14 mark, in the last five minutes of the movie:

Look at these railway tracks running through here.

Reminds me of my hotel room in Scranton.

Click here to place a hold on The Ghost Breakers.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A Life of Barbara Stanwyck: Steel-True 1907-1940 by Victoria Wilson (2013)

Local references related to legendary actress Barbara Stanwyck are numerous on this blog, from movies like Remember the Night and Lady of Burlesque to books like the excellent A Life of Barbara Stanwyck: Steel-True 1907-1940 by Victoria Wilson.  The first in a two-volume set (Volume Two is due in 2015), this 1000+ page is a thorough exploration of the life and career of the legendary actress.  Alas, a local reference was bound to appear. 

In the early 1930s, between filming movies, Stanwyck would often tour the country with her then-husband, vaudevillian Frank Fay. The following description of one such tour appears on page 358 of the book: 

"Through the late winter and spring (1932-1933), Barbara and Fay traveled with Tattle Tales, a 'gay gorgeous musical revue,' on its 'transcontinental' tour, to Portland, the Metropolitan in Seattle, Spokane, playing each city two or three nights and then moving east to Billings, Cheyenne, Colorado Springs, Denver, Omaha, Kansas City, the Shubert in Cincinnati, the Hanna in Cleveland, Wilkes-Barre, the Lyceum in Rochester, Philadelphia, the Capital in Albany, making their way to the Broadhurst Theatre in New York." 

A Life of Barbara Stanwyck: Steel True 1907-1940 is available to borrow from the Lackawanna County Library System; click here to place a hold. 

The uncensored version of Barbara Stanwyck's 1933 film Baby Face will kick off the upcoming "Ladies of Pre-Code" Film Series at Scranton Public Library on Wednesday, July 30 at 6 PM.  Click here for more information. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Out of the Furnace (2013)

My dear friend and colleague Anna Kilcullen recently told me about a passing reference to Scranton in the critically-acclaimed 2013 movie Out of the Furnace, directed by Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart). 

Filmed mostly in Braddock, PA (located in the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh), Out of the Furnace follows hard-working Russell Blaze (Christian Bale) as he takes matters into his own hands to seek justice after his brother Rodney (Casey Affleck) mysteriously disappears and law enforcement doesn't follow through fast enough.

About 10 minutes into the movie, Russell and his girlfriend Lena Taylor (Zoƫ Saldana) are lying in bed and discussing future plans:

Wanna run away somewhere?

Don't change the subject.

I want to run away somewhere.  Let's do it.


I don't know.  I've never been east of Scranton, but... 

Out of the Furnace is available to borrow on both Blu-Ray and DVD from the Lackawanna County Library System

Much thanks to the fantastic Anna Kilcullen for this reference.

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Purge (2013)

One of the things I really love about doing this blog is the fact that eagle-eyed movie fans like Eric Drago pick up on local references that are easy to miss.  I've seen last summer's sleeper hit The Purge starring Ethan Hawke, but I never noticed the Wilkes-Barre reference hidden on a TV monitor in the background -- Eric did :-)

Directed by James DeMonaco, The Purge refers to a futuristic crime prevention concept of a 12-hour period in which any and all crime is legalized.  During this period, a wealthy family is held hostage for harboring the target of a murderous syndicate.

Eric emailed me the following:

"In the film The Purge, there are a number of scenes where we are shown camera footage from different locations throughout the country. One such scene shows camera footage belonging to Wilkes-Barre, PA." 

The Purge is available to borrow on DVD from the library; click here to place a hold.   

Much thanks again to the ultra-groovy Eric Drago for this reference. 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Lady of Burlesque (1943) Available To Borrow on DVD From Library

The 1943 classic film Lady of Burlesque, starring Barbara Stanwyck, is now available to borrow on DVD from Scranton Public Library.  Based on the novel The G-String Murders by Gypsy Rose Lee, the film features a passing but memorable reference to Wilkes-Barre, spoken by Stanwyck herself (who plays dancer Dixie).

Eleven minutes into the film, an unnamed burlesque dancer enters the shared dressing room of the strippers and complains of the bathroom facilities at The Old Opera House:

That settles it! We GOTTA have a new one!

New what?

(gestures towards the off-stage ladies' room)

Oh, the museum piece. I haven't seen one like that
since the Wilkes-Barre Regal.
Click here to place a hold on Lady of Burlesque.

If you are a fan of Barbara Stanwyck, Scranton Public Library will be screening the long-lost uncut version of 1933's Baby Face on Wednesday, July 30th at 6 PM in the Community Room (basement of Lackawanna County Children's Library).  Baby Face kicks off a weekly month-long film series devoted to the "Ladies of Pre-Code Hollywood".   Click here for more information on the film series.

Monday, June 30, 2014

The English Teacher (2013)

Released in 2013, The English Teacher is a dark comedy about a single English teacher from Kingston, Pennsylvania who helps a former student and budding playwright by presenting his latest play at Kingston High School.  The film stars Julianne Moore, Michael Angarano, Greg Kinnear and Nathan Lane, and it is narrated by Fiona Shaw.

The film includes numerous references to Kingston, as well as Scranton and other areas/places in NEPA.

"She lived in Kingston, Pennsylvania, not too far from where she was born. 

Teacher Linda Sinclair (Julianne Moore) accidentally pepper sprays her former student Jason Sherwood (Michael Angarano) when he approaches her at an ATM at night.
"Who uses pepper spray in Kingston?"

Linda gives Jason a ride home.
"Jason Sherwood.  What ate you doing back here in Kingston, Pennsylvania?  I thought you'd be tearing up Broadway by now."

Sign: "Welcome to Kingston High School.  The Pride of Kingston, PA.  Go Monarchs!"

Drama teacher Carl Kapinas (Nathan Lane) defends a production of Oklahoma done in masks.
"It was in the traditional Japanese nose style, for your information.  And Lydia Plutka at the Times Leader called it 'profoundly imaginative,'" 

"You wanna sell the board?  You wanna sell the parents?  Then sell them on Jason Sherwood, a former Kingston High School student who came back to inspire the next generation."
"We'll double normal ticket sales.  You'll see.  The people of Kingston are hungry for something new." 

During rehearsals for the play.
"And now, Mr. Sherwood, may I say on behalf of the entire Kingston High School Theater Department, it is an honor to have you with us."

Jason is offended by a comment from a student regarding the play.
"Oh, come on!  He's a kid.  He's just an insecure kid from Kingston, Pennsylvania and you're a New York playwright."

"I did keep at it.  That's how I found my way to Kingston and to all of you."

(Greg Kinnear)
"Listen,  so you know.  On Tuesdays and Thursdays, he's supposed to be taking LSAT prep tests up in Scranton."

Linda's bank statement reads charges from Kingston Gas & Electric, Kingston Wardrobe Supply, and Kingston Fabrics and Drapery.

Shot of Kingston High School opening night sign for the play

"If it's not too weird for you or me, Walter Mosley's speaking over at Wilkes next week, and I thought maybe..."

In the end credits,  a special thanks is given to WNEP - Newswatch 16 at 6 PM.

The English Teacher is available to borrow on DVD from the Lackawanna County Library System.  Click here to place a hold

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Dance, Fools, Dance To Be Shown Wednesday, August 13th at Scranton Public Library

The 1931 Joan Crawford classic Dance, Fools, Dance, which centered on the murder of a reporter named Bert Scranton, will be screened at Scranton Public Library as part of its upcoming "Ladies of Pre-Code" film series.  It will be shown Wednesday, August 13th at 7 PM in the Community Room (basement of Lackawanna County Children's Library).  The screening is free with your library card.

For more information, please call Bill at (570) 348-3000, x3008 or email Bill by clicking here.

Check out a clip of Dance, Fools, Dance below:

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Face the Music: A Life Exposed by Paul Stanley (2014)

In April 2014, Paul Stanley published his autobiography Face the Music: A Life ExposedStanley is the last of the four original members of KISS to publish his memoirs.  The book details not only the meteoric rise of KISS, but his overcoming being born with an ear deformity and deafness in his right ear.

On page 171 in Face the Music, Stanley relates a story previously published in Nothin' To Lose: The Making of KISS (1972-1975) involving a bizarre incident with the band's opening act at the Paramount Theater (now the F.M. Kirby Center) in Wilkes-Barre, PA:

"There was no consistency.   One night in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, our opening act was a circus juggler.He rode a unicycle and people in the audience tried to knock him down by throwing coins at him."

Nothin' To Lose identifies the performer as comedian Kenny Kramer.
Face the Music: A Life Exposed is available to borrow from the Lackawanna County Library System; click here to place a hold.